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The battery in our smartphones, tablets, game controllers, and other tech accessories are really efficient, but it eventually runs out of juice, and you need to plug your gadgets in. This means you have to choose between having little charging bricks plugged into several outlets in your place, or carrying the same one from room to room and trying not to forget it.
I got sick of both of those options last year, and replaced my traditional wall outlets with USB outlets. These are newer power outlets that have USB ports built into them, meaning your phone and tablet chargers are now built into the wall as well. All you need is a charging cable.
What You Need to Know About USB Outlets
Installing USB outlets may sound difficult, but in my experience it was pretty easy. I shut down the power in my circuit breaker, unscrewed the old outlet’s plate, unhooked its wires, and attached them in the same positions on the new outlet. The only tool I needed during the upgrade was a slotted (sometimes known as flat head) screwdriver.
USB outlets use the same exact wiring as traditional ones, and in my experience, they had the exact same layout. Power is fed to both the two outlets and USB ports at the same time; there are no switches to flip or buttons to push. Best of all, the USB ports are located between the two outlets, so you can have two traditional power cables and two charging cables plugged in at the same time.
While the setup experience was easy for me, please do not attempt this home upgrade if you’re uncomfortable working with electrical wiring. Hire a licensed electrician to do the job instead.
When choosing USB outlets, you have two main options: the first has two USB-A ports; the second has one USB-A port and one USB-C port. USB-A ports are type of plug most commonly found on the charger that comes with your smartphone; it’s shaped like a rectangle. USB-C ports are smaller, shaped like an oval, and most commonly found on chargers for more power hungry electronics, like laptops.
USB-C ports offer faster charging speeds than USB-A ports, but you may need to invest in new cables to use it (we recommend this one for iPhone users). In my experience, getting an outlet with a pair of USB-A ports is the right move because it’s a universal standard that most people are already comfortable with. As a bonus, the USB ports on this outlet will charge your device faster than the power adapter that comes with many smartphones.
If you’re frustrated with having to keep track of your charger, or want to easily charge multiple devices at the same time, this is a worthwhile DIY project to tackle. It doesn’t require special tools, a lot of specific technical knowledge, or more than a half hour to complete. Speaking from experience, this was one of the smartest home upgrades I’ve ever made, and an easy way to streamline your chargers and cable clutter at home or at work.