Cell phone and tablet chargers inhabit too many of the rapidly shrinking supply of available outlets in the home. Luckily, there are duplex receptacles that you can install that also provide two USB ports. These ports have chips that allow them to be used to charge most of the popular cell phones and tablets.
Replacing a standard receptacle with one that includes USB ports is simple and requires very few tools and little expertise.
What you will need
- USB outlet. Models vary, but price is based on charging capacity, so if you intend to charge two devices simultaneously, you will get faster charges with a more expensive higher powered model.
- Cover plate. Your cover plate from your old receptacle will only include openings for the two outlets. You will need an open cover plate that allows access to the entire receptacle.
- Screwdrivers. You will need a Philips head screwdriver to remove and attach wires and a flat head screwdriver to remove your old cover plate.
Turning off the power to the receptacle
The most important step in any electrical work is to shut off the power to the component on which you intend to work. You will do this by turning off the circuit breaker that controls power flow to the receptacle.
The lines controlled by each breaker should be marked on the inside of the breaker box door. If it is not, or you are still unsure which breaker should be turned off, plug an appliance into the receptacle and turn off individual breakers until the appliance is no longer powered.
Inform everyone in the home of your intention to replace the receptacle, and place tape over the breaker so no one in the home turns it on while you are working.
Removing the old outlet
Use your flat head screwdriver to remove the cover plate, then use your Philips head screwdriver to remove the receptacle from the outlet box inside the wall. If the receptacle is in the middle of the circuit, you will see two sets of three wires, if at the end of the circuit, only one set of three wires will be present.
Remove all wires from their side terminals with your Philips head screwdriver, keeping the sets of wires separate. You will then attach all of the wires to the USB receptacle in the same manner as they were attached to the old receptacle. The black wires will be connected to the gold terminals, the white wires to the silver terminals, and the green or copper colored ground wires to the green grounding terminal at the top of the receptacle.
Place the USB receptacle into the outlet box and tighten the top and bottom mounting screws, then attach your new cover plate with the screw provided.
Turn on the breaker and your task is complete. Should you not have time, contact a professional from a place like E.J. Gray Electric.