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Keep the Power, Lose the Electrician: New UL-Friendly Solution Delivers Power over Speaker Wire

From 110v and back again: Joe Whitaker’s latest invention lets integrators put wireless speakers or TVs in the wall without calling an electrician – all within UL and CE guidelines.

Keep the Power, Lose the Electrician: New UL-Friendly Solution Delivers Power over Speaker Wire
Joe Whitaker's "Traveler," introduced at CEDIA 2016 converts 110v AC to 12v DC and back again to power speakers and other electronics without requiring an electrician.

At the AC power location, you would see a traditional power outlet with a jumper cable to an adjacent outlet that looks like a traditional power outlet. That's where the conversion takes place. At the speaker (or TV or other device) location, the technology would reside in a back-box, where the device plugs into the conversion module.

Only low-voltage power runs behind the walls, making the solution compliant with UL and CE guidelines ... unlike most "power relocation" systems.

Julie Jacobson · September 19, 2016

Last year, integrator Joe Whitaker developed an enclosure for hiding Sonos speakers in the wall. The only problem, he realized, was that you needed an electrician to run power to the units.

That reality led him to create this year’s invention, a system that delivers power over speaker wire – or other low-voltage cabling – without requiring an electrical contractor.

Whitaker demonstrated the solution at CEDIA 2016, where he teamed up with Thenos, another maker of in-wall Sonos mounts.

He told me after the show that it was “the simplest thing I’ve ever made, but it was the hottest thing.”

Big companies were ready to write big checks for it, he says.

“We’re not sending 110 from one end to the other. We’re only sending 12 volts.”

— ​Joe Whitaker, integrator & inventor on compliance with
UL and CE guidelines

Whitaker’s patent-pending technology resides in a back-box that converts 110v AC power to 12v DC. A jumper cable – just a standard power cord – runs from the existing power outlet to the magic conversion box, code-named Traveler.

At the device location, power is converted back to 110v.

To be sure, there are many “power relocation” kits on the market, but Traveler has many advantages. Most importantly, it follows UL and CE guidelines: There’s no high-voltage running behind the walls.

“We’re not sending 110 from one end to the other,” Whitaker says. “We’re only sending 12 volts.”

In addition, because “we’re sticking with 12 volts,” Whitaker explains, “there’s no worries about sparking and arcing and everything that goes on with electricity.”

Finally, Traveler enables longer distances between the power outlet and the end device. Most power-relocation systems – most of which are not UL-compliant -- go only six to eight feet. Whitaker’s product can go at least 100 feet over standard 16/2 wire.

At CEDIA, Whitaker demonstrated the solution powering a Sonos speaker over 50 feet of wire via 12v (10 amps) power. Whitaker says there’s no degradation of sound quality.

He has three versions of Traveler in the works, including one that can power a big-screen TV. He also notes that new applications for the product emerged from feedback at CEDIA, like relocating IoT hubs to "spots that actually make sense, and not just where sparky puts electrical plugs."

Whitaker had originally estimated six months until delivery of the product, but he says demand at CEDIA was so high that his company would need to tool up for higher volume. As such, we might not see the final product until CEDIA 2017.

More on Joe W. and Thenos

Whitaker is now partnering with Thenos on several projects. Last year at CEDIA, Thenos introduced in-wall mounts for Sonos speakers. The company will now take over Whitaker’s in-ceiling mounting system for Sonos and will resell the new Traveler system when it is available.

Chris Manouel and Joe Whitaker team up at Thenos.
 
Thenos marries the company's existing PlayBox in-wall Sonos mounts with Joe Whitakers in-celing flush-mount enclosure, now called the PB1-C


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At the AC power location, you would see a traditional power outlet with a jumper cable to an adjacent outlet that looks like a traditional power outlet. That's where the conversion takes place. At the speaker (or TV or other device) location, the technology would reside in a back-box, where the device plugs into the conversion module.

Only low-voltage power runs behind the walls, making the solution compliant with UL and CE guidelines ... unlike most "power relocation" systems." />
  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

Follow Julie on social media:
Twitter · LinkedIn · Google+

Julie also participates in these groups:
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View Julie Jacobson's complete profile.



  Article Topics


Speakers · Networking & Cables · Audio/Video · Distributed Audio · Events · CEDIA · News · Products · Joe Whitaker · Sonos · Thenos · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by VR500 on September 21, 2016

Thanks for your reply, Joe. That’s fantastic news about a forthcoming higher-powered extension kit. I know there is indeed a market for such a product.

Posted by jwhitaker on September 20, 2016

OH! To all my HTP friends out there. Please be careful. As of about a year ago UL changed its guidelines in a way that effects power relocation kits. This has to do with the connector that resides in the wall. As far as I know only 1 power relocation kit besides this one conforms to the new standard. 2 of those outlines have to do with stress relief at the junction point spanning past the romex and the other has to do wit fully enclosed and locked boxes at the junction point. So if they don’t fix it….. I’ve got you covered.

Posted by jwhitaker on September 20, 2016

VR500 yes there are a couple models of this device. This one will power up to mid size monitors… And the other one will go even farther than you estimated.
John, it funny you say this… Let’s not forget commercial applications. Also the fact that because of Sonos brand recognition I have actually removed plenty of standard living room surrounds and replaced with Sonos against my recommendation.
Just think bigger. There are a lot of applications for this, and for homes already Prewired but not optimal, this thing will make life easier. For AV companies that have licensed electricians on staff maybe this isn’t important. We don’t have one.
My hope is that this product can keep more profit within our channel not having to reach outside to sub contractors.

Posted by VR500 on September 20, 2016

Using the power calculation formula (P=V*I), we see that 12v * 10a = 120 watts. While the product is indeed novel and will have some applications, unfortunately it can’t supply enough wattage to power a projector or most larger flat-panel televisions. I think this is why the focus is placed on the Sonos speakers, which have considerably lower power requirements.

That said, I’d like to see a next generation of the product that is geared towards displays, having a power capability of, say, 250 to 300 watts of power. Naturally, the price will be higher (along with a higher DC voltage on the speaker cable), but as long as it’s lower than the cost an electrician would charge for the outlet installation, then it has a high chance of finding success with low-voltage contractors.

Posted by John Nemesh on September 19, 2016

Amazing concept…but why the hell would you want to go through all this just to wire in a Sonos powered speaker???  If you already have speaker wire at the location, why not, you know, connect a SPEAKER to it and use it with the Sonos Amp?

I can see other uses for this tech, such as powering smaller flat panel displays or maybe even a projector…but the application this was developed for seems a bit like re-inventing the wheel…by starting with a square!

Posted by Hagai Feiner / Access Networks on September 19, 2016

My brother Joe is such a badass innovator, isn’t he? Congrats and chest bump bro!

Posted by Hagai Feiner / Access Networks on September 19, 2016

My brother Joe is such a badass innovator, isn’t he? Congrats and chest bump bro!

Posted by John Nemesh on September 19, 2016

Amazing concept…but why the hell would you want to go through all this just to wire in a Sonos powered speaker???  If you already have speaker wire at the location, why not, you know, connect a SPEAKER to it and use it with the Sonos Amp?

I can see other uses for this tech, such as powering smaller flat panel displays or maybe even a projector…but the application this was developed for seems a bit like re-inventing the wheel…by starting with a square!

Posted by VR500 on September 20, 2016

Using the power calculation formula (P=V*I), we see that 12v * 10a = 120 watts. While the product is indeed novel and will have some applications, unfortunately it can’t supply enough wattage to power a projector or most larger flat-panel televisions. I think this is why the focus is placed on the Sonos speakers, which have considerably lower power requirements.

That said, I’d like to see a next generation of the product that is geared towards displays, having a power capability of, say, 250 to 300 watts of power. Naturally, the price will be higher (along with a higher DC voltage on the speaker cable), but as long as it’s lower than the cost an electrician would charge for the outlet installation, then it has a high chance of finding success with low-voltage contractors.

Posted by jwhitaker on September 20, 2016

VR500 yes there are a couple models of this device. This one will power up to mid size monitors… And the other one will go even farther than you estimated.
John, it funny you say this… Let’s not forget commercial applications. Also the fact that because of Sonos brand recognition I have actually removed plenty of standard living room surrounds and replaced with Sonos against my recommendation.
Just think bigger. There are a lot of applications for this, and for homes already Prewired but not optimal, this thing will make life easier. For AV companies that have licensed electricians on staff maybe this isn’t important. We don’t have one.
My hope is that this product can keep more profit within our channel not having to reach outside to sub contractors.

Posted by jwhitaker on September 20, 2016

OH! To all my HTP friends out there. Please be careful. As of about a year ago UL changed its guidelines in a way that effects power relocation kits. This has to do with the connector that resides in the wall. As far as I know only 1 power relocation kit besides this one conforms to the new standard. 2 of those outlines have to do with stress relief at the junction point spanning past the romex and the other has to do wit fully enclosed and locked boxes at the junction point. So if they don’t fix it….. I’ve got you covered.

Posted by VR500 on September 21, 2016

Thanks for your reply, Joe. That’s fantastic news about a forthcoming higher-powered extension kit. I know there is indeed a market for such a product.