Tips for Buying USB Wall Outlets
Now that you know you want to upgrade to USB outlets in certain areas in your home, here are some tips to take with you to your local hardware store when you're ready to buythem:
Price and Quality
- Don’t go cheap on any electrical upgrades! Among the other more obvious negatives to opposing that rule, cheaper products typically consume more energy. Low-quality electrical products are simply never worth the risk, so don't be overly swayed by saving $10 on a new USB receptacle.
- Avoid uncertified products. All electrical wall outlets, including USB, should be both UL certified and compliant with NEC code.
- Buy Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) products. (In a nutshell, this means: buy equipment that is designed for use with your device.) OEM products can also provide an added level of protection against a surge when your device is charging.
- USB receptacles come in two general designs: either they combine a120-volt outlets with two or more USB ports, or they have only multiple USB ports. Buy USB-only receptacles for a home office when the desk is near a regular outlet. For bedrooms, the combo USB outlet is more convenient for overnight charging.
- Look for USB outlets with sliding shutters that cover USB ports to keep out pet hair, dirt, and dust. Some covers are even designed so that the shutter trips a switch when you open it to power the USB outlet.
- USB outlets with on-off switches are also good ideas for areas in your home where they will be less often in use. You can save energy by turning off power to the outlet until it's needed.
- Amperage is king, especially for newer devices; the higher the amperage, the faster your device can charge. Note: “amperage” is the strength of an electric current in amperes (or amps).
- The two ports you see in most USB outlets have different amperage. The port with 2.1 or 2.4 amps can more quickly charge newer devices (often, the other port is 1 amp; most devices will take longer to charge using this port, so it’s best used for overnight charging and for older devices).
- Be aware that USB-C is a new port standard that many of the latest devices now use.
- USB-C supports the faster USB 3.1 spec, so you may want to purchase a USB receptacle with ports for both the older standard (USB-A) and USB-C, and be ready for the future.
- USB-A supports up to 2.4 ampere (12 watts); USB-C supports 3 amps (15 watts), but this newer standard was designed with room to grow as bandwidth increases.
- Keep in mind that most receptacles with multiple USB ports will have a total charging capacity of 5 amps max. Consider upgrading more than one outlet to USB if you need to charge more than one tablet in addition to phones. Many USB outlets cannot charge two tablets at the same time, for example, so adding multiple USB outlets in your home to handle the heavier charging load of different devices will make life easier for everyone in your busy household.
Cool USB Gadgetry
Always in the kitchen? Consider looking online for a Kitchen Power Grommet, especially if you are redesigning. They are not cheap, but the best time to add one is when you’re putting in new countertops. This cool, spill-proof gadget pops up when you need to power an appliance or charge a device, then hides away when you’re finished using it.
Don’t want to see any tech devices when you’re cooking? Consider a Rev-A-Shelf Charging Drawer when it’s time to update your cabinetry. Neatly tucked away in the back of this drawer are two electrical outlets, two USB charging ports, and power cord.
Do you work from home? Same gadget can apply for your desk that works in the kitchen. Simply research online for Desk Power Grommets.
Worried about protecting devices from a unexpected surge? Look for USB outlets like this one from Ghttps://www.grainger.com/product/GE-Surge-Protector-Tap-53TZ09E that includes built-in surge protector, USB, and 120-volt outlet plug.
Want to get smart? Look online for a Smart WiFi Wall Outlet Receptacle that has an in-wall charger outlet, USB port, and support for Alexa and Google Assistant.
Prefer avoiding either electricians or DIY electrical work altogether? Swap out a three-prong faceplate for one with USB on the side—SnapPower makes this simple-to-install USB charger electrical plate.