THE POWER PUZZLE: REACHING MIDDLE GROUND
More and more, companies are embracing open concept work spaces—areas designed around optimizing human interaction and collaboration. And for many people, this kind of dynamic, synergistic work isn’t very likely if workers are tethered against the wall. Looking to create an active, team atmosphere where people and ideas thrive? You’re going to want power at the center—and in the center—of those spaces.
WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
The question reminds us a little of the old bear hunt story. But unlike the children’s tale, when it comes to confronting the challenge of power in the middle of the room, you can actually go over it, go under it, or go through it.
With this first option, you don’t just go under the floor…you really go under the floor. Trenching is just what it sounds like—cutting a trench in the concrete to support required power and cable management. With this approach, you’re going to want some pros on your team beyond the folks handling the concrete work. An electrician will need to run the conduit and a networking expert should handle the data connections. Because of the physical commitment involved, the best fit for a trenched solution is usually a new build or a significant renovation project.
For this solution, we’re still on the floor—just not quite as far down. In a raised floor application, power is run between the actual floor and a product that sits on top. Those few inches gained with a raised floor translate into a myriad of power and cable management benefits. Power is free to be channeled where it’s needed and floor boxes installed in the floor provide easy access points for pulling cables through. However, raised flooring can become a tripping hazard issue by creating different levels of flooring in a space. But a raised floor solution can accommodate a lot of power—perfect for work spaces with a high demand for tech support, as well multipurpose work areas looking for greater power flexibility. Like trenching, this solution probably makes the most sense as part of a larger renovation project.
Ceiling Power Distribution
Now, we’re headed over…with power that runs through the ceiling. In this solution, ceiling tiles conceal power and other cables supported by trays that run from the wall to the middle of the room or forgo the ceiling tiles for an exposed, industrial style. Once there, power drops from the ceiling housed in a pole or similar structure. Please note that because of the additional distance traveled from point to point, extended cable lengths are often necessary. And because this application requires several structural considerations—including the need for a dropped ceiling product (unless you like the look of exposed cable hardware)—it’s usually best suited for new building projects.
Furniture Power Distribution
Our final solution involves running power through portable or stationery furnishings with outlet receptacles mounted on or in the furniture. Corded or hardwired—both are options—they simply require connection to a wall or floor power source. And flexibility isn’t only about how things are wired here. Running power through furnishings also means higher adaptability because power units can be easily moved as space demands change. Ultimately, furniture power distribution is a great fit for existing or remodeled spaces that’s aren’t looking for a more permanent, infrastructure-based solution.
THINKING IT OVER
Regardless of the approach chosen, power distribution in any workplace is an important consideration and asking the right questions is sure to mean fewer headaches (and wasted dollars) as you move forward. So, here are a few issues to keep in mind as you consider making your own workplace a more dynamic and collaborative “center” of attention:
- How much money and time are you prepared to invest?
- How much power do people using the space need? How much data?
- How involved is the project—will an electrician or other experts be needed?
- Are you paying attention to safety concerns?
- Avoid any opportunities for tripping hazards
- Be sure to check whether an electrical permit is required for your project
- Have you explored all the design and power options for your space?
- Stay open to the possibilities!