What is a Desk Grommet and is it different from a Cable Port?
By definition a “grommet” is: ‘a ring of rubber or plastic or a metal eyelet designed to line a hole to prevent a cable or pipe passed through it from chafing’ so therefore we can assume a “Desk Grommet” serves the same purpose by lining a hole in a desktop to safely and neatly pass cables and wires through the desk without snagging and being caught on the rough edges of the hole.
Desk grommets are widely made from plastic however they are available in wide choice of shapes, sizes and materials and are generally fitted by being pushing in to a hole in the desk top or worktop.
You may have heard the term ‘Cable Port’ being used in the same capacity as Desk grommet and that’s because they are the same thing, ‘Cable Port’ is just a different term for a desk grommet.
What size and shape do you need?
So now we know what a desk grommet is and what it does its to time to think about which one we need. In most cases the first thing to decide when choosing a cable port is the shape: Cable ports are available in a selection of shapes and profiles – Round is typically the most popular shape, but grommets are also made for square, rectangular and even elliptical / oval holes. If you have a hole already drilled in your desk / worktop you will know exactly which shape desk grommet you will need. However, if the holes have not been drilled or made yet you can choose whichever shape you like the most or which shape best suits the table or desk they are going in to. As round is the most commonly used shape this offers the most choice in terms of available sizes, finishes and colours.
One last factor to consider with shape is that some cable ports and desk grommets are available with different top profiles from the hole shape so for example we offer a selection of grommets that will fit a standard round hole but use a square top profile on the desk. This comes in handy if a round hole has already been made but someone wants to change the look of the desk set up with square grommets.
Once you know the shape of grommet, the next thing to determine is the size of desk grommet required. Its important to make sure the size and diameter of the grommet can accommodate the wires and cables that need to be channelled through it. The best way to get an idea of this size is to, if possible, bundle the cables in question together and run a tape measure across the widest point of the bundle. This will give you the very minimum size the cable port / access hole would need to be – although in most cases you will want to leave some excess room for the cables to move unhindered and leave room if you need to add more cables so always round this size up.
Other factors to consider with size – if you need to pass a plug through the grommet then 60mm diameter is probably the minimum size grommet you could consider using but as some plugs are bigger than others (especially with UK 3 pin plugs) so to be safe we would always recommend using the industry standard size – 80mm diameter, providing you have enough space on the desktop / worktop.
What features does your Desk Grommet need to have?
Once shape and size has been decided the next thing to think about is what features you need the desk grommet to have. There are a surprising number of different styles and options to choose from so the easiest way to narrow this down is think about what the cable port is being used for and where its going:
‘Spins to blank off’
Typically only on traditional plastic ports; this refers to the design of the lid of cable port which can be span around to ‘blank off’ the hole when not in use to maintain a clean look. Standard plastic ports that do not spin to blank off will have a hole present at all times.
Flex / Vent Grommet
These ports use a flexible PVC top insert rather than traditional lid allowing cables, plugs and wires to easily be pushed through. The 1 piece design ensure that there are no unsightly holes on show.
Hinged cable port
These feature a hinge on the lid which allows them to be opened and closed when plugs and cables need to be passed through and a small hinged section on the edge for the cables to run through when the main lid is closed. For rectangular holes Hinged Metal Access Plates can also be considered – these are generally rectangular or square in profile and available in various lengths and widths to suit most tables or desks – they have a brush lined strip for the cables and work well for boardroom and meeting tables as a central access to cables and sockets from the underside. Some are available with specific dual side access in mind for this purpose.
Typically only found on metal ports and access plates; brush lined ports have use a brush lining on one side which closes neatly around the cables meaning you don’t have any holes in the worktop / desktop.
While these are not strictly “Desk grommets” in the traditional sense that they don’t channel cables through them – they are an alternative option in situations where cables are not needed. Most have been designed to fit in a standard 80mm round grommet hole meaning they can be used to swap out standard desk grommets. The integrated sockets ports offer a choice of convenient desktop sockets including, Power, USB transfer, USB charging and CAT6 data sockets.
Most cable ports are for desktop use however sometimes there are other applications that need cables and wires to be channelled safely in the same way. Floor grommets are as they sound, for cables to come up through the floor in the same they come through a desktop.
Some cable ports are available as part of a modular set including options to link them directly to cable snakes on the underside of the desk preventing any cables hanging loose.
What material / finish do you want?
When you have decided on your shape, size and required features the final option to consider is the material and finish of your port:
Plastic Cable Ports
The most widely used material for desk grommets offers many options to choose from. There’s a selection of colours available to suit most desk tops / office interiors and some are even available in sprayed metallic finishes – offering a metallic look for the cost of plastic. Also, you can consider “floor grommets” which come in bigger size than desk grommets and are designed to be installed in the floor and therefore stood on / walked on meaning they are made to be more robust and stronger than standard plastic desk grommets.
For high end installations metal desk grommets add a premium finish. They are readily available in a selection of metal finishes including Bright Chrome, Matt Chrome, Brushed Stainless, Black Nickel and High Gloss White. In most cases the metal cable ports come with either a brush or rubber lining for the cable hole which closes neatly around the cables.
Available in a number of natural wood finishes, these ports can match / compliment standard wooden desk tops and add a different look to traditional plastic or metal ports.
The summarise, whatever your need is, no matter the size, shape or material there is a cable port or desk grommet available, we have probably have it