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How to install a USB power outlet at home

Ting Tip: DIY

Simple tips, tricks and things you can do yourself to improve your mobile lifestyle.

Replace your old power outlets with USB power outlets. Lose the USB power bricks that litter your counter or bedside table. It’s easier than you might think to turn your old, tired electrical outlets into new, hot (figuratively speaking) USB electrical outlets.

Following is the step-by-step how to for replacing an existing electrical outlet in a simple circuit with a USB outlet.

What you’ll need

You can get everything you need to complete this simple job at a hardware store or on Amazon.

– Insulated screwdriver with interchangeable bits (Philips and slot) ($10… assuming you don’t already have one)
– A USB-enabled outlet ($30)
– Something to test and ensure the outlet you’re working on is not powered. We used a simple circuit tester ($7)

You may also need

– Needle nose pliers (to bend / straighten wire as needed)
– Wire strippers (if you don’t have enough bare wire to work with)

Step 1:

How to install a USB power outlet at home - Step 1 - Turn off the power
Turn the power off at the breaker (or remove the appropriate fuse).

Step 2:

How to install a USB power outlet at home - Step 2 - Ensure the power is off
Ensure the power is off. We’re using a $7 circuit tester. A lamp or radio can also work.

Pro tip: If you’re working alone, a clock radio plugged into the outlet you’ll be working on and playing full-blast will help you determine when you’ve flipped the right breaker.

Step 2b:

You’re sure the power is off, right?

Step 3:

How to install a USB power outlet at home - Step 3 - Remove the faceplate.
Remove the faceplate.

Step 4:

How to install a USB power outlet at home - Step 4 - Remove the outlet from the receptacle.
Remove the outlet from the receptacle.

Step 5:

How to install a USB power outlet at home - Step 5 - Remove the wires from the old outlet
Remove the wires from the outlet that’s being replaced.

Step 6:

How to install a USB power outlet at home - Step 6 - Run the wires
Run the wires to the new USB outlet, noting which is hot (typically black) which is white and which is ground (typically bare, brown or green). Use the labels on the back of the new outlet to ensure the wires are going to the right place.

Tighten the screws that hold the wires in place well. Ensure there’s no movement between the wire and the terminal. A loose wire can cause arcing (sparking) or even shorts.

Step 7:

How to install a USB power outlet at home - Step 7 - Carefully bend and route the wires in the box to give the USB power outlet room.
Carefully bend and route the wires in the box to give the USB power outlet room to sit flush.

Step 8:

How to install a USB power outlet at home - Step 8 - Secure the outlet in the box using the included screws.
Secure the outlet in the box using the included screws.

Step 9:

How to install a USB power outlet at home - Step 9 - Replace the faceplate.
Replace the faceplate.

Step 10:

How to install a USB power outlet at home - Step 10 - Turn the power back on.
Turn the power back on.

Step 11:

How to install a USB power outlet at home - Step 11 - Ensure everything is OK
Ensure nothing is sparking, burning or otherwise demonstrating behavior that would be considered undesirable for an electrical outlet.

Step 12:

How to install a USB power outlet at home - Step 12 - Charge things.
Robert’s your father’s brother. Use the USB cables that came with your devices to plug in to the USB ports on your brand new outlet to charge.

An important note

Check city / state ordinance and local bylaws before attempting this or any other electrical work. The possibility of injury, property damage or worse is real. While we’re happy to share the basic steps for installing a USB outlet in your home and to demystify the process, this guide is not definitive. If in doubt, call a pro.

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