Are you in need of a smarter home?
Drowning in a sea of USB chargers for smartphones, tablets, Kindles, Bluetooth speakers, wearable tech, etc?
Have you needed to replace chargers for your devices due to loss, malfunction or damage?
Do you waste time searching your home in hunt for that elusive charger that seems to have grown legs and walked off?
Are you forever having to decide what to unplug as your sockets are busier than Oxford Street in mid-December?
Fortunately, the humble power socket has evolved in recent years. The latest version of these units go some way to resolving the tangle of dangerously overcrowded sockets and absent chargers!
USB Integrated Socket Outlets
These units are available from most major electrical manufacturers in single and double socket layout in a selection of finishes. You’ve probably seen these units in airports. Developers are now fitting them as standard in modern developments. Many homeowners are now retro-fitting these units throughout their homes to replace conventional sockets.
USB seems to have become the standard connection for charging all manner of electronic devices, for now. This is almost certain to change at some point but for the foreseeable future USB is the preferred choice of tech manufacturers.
USB integrated socket outlets are a great way to streamline device charging. USB cables plug directly into these units leaving the 3 pin power sockets free for other items.
But hold your horses! Don’t rush out to your local superstore to grab a handful of these sockets before reading on.
There are a couple of key considerations to bear in mind before taking the plunge.
The most important factor when comparing USB integrated socket outlets is amperage. Check how many amps the outlets are rated at. Amps define the strength of the electrical current, or the strength of the flow. This is critical as devices such as iPads require a higher flow of electricity (amps) to charge effectively, typically 2.1 amps. Most phones on the other hand require only 1.0 amps.
Most modern devices use ‘intelligent charging’ circuitry. Essentially, they will take the maximum amperage they can to facilitate optimal charging. This means you can safely plug a phone into a higher rated USB outlet, but if you plug a tablet, or any device requiring a higher charge rate, into a 1.0 amp socket it will charge extremely slowly and it may not even show that it’s charging. Sound familiar?
The big problem is many USB integrated sockets outlets advertise the rated amperage for both sockets combined. This is fine if you only ever plug in one device to charge at a time, hmm.
The sockets sold online and in DIY stores (even from some reputable names) typically share 2.1 amps across both sockets. This means if you plug in a tablet or phone separately they will charge, but plug them in together they’ll charge at a snails pace. Plug in two devices each needing 2 amps and expect a l-o-n-g wait. To add salt to the wound, often times you won’t be able to use the devices while they charge.
To minimise these issues, look to install USB integrated socket outlets that share a minimum of 3.1 amps, there only a few on the market currently, but they are worth seeking out if you want quick charging on multiple devices.
Check the specification carefully, some advertise 2.1 amps next to each socket but this is the total combined amperage. Better still purchase sockets with dedicated 1.0 and 2.1 amp sockets to ensure the fastest possible charge rate across all device types.
Many of these units are slightly deeper than conventional sockets because of the added wizardry going on behind the faceplate. This could mean that where you have a shallow mounting box (backbox) or where there is an abundance of wires it may be problematic to fit the replacement USB Integrated socket.
It may be a simple case of re-organising the wires or alternatively the existing backbox may need to be replaced with a deeper box to accommodate the new unit.
We hope you find the above overview helpful in your quest to remain connected and fully charged in this glorious tech-filled world we live in!
The Help Business are your local Professional Handyman Company operating across West Essex and East Herts. We’re on hand to help you create, enhance and cherish your beautiful home.
We’ve undertaken many retro-fit installations of the latest generation USB integrated socket outlets for clients and would be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a free estimate for installation works.
The Help Business, your Handyman Professionals.
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