USB charging is becoming ever more ubiquitous. Why not incorporate this capability in the space of a standard wall outlet, in addition to the two standard wall power outlets? Newer Technology did just that!
Their new Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet, $30 (list price) and the only device of this type, so far, to be UL listed (more on this later). It features clever, intelligent and smart design along with solid build quality.
Shown last month in Las Vegas at CES, seeing it was a moment of epiphany. It just makes so much sense! Who among today’s tech overloaded consumers would not want one or more of these for the convenience and lessening of clutter?
There were other devices shown from other companies that featured similar basic capabilities and up to four USB ports, but none were so sophisticated and polished a product as this. Here we have well-thought and clearly carefully executed finished goods with safety features not present on the others!
I may be atypical, but everywhere I turn I’ve got USB things to charge or power – phones, batteries, Bluetooth devices and I am not alone here, so there are multiple sets of equipment such as Portable AC Nerd in need of USB power.
Having the Power2U installed means where it is installed and without needing a couple of AC to USB power bricks, two things may be charged, freeing two AC outlets from needing the bricks. That is, this device can send power to any USB 1, 2 or 3 device.
It takes some user adjustment as the USB charging cables span from where one may sit nearby to the wall. Alternatively, a device plugged in now has to be placed either below on the floor or there is a wire from the low outlet at the wall upward to a nearby table. Still, I like the concept and execution. Give this some thought, please.
Most AC outlets are populated with plugs that stay in place, a cord falling to the floor, perhaps routed along the baseboard until it needs to venture out from that area to its other end, to the product attached.
USB-in-the-wall is altogether different, with a different usage model requiring regular plug in and disconnect and the consideration of where the attached product will reside while connected. Perhaps Power2U may be best placed if there is an outlet on either side of one’s bed. Perhaps an ideal location is near the front door just below the table where one may “drop” off one’s mobile phone and BT headset at the end of he day. Perhaps a Power2U is ideal for placement just below the countertop in a kitchen, where devices may rest comfortably, safely on the ledge above. Just think about it.
In the smarts department, there are spring-loaded closures over both USB ports. The safety aspect is obvious, but when the one or both doors shut with removal of the USB cable/connected device, power is cut to the covered port. In addition, USB power is discontinued when the outlet senses a full charge has been accomplished in the connected device. See, smart?
As to the UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories, Inc.) listing, this is both political as well as functional. Certainly, any manufacturer may produce an item of the highest quality and of the finest materials, with outstanding, thoughtful design and NOT have UL certification. Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) is an independent, not-for-profit product-safety testing and certification organization in many product areas.
The UL listing and genuine, authorized logo on the Newer package tells consumers that UL has accepted and passed on the design and execution of the product, assuring the consumer that their stamp of approval means the product is safe and should be effective for its purpose. Politically, UL listing is a leg up on would-be competitors who would skirt effective standards and deliver possibly inferior, even unsafe products to the end user.
UL listings aside, I even like the small touches of flush-mounted plastic caps covering the mounting screws.
In use, just as it should be, one forgets there is anything special about this AC outlet as compared with one of ordinary capabilities. It blends in and does not invite unwanted attention.
The ONLY caveat for would-be purchasers is its size on the backside. There is quite a bit of technology and hardware under the cover, so to speak. As such, installation requires that the in-wall box from which an existing AC outlet is to be swapped out must be a on a standard 15Amp electrical circuit with 16 cubic inch electrical box. Many boxes, I am afraid, are simply not of that rather large standard size because builders are notorious for taking short cuts and doing less than they could or should. If you’ve ever seen a standard electrical outlet, such as the popular ubiquitous Leviton-brand pictured below, you know there is nothing much behind what you see. That is, there is no real depth or width with which to be concerned.
Contrast this with the Power2U replacement device shown at the top of the article and see all that sticks out the back, the depth of that one. Now you can understand how and why it will not be reasonably possible to install Power2U wherever one may wish and in all domiciles. In fact, those considering purchase may be wise to scope out and decide upon installation location(s), remove the wall plate, unscrew the outlet and pull it gently out to view the innards and determine installability at that desired location.
Depth is just at about two inches from the back of the plate. Width needed inside the electrical box is a touch more than one and seven eights inches while the height requirement is a touch more than one and three quarters of an inch. Try making a paper box of these dimensions to test your intended install location.
One expert has suggested to me that homes built prior to 1980 would be more likely to present installation issues.
Here is an informative installation video detailing the approximately 20-minute process.
In my own anecdotal checks, I found several apartments with insufficient clearance to install this clever product. Similarly, in one older home, build ca. 1960, I found insufficient space to drop in the Newer Power2U. Absent the potential fit issue, things should go smoothly as demonstrated in the linked installation video above. It really is quite straightforward. Just follow the guidelines and, for heaven’s sake, flip the breaker to disable power to the outlet in question! Once installed just use, enjoy and repeat.
They’re going to sell a boatload of these! Well, done.