I like to build things, and I've been drafting up plans for a headboard for quite a while now. One of the things I want my headboard to have is a number of outlets, since laying on my bed is where I often realize I need to plug a device (charger for my laptop, etc) in. I'm going to be moving around a fair amount (military), so I need this to be compliant with the most up-to-date codes.

I've worked with mains voltage before - and I'm very comfortable with electricity in general; I'm a computer engineer (so I normally work with much lower voltages). I am not an electrician, and trying to read through the 2020 edition of the fire code to see what's even relevant to my situation is leaving me with a bit of a headache - not even sure where to look.

Here's the tentative plan: a heavy-duty appliance cord (3-prong) will be plugged into the wall in the bedroom, as the main source of power. The other end will be wired to provide the power for an outlet on the headboard. The connection from that outlet will be daisy-chained to a couple more outlets with some fairly robust romex, all hidden/built into the headboard. Essentially it's a very physically large power strip.

I also plan on having some other electronics in the headboard - LED lights and such - but I'm not sure how the code relates to this. Will keeping any separate-voltage wiring in a conduit be sufficient?

What things should I be aware of when building this to keep it up with code? Do I need grounded boxes around the outlets, or will the blue plastic ones be sufficient?

  • 1
    Romex is the wrong type of cable for this, I would use service cable, HD carries 14/3 sjoow, and LPCG503 connectors. Feb 23, 2020 at 15:37
  • Pretty much worldwide, mains voltage must be isolated from Ultra Low Voltage.
    – Criggie
    Feb 24, 2020 at 0:10
  • Furniture is furniture - code only applied to the building. If you were going to sell a headboard that plugs into a wall outlet then that's an appliance, and it would not need to meet any type of electrical building code, but would require UL/ETL/CSA/etc listing like all other electrically powered appliances.
    – J...
    Feb 24, 2020 at 13:46

2 Answers 2


Do you need actual outlets? Chargers and lights can both be run off of USB, and a USB hub+extension cables doesn't even involve real wiring. It also works in both 120V and 240V countries with just a plug adapter as long as you get a 120/240V hub, which could be an issue if you just use regular outlets.

I'm not sure there's any legal concerns, because you're not putting anything in the wall, and you're not selling it. The code is for things you do to a house, and there are rules if you're going to sell it, but for assembling something for your own use, I think you just need to care about safety.

However, the rules for selling an item such as this are a good way to see if you're doing this safely. I think you want UL 962A Standard for Furniture Power Distribution Units. This is a commercial document ($500+), which you are supposed to purchase from UL, so no link.

  • 2
    That's an excellent pointer; thank you for the direction! I would like to have actual outlets, but inasmuch as it's possible I think it makes sense to try and just use chargers and the like outside of it.
    – user112697
    Feb 23, 2020 at 7:34
  • 2
    @user112697 -- you can buy UL962A compliant furniture power distribution units, they're simply not something that's going to be available cheaply online. (I'd try a commercial office furniture dealer in your area, since that's where they're used) Feb 23, 2020 at 14:18

My preference for this kind of work is to use all steel junction boxes and metal "EMT" conduit throughout. This generally puts the work beyond question or reproach; you don't have to worry about things like wires being pinched. Further, you are able to use the EMT conduit as your ground; meaning you only need to put 2 wires in the pipe.

You actually need to do this at the first box anyway. The cord will require a listed strain relief appropriate for the cord. The electrical supply house sells these; don't bother trying to get them at the big-box; they're not likely to stock the right ones, and will cheerfully sell you the wrong one which they do stock. Anyway, the strain relief will require a 1/2" knockout, which a blue junkbox won't have. You would be "forced" into using a Romex "clamp" which is very much the wrong thing for cordage.

The cordage must be listed as cordage, one example being SJOOW type. Using NM, UF, AC, BX or MC as cordage is Right Out.

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