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A client wants to set up an aquarium in the middle of a living area in a rented apartment. The flooring is hardwood parquet on a concrete base.

How can I run electricity across the flooring in a way that:

  • allows people to walk across it without tripping,

  • won't allow damage to the wiring, and

  • minimizes damage to the hardwood flooring?

My first idea is to use the flat-bottomed/rounded top plastic channel often used in office spaces to run wires between computers & printers. Relatively solid and a low profile. But how can I attach it solidly to the wood flooring in a way that allows for a later removal of the installation with the least visible damage?

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    Is there any way the aquarium lights can run on low voltage like 12-24V? I ask because 95% of the time, they ACTUALLY ARE low voltage lights, and people put the mains transformer at the aquarium just out of convenience. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Oct 21 at 14:27
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I would use a hard plastic or metal version of the channel you describe, and run foam tape under each edge. It'll handle any unevenness in the floor and will be removable, even if an adhesive remover is needed.

Start with a "removable" version of the tape. If the floor has a good finish on it, you could then try a "permanent" version if the removable version doesn't hold up well.

  • Thanks, easy idea. I had forgotten that foam tape existed; this is good use for it. – JohnnyBravo Oct 21 at 13:22
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Several companies make "flat power cable" which is actually rated/listed to be mains power cable designed to lay under carpets. Use appropriate tape to hold it down.

If the floor does not get any sunlight, a better tier of theatrical "gaffer tape" may be very effective; it's literally for that. However in my experience, gaffer tape will degrade after long-term use where it receives UV light from the sun.

You will need to install the power cable according to its labeling and instructions.

Now, very often, aquarium LED lighting is actually low voltage. That is, it has a "wall wart" transformer that converts mains voltage into the ~12V that the lighting actually wants. If so, carry the 12V across the floor, not mains voltage. This is worlds safer, and means you can use a cheaper/lower quality wire without hazard. It also reduces the amount of wire protection that it needs.

It may involve some tricky splicing; if so, the connector ends are readily available at Radio Shack mail order shops like Mouser Electronics, Digi-Key, Galco and the like. If you want to splice on special connectors for easy unplug, try Ideal brand fluorescent light disconnects.

  • The flat power cable idea is good. However, there will be traffic and I'm not sure the tape will hold up. – JohnnyBravo Oct 23 at 10:09

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