Although the average home is outfitted multiple of receptacles to power appliances, few are designed to accommodate the needs of multiple chargers—forcing homeowners to perform a daily juggling act to recharge their tablets, smartphones, and other devices. USB outlets are the perfect solution for busy families, which have the capability to keep up with modern charging needs while leaving your standard three-prong outlets free for use. With the right tools and some help from the experts at Mr. Electric, a Neighborly company, you can replace some, or upgrade all of the traditional outlets in your home with ease; here’s how.
How to Install USB Outlets
Before you begin your project assemble the following materials:
- USB receptacle and cover
- Flat head screwdriver
- Philips head screwdriver
- Needle-nosed pliers
- Wire cutters
- Wire insulation stripper
1. Choose your location.
While you may be tempted to install USB outlets in every room in your home you may be limited by the size of the junction box in your desired locations. Due to the additional wiring and electronics needed to accommodate the USB ports, these outlets require approximately three inches of depth for installation. Once you have chosen a spot, remove the faceplate to determine if the junction box is adequately sized for the new outlet before continuing.
2. Select your new outlet(s).
Choose a USB outlet that is manufactured by a reputable brand and conforms to regulatory safety standards. Select a color and configuration that suits your needs and preferences, and a faceplate that coordinates with the size and color of your new outlet.
3. Power down.
Head to the main electrical panel in your home and turn off the breaker to the room that you will be working in, or for added safety, turn off the electricity to the entire house.
4. Upgrade your equipment.
The key to your safety during USB outlet installation is ensuring that the power to the receptacle is off. Invest in a voltage tester, which is an inexpensive handheld tool that you can use to test the socket before you begin working to see if the wires are live.
5. Remove the old outlet.
Once you are certain there is no power to the outlet remove the faceplate and the screws that hold the old outlet into place.
6. Take a picture.
Snap a photo of the existing wiring for ease of reference during the installation of your new USB outlet. In any standard outlet you will see the following wires:
- Copper – Ground
- Black – Hot
- White – Neutral
7. Disconnect the wiring.
Use your screwdriver to disconnect the wires from the old outlet, or if the wires are secured with quick release clamps rather than screws use a small screwdriver or another appropriately sized tool to engage the release button.
8. Connect the new outlet.
To install the new USB outlet, securely reconnect the wires to the designated terminals.
9. Secure the outlet and faceplate.
Attach the new outlet to the junction box using the same hardware from the old outlet and complete the installation with the addition of a new faceplate.
9. Restore power.
Return to the electrical panel and turn the power back on and use the voltage tester to verify that the outlet is operational.
10. Test the outlet.
Connect one of your USB powered devices to the new outlet to test it, as well as a small appliance or lamp.