June 16, 2009

Idea: The Outlet Wall

Instead of hiding your outlets behind furniture and worrying about the mess of wires tangled behind your entertainment center, consider making an entire wall that’s nothing but outlets. Then you can artfully plug in your appliances wherever the cords look pleasing to you.

Imagine no more crowded outlets or multi-plug adapters.

Of course you don’t have to actually wire all the outlets on the whole wall for electricity, but you’d better come up with a good way to remember which ones are live.



You know how they say you shouldn’t plug too many cords into the same outlet?

This is the exact OPPOSITE of that problem.

I, for one, love it. It’s practical, and it eliminates the need to choose between wallpaper patterns.

This is cool. You could even make a wallpaper like that, then just make some of them real. If you were any farther than a meter away you wouldn’t be able to tell which was which.

This would make a brilliant art installation, or conversation piece, or whatever.

But it wouldn’t be cheap.

Depending on a lot of factors, unit price per outlet would be ~$15. Wall outlets are also fairly labor intensive to install, and they also require a licensed electrician, who is going to charge between $20 and $60 a hour, depending on venue. A wall would be something like 20 or 30 grand.

And, of course, each row (or column) would only have the current carrying capability of a single circuit.

Baby proofing this would be a bitch.

Looks a bit like an old telephone switchboard.

I agree that it would make a great art installation. You could even arrange the other side of the wall to have a mini windmill for every socket in some comment about our energy consumption and green options.

Depending on a lot of factors, unit price per outlet would be ~$15.

Those in the picture seem even cheaper.

Wall outlets are also fairly labor intensive to install, and they also require a licensed electrician, who is going to charge between $20 and $60 a hour, depending on venue.

Not if not all of the are live. You can install the non-live ones yourself with minimum expenses.

And, of course, each row (or column) would only have the current carrying capability of a single circuit.

This dependes of how you wire them. Each row could have the current carrying capability of several circuits if you so wished.

You can get contractor packs for the outlets that cost pennies on the dollar. You can get like 10 outlets for about $4 including tax at your local home improvement store. If you include the wire and the cutouts, you’re probably up to about 8 bucks. Forget the idea of paying for a licensed electrician and it saves you a lot of money…not to mention that any self respecting licensed electrician would tell you that you’re nuts and probably say no thanks.
But, back to the point; if you figure that on a 12 foot room wall with a height of 8 feet you can fit roughly 19 rows and 48 columns of outlets (when positioned vertically [3” x 5”]), you’d end up with 912 standard double outlets… and at a conservative 8 bucks a pop if you did it yourself, you’d only be spending about 7300 bucks.
Now that doesn’t take into account windows or studs in the walls where outlets simply couldn’t be placed, either, but alas, it wouldn’t be as bad as 20-30 thousand dollars…unless of course the wall was 3 times longer.

If you want to get this past code/inspection, you’d probably have to have a 15A circuit for every so many outlets. After all, someone could plug a hair dryer into every outlet…

By the same token, you could make a “powered chair rail”, too.

I’m trying to figure out what exactly all the outlets are mounted to. I’ve installed outlets during construction, and they are nailed to a stud. I’ve installed them after the fact, and they are attached to the surrounding drywall. This almost has to be a stack of outlets attached to each other!

Just install a dozen or so real outlets and use some molded paneling to complete the illusion.

Yeah, I was thinking along those lines too. Just find a way to mold the outlet covers with the outlet inside, but be flat on the back. Then you could just glue or tack them to the wall without having to worry about studs.

Agree, mgg — if all those outlets are there there’s no way to mount the flat panel to that wall, since it’s got no studs whatsoever.

But I do like the concept as art.

Are you serious guys… who needs an electrician for this? anyone can connect the outlet(s) to the mains… simply two power cords..

Each one begs for a Pogoplug!

Josh Zytkiewicz had the right idea with wallpaper..

Blah… no Cat5 jacks.

Wifi is the future

This is buildable and could be built safely.

I’d suggest at least 4 15a branch circuits, and assembly of the actual wiring system would be via EMT (conduit) attached to deep jiffy boxes, all screwed to a 3/4 particle board backing that would serve as a physical support for the grid array.

I’d wire this in a skip-pattern, so that you’d have rows and columns of alternating branch circuits, sort of like this (Assume a 12x12 grid for now, other configurations would work)


Then, I’d install the plate covers - nylon is strong and cheap.

It would also be possible to create a pattern or even an image of a pixely sort by combining colored outlets and switchplates.

A grid of maybe 40x40 outlets (about 8’ x8’) would require 1,600 outlets (providing 3,200 actual places to plug in). In bulk you can get outlets for $0.30 each ($480) and you’d need another $3,500 in materials (boxes, covers, wire, fittings, backing board). It would be HEAVY once built, so the wall to which it’s attached would need to be sturdy. All told, this could be commissioned and built probably for about $15,000 by the time you factor in labor and other expenses, maybe a little more for a complex installation.

Any takers let me know :)

this is one spilt drink away from an electrical fire.

Now consider illuminating the room by plugging little nightlights into those outlets!

Also consider using plastic outlet boxes to hold the plugs. Easy to glue them all together. Then put up the whole thing as a false wall, attached to an existing wall.


This is Beast! Im a Boss

I love this solution. Very aesthetically pleasing and practical…. unless you have children. It looks like it would be a parent’s worst nightmare if their three year old toddler was scarpering about!

You could use the “fake” outlets that are designed for stage sets. http://www.decoflage.com/ has a line of fake switches and outlets for use on scenery flats. Looks just like the real thing. Mix in a few real outlets and you’re done.

It is ugly.

Love it! How about mixing in some other outlets too, like Ethernet, as an IT admin, a workshop with a wall of relevant sockets would be heaven!

As far as mounting goes, this could be built over an exixting wall, screwing the electrical boxes to a sheet of plywood for example…getting the faceplates and sockets lined up perfectly would be a nightmare though…
not to mention the wiring…

I like the concept though :)

well, I guess drunken fork fights would no longer be a good idea.

This is a parent’s nightmare!

Talk about an expensive electric bill!

Sounds like I jumped into an episode of BIG BANG THEORY, and I’m having trouble figuring out who’s Sheldon. I’m just sayin’…

Unfortunately, power cables only account for part of the mess behind your electronic equipment. You still have to find a way to manage all the cables that connect various components and peripherals to one another.

In reply to the earlier comment: Yes, anyone can wire up a socket. It’s not rocket science: It’s two wires. Three, for us brits, as our sockets have an earth line too. However, this will lead to later legal problems. Insurance companies will want to see the ‘installed by a licenced professional’ paperwork - without it you’ll have a hard time finding insurance, and you may find after your house burns down that the company won’t cover it. The value of the building may also be reduced, because anyone else who buys the property will face similar concerns.

It doesn’t matter how competant you are - without the little slip of paper, legally, anything you do will be considered substandard.

A curious 5-year-old, a rusty screwdriver, and this wall. What could possibly go wrong?

I like the concept, but where will you hang that ghastly photo of your Mother-in-law.

Please note that not one of his appliances show any evidence of life.
Perhaps he forgot which ones are actually live….


I have the urge to buy a bunch of those fake light switches and stick them to random walls in someone else’s house when no one is looking.

“I don’t remember having a switch here. Honey, do you know what this switch goes to?” *flick* *flick* *flick* *flick*

It’s just art


I think this is slick… not a difficult task at all. Simply connect the white wire to the bright screw, the black wire to the brass screw and ground wire to the green screw. Lather, rinse and repeat 1599 more times.

You could do this on one circuit, btw. You just couldn’t plug more than about 10 things in at once.


That is awesome!

I wonder how much wire it would be to wire all those sockets to different fuses.

4 words

Battery Operated Dildo Heaven

I love how the comments here have pretty evenly divided up between the people taking the idea and trying to figure out how to make it and make it better, and the people who are focusing on how it’s all completely impossible.

As far as the wallpaper/fakes suggestions go, c’mon! Form follows function. That would be dumb.

haha rad. now all you need to do is make an image from plugs stuck into the sockets!

You Sir, are clever.

In the US, at least, if you own the residential property, you can do such work yourself, without needing to farm it out to a licensed electrician.

And as long as it’s not big enough to require a permit in advance — this one would be on the line — you don’t need it inspected either.

Indeed, though, meeting code on the number of receptacles per branch circuit would be tough… but if you connect it to the house *via a plug and cord*, then it’s no longer branch circuit wiring, and the code doesn’t apply to it.

I think; my NEC time is 25 years ago…

I would HATE to set up that breaker box…

fucking stupid

La verdad que yo acabaria con una liada de cables xD

Sehr stylische Idee!

Anyone contemplating the execution of this project, did you consider it might be a quite good photoshop jobbie? Sure beats the 7300 bucks, 15 amp trip switches. licenced electrician and mounting issues.

Definitely awesome for nightlights! :) This is what they needed in the movie ‘The Christmas Story’. LOL.

Guys - stop getting all freaked out.

This is obviously Photoshopped.

Look at the shadows - or lack of them.

Look at the complete lack of depth behind the TV.

He is a professional photographer.

No doubt he presented this purely to generate conversation and it worked.

As to the $15 per outlet charge people missed that too. It refers to the total labor involved, not just the outlets, which are pennies apiece. I had 4 recessed lights installed by an electrician - cost over $400. So even though the cans themselves were cheap my “installed cost” was over $100 per fixture.

How could people miss the obvious like that? I’m totally stoned right now and I got it…

i think you are a genius.

I’d suggest at least 4 15a branch circuits, and assembly of the actual wiring system would be via EMT (conduit) attached to deep jiffy boxes, all screwed to a 3/4 particle board backing that would serve as a physical support for the grid array.

me: ??? 4 branch circuits? One branch 20amp circuit has the capacity of 1920 VA(approx 1920 watts). A TV, DVD player and stereo can all go onto one circuit. Add up your watts on the back of your equipment. If the amps are listed, multiply it by 120 to come up with the watts. I would nail 2x4’s parallel to the wall, put in 1/2” plywood for support and use shallow boxes (depending on cost).

WAY, WAY less than 15,000.

me: To the british poster. You have 2 line conductors and one ground. We use one line conductor, one neutral and one ground conductor.

The only electricity it would consume is what you have plugged into it.

The residential portion of the NEC does not have a maximum number of rcp’s per circuit, but number of circuits per room and 12ft spacing. One for the living room i believe. That said, i wouldn’t put more than 13 rcpt’s per one 20amp circuit breaker per the commercial portion of the code.

You would need no more energized receptacles than the number of devices plugged into it.

it would be funny to have one power strip plugged into one of the upper receptacles and then dangling down.

All that work just to plug in a crappy Sony HTIB and a bottom-feeder LG.

Live in a tent

YES, but ….

What about Plugs and Sockets at each country?

By example: http://whatplug.info/from/spain/to/ireland

Anyway, fun.



You’re making wiring way too complex. Just have a plug leading from one outlet box, and plug it into a different box. (Isn’t that how everyone thinks energy works?)

I hope you don’t have small children…

Multi colored nightlights = giant Light Bright FTW!

This would be great fun for the kids to play with forks and butter knives on too!! Yay!

@pendens proditor

Oh you are an evil genius. There are already enough switches in old houses that don’t do anything, thanks to bad wiring or cheap parts. Throw in your trick on top of that, and you could likely drive a person crazy trying to find working switches.

You do not need an electrician to install the outlets. You can install them, and then have a licensed electrician sign off on the work…if you go that route.

I mean, just put the things in yourself, flip the breaker, and see what happens. If it starts smoking, shut ‘er down.

they look uneven, just every here and there. anyone with OCD would go insane, and of course visitors would think you’re a bit… eccentric. like mental facilities? go for it. or just conform to the norm and, you know, whatever. but at least make them colorful and pretty.

I would have so much fun making pictures with those little child-proofing socket protectors in these.

You could light the room using nothing but nightlights.

Um, you guys are crazy. Think about it. You only want to have about 1500 watts per 15 amp circuit. so, your looking at about 7 to 8 outlets per circuit. Uh, who in their right mind would want to pay to have that many home run cables to the breaker box? Other wise you run the risk of burning your whole damn house down. That is all

This violates electrical code, so sorry folks but if you do this you can’t sell your house.

Why not paint the wall black, install a few real outlets and simply glue on some face plates for the rest?

My most delicious thought after seeing this is the fact that some idiot is going to try to build his own version. The wiring required to create a functioning wall like this will drive him quite literally insane. I love it.

My most delicious thought after seeing this is the fact that some idiot is going to try to build his own version. The wiring required to create a functioning wall like this will drive him quite literally insane. I love it.

Oh, that’s attractive. Don’t give my husband any ideas!

oh god. baby proofing? lightning storms? hahaha very practical. BUT still crazy. and awesome.

ok per NEC!
this would allow one to use more than 100 extension cords in the same room, which is the limit for having the first plugged into one outlet.

ok per NEC.
This would take care of the limitation of having no more than 100 extension cords daisy chained!

Wow, this is almost as dangerous as that wall of razor blades I have in my house!!

Wow this is nuts! Id doubt it would pass any building inspection…

does this acctually exist of is it a ‘shopped concept?

Great photoshop job.

Definitely Photoshop, but a cool idea nonetheless. Especially if not every outlet is live. A few here and there would work out well enough.

Fake outlets might be better than wallpaper; cut some plugs, stick them to the back of your photos, and use the plug/sockets to mount your pictures and shelves.

I wouldn’t mix the RJ-45 jacks in as someone suggested, they’d break up the pattern. But obviously there’d be some in behind the TV stand.

what about switches? every other row should be switches to control the outlets.

Brings a whole new meaning to plug & play.

Nice, but how would you know which ones are real and which are fake when it comes to plugging stuff in?

Yeah, I like the idea of a wallpaper, or perhaps just fake plugs so that only a few of them have to be rigged up to power. I think it’s a brilliant idea.

When i win the Lottery I’m going to commission someone to make one of them for me.

Dusting this thing would be an obsessive compulsive nightmare!!!

If you were really industrious, you could turn this into a wall-size interactive puzzle. On the back, you would wire some outlets to each other instead of to the power source. Next, create some short extension cords that have plugs at both ends, rather than a plug at one end and a receptacle at the other. You see where I’m going with this … Once the wall is done, the puzzle is to determine where to plug in the double-headed extension cords to create a complete circuit to your appliances. You might even want to install some switches in the wall — the kind that don’t show “on” or “off” — to make things even more complicated.

Apart from this being a nice photoshop job - to all the people saying this would be a fire hazard: Go and redo your basic electronics 101: If you have, let’s say a 20A circuit breaker and 12/2 gauge wire that is rated for 20A, you can hook up a million outlets if you so please. As soon as you plug loads into the outlets that combined will draw more than 20A in current, the circuit breaker will trip, disconnecting ALL of the outlets connected to it. That is the whole purpose of having circuit breakers in the first place - so that under NO circumstance you can overload the cabling and outlets beyond their maximum rating.

This is great! Imagine what your kid or cat’s hair would look like if they “played” around with this wall? My devil of a cat would deserve it! LOL! Great one!

A friend sent me this. Perhaps it is because he looked at the wall behind my array of 14 computer screens running off 5 computers. No doubt he thinks I need some sort of help. That aside, I think I have some bad news. Recently I was told that the codes have changed and all new outlets are to be installed with the “U” ground up not down. That means that every outlet must be reversed as they are all upside down….

What an interesting concept. Very aesthetically pleasing.

i like it! i think it’s neat how people are figuring out a good way to do this. though i do go with the few live and the rest fake idea. didn’t see anyone suggest how to tell them apart. easy. color screws on the live face plates.

RE the people saying it would be insane to wire: Not really. As a theatrical electrician, I routinely work in places that have well over 1000 distinct circuits run, each with separate Hot, Neutral and Ground wires. This would not be that big of an ordeal, especially since you could make a pattern and chain the plugs one to the other, as mentioned.

One thing you could do to remember which ones were live if you chose to go with fakes is install small LED night lights, and use them for accent lighting in the room, and the row/column/plug that they were in would be obviously on.

I think you are missing the artistic point… Sure the wiring is possible, but this is an art piece. Create a mural out of different plate shapes and colors and night lights. With a little controller board and some programming you could alternate lights on and off to produce different scenes and messages. It could still be functional if you used multicolored LEDs as power indicator lights. The possabilities are endless. :)

now… 10,000 Riddex Plus’s and I’ll be bug free fo’real!

a) great way to start a fire with all that wiring.
b) great way to waste resources.
c) great way to break code.
d) JEEZ it’s ugly.

it’s a great idea
but somehow i feel creepy when i look at it

waist of money…making a whole wall like this would be very difficult because every outlet needs to be mounted to a stud

it would be a very big fire hazard for sure if people started plugging to many things in

what’s wrong with using a powerstrip? atleast that provides surge protection and are much more practical

Electrical outlets look ugly at the best of times, but I wonder how chrome face plates would look?
And as far as fire hazards go unless you actually plan on using more than you usually would non issue, and even if you used high current appliances any half decent sparky would have several circuits running with appropriate fusing.

Id do this if i could make the plugs whatever color i wanted

I’m guessing if you have young children….
your gunna need ALOT of outlet protector plates.


Anyone tought about cleaning them????

Anyone tought about cleaning them????

in british wiring regs, you would only need one ring main to wire this up, as the regulations only cover square footage covered, not amount of outlets. as for the pricipal of wiring this up, it would be easy, couple of reels of cable at 20 quid each and loads of sockets, about a thousand for the lot, maybe a little lower. as for safety problems, just stick it all behind an RCD and it dosnt matter of you tip water all over it, and no child is going to be able to stick their fingers into the sockets, because the british designed their outlets properly and included a devise that prohibits this without first putting an earth pin in, again this isnt a problem, because its all behind an RCD

tacky and inpractical, I have no idea what made you think covering the whole wall with sockets was a good idea but before you take this ‘idea’ any further think about it and look how fucking dumb it looks

I love the way it looks, like the idea - not all outlets are wired and active and it would be easy to set this up so there are studs behind the wall and you can mount the wall tv or anything else.
The concept is art and can be working art. How many people have a power strip around the media area - I would prefer this and believe it would be safer then the little one grabbing the powerstrip in easier reach. It’s an idea - think outside the box. I bet when one first presented the idea of a TV - showing the real people behind the radio voices- people found so many faults with it. Look at the positive of this IDEA. IDEA

Ok, I’m a licensed electrician. First 4 15 amp branch circuits won’t cut it. There is appox. 450 receptacles on the wall. That would require 36 circuits, so a panel upgrade would probably have to be added to the cost. I have installed hundreds of plugs in walls and there is no way to get the plugs that close together, but it is a cool idea.

no, really, this is one of the most hideous ideas i’ve ever seen!

practical? maybe for use, installation would be a nightmare
safe? i doubt it
good looking? naaaah ;)

on the other hand the same wall, with night lamps plugged in every plug would be awesome! ;)

At first when I saw this, I thought, “How ridiculous!” On second thought…it’s BRILLIANT!

Red outlets.

I used to live in a 6-room house with all of 6 circuits (including a pump, stove, and dryer) on a 60 amp panel; any time you ran two appliances something would blow. When I remodeled, I upgraded the panel to 200 amps and added 30 circuits, and each new gang of outlets was on its own breaker so things like vacuums and power tools could run without crashing electronics. It’s easier to combine lightly used circuits than not have enough. My electrician ran all the wires but let me hook up the outlets; that’s not a thrilling part of the job. Having a lot of outlets, whether as a wall or elsewhere, only makes sense if you either have enough circuits to make them usable, or don’t draw much power on each one. The outlets are cheap; it’s the wiring, labor, breakers, etc. that add up.

One word: FUGLY

i am an electrician, (yay for me!)

making a wall that will fit all these will be the hardest bit. obviously it would have to be a stud wall, making your room that bit smaller. the plaster board will be very weak with all the holes for the socket outlets in. i dont think it would last long, with the wear and tear of pulling plugs out of the wall.

theres always a way to get around anything, maybe the wall would have to be a sheet of plastic or something similar in strength

In Maine the outlets would have to be mounted with the ground connection up.

LOL finally a way to keep from kicking the ups off button!

Simple surface mount electrical boxes screwed to plywood…. once you’ve figured out the correct spacing, it would be a piece of cake… time consuming, expensive, yes, but certainly not rocket science.

As to the folks saying it’s not legal, I suggest a little research… There’s no reason it can’t be done to meet the NEC…

You know a cheap way to do this, is make wallpaper looking like this and have only 1 or 2 real outlets. Get about 6 PC power cords, snip the prongs of and glue them to the wall, but really have everything plugged into a surge protector like they should be.

Looks like a 1970’s ARP synthesizer sorta. My brother-in-law is an electrician. Calling him soon.

Cheap duplex receptacles are sold at Home Depot for about $0.50, plus your cover plate, another $0.50, and maybe $1.00 for the wall box. The wire would be the most expensive part, regardless of whether you wire 1 or 100 of the outlets.

And what’s all this talk of electricians? Are we not in a recession? Duplexes are one of the easiest things to wire. All you have to do is make sure you have the breaker off before you start working.

i would hate to be that electrician

I’m a electrical engineer and wanna see behind that wall! Show me the wires.

Probably fake.

It’s like a dream.

I’m almost finished rewiring an apartment for my sister and her kids. The first thing I thought when I saw this? “OH SHIT!”

Is outlet height also mandated by code?

I think the powered chair rail concept would be great for all us gadget users and anyone with pets or toddlers. Just raising the height of outlets would help.

Come to think of it, why are outlets so low to the ground? Did they figure it would reduce cord strain? I don’t see how ankle-height outlets are ideal, and I think they’re much less ideal today than they were 20 or 30 years ago. Imagine how much tidier your desks and entertainment centers would be, for example, if you had chair rail-high outlets.

Amazing! Wish I had one.

Just saying here to all the ‘YOUR KIDS WILL KILL THEMSELVES’ people; not everyone has kids, and still has the capability to enjoy something of this nature. >.>

You really need to dust!

I’d do this job for $2,000 if your interested. That doesn’t include any drywall removal or repair.

I am a journeyman electrician and an electrical engineer. Anyone with theater experience will be familiar with the backstage switchboard with hundreds of receptacles, patch cords, dimmers and other stuff. With pushwired receptacles and premade jumpers wiring this and connecting each 8 or 9 receptacles to a 20/1 breaker is a piece of cake.
Alternating with com, cable and phone plus ?future? would make sense.
However, if they pass cap and trade, get used to a 1500 watt max service to your house.

You people call this art?! It’s ugly as hell. And then the risk of touching one of the outlets and being electrocuted.

Nice One!

Hey whats up with wi-fi you Luddites? or am I missing the point?

This is a great looking concept but not practical one.

One practical application of an outlet is what I have in my car Mahindar Xylo. There are mobile charging points in the middle doors and they are just too handy. Tht is a very good example of practical outlets.

Visit http://www.mahindraxylo.co.in/shoppe_contest.asp … A very Cool Mahindra Xylo colour Contest is going on

very cool…and possibly dangerous ..but anything for style, right?

… but you would need a NUCLEAR PLANT in the other room !!!!


That’s great. Now do one for all the network connections in my room :)

Dang, that’s hideous.

I can’t believe someone would even consider this, and the folks who have figured out the costs etc….don’t you have better things to do with your time?

I love how so many people complete ignored the “not all of them are live” idea. The faceplate/black wall idea is my favorite, I think. I’d do it.

and… what about kids?

Neat-o. I hope my husband doesn’t see it or he’ll be rewiring the den.

Yes I can do that and I think it’s a me joke. Everyone that knows me would say Only I think of stuff like this. I would have to let them know it was you that did it.

the liberty is the choice

It does have something charming.
At least I can’t say it’s ugly.

Who says you need a licensed electrician? Looks pretty simple (but expensive) to me, just don’t forget to kill the power before you start fiddling around with screwdrivers and electric wires. If it kicks the breaker off, then you screwed it up. Guess, test, and revise. If you really don’t have a clue how electricity operates, definitely leave it to a pro. But, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t take an expert to figure it out. I’ve wired them myself, but then again, I was playing with electronics kits when I was like 10 years old or so. Great idea though!

That is awesome, but I am pretty sure it’s a fire hazard.

love this! can you make a giant kid-proof plug to cover them all at once? lemme know…

Heck, my Dad built one of these in the 50’s in our family room in the basement in Denver.

Fire Hazard

“Are you serious guys… who needs an electrician for this? anyone can connect the outlet(s) to the mains… simply two power cords..” Posted by: JohnDoe

Three cords: Phase, neutral and ground.

That’s why you need an electrician.

God… wouldnt it suck to be thrown though that wall?

Looks like a tiny fire hazard!

relly good . i want this ):

A major fire hazard and would not even come close to passing code. An electrician that did that for somebody could lose his license.

Is it possible to play electric minesweeper using this ;) ?