Update Your Home with USB Electrical Outlets

Posted by on Dec 6, 2013 in K-Co Electric Blog, Residential Electrician | 0 comments

Update Your Home with USB Electrical Outlets

Chances are very good that you or someone in your household has a smart phone, an iPod, a tablet or some other device that recharges its battery through a USB cable. USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. It’s an industry standard that was developed in the 1990s to standardize cable connectors and to allow the transfer of data from one point to another. Fortunately, even the version 1.0 USB (now pretty much obsolete) provided a 5-volt current source that would power the connected devices – like keyboards and mice.

Today, with the proliferation of portable devices, people use the USB port on their computers for recharging far more often than for transferring data. That 5-volt source has become a recharging point. Manufacturers of AC power outlets, like that pictured here, are now including USB charging ports directly into the outlet design. And that’s good news if, up until now, you’ve been recharging your devices by plugging them into a PC or laptop. USB ports in a PC or laptop are rated to support only a certain “unit load.” Some devices you plug into your computer to recharge may exceed that rating. However, a USB electrical outlet has far greater capacity (up to five amperes at five volts, for those technically inclined). [1]

Why Use a USB Outlet?

First, for convenience. There’s no reason to rely on your computer or laptop when you can quickly recharge your phone or tablet through a wall outlet with USB. If your nightly routine is to recharge your phone in the bedroom or the kitchen, those are both ideal places to install a USB outlet.

Second, if you’re using a charger (some people call it a “dongle”) that came with your phone or other device, you probably leave it plugged in all the time – even when you’re not charging anything. It’s just more convenient that way, right? However, just like your TV and many other household appliances, that charger is drawing power 24×7. A wall outlet with USB only draws power when you’re actually charging something, helping to reduce your energy costs. Beside that, it’s a space saver: That dongle takes up a socket in your conventional wall outlet. Some of them are so big they even cover the second plug-in so you can’t use the outlet for anything else.

Installing a USB Outlet

Many manufacturers make USB electrical outlets. You’ll find USB outlets with one (as pictured) or two USB charging ports. Installing the new outlet can be a bit tricky, however. Some USB outlets are wider than the junction box behind your wall and just won’t fit. You could always remove the old AC outlet – after turning power off at the breaker box – and measure the inside of the junction box to make sure you buy a USB outlet that will fit. Or, you could tear up the dry wall and remove the old junction box, replacing it with a larger version. But I’m sure that’s just too much trouble.

If you’re determined to install a USB outlet yourself, here’s a tutorial [2] on how to do it – along with all the critical safety warnings and even advice on snapping a picture of how the outlet is wired so you’ll be able to rewire the new USB outlet properly. But be very careful! Working with electricity is dangerous. Beside the risks of electrocution and fire, wiring things up incorrectly could ruin your electronic devices.

Of course the easiest way to update your home with these convenient wall outlets with USB is to give me a call. We carry a complete line of USB outlets and can save you the hassle and worry of dealing with potentially lethal electricity – and without having to tear out your drywall.

Sources: (1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB#Charging_ports_and_accessory_charging_adapters (2) http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-give-your-wall-outlet-a-usb-upgrade-165394