USB Power Integrated into AC Wall Outlets

Yesterday, I ran across a product that you could install in your house to put in a convenient USB power plug (or two) into a wall outlet, going alongside the regular AC outlets (USA style).

After mentioning it on Twitter, I got a bunch of replies from my tweeps — and later, even a company representative from one of the available products.

I got recommendations for three different outlets:

  • U-Socket. Ports to the left of AC outlets. Standard (rounded) and décor (rectangle) styles.
  • Power2U. Closable ports on either side, in the center.
  • Leviton USB Charger. Two USB ports on top, in a décor style, replaces an AC outlet.
USB Charger Outlets

All three seem to have sufficient power for charging your iOS devices. U-Socket claims 2.4A charging power; Power2U says 2.0A; the Leviton says 2.1A.

The U-socket indicates that it won't drain power when it's not in use. The Power2U makes the same claim. I didn't find any similar claim about the Leviton. However the Leviton has a "smart chip which recognizes and optimizes the charging power of your device," so I'm curious how that compares to the others.

All outlets are 15 Amps for the AC power, though the Power2U promises a 20A version coming soon.

Each of these seems adequate, so it may come down to form factor if you are choosing the brand. Unfortunately, the place where I want to install one of these is on a double-wide (4-outlet) box, so my choices are limited. I may end up using a Leviton, since it doesn't require a custom wall plate, and I could put the Leviton and a standard décor outlet into the box and use a standard double-wide décor plate. Another alternative would be to carefully cut the holes needed in a stock cover from your local little-box hardware store, or use a 3-D printer if you are geekier than me!

Before making your choice, make sure that the outlets will fit in your electrical box! This has bitten some people, apparently!

An alternative, not requiring any rewiring, is this add-on surge protector with USB ports. It has 2.1 Amps for fast charging. It also provides three AC plugs. Nice!

One interesting issue came out of the discussion: Data privacy. If you install one of these in your own home, it wouldn't be a worry, but would you plugin your iPhone or iPad into such a device in a public place, where conceivably there could be a device hooked up to suck out your contacts. It is interesting how data and power are delivered on the same plug, so unless you have some sort of adapter or extension cable that you know only will let power (and not data) through, you would be putting your data at risk if you plugged your device into an untrusted port.

Thanks to @bbum, @jnouwen, @simX, @mjtsai, @bjh, @weldon, @ddribin, @siegel, @McCarron, @AbbiV from FastMac, and anybody else I missed here, for their advice!

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