No matter what proprietary plug your favorite gadget uses to charge, chances are the other end terminates in that ubiquitous electronic duckbill: The USB Type A connector. It's five volts of future fury. If you're like me, you have USB wall warts sticking out of every outlet in your house.
Correction: If you're like me—as of last weekend—you have one wall outlet with a USB jack built right into it. Hey holla hey ho! Living in the future is totally boss. Tough road to get here, though.
What Is It?
A standard-looking two-plug wall outlet with a superpower: A built-in pair of 2-amp USB Type A ports ready and willing to charge all of your gadgets.
Who's it For?
Anyone with cellphones, tablets, e-readers, cameras, sports watches, universal remotes, noise-canceling headphones, or anything else that charges via USB.
Clean and elegant: no screws, protrusions, or stupid graphics.
Spring-loaded dust-caps give way to your gadget-juicer—but only if you come in at the perfect approach angle. You get used to it.
The Best Part
Each jack spits out 5 volts and 2 amps of gear-charging current—enough to efficiently fill up anything you've got, including the notoriously power-hungry new iPad.
You might be tempted to flip the ol' circuit breaker and install this yourself. Beware: The Power2U, unfortunately, is wider than the standard box for a single wall receptacle. If that's what you've got behind the wall, you'll either need to replace it with a two-gang box, or install an external outlet mount. The former requires that you remove quite a bit of drywall for proper installation, and the latter may not be to code in your area.
This Is Weird...
Why make an outlet that's wider than a standard outlet box? Serious DIY buzzkill.
• Between trying to widen my outlet box and trips to the electrical supply store (Thank you Mike!), the f@#$ing thing took me 3 hours to install—and I'm pretty handy.
• Faceplate screws and mounting screws get in the way of each other, making a flush fit tougher to achieve than it should be.
• The guys at my local electrical supply store and my local hardware store independently recommended a USB outlet made by Cooper. It's half the price and fits in a standard box, but it only has one AC outlet and the USB ports only pump out 700mA—not enough to charge a power-hungry device like an iPad.
Should You Buy It?
If you're building a house from scratch or doing a serious remodel—or you're game for a real project—then absolutely yes. In addition to being the only UL-listed USB outlet we could find, it's the best combination of form and function out there.
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