This past weekend Brad and I tackled some electrical work in the kitchen. One thing we decided to do was install a USB wall outlet so we could charge our iPhones and iPad in the kitchen. I posted a photo on Instagram, not thinking it’d be that big of a deal but people went bananas. The only problem? I didn’t take any photos of us installing the USB receptacle. Blogger fail. But Brad mentioned how he wouldn’t mind having a USB outlet next to his side of the bed because when he has to charge his iPhone and our iPad it takes up both outlets, and he has to unplug the lamp.
So without further ado, how to install a USB wall outlet.
Here’s what you’re going to need:
Begin by TURNING THE POWER OFF to the receptacle you plan to replace. If you’re questioning how you turn the power off you should probably abort this tutorial at this time.
Since our circuit breaker box is so poorly labeled, and to be certain the power is off, we always do a little trick. The trick involves a night light. For this particular project, Brad went out into the garage (where our circuit breaker box is located) with his cell phone and called my cell phone while I watched for the night light to go out.
When the night light went out we knew power wasn’t going to the outlet.
Now, remove the original receptacle cover with a flat head screwdriver.
Take the receptacle out of the wall box. There is one screw at the top and one at the bottom.
Gently pull the receptacle out of the wall. Grab the Phillips screwdriver and begin disconnecting the five wires (2 black, 2 white, 1 copper) by unscrewing the screws.
Note: there’s no particular order when it comes to disconnecting the wires. We just happened to start with the black wires.
Notice how the wires have colored insulation? The two black wires are the hot wires, which provide 120VAC current sources. The two white wires are the neutral wires, which provide the return paths for the current provided by the hot wires.
The copper wire without insulation is the ground wire, which is a safety feature in case the hot or neutral wires come in contact with metal parts.
Straighten out the wires with your fingers or needle-nose pliers.
Save the old receptacle and wall plate. We put everything in a plastic zip-loc bag. Since it still works we’ll donate it to our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore so someone else can put it to use.
Grab your USB receptacle and start connecting the wires. The receptacle is labeled for which wires go where (there’s also instructions that will come with your receptacle). Also, notice how the screws are different colors.
Note: the picture below is of the specific USB receptacle outlet we used. If you purchase a different outlet yours may not be laid out or labeled like this one.
Brad always connects the ground wire first because he thinks it makes connecting the other wires easier. In this case, the ground wire was connected with the green screw.
Connect the white wires by inserting them and then tightening with a screwdriver. In this case, the white wires were connected with the silver screw.
Connect the black wires by inserting them and then tightening with a screwdriver. In this case, the black wires were connected with the black screw.
Now, all of the wires should be connected to the receptacle.
Attach the USB outlet wall plate with a flat head screwdriver.
Turn the power back on to the outlet. Plug in a USB cord (or two) and test it out.
When you plug an electronic device into the USB cord the green LED light on the outlet will turn on, well at least with this particular outlet.
Now Brad is able to charge his iPhone, iPad, and plug the lamp into the wall.
Here’s the outlet we installed in our kitchen.
Did you geek out like me when you realized these outlets existed?
Where would you install a USB wall outlet in your house?
Who’s going to put this tutorial to use and install a USB wall outlet?
Did you like this post? Check out my post on how to install new electrical outlets!
Disclaimer: Complete this DIY project at your own risk. I won’t be held responsible if you don’t read this tutorial carefully or have wonky electric in your house and electrocute yourself or burn your house down.
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