What Is A USB Outlet & Is It Worth It?
Technology has most certainly influenced our lives in a manner few might have expected. Its influence has reached almost all industries and verticals, some of which have embraced technology completely. From big changes like virtual reality and electric cars to smaller ones, such as a USB outlet or wireless earphones, the past decade was definitely transformed.
But technology advancements are still heavily reliant on electricity, and while it might seem like a very small step forward, USB wall outlets can actually have a big impact on your day-to-day life. If you’re wondering what a USB outlet is and if it’s worth it, keep reading below.
What Is a USB Outlet?
Just as the name suggests, a USB outlet is a wall receptacle that features one or multiple USB ports, allowing you to charge electrical gadgets by using their regular USB cords, without needing an adapter.
Plug receptacles with built-in USB powered ports are already installed in places like airports, offices and even new-build houses. In these locations, they represent the new standard. They function in the same manner as any other USB port. Your device is connected to its cable, which is then plugged in directly into the receptacle without an adapter. This way, the electrical outlets are free for regular use.
You don’t have to worry about safety when it comes to plugging any USB-compatible device into these outlets. The charging speed, however, is a different matter. You might also need to consider hiring a licensed electrician for the wiring and installation of these outlets.
How To Choose a USB Electrical Outlet
Today, there is a great number and variety of electronic devices and people generally own more than one. In fact, in December 2019, a Deloitte report has shown that U.S. households own an average of 11 connected devices, and Pew Research Center showed that a third of Americans live in a house with three or more smartphones.
USB outlets are a popular alternative, both among users and contracts. They are considerably simpler to install, plus they are more modern. When shopping for a USB wall outlet, you should consider a few aspects.
1. Electrical Outlet Rating
This is actually the amount of power necessary from the circuit breaker to supply power to the USB outlet, which may vary from 15-amp to 20-amp.
2. The size
You need to pay attention to the size of the outlets, especially if you are planning to replace some of the old ones. Because USB outlets have a greater depth than standard ones, you might need to invest in a new in-wall-box.
3. Single versus Duplex
There are several types of USB outlets, so you’ll notice some options when you start shopping around. The most common ones are:
- Single receptacle with 2 USB ports
- Duplex receptacle with 2 USB ports
- Receptacle with 4 USB ports
4. Maximum Amperage
The amount of amperage determines the charge speed of the outlet. The higher the amperage is, the faster the device will charge, but higher amperage is also needed to charge big devices. Considering the type of devices you wish to charge, your options are:
- Standard USB ports of 1.0A/2.0A – these are suitable for charging phones;
- 3.0A/3.1A USB ports – these are ideal for charging medium-sized gadgets like tablets or Bluetooth headsets;
- 4.0A USB ports – ideal option for charging large electronics like laptops;
- 4.8A USB ports – suitable for charging all devices, anything from smartphones to smartwatches, tablets or laptops.
Do They Require Professional Installation?
Type-A and Type C USB charger/tamper-resistant receptacles can easily replace standard electrical outlets and you can do it yourself. In fact, some manufacturers offer extensive installation instructions, including YouTube videos. However, before performing any installation, one should properly examine the wiring in your wall box, which is why is advisable not to do it yourself.
If the wires do not match the description provided by the manufacturer or you do not have grounding wires, you should definitely call an electrician. If you are not comfortable to do the installation yourself, hiring an electrician is the right decision.
In terms of costs, USB electrical outlets incur no extra expenses. They provide the same amount of power as the USB charging cord included with your device. However, some USB receptacles have proven to charge devices faster than the original equipment offered by the manufacturer.
Is a USB Electrical Outlet Worth It?
First introduced in 1996, the USB was intended to help attach computer peripherals more easily. Quickly, it managed to replace serial and parallel connectors. The technology itself will, undoubtedly, be around for a while, and it has remained pretty much the same. A USB device made in 1996 can be charged with a new USB port. So, one of the main advantages is compatibility.
Additionally, a USB electrical outlet is worth investing in because it allows you to plug in electrical fixtures and devices, without adding to your electricity bill.
Versatility is something you definitely want to consider. USB wall receptacles can have different configurations. While some have one or two USB ports, others may provide a combination between USB-A ports of the traditional rectangle shape, charging up to 2.4A, and USB-C ports charging up to 3A, which are more oval-shaped.
There are other advantages to this type of outlets:
- USB outlets can replace standard ones, in a matching wall plate;
- Full-power USB outlets can distribute equal power to each port;
- They can increase home value with little cost;
- Micro-USB for charging phones is available.
Installing USB outlets can make your life easier and increase convenience. It’s important though to consider proper installation and safety, as having USB outlets in your home that are UL listed and respect the National Electrical Code standards is important. Also, if you have kids or pets, consider tamper resistance as an extra useful feature.
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