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Published on February 5th, 2013 | by Jules Yap


Laptop Charging Stations

Materials: 2×4 Ikea Expedits, power strips (5+), casters (optional), Expedit Doors, zip ties. Tools: power drill, Forstner bits, staple gun, countersink bit, 3/4″ screws.

1) Assemble Expedit as directed.

2) Take apart 2 power strips and drill through the power strip and the shelf in a location where the screw will not come in contact with the electrical pieces of the power strip. Use those as templates for the other shelves.

3) Reassemble the power strips.

4) Place the power strips.

5) Drill through the bottom of the shelves using a countersink bit. Screw your 3/4″ screws through the shelf into the base of the power strip.

6) Continue until all four power strips are installed.

7) Assemble and install the Expedit doors *backwards* so that you are seeing a flat panel on the front of the Expedit and the door is on the back.

8) Drill a hole between the two door units big enough for a plug to fit through.

9) Using a small Forstner bit, drill a notch into the bottom left shelf so that the plug can go directly into the cube that is covered with a door.

10) Drill a similar hole in the bottom right shelf, bit enough to allow three power cords to go into that cavity.

11) Staple a row of zip ties down the center of the Expedit. You may need to lightly hammer the staples into the zip ties to get them flush.

12) Line up the cords along the zip ties and secure them.

13) Put the bottom left cord through the shelf and the hole drilled between the two door cavities.

14) Plug all of those plugs into a power strip in the bottom right door cavity.

15) Drill a hole through the bottom of the door for the cord of the power strip to get out to an outlet.

16) Trim the zip ties.

Use a Sharpie close in color to the color of your Expedit to mask the particle board where holes are cut.


See more photos.

~ Jonathan Briggs, Eastside Preparatory School Kirkland, WA

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

24 Responses to Laptop Charging Stations

  1. Anonymous says:

    Daisy chaining violates OSHA and NEC regulations.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Fire Department WILL cite you for this no mater how much math you show them to prove there isn’t any overload risk.
    I hope your not using this in a pace of business. It will be a red flag for any inspection. Any power strip needs to be plugged directly into a wall outlet.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There seem to be a good number of people concerned about daisy chaining power strips together. Resistance and the accompanying heat can be a problem, but only if the connection doesn’t have a circuit breaker or fuse in them.

    The 4 cheap power strips aren’t subject of any more current than if they were plugged directly into the wall. The Belkin surge protector the cheap strips plug in is subject to 4x the maximum current of each individual strip (plus extra current lost as heat from resistance), this is where your potential fire hazard is. But, as long as the Belkin surge strip is fused, it will never be able to draw enough current to cause a fire without first tripping its fuse (or breaker) and shutting the whole thing down.

    The hazard is chaining multi-taps together when they don’t have overcurrent protection. Warnings on chaining don’t bother discerning between what is and isn’t a fire hazard because the “don’t ever do it” message is easier to convey.

  4. Jon DiPietro says:

    Regardless of whether or not the amperage adds up, this is a violation of both OSHA and NEC. The reason it’s against code is that although you’re correct that laptops won’t overload the power strips, what happens when someone (who either isn’t so swift or doesn’t realize there is a daisy chain) plugs in a coffee maker and vacuum cleaner and space heater?


  5. Uncle Roger says:

    When I saw the picture on the main page, my first thought was “it’s for a school.” After reading more, I am wondering… Are these for school laptops or personal ones? If it’s for the school’s laptops, are they different models? If they were all the same, it might make sense to leave the power supplies there, but I’m guessing it’s for personal laptops?

    Also, what about security? No worries about theft or vandalism?

    If there are multiple laptops per cube, do the students just stack them? Have you considered small shelves or maybe vertical dividers (like a plate rack perhaps?)

    In any case, this is pretty nifty! Good job!

  6. imajoebob says:

    To pile on…
    Power strips into power strips creates resistance, even without additional load.
    Power strips usually come with molded bases that you can slide onto a mounting screw, instead of tearing it apart and “reinventing the wheel.”
    Mounting a single strip across back would be enough to conenct all the laptops you can fit into all four of the Expedit cubbies.
    Better yet, just hang an “Octopus” extension cord on the back of it.
    Methodically analyzed, but don’t get so locked in to a single solution that you miss simpler, more elegant answers.

    • It depends on your scenario, in our case we are in a school. Any power strip on a mounting bracket can be unmounted easily. That is not ideal for us. Additionally, when buying 30 power strips it is really nice to be able to by the inexpensive ones.

      Mounting a strip across the back would require students to get behind the expedit to plug in and wouldn’t allow us to anchor it to the wall safely. Using an Octopus extension cord wouldn’t look as good and would actually be more expensive.

      We considered a variety of solutions before arriving at the above design.

      As for the “danger” in the the power strip scenario, the only cord more likely to heat up is the one coming out of the base power strip and in that case it is only drawing 8 amps. The total cord length from any laptop to the wall is still well below even a short extension cord. I wouldn’t recommend anyone turn it into a shelf for toasters, actually you shouldn’t even be running a toaster through any type of extension cord, but for 16 laptops it is well within the specifications of the power strips.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yikes – the idea of plugging power strips into another power strip into a wall outlet or (worse) into an extension cord is an electrical fire waiting to happen. I can understand the need to have a place to charge one or two devices in a home, but if you are charging that many at once, a home-built solution like this is not a good one.

    • If you look at the commercially available systems they work in essentially the same way and cost about $500-800. If you see my above comments you’ll see how the math works out in terms of amperage.

  8. Anonymous says:

    guys… you can charge notebooks even if they are closed. ;-)

  9. Spencer says:

    So weird. The objective is to charge up to 24 devices in 4 cubbies? I’m not sure you can even fit that many there, unless they were ultrabooks. Not to mention the mess the power supplies would introduce.

    • We easily fit 16 laptops in the four cubbies. The power supplies also fit in there neatly (they have a velcro band that keeps the cord clutter to a minimum. I’ll get a picture up in a few days that shows them in use.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I understand what was done here, I just can’t understand why you did it. What’s the purpose of it? To charge numerous laptops at once? Or to just charge one or two at a time (i.e. one per cubby-hole)? Please explain and post more pictures if there are. Thank you.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Don’t get me wromg: The idea is great, but this seems to be a huge effort for an Expedit with 4 accessible power strips. Espacially asyou waste the bottom two shelfs.

    • yeld says:

      I guess it depends where this thing would be standing. Maybe in office, in some public space where a lot of clients. I suffer from lack of power outlets in the university where everybody’s got their laptop and there’s no place to charge them.

    • These are in a school, we have them in the cafeteria, lobbies and where students get ready for physical education. We agree that they wouldn’t make sense for home use.

      They serve to charge laptops for students during the school day as a typical laptop doesn’t hold a charge over 4 hours and trying to plug in during classes is not ideal.

    • Are you serious? These are being put in a school? Sure, what you said elsewhere is true in that technically you shouldn’t be pulling too much on the strips, but in a school you’re seriously putting multiple strips on each other? Do you realize that its illegal? It breaks a number of fire codes and safety codes and if its ever discovered you could be seriously screwed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Go ahead and quote the legal statute this violates (making this illegal) so we’ll all know. We’ll wait… oh you can’t? that’s because you are posting out of your ass.z

    • DC Dad says:

      Since you asked, you’d be cited under NFPA 1, Fire Code, Section 11.1.7, Extension Cords.  Extension cords shall be plugged directly into an approved receptacle, power tap, or multiplug adapter and shall, except for approved multiplug extension cords, serve only one portable appliance.
      The Uniform Fire Code, Section 85, has similar verbiage, if you live in a State where that is the enforced Code.
      Together, the cover just about every jurisdiction in the USA.

  12. usfollowme says:

    I was taught in school that this is a bad idea. Having 4 power strips going into 1 larger power strip will create a lot of heat and a fire hazard. I hope this does not happen. At least they have a surge protector.

    • jeecri says:

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • jkmods says:

      You are right, but as long as you don’t plug in water boilers instead of laptops you should be ok.
      Standard laptop chargers are rated at 60W x 6 x 4 possible plugs = 1440W which is less than your average electric water kettle, so you should be safe on this one.

    • A fully loaded one has 16 machines in it rated at 60W. Since the the four sub-strips plug into the base strip (and they aren’t chained) the only cord dealing with a lot of current is the power strip that is actually plugged in. Under full load we are looking at 8 amps which is still well below the power rating for the bottom surge protector.

      So yes, avoiding chaining extension cords and power strips are good rules of thumb but in this case the design is totally safe.

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