If you’re like most people, the area behind your desk or entertainment center is littered with wires. This didn’t happen all at once. A few decades ago, you might have a desk lamp. Then, you might have a PC or a printer. Now, you may have all of the above, plus an external docking station, a phone charger, and other devices. The same goes for entertainment centers. In addition to music and your TV, now we have set top boxes, game consoles, and streaming devices. With all of those new gadgets, it’s no surprise that many of us are dealing with an impossible rat’s nest.
Worse, many of those wires are often going into a single power strip. A good power strip with surge protection can keep your electronics safe. However, it leaves a bunch of exposed connections. These can potentially be dangerous if you have children or pets. Besides which, an exposed power strip is just plain unattractive. Even if you’re an adult living alone, do you really want that kind of unsightly mess around your desk or living room?
To help you tidy things up, we’ve put together a list of the three best cable management boxes available today. First, we’ll be reviewing the Chouky Cable Organizer Box Set. This is a set of three boxes in three different sizes, with clasping lids for safety. Next, we’ll look at the D-Line Cable Management Box. This is another plastic housing, which includes an optional cable cover strip. Finally, we’ll examine the Baskiss Cable Management Box. This is a more attractive, decorative housing, with a wooden lid rather than a plastic one. Which one of these boxes is the best? We’ll take a closer look at each one, and break down their features. At that point, we’ll know enough to render our verdict. Let’s begin!
Other Cable Management Methods
Not every cable management method is right for every situation. For instance, if you’re dealing with outdoor devices, you’ll need outdoor power strips and cable organizers. So, what other methods might you use to keep your cables from turning into an unmanageable jumble? Here are a few other ideas.
Use Cable Ties to Create Bundles
In a lot of cases, you have a bunch of wires running in one direction. Think of the hole in the back of an entertainment center. All the devices on the entertainment center have their cord routed through that hole. All of those cords then go to the same power strip. Yet, in-between, they flail and flop around in every direction. If you wrap a cable tie around them in a few spots, they suddenly become a single, organized bundle.
Of course, this begs the question of what you should be using for a cable tie to begin with. IT pros long favored zip ties, which are lightweight, cheap, and install in a snap. However, they’ve since fallen out of favor for a couple of reasons. To begin with, they need to be cut off, and even the most experienced hand can slip with a blade. You can cut yourself, or slice the insulation on your wiring.
You can buy dedicated cable wraps at most office supply and home improvement stores. Generally, they’ll come in two varieties. The first are flexible, semi-rigid ties. These are similar to twist ties, but they’re beefy, and they’re coated in thick plastic for safety. These are highly adjustable, but it can be tough to decide what to do with any extra length. The second common type of cable tie is a simple velcro strap. Velcro is easily adjustable, and is soft enough that it won’t damage your cables. On the downside, it collects dust very easily.
Another workable option is a spiral cord wrap. These are a bit pricier, but they’re designed for larger, bulkier bundles. Instead of them wrapping around a few parts of the run, they surround the entire bundle for its full length. They’re flexible enough to round corners, and are available in many colors. That said, they’re definitely overkill for smaller applications. Your average home office won’t have that many wires running from one spot to another.
If you want a quick, improvised fix, you can always use twist ties. They’re cheap, and they get the job done without a lot of aggravation. That said, they’re ugly to look at, and they only work for small bundles of a few wires. A better DIY solution is to use elastic hair ties. You can loop one end through the other, then tie it off to create a discreet, simple cable wrap. That said, if you don’t already own hair ties, you may as well buy purpose-built cable wraps and be done.
No matter what your solution, keep in mind that bundling can make it hard to identify individual cables. If you want to unplug a specific machine, tracing the correct wire can be frustrating. Consider tagging your cords with labels, or putting stripes on them if you find labels too ugly. That way, you’ll always know what’s what.
Attractive Options for Desktop Runs
Sometimes, there’s just no way to avoid a cable or three running across your desk. Maybe the power outlet is on the right and your printer is on the left. And that doesn’t even count USB cables and other cords that link devices together. There are a few different ways to deal with this. If you just want to keep your cables from dangling, a few simple binder clips are a good choice. Clip them to the back of your desk, and route the cable through the holes in the handles. For very thick cords, a few eye hooks screwed under the desk can achieve a similar result.
Things get a bit hairier when the cables are actually on top of your desk. Still, there are solutions. You can buy some decorative knick-knacks and drill holes for running cables. As a matter of fact, a number of such cable management tools exist. There are fake books and even Lego figurines that are designed to hide your cables. Whatever you’re using, make sure there’s space inside for excess cable length.
Take Care of Your Stored Cables
Let’s be honest. Most of us have at least one box filled with nothing but old cables. You’re not using them right now, but you might want them someday! At least, that’s what we tell ourselves. But when it comes time to use one of those cables, it’s invariably tangled. Leave a box of USB cables in the attic for a year, and it comes out as knotted-up as a box of Christmas lights. The solution to this problem is to bag your cables instead of wrapping them. By keeping them physically separate inside the box, you prevent multiple cables from getting tangled together. Use gallon-sized kitchen bags for long cables, and quart-sized bags for shorter cables and patch cables. Because kitchen bags are clear, it will be easy to tell what’s inside!
One thing you should always do is coil your cables loosely for storage. Tight coils can cause kinking, and can cause the cables to get damaged over time. Just wrap them up loosely, and they’ll work as well when you retrieve them as when you put them away. Now, let’s look at these cable management boxes!
Chouky Cable Organizer Box Set
The Chouky Cable Organizer Box Set, as its name implies, is not one, but three different organizers. These organizers come in three sizes: large, medium, and small. These sizes measure 15.9 x 6.2 x 5.4, 12.6 x 5.3 x 5.1, and 9.3 x 4.5 x 4 inches. The medium size will work well for most power strips. A half-sized strip will fit in the small, while the larger unit is suitable for oversized power strips. The housing is constructed from durable plastic, and comes in white or black.
These boxes are rectangular in shape, with rounded edges that are easy on the eyes and hands. On the short ends, there are a pair of slots for running wires in and out. There’s plenty of space here to allow you to run your wires. However, without any other slots, all your wires need to pack together to fit through. In most cases, this won’t be an issue. That said, it can be problematic if you have a hot-running power strip and a lot of thick wires. There’s just not enough ventilation for that scenario.
One thing we did appreciate in terms of design safety is that the lids have a clasping design. They click firmly into the base, and require significant pressure to release. This is done on purpose, to keep pets and inquisitive children from playing with your plugs. In addition, the kit includes a 39-inch plastic strap for cable management. It can be easily cut to length, and used to create multiple wire bundles.
D-Line Cable Management Box
The D-Line Cable Management Box is an oval-shaped box with a handful of options. First, you get your choice of black or white plastic. Second, you can choose between the large or small size. These measure 16.5 x 6.5 x 5.26 and 12.75 x 5 x 4.5 inches respectively.
Finally, you have the option of choosing a floor cover. This is a rugged strip that’s hollowed out in the middle so your cables can pass through. It’s tough enough to run over with a desk chair without doing any damage. If you don’t need it, just order the standalone box and you won’t have to pay for it.
The D-Line box is oval in shape, with three holes for routing your cables. One is a large square in the middle of the back. The others are more vertical slots, located at the rear corners. The lid has a simple snap-on, snap-off design. It’s not child-safe, but it’s easy for you to access.
Baskiss Cable Management Box
The Baskiss Cable Management Box comes as a single unit, sized for an individual, standard-sized power strip. The dimensions are 12 inches long, five inches tall, and 4.5 inches wide. The bulk of the unit is made from white plastic, with seven vertical slots. One is located at the end, for the power strip cable itself. The other six are spaced out with three on each of the longer sides. These are designed to easily accommodate multiple incoming cables. They also allow for plenty of airflow to keep the interior nice and cool.
So far, the Baskiss box probably doesn’t sound like anything terribly special. However, it comes with an attractive wooden lid instead of a plastic one. This isn’t child-safe, or even pet-safe. However, it’s very attractive to look at. If you need a box for your surge protector that also sits on your desk, you’re looking at a solid choice.
Which cable management box is the best will depend mostly on what you need. The Chouky Cable Organizer Box Set is a good choice if you have multiple power strips. Since it’s a three-pack and comes in different sizes, it’s highly versatile. The limited number of cable slots is a bit annoying. On the other hand, the child-safe lid is great for anyone with a family.
The D-Line Cable Management Box’s oval profile gives it a somewhat cleaner appearance, as do the rear cable slots. It has plenty of room for airflow, and comes in two sizes to accommodate most power strips. It even comes with an optional floor guard, to keep your cables safe in high-traffic areas.
The Baskiss Cable Management Box is the best choice by far when it comes to cosmetics. With its wooden lid, it won’t look out of place even in a professional environment. Furthermore, the seven cable slots allow for plenty of connectivity. They also let in lots of air, so your power strip will stay cool.