A few years ago, homebuilder Brent Kidman was adding onto his home. Like most builders and electricians, he'd been in this position countless times before — under a cabinet trying to screw in an electrical device as the screws continued to fall to the floor one after another. He thought there surely had to be a better way. Eventually, his frustration led to action, prompting him to invent a new product line and partner with Cheetah USA Corp., Salt Lake City. Officially launched in October through the electrical wholesale channel and targeting the residential market, the Cheetah Speed System is the newest innovation in screwless home decor electrical products.
According to David Clare, vice president of Cheetah USA, the screwless technology was developed out of a need to provide greater efficiency for electricians. “Ask any electrician what their most labor-intensive job is — the thing that they hate most — and they're going to say ‘the screws,’” he says.
The integrated screwless system includes three components (shown above). A screwless wall plate snaps over the electrical device (receptacle, light switch, or dimmer), which features pre-assembled speed anchors that slide into slots with teeth found in the polycarbonate outlet box. The patented Cheetah box is available in 1-4 gang standard and Big-A sizes, and supports metal studs, mixed voltage, and datacom devices.
As far as time savings goes, Cheetah boasts that installation is reduced by up to four times in some cases. For example, Clare explains that electricians typically take 1 to 2 minutes to install a normal device — the Cheetah can be snapped in place in 5 seconds. On 4-gang switches, Clare maintains most electricians take about 10 to 15 minutes while the Cheetah Speed System logs in around 1 to 2 minutes. In addition to the obvious time savings benefit, the cost of the new system is also competitive to its counterparts with screws. “We're literally talking a mere $11 to $20 more per home, and sometimes it's even less expensive,” Clare says.
Jeff Densley, who works for electrical contracting firm Salt Lake City Electric, uses the product mostly on residential jobs. “The greatest thing about it is how much time it saves me on my finish work,” says Densley, who says he was hooked on the product after trying it only once because it cut his finish work time in half. “It all just pops into the box so you don't have to fight trying to push the screws in or worry about having enough screws to make the plug or switch stay on the wall,” he says.
The other big advantage, says Densley, is the extended depth of the boxes as compared to traditional-sized boxes. “I don't have to worry about wire fill now,” he says. “You don't have to use grounding screws for the switches because there's nothing to short against.”
Steve Sanders, of JSS Electric in Salem, Utah, admits he was skeptical when he first heard about the system. “After trying their new product, I've used it ever since because it's quick, easy, and reliable,” says Sanders, who almost exclusively uses the product in new home construction. “We've had it in houses for about six months, and I haven't had any callbacks.”
Like Densley, Sanders is sold on the screwless design. “In fact, I talked to my suppliers and said, ‘If you want me to do business with you guys, you're going to have to price this the same as traditional products,’” he says. “So they've done that.”
Although time savings is obviously a huge advantage, Sanders is partial to the product for other features as well. “I like how the bracket that the devices are mounted in are plastic,” he says. “There are not a lot of metal parts on it that can become electrified so it's safe. It's also durable.”
Clare explains that although end-users like the elegance and style of the product's appearance, its unique “kid-safe” feature is also catching on in popularity. Even if the faceplate is removed, which must be done by sticking a flat blade behind the plate into a slot to pop it off, the device is still safe because the entire wire system is covered, unlike traditional devices.
The bottom line, according to Clare, is that it's a competitive world, and this product makes sense. “Electricians are constantly being asked to lower their bids,” he says. “If they can get in and do a home four times faster than they used to, they're making more money. Labor is where these electricians are making it or breaking it — not on product margins.”
For more information, visit www.cheetahspeed.com.
- ETL Listed to UL 514D, UL 514C, and CSA standards
- Meets NEMA Standard WD-1
- Backed by one-year warranty
- Flammability UL-94, V2 rating
- Patent and patent-pending Quick-Lock system
- High-strength poly-carbonate composite