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What's my best option for running electric and ethernet to my desk in the basement without having the desk against a wall? My ceiling is a bit low (79") so I don't want to do anything that significantly raises the floor and I worry about the possibility of water if the sump pump goes out in the midst of a storm. Is there an aesthetically pleasing drop from the ceiling possible or should I just do something with cord conduit on the floor?

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    "Aesthetically pleasing" is very subjective. I'd probably opt for a floor channel, but that's me. I have no idea what your space looks like or how it's used, nor where you'd need to pull from.
    – isherwood
    Dec 7, 2020 at 20:44
  • It's space that's being newly renovated, so I have some flexibility in how to arrange things. At this stage, I can put electrical outlets and ethernet jacks anywhere I want. Dec 7, 2020 at 21:54
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    Would a floor-to-ceiling column near the desk location work aesthetically in this space?
    – Nate S.
    Dec 7, 2020 at 22:44
  • How far is this desk going to be from the nearest wall? What will be between the desk and that wall (walkway, furniture, etc)?
    – bta
    Dec 8, 2020 at 19:01
  • I'm thinking that it's about 3–4 feet, The gap will be where my chair is. On the other side will be built-in cabinetry, but as it's all new, I can do whatever I want there as well. Dec 8, 2020 at 19:22

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You don't even need a drop.

Just put boxes in the ceiling, or just below, and plug in. Your standard 6 foot line cord will reach the "relatively low" ceiling from the desktop, and ethernet drop cables are available in any length you like. Use cord/cable loom to "prettify" the cables if it makes you happier.

Alternatively, you know where the desk goes, so drop a false column (hollow, so you can hide boxes and cables in it) to that location - either onto the desk or all the way to the floor.

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There are no legitimate products which allow you to stick a conduit on the floor without also adding a layer to the floor to protect it and remove the trip hazard. There are some "put ramps on a lump across the floor" products but they're not rated for permanent installation of AC power lines, and they're all trip hazards. Regardless, I would not toss this together with extension cords given the potential to flood, which would be made much more dangerous by a frayed cord which was not noticed.

Honestly, your one sane play is to do a pendant from the ceiling. Fan-rated box, uber-burly cables with embedded steel wire-rope, proper strain reliefs on the cables so you can pretty much swing from 'em if you wanna. It can be done as tastefully as it can be done... but if your aesthetic standards are that high, then push your desk against a wall and be done with it.

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  • Interesting. We had "ramps on a lump across the floor" in my old office that were installed permanently as the source of power for desks in the middle of a large open office setting. This choice was made after a raised floor was deemed to expensive. Dec 8, 2020 at 18:58
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I understand you've specifically asked about drops, but for completeness, I wonder if you've ruled out running the cables on the floor using a proper "cord cover" or "overfloor cord protector"; if you search for this you'll see a bunch of options, ranging from industrial ones you can drive a forklift over to ones that may be acceptable in a home office, depending on your tastes and on the kind of foot traffic you need to accommodate. I wouldn't worry about flooding, assuming the outlets at either end remain above water, and there should be no problem running an ethernet cable alongside a power cord for reasonable lengths. Cheaper and easier to install (and relocate, and remove) than a new ceiling box.

If you're confident the desk will remain where it is, the best balance for ease vs esthetics for a ceiling solution may be the Wiremold line of products, including their low-profile surface-mount outlet boxes. But I don't think code would allow low-voltage to share a box with AC so you'd be looking at two parallel runs.

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    You can share a box with a listed divider separating low voltage from line voltage, but two boxes is usually the better option anyway.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 8, 2020 at 18:44
  • Yeah, there are entire lines of surface raceway products made with a built-in divider for exactly that purpose Dec 9, 2020 at 0:57
  • Thanks, good to know. But the 14/2 would need a separate box entrance, and thus separate raceway, from the cat-5, right?
    – CCTO
    Dec 9, 2020 at 3:54
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You have exactly four choices - Down from above, up from below, sideways, or do without.

Do without is silly - you need your power connection and ethernet is only a little bit more. Not a solution.

Down from above would put your jacks/sockets in the ceiling, and you reach up to connect wires which hang down under their own weight. This is workable, but somewhat ugly. Personally I'd prefer a clear sight line across the room.
One consideration is to use the new slimline patch cables which are only 2mm across, not 3.2 mm like traditional patch cables.

Sideways would bring wires over the floor, or across the back of some furniture. Depending on the room and your layout, this might be okay. But it sounds like you want an island desk in the middle with walkway space all around. Any hump will be a trip hazard.

Up from Below is your best option. That could entail either:

  • a shallow trench cut across the floor, and some "lid" sections placed on top. https://static.wixstatic.com/media/2a9f54_8ccb497855234efb9cda30f80b580c85~mv2_d_4000_3000_s_4_2.jpg
    Imagine a scaled-down version of this, perhaps 50mm square, with a series of top-plate covers sitting on top of a 20mm overhang/step/recess.
    If the rest of the floor gets covered in carpet or similar, then each plate can have a piece of carpet on top. It will never be invisible, but you should be able to walk over it without catching a foot, and roll a wheelie chair over with no more than a minor bump.
    This would let you lay a power extension cable and some ethernet cables in the same trench, then bring them up to a power multibox at your desk. At the wall end, they would connect to normal wall sockets so would be easily replaceable.

  • Second option would be to embed a conduit or pipe into your concrete floor, so its invisible in the walk space. There might be an access panel in the corner and another under your desk, or you might choose to use a couple of larger radius bends to raise the pipe above the floor level at both ends. Imagine this but in concrete, not dirt: From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRc5sH2ZU2M
    https://www.pikist.com/free-photo-vbiuc
    but use smooth pipe not that ribbed stuff.
    Also remember to lay draw wires through the pipe for future-you.

There will be a difference in requirements between a "permanently installed" power cable to a fixed socket/recepticle, vs an extension cord laid into a channel. Your local code and requirements may have something to say about channels etc.

Also, there is some chance of crosstalk between power cable and copper ethernet cable in the same channel, and also some regulations require separation of low voltage mains from ELV data wires. A trench might require a metal divider plate down the middle to isolate mains from data. A local elechicken should have better knowledge of Code as it applies to your area.

Lastly, consider these tunnels can turn into literal rat-runs, so adding some blocks to stop draughts and rodents can be a wise plan. Less of an issue if its all in the one room.

Sorry my google-images-fu was weak today.

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Have you considered a setup like this? This is my office in the basement that I finished. Technically the desk is not against the wall but is attached to shelving on the side. I love it! I have access to tons of storage on my right, all my wired connections run under the desk cord management rack, as well as desk mounted extension outlet (something like this https://amzn.to/33Zst0H), and I even have a network switch on the bottom of those shelves that feeds my secondary wireless access point as well as printing devices. Doesn’t feel like I am against the wall at all. Bestnof all, no ugly cables in the floor or ceiling.

The desk is an older version of Ikea’s Kallax, with solid side instead of current version https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/kallax-workstation-white-s19123063/ but same principle applies.

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