Outlets of the Future Aka In-wall USB Charger

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Introduction: 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

Materials
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

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

Step 2: 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

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

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

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!

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.

Conclusion:

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. 


 

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    251 Comments

    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.


    4 replies

    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.

    did you make an account just to say that?

    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.

    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.
    :)

    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.

    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.

    2 replies

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 . ?

    wqw.PNGqwe.PNG
    1 reply

    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

    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.

    Why not just buy a outlet with built in usb ports?
    http://fastmac.com/usocket.php