Understanding Bocci Outlets: Design, Installation, and Use
It's highly uncommon for businesses to feature their competitors: typical any mention is underhanded at best with intent to illuminate the flaws or problems of similar products. Admittedly, we're slightly
guilty of this, as our Case Study
page does compare
system with our competitors, paying particular attention to their (extreme) cost. Despite this, we still have a serious respect for what other companies are doing, and to that end, we've decided to take the time to profile some of these products for our interested users. Today, we're looking at the Bocci 22 System
, breaking down the product's design, installation, and use.
Bocci Outlet kit for installation in drywall and wood
Bocci Outlet Design
There's no disputing the fact that Bocci Outlets are beautiful: we love how the designers have found a way to both minimize and celebrate the common outlet. This is a mantra which defines much of high-end design; items that simply cannot be removed must be minimized or celebrated. Even the packaging design is stellar, as you can see from our sample kit below.
Bocci 22 unboxing; even the box is beautiful!
The Bocci 22 Outlet is an exceptional product. The kit photographed above includes two single-gang assemblies for both drywall and solid surfaces. The kit also also includes multiple receptacle barrels and the installation tool, which we'll dive into further below.
Bocci mud-in & solid-surface mounting plates along with installation patch and removal tool
Holding and test-fitting the pieces really makes you realize how much time went into the design. Everything fits together sleekly and elegantly, and each part feels high-quality. Although not a fixture of everyday use, the outlet does give a satisfying click when locked together with its mounting platform.
When installed, the Bocci 22 gives off an air of style and elegance. The circular face is playful and refined, and adds an element of excitement to the often-joyless expression of code required outlets. The design has an wonderful 1/16" reveal around all sides, which provides visual separation between the product and material surround. The outlets are available in three colors: white, cream, and black, allowing the system to work well with a variety of finishes from plaster, to stone, to wood, to metal.
Bocci's three finishes pictured: white, cream, & black
Reviewing the plethora of images on their website, you'll find multiple examples of outlets that are both hidden and expressive—
it's incredible! We've pulled together some of our favorite images from the Bocci website
Bocci Outlet Installation
Like many designers and builders, we'd mostly encountered Bocci outlets in photos. The few we'd seen in reality were (mostly) just as you'd expect: a quaint circle that subtly fits in with the overall design. Part of what makes these outlets so irresistible is the mystery and the magic of how they work. Well, how do they work? See our version of Bocci cliff notes below.
The Bocci Kit comes together with a satisfying click during installation
The first major difference between Bocci outlets and typical outlets is that there is no proper "faceplate." Typically a receptacle screws directly into a backbox, which is then covered by a decorative faceplate to hide the electrical internals and joint between outlet and drywall. However with Bocci 22, the receptacle is mounted within a permanent "mounting plate" that is specifically designed to receive the Bocci outlet. In this way, the mounting plate connects to the junction box and then is permanently covered by the finishes. We'll get deeper into this in the "issues" section of this post, but this design means that the junction box is inaccessible after the finishes are installed, and in some parts of the country is of dubious legality.
In the series of images below you can see a typical drywall installation; it's quick to see that the price of these outlets isn't just in the hardware. The labor is specialized and much more intensive than your average outlet; all to say that the upcharge doesn't end with the parts!
Step 1: View of typical backbox installed in sheetrock wall
Step 2: Installation of Bocci Outlet mounting plate with receptacle in place, screwed to backbox and set in drywall compound
Step 3: Install fiberglass mesh and first coat of drywall compound around the outlet, using the Bocci 22 cover to cap the receptacle.
Step 4: Apply a second coat of drywall compound, flushing out the cap with the adjacent wall. Sand after drying.
Step 5: Repeat step 4 with ready-mixed compound. Sand after drying.
Step 6: Sand wall thoroughly with fine grit sandpaper, paint over wall and outlet cap.
Step 7: Remove cap and touch up opening with sandpaper and paint.
And that's it! Only seven highly specialized steps and hours of skilled labor to get the cute outlets of your dreams! They are quite beautiful though....
Bocci Outlet Issues
As you can probably tell from the post so far, we here at FLUSHTEK have a lot of respect for the Bocci Outlet system. It's a completely unique product that feels exceptionally well-considered - a beautiful object in its own right. This isn't to say that it's without issue however, and we'd be remiss to not mention some of the system's more prominent problems.
Part of the reasons why a designer or homeowner would select Bocci is because they want to see more finishes and less outlet. Unfortunately, prioritizing finishes can be at odds with a Bocci outlet installation. One of the most common issues we see with the Bocci 22 system is that the finishes immediately around the outlet are often damaged due to installation or maintenance. This is especially true for soft materials like plaster or drywall, where the finish adjacent the outlet is easily dinged, crushed, or damaged from use or routine maintenance.
Damaged finish and scratched outlets (photo from Build.com)
Other, harder, materials don't have this issue, however they do suffer from damages related to initial installation. Because the mounting bracket is set from the backside and installed on site, installers will commonly drill the outlet recess on site to assure the correct alignment. Unfortunately drilling out finishes on site is imprecise, and can run the risk of causing damage to sensitive veneer or brittle stone.
Damaged Veneer panels from poorly drilled Bocci Outlet installations
Simply put, most electrical codes are not explicit regarding Bocci outlets. Understandably as the product is fairly new and understandably and many electricians don't have experience with the installation. Often, the requirement in question for the legality of these outlets is concerning access; by code all electrical receptacles must provide access to the connection between the receptacle and in-wall wiring after installation. Bocci has actually developed a very clever way of providing access to this connection, although in some areas certain groups feel it isn't enough. For instance, in New York City, there are groups of electricians and electrical engineers who feel that the 1 1/4" opening to the backbox cannot be considered sufficient access, and will either refuse to install Bocci 22s or require that they be wired in a very specific way. There is speculation that NYC ECRIC is in the process of providing a ruling on Bocci Outlets in the coming year, although nothing has been formalized as of yet. Until then, some engineers are going as far as requiring that the outlets have a homerun to the panel along with a separate splice box accessible from another location.
Engineer's drawing of Bocci Outlet required wiring
Although this requirement doesn't make the outlets impossible, it certainly adds a significant amount of complication, further increasing the cost of an already expensive product and installation.
A perfect segue into the most prominent issue with these outlets, the minimal and modern elephant in the room: cost. For some designers and homeowners design is the deciding factor, and they'll pay whatever it costs to achieve their vision. For these instances Bocci outlets are perfect. Unfortunately for average homeowners and designers it's simply not an affordable prospect. We highlighted this in our Case Study, but will break it down a bit more concretely below.
Take the materials shown in our sample kit: two outlets, two mounting brackets, and one installation tool. Taken together, these items would cost roughly $500, with a per-outlet cost of around $250. A room could easily have 5 outlets—a home, 50. You can start to see how the numbers add up. And this isn't even including installation or code compliance. Taken together, these outlets start costing well over $500 each. Beautiful outlets for the rich and famous, but not for the everyday owner trying to elevate the design of their home.
Bocci Outlet Review Summary
Bocci 22 outlets are a beautiful and unique take on something that's often an ugly afterthought. The product is inventive and joyful, and for that we give immense credit to the designers. However, aside from the product's problems, the main issue is its sheer expense. This is why we created FLUSHTEK. We believe in the importance of design, but know that it must be accessible to have a significant impact. With FLUSHTEK, it's a single-purchase product, that will allow you to create hundreds of minimal, modern outlets: no need to repurchase proprietary products for every install.
If you're interested in what flush, minimal outlets could do for your home or your designs, check out the FLUSHTEK Home Page. Our system is designed for professionals and hobbyists alike; check out the System Pack or have a look at our How it Works Page to see just how easy it is!
Note: We've recently added a Trufig Outlet Review to our blog as well! Interested users can click the link above to read more.