How many mobile devices do you keep in your home? Certainly your smartphone comes to mind first, but you might also have a tablet, laptop computer, or other peripheral device that needs to be plugged in to charge. Multiply that by the number of people living in your home and you'll be surprised at just how many devices you own.
A recent study confirms that the average North American home has seven mobile devices in it. Every single one of those devices comes with its own charging cable and wall adapter, which can make outlet space a hot commodity in domestic common areas – think of your kitchen or living room. How often do family members squabble over who gets to charge their phone on the couch or at the table
Convert Wall Outlets to Combo USB Outlets
One clever way to deal with this problem is converting some of your wall outlets to combo USB outlets. These outlets feature the two typical 120-volt three-prong power outlets alongside one or two specialized USB outlets. By upgrading to combo USB outlets, you can plug your electronic devices directly into the wall – no charger needed!
Not only do combo USB outlets free up valuable outlet space, but they also give your interior a clean, organized look – no need for rows of wall adapters to sit alongside one another, occasionally covering up free outlets due to poor design.
As an added benefit, these wall outlets may also charge your devices faster than other USB connections do. It depends on the device in question and the amperage in your home.
Installing USB Wall Outlets
While combo USB outlets have been around for several years, it has taken them some time to show up in your local hardware store. Any Orange County hardware store will have a few variants, typically priced between $10 and $25 – about what a third-party wall adapter would cost.
In addition to combo outlets, you can also occasionally find USB-only outlets that combine up to four outputs on a single panel – perfect for the home office. Before you buy any, however, you'll need to measure your junction boxes to make sure the USB outlets fit.
You'll notice that these outlets are almost twice as deep as regular 120-volt power outlets. The reason is that the electronics typically located on an electronic wall adapter are now hidden behind the wall – in older homes, you might need to cut and patch the wall around the outlet to fit. Otherwise, they'll slide into the slot just like a regular outlet.
Older homes may also have an electric system with a lower amperage, and this could affect charging performance. A professional electrician can determine whether this is the case for you and help you achieve any other upgrades you may wish at home.