Wouldn’t it be great if you could stop moving the power brick for your phone charger from outlet to outlet? Fortunately, installing a power outlet with built-in USB ports is a fairly easy DIY that can make all the difference. Once completed, you can charge your mobile devices to your heart’s content while freeing up space for available power outlets.
We’ve put together a guide on what exactly you need to install a USB power outlet yourself. Before we begin, though, an important warning: regulations regarding home electrical work vary by country and state. Before following the steps below, make sure you are qualified to perform electrical maintenance in your area and that you have the necessary safety tools.
: Select a power outlet with USB connection
A few years ago it was difficult to find a power outlet with integrated USB ports, but now there are several options available. Top models from brands likeand are some of our top recommendations, but you can also opt for a cheap, unbranded outlet. You will find a range of configurations and colors available, and you can relax knowing they are built and tested to safety standards.
However, keep in mind that USB-equipped outlets are much deeper than regular designs due to the extra electronics that need to be packed in. In this case, you will need about three inches of depth in the wall for your new outlet. Once you’ve scouted a location that’s ripe for an upgrade, check the size of the junction box behind the outlet before making your purchase.
For our guide, we have the, which supports two USB ports and two tamper-resistant power outlets. You should be able to pick up this model (and similar units) for around $ 25. You can watch it .
Depending on your existing outlet, you may also need to grab a wall plate to surround the outlets. The wall plate on our socket has a horizontal bar between the sockets, which is where the new USB ports will be placed. So, to accompany the USB-equipped outlet, we have the, which matches color and finishes.
Step 2: Treat yourself to an outlet voltage tester
Besides a screwdriver, the other tool we highly recommend for this job (or any other outlet) is one. Obviously, we need to turn off the power on the electrical panel before swapping out the outlets, but we have to be Absolutely Make sure that the outlet is not live, check with a voltage tester.
Low-cost devices like this non-contact voltage tester from Klein Tools provide visual and audible warnings when voltage is detected in an electrical outlet. It’s available for around $ 20, and there’s an updatethat can be obtained for less than $ 25.
Once you have the voltage tester in hand, test it on an outlet that you know has live to make sure it works.
Step 3: Turn off the electricity
After deciding which outlet to replace, go to your home’s electrical panel. Turn off the power to the room / outlet you are replacing or, to make sure there is no power, turn off the power completely.
Step 4: Remove the existing wall plate and drain
Use your voltage tester to check if the power has been interrupted, then carefully unscrew and remove the wall plate and outlet from the junction box behind it.
Step 5: Note the existing wiring
Take a picture of the existing wiring (or sketch a quick diagram) so you’ll know how to rewire the new outlet when it’s fitted. In North American homes, you can expect neutral (white), hot (black), and ground (bare copper) wires. Other continents have different codes, so be sure to check existing connections. Better yet – label the wires before removing them.
Step 6: Remove the wires from the old outlet
Take your screwdriver and loosen the captive screws holding the electrical wires in place. Keep in mind that they can be held in place with quick release clamps instead of screws. If it does, find a small screwdriver or similar tool – a SIM tool will even do – and press the recessed release button to release the wires.
Step 7: Connect the USB connection
Reverse the steps to connect your new outlet. Next, make sure the neutral, hot / phase, and ground wires are properly connected to the correct terminals.
Step 8: Secure the outlet and wall plate
The hard work is over! Attach the new outlet to the junction box. You can use the same screw holes that were used to fix the old exhaust in place.
Now attach the wall plate over the outlet before you sit back and admire your handiwork.
Step 9: Switch on and test
Go back to your circuit breaker and turn on the power to the appropriate outlet. Then use your voltage tester to make sure that the outlet is working properly before connecting and testing your USB devices.
For a few minutes of work and a $ 30 investment, you’ll be rewarded with a handy new charging point and a fresh, clean replacement for those tired, outdated outlets in your home. If only there was a better way to bring wireless charging into your home.