USB Wall Outlets Follow-up

Posted by mitch on February 11, 2012
hardware, home

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about USB wall outlets. On January 25th, I stumbled over the Cooper USB Charger that is a Decora-shaped receptacle. This is exactly what I wanted. Some of the other vendors poo-poo the Cooper for only being a 700mA charger vs 1 or 2 amps, but frankly, the smaller mA rating means the Cooper footprint is smaller. I am also not sure I want a 2 amp charger in a wall box.

Since my use case is to plug things in overnight or for long periods of time, I don’t care how long it takes an iPad or iPhone to charge with this (within a reasonable amount of time). I do, however, care a great deal about the cosmetic looks–which is the whole point of a USB wall outlet, right? If you didn’t care about looks and only cared about charging speed, a big mess would suit you fine. The Cooper has the looks right and the standard Decora form factor means that the Cooper can be installed into multi-gang boxes with other outlets, other Coopers, etc. and it will all fit OK.

Today I installed the Cooper next to the side table on my side of the couch. What a difference it makes in the wire clutter. Before I had a “right angle” adapter to fit in the iPad charger, iPhone charger, and a Mac laptop charger. The clutter is vastly reduced, as you can see from the pictures. I also installed another one of these outlets next to my nightstand for iPad & Kindle charging.

Installation is fairly easy and no different than any other device you might install. One thing to note that is there’s one only set of screw terminals, so if you’re replacing an outlet in the middle of a run, you might find yourself adding pigtails–which is another plus for this device having a smaller physical footprint than the competition. If the previous sentence didn’t make sense, you should call your electrician to install this.

I’m very happy with this solution. You “lose” an AC outlet, but if at least one of those outlets was for a USB charger, you are actually losing nothing, and if both outlets had a USB charger, you gain an outlet. The Cooper also looks better than the other options on the market I’ve seen (U-socket, NewerTech, and various wall-plate chargers). Also, despite what some guy on Amazon says, these outlets are UL-listed.

I’ve posted more pictures in this flickr set.

You also might enjoy my post on built-in night lights.

P.S. I had noted in the prior blog post that I had previously bought the U-socket from FastMac–In fact, I spent over $90 on buying four of them, but I never installed them because they are ugly. I think I was so disappointed that I threw them away when I got them. Another big downside was that I ordered them on 6/2/2010 and they were shipped to me on 2/18/2011–that’s 8 months later, with no warning, which if not a violation of credit card rules (30 day pre-order is the limit, right?), certainly was disappointing from a customer service perspective.

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