Introduction: Outlets of the Future Aka In-wall USB Charger

Picture of Outlets of the Future   Aka   In-wall USB Charger

Your Iphone is dead, someone has run off with your Ipod wall charger, if only it where the future and all outlets were USB! 

This instructable will show you how to convert a standard outlet into an inwall USB Charger.  In about 30 minutes and for under $10.00.

Not only will this add a permanent place to charge your USB devices.  It will get your home ready for the future, when most appliances are USB.  (I make no guarantees this will happen)

Step 1: Materials / Tools

Picture of Materials / Tools

2 - Mini USB chargers ($3.00 - $9.00 on eBay)
1 - Blank wall plate (screws included)
1 - Existing wall Duplex.
Epoxy or other strong Glue

Flat Screw Driver
Exacto or utility knife
Drill or Dremel
Pencil or other making device.

Step 2: Create a Templete

Picture of Create a Templete

1. Plug the Mini USB chargers into the outlets. Because the USB ports are off center I decided to put them both toward the center.  I think it looked better than having them the same direction or both on the outside.

2. Create a Template by placing tape over both chargers as shown in the photo, then cut the tae around the outer edge and don't forget to cut out the USB ports.

3. Mark the outline of the USB chargers on the front (outside) of the Face plate, so you know where the template should go.

4. Pull the Template off of the Chargers and apply it on to the Face plate.  using the outline on step 3 to proper place the template.

5.  Mark the Face to show where the USB ports need to be cut.

6.  Cut the Metal Tabs off of the outlet  so it will fit into the electrical box.  The Face plate will hold every thing into place.  Sorry for got to take a picture.

Step 3: Cut the Holes in the Wall Plate

Picture of Cut the Holes in the Wall Plate

Not much to this step. Use a drill, Exacto knife or Dremel tool to cut out the 2 USB port holes.

I prefer to use a Dremel tool, but I've cut many holes with just an Exacto knife.

Step 4: Glue the Mini Chargers to the Wall Plate

Picture of Glue the Mini Chargers to the Wall Plate

Use Epoxy or another type of glue to attach the USB mini Chargers to the back of the Face plate.  Before the glue sets make sure your holes are lined up with the Chargers, you can insert USB cables into the chargers to ensure proper alignment.   Just make sure you don't glue the cords into the charger.

Step 5: Connect the Power and Attach to the Wall

Picture of Connect the Power and Attach to the Wall

DO NOT work with live wires, and do this at your own risk.

There is too much liability to explain how to wire an outlet, do this project without disconnecting the outlet from the wires,   keep track of how it's wired when you take the wires off, or have someone who knows how to do it, do this part for you.

once the power is connected, use the screws that came with the face plate to attach the charger to the electrical box in the wall.

Step 6: All Done!

Picture of All Done!

Project Complete: Now you will never have to look for a charger again, or have to leave a computer on all night just to charge an iPod.  Besides that once most appliances go to USB you'll be ready to go.

Side Note:
A:  If you have the means to solder, there is no need to have the outlet behind the wall plate, you could just soldier the wires to the chargers, this is how I was going to do it, but this was so easy I couldn't see spending the extra time to soldier it. 

B:  You could also keep one of the outlets, and add only one USB port.   

Step 7: 2 Month Update

There were so many concerned people,  I thought I would responses to a few of them.

Comment 1
. This Project isn't Green and wastes a lot of electricity.

I was concerned about this,  so i picked up a Kill-a-Watt and did some testing.  from what I understand the kill-a-watt can't measure under 1A,  so there is a margin of error.  Even after 24 hours on the kill-a-watt.  it registered 0!  so I guess I'm ok with amount of energy loss, especially considering my printer, DV player and other electronics I barely use draw .01 per hour and more.

Comment 2.  The heat from these units are going to cause your house to burn down.

Again this did concern me, and for the first few weeks, every time I walked by this outlet I felt it for any sign of warmth.   I found that even with 2 ipods charging, there was no noticible amount of heat from the transformers.   However I did notice that the dimmer switch I have in close proximity gets warm, but not enough to cause damage.   conclusion:  not worried.

NOTE: I did hear about a recall for the apple micro USB charger,  they were shorting out and melting.  make sure you have a green dot on the power side! 

Comment 3.  This is a code violation and when your house house burns to the ground, you insurance will not cover it. 

Yes this is a code violation,  and I'm open to input about how to make it legit.   I'm not running wires down to an outlet, I'm only interested in outlet side fixes.


This was well worth the $10.00 and 10 minutes of my time to make this.  It's been nice to have a designated Ipod charging spot.  my whole family has ipods and we all use it.  now that the neighbor kids know it's there, they bring over their ipods and charge them while they are visiting. 



princessbaker16 (author)2014-05-29

that would be awesome for my bedroom wall

the_crikster (author)2009-12-10

Buy the parts yourself and get an electrician friend to help you! Then buy him/her a drink afterward.
This is a nice idea but it's just not worth accidentally frying yourself, your loved ones or burning down your house through faulty wiring.

rhemus (author)the_crikster2012-06-11

I am an electrician. Get yourself a non-contact voltage detector. Check it on a live receptacle to make sure it works, then use it to make sure the receptacle you are working on is dead (open the breaker you think powers the receptacle you are working on, check the receptacle dead with the detector). Receptacles are fairly easy to wire up. Ground (green wire or bare copper wire for Romex wire) goes to the green screw on the receptacle. Black is almost always the hot wire. This wire goes on the brass screw. White is the neutral and it goes on the silver screw. If you have non standard wire colors then yes, get an electrician. Don't turn the breaker back on unless the receptacle is mounted and the cover is on.

Xixfas (author)rhemus2013-02-17

did you make an account just to say that?

Hextor (author)the_crikster2009-12-10

I don't understand, is the drink for payment, or to ease that fact that he just violated code and will lose his license?

the issue isn't the danger while doing it.  it's what many many many many many people have repeated many many many many times: by doing this it's a potential hazard.

the_crikster (author)Hextor2009-12-11

Sorry that's a very British thing to say isn't it. Cook them a meal, buy them a gift, whatever....
Didn't know they could lose their license, so I probably wouldn't ask them after all.
And I know lots of people have said the same thing. just couldn't resist myself.

Miserlou57 (author)2012-02-23

This was a great idea for sure, but the the big dogs have moved in and done it... Fastmac's was underpowered (can't do iPad + iPhone), but CurrentWerks has two versions that both power down when your'e not using them.

ajriding (author)2011-10-13

I have always understood that these AC to DC converters were always on and drawing current. There has been a lot of whining about leaving your unused phone chargers plugged in all the time bc of the current draw and wasting electricity. If they are on then they are producing heat potentially. That is the potential fire hazard in your wall.
I am guessing this outlet is using a plug in converter hardwired to the outlet wires and attached to the cover plate. Maybe it need an on/off switch.
Great idea though otherwise.

radams-lyons (author)ajriding2011-10-17

Your theory seems MOST likely. Ether to HOT or just a WASTE.

Sure, that little thing will explode your house. Just saying, this does NOT produce that much heat. It gets warm, maybe. An off/on switch however is not a bad idea, as it is draining power.

explosivebass1414 (author)2012-01-11

pretty ballin

zack247 (author)2011-12-22

those comments about wasting power and burning houses down seem a little far-fetched to me, my phone charger is basically the same thing (just with a cord and no usb port) but even while its charging my phone it doesnt get warm, and if the phone isnt plugged in its not doing much work so there isnt very much power being wasted at all.

i know these chargers are completely different things but i highly doubt they generate enough heat to start something on fire. as far as electrical code..
i dont see much wrong with it, the sockets are just set deeper in the wall, is all.

ilpug (author)2011-12-22

This goes beyond a facepalm to more like a facepunch. WHY DID I NOT THINK OF THIS. Ah well, you thoguht of it, and it is AWESOME. I am in the process of making it too.

Diabloscope (author)2011-12-22

my Wife found this somewhere , USB turns on when plugged in . Sorry no info on this all it says in the back Made By WWW.SAKAR.COM item # is 76170 but its not on their product line . ?

Diabloscope (author)Diabloscope2011-12-22

Belkin Actually has a good one as well ,

Fastmac is currently not shipping

i'm definitely going to take this apart and incorporate into a standard GFCI wall Socket

David97 (author)2011-12-22

thats awsome

David97 (author)David972011-12-22

nice job

timbarrett1977 (author)2011-12-22

Forgive me if someone else has already suggested this, but perhaps you could put the outlet on a switch that way it is off unless you are using it?
or a timer that only allows power durring hours that you are present.

asheldon7 (author)2011-12-09

Why not just buy a outlet with built in usb ports?

Hextor (author)asheldon72011-12-22

When I first made this instructable there were no commercial products available. besides that why buy when you can make, if you don't prescribe to the philosophy, it's curious why you are on this site. And of course it's funner to build than to buy.

sokamiwohali (author)Hextor2011-12-22

because some things are meant to be built proffesionally so you dont burn down ur house. just because that plug isntshowing signs that something will happen dont mean an outlet somewhere else is going to be a problem down the road. but cool project NTL.

oanderson (author)asheldon72011-12-22

Because this whole website is about making your own. I'm sure that lots of Instructibles are available to buy but where's the fun in that?!

d_o1213 (author)2011-09-29

your still wasting electricity by having them plugged in sorry :/

Hextor (author)d_o12132011-12-22

This is a debate that will go on for ever, if it does draw power without an ipod plugged in, it doesn't even register on a Kill-a-watt after 24 hours. I can live with that!

oanderson (author)d_o12132011-12-22

Yeah, ought to have a little switch for each one.

Markus Laumann (author)mattccc2011-03-01

Sadly, that outlet at fastmac has been on backorder since 2009 (apparently STILL awaiting safety approval). I hope one day it ships, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

It does look like they updated the design. You can see the older version in a comment below from me. Notice the date of the post...

asheldon7 (author)Markus Laumann2011-12-09

I just got mine the other day. I love it!

bjreicks (author)2011-10-01

What you want is a custom plate to hold an ipod iphone to the right or left side with a retractable / fold away power cable from the usb adapters (located under the ipod shelf / holder )......................... Ideally you would want a custom plate with dual light switches. One switch for lights and one switch with dedicated power to your usb chargers under the ipod tray. It also should have a green power on led :) ..........................This would get your ipod iphone at a proper hand level............................... Home Depot should be selling these for about 25 bucks - IMHO.

PowerLion1 (author)2011-08-19

COOL IDEA! However to cover the code violation I would just rather buy one of these:

ferdna (author)2011-07-27

what dremel bit are you using here?

dgabrielle (author)2011-07-22

LOVE this. Especially since its in MY kitchen!

dieggsy (author)2011-07-12

oh cool :)

theo67 (author)2009-12-05

Why not just plug them into an outlet directly when needed and forget all the mods.  Why create work when you do not need to, as well as endangering yourself fiddling around with high voltage and bare wires.!!!!

hammerhead1 (author)theo672011-07-10

Occam's razor applys even to "those who must tinker." The simple solution is always the good/best solution. Plug 'em into the wall when you need power for your I phone.

Project D (author)theo672011-01-17

Because we here at are tinkerers, and tinkerers tinker. Do we really *need* any other reason to create more work for ourselves? Why cook food when organically-grown raw food is more nutritious? Because fire makes it better! And tinkering makes *ANY* device better!

jo'connell (author)Project D2011-03-10

Well said!

theo67 (author)Project D2011-01-18

Point taken. Do you cook your roots and berries? Strange????

Project D (author)theo672011-01-18

Some, yes. Because fire makes it better.

mrxavia (author)Project D2011-02-27

Fire also makes it easier to digest, reducing the time & volume of food required to eat and allowing more time for tinkering ;-)

Cooked food, (especially meat) is why we are tinkerers not tree dwellers :-)

Callum Snowden (author)theo672010-11-04

It looks neater...

ItsTheHobbs (author)theo672009-12-06

A) It's USB. You cant plug USB cables directly into a wall without this.
2) If you could, it would kill whatever device you are using because the standard wall socket has WAY to much electricity to charge anything with.

Ben The Builder (author)2011-06-28

Congratulations, your idea's caught on

DavidHParry (author)2010-11-08

Nice project.
However, if the mains voltage to 5V USB converters use mini transformers to convert the voltage down then the high voltage windings of the transformers will be PERMENENTLY connected to mains voltages and so powered all the time... inside your wall behind a plastic panel. As these get warm (or HOT, depending on make and quality) they won't get cooled by airflow over them... they're in a sealed cavity in the wall of you house... where you live.

Electrical equipment is rated and tested for a reason... it fails.

If your house burns down, your insurance company will NOT pay out over unauthorized modifications to your mains.

I like the idea... but those cheapy mains-to-ubs units would worry me.

wolff000 (author)DavidHParry2011-06-24

Then don't do it you cry baby. Leave the modding to the modders. Awesome instructable Hextor keep up the good work.

If left alone they will not draw a current. To draw a current the circuit must be closed. For this to happen something must be plugged in. : ]

csquyres (author)2011-06-20

What about your vacuum or your toaster or your coffee pot or your hair dryer or any number of other electricity based gadgets that have nothing to do with a computer..this idea doesnt make sense to replace ALL electrical outlets. Perhaps having a couple in logical places like an office etc. would be cool and convenient...but then there's all the points above people made as well. Cool thought though.

jgeekw (author)2011-03-29

Why not design an iPhone cable with proper regulators/resistors to connect back to an existing telephone line? They put out 40-70 volts of electricity.

zgr95 (author)jgeekw2011-06-03

the telephone company really doesnt like it when you run off there batteries cool idea though but you wont get incoming calls cause the line in your house will appear busy

About This Instructable




More by Hextor:Repurposing a dead UPS in to a CNC Motor Controller EnclosureOutlets of the Future   aka   in-wall USB ChargerHow to wire your house for VoIP (Skype or Vonage).
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