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Enhance Your Home Outlets with USB Ports

Did you know that you can actually add USB ports to your household outlets? This is a quick and easy job that can make a huge difference in your life, depending on your allocation of plugs and chargers into the outlets in your living room, bedroom, and beyond. In this article, we’ll explain how to safely swap out your standard outlets for those featuring USB ports.

Did you know that you can actually add USB ports to your household outlets? This is a quick and easy job that can make a huge difference in your life, depending on your allocation of plugs and chargers into the outlets in your living room, bedroom, and beyond. In this article, we’ll explain how to safely swap out your standard outlets for those featuring USB ports.

Why Would You Want Outlets with Built-In USB Ports?

Ever had trouble finding a place to charge your phone or tablet? In today’s modern world, our household outlets are valuable real estate, meaning finding space to charge electronics such as mobile devices can be a challenge. Adding USB ports can free up those outlets for other devices.

A Note About Safety

Even the simplest electrical fixes require extreme caution and a level head about electrical safety. No matter whether you’re working on a low-amp or high-amp circuit, practicing good electrical safety habits is an essential part of keeping yourself and your home safe. If you feel uncertain or cannot ensure a safety step has been completed, you’ll need to get assistance from an electrician. Moving forward otherwise is simply not worth the risk.

For example, the first step requires you to turn off the circuit you’re working on. If you can’t find your circuit breaker box, cannot access it, or for any reason cannot shut off the circuit you’ll be working on, put your tools down and call in the experts.

It’s also important to note that if your upgraded outlet also features more places to plug in appliances (some covers give you an additional two receptacles), that doesn’t change how much that particular circuit can handle. In other words, even though you can have four things plugged in at once, adding a space heater and an electric blanket to the two new receptacles may well trigger your circuit breaker.

Steps for Upgrading Your Outlets

Below are the basic steps for upgrading your household outlets to include USB ports.

  • Buy an outlet with a USB port.You can find these online, at a hardware store, or at many big retailers. They vary by the number of ports, two-prong or three-prong, and other characteristics. Pay attention to the amp output for both the standard and the USB outlet. If you buy a product that only gives you 1 amp through the USB outlet, that’s not going to be enough to charge an iPad (and you may have to go back and buy a different one). In addition, always choose a product with the UL label, and one that comes from a brand you can recognize. If one item is suspiciously cheap, especially if you’re buying online, there’s probably a reason (and it could put your safety at risk).
  • Shut off the circuit connected to the outlet you’re working on. This is done at the circuit breaker in your home. Simply flip the switch for the corresponding circuit to the “off” position. Confirm that it is off by testing a device at that outlet.
  • Remove the outlet faceplate, and then the outlet receptacle from the electrical box. You will likely need both a flathead and a crosshead screwdriver.
  • Replace the wires from the old receptacle into the new one.Follow the color-coding system for the three types of wires. The color scheme should be obvious, but in some cases, the screws themselves aren’t colored. In this case, memorize (or take a picture) of their locations so you can replicate the configuration on the new outlet). You may have just three wires (one of each color), or you may see two sets. The black wire(s) is the “hot” wire, the white is “neutral,” and the green is the ground wire. In some cases, the green wire may simply be bare. If you do not see this configuration, it’s a good idea to stop. The reason if you likely have older outlets that need a modern overhaul for safety.
  • Re-attach everything back in its place – the new receptacle in the electrical box, and the faceplate onto the wall.It’s worth noting that for older homes, you may run into an issue with the new receptacle fitting into the electrical box. This is because of the hardware inside the new receptacle, and requires a larger electrical box. This may require calling an expert to perform this replacement.
  • Restore power to the circuit and test. If it works, you’re done! If not, turn the circuit back off, go back and troubleshoot, or call an expert.

After you’ve upgraded your outlets to include USB ports, you can stop worrying about finding places to plug in your phone charger, tablets, or other electronic devices.


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