We saw this really cool product on television the other day. It was among the Top 18 Products – Popular Mechanic’s Editor Choice Awards at the 2009 Consumer’s Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year. It’s a product called FlatWire .
We could have used this product a few years ago as a solution to put a pair of sconces on our wall without the “hide the wire encased in a decorative metal bar that extends vertically down the wall” solution. I thought I should take a look at this product to see if it’s too good to be true or not. It’s been out for a couple of years and they’ve added to their product line.
Too good to be true. Hmmm…that depends on your level of skill when it comes to mudding, sanding and painting. It’s also a little more expensive than premium wire. Don’t get me wrong. This is a very cool invention but is it worth the price and supposed minimal effort to get a pair of sconces on your wall without the ugly wiring needed to power them? Let’s find out.
Robert Sexton is the inventor and founder of FlatWire. It was one of those “necessity is the mother of invention” moments that struck him on a home project one day. He had to ponder…”Why is wire round? Why can’t it be flat? He investigated those questions and found out that wire is round mainly because of construction and manufacturing techniques and that physics has nothing to do with it.
That was about 20 years ago and now he’s beginning to see the fruits of his labor. FlatWire is manufactured by SouthWire, one of the largest wire manufacturers in the world. Apparently, they feel that FlatWire is worthy of their attention and marketing dollars. SouthWire is a very respectable company so that says a lot about FlatWire.
This stuff is very thin and flexible. It’s thinner than a credit card at 0.009″ thin and 2.274″ wide. It’s rated at 18e AWG. You use their (paintable) connection boxes on both ends to hook up your sconces and to plug them into a standard electrical socket at the other end of it.
How Much Will It Cost To Buy Everything Needed To Have My Sconces Up on the Wall?
FlatWire (in this application) is a UL Listed Class 2, Low Voltage wire. You MUST buy FlatWire’s low voltage sconces to make this set-up work. Each sconce uses a standard 20W halogen bulb. FlatWire will NOT work with a standard sconce that you’ve been eyeing down at the antique store. So what to do? One of three choices is to be made:
- Buy the uber cool FlatWire sconce kit and do it up.
- Buy the sconces of your dreams, cut a couple holes in the wall to fish the wire through and then patch it.
- Do neither but instead buy a pair of candle-powered sconces. Hey…that’s what we did in one location of our home.
If you’ve decided on making the FlatWire purchase, then read on. Depending on the finish, the complete FlatWire sconce kit currently costs $199 – $249 plus your cost for joint compound and paint. At the time of this post, the kit was on sale for 20% – 25% off, though. The kit even comes with a DVD for you DIYer’s.
So let’s take a look at what you will need to do once you have the kit in hand.
- Decide where your sconces will be placed.
- Map out where the FlatWire will go on the wall.
- Prime the walls.
- Spray the adhesive on the wall along the wiring path.
- Apply the FlatWire along the adhesive “path”.
- Apply the mesh tape on the FlatWire.
- Apply your joint compound and smooth it out.
- Sand it. Re-mud, if necessary. Re-sand.
- Paint it.
Now compare all of that with buying a pair of comparable sconces ($40 – $75), paint (leftover – practically free), a drywall patch repair kit ($6) and standard wire ($15) plus your time and labor.
There are two considerations:
- Total cost
- Your DIY skill level in two arenas…electrical (to hardwire the standard sconces) and drywalling.
You decide. Either way, it’s a decent amount of work to go through to retrofit a pair of sconces to have that builder installed look.
I think I’ll stick with my candle sconces.
FlatWire also makes Audio/Video and Data cable. Check them out at the FlatWire website.
How to run A/V cable through your home. Great DIY project.
They’ve also branched out into A/V cable, Data cable and HDMI cable.pr
Writing a home building blog that chronicles new homes during different phases of construction from a consumers’ point-of-view is rather unique and loads of fun. Basically, my tips are a collection of checklists for what I think should (and should not) go into building a quality home. So let’s have fun seeing what’s new in the housing market these days!