Guide to Installing a Receptacle with USB Sockets

If you have phones, tablets, or other mobile devices, having USB sockets in your home is convenient. Otherwise, standard outlets can become cluttered with adapters and wires can become trip hazards. The good thing is that installing a USB outlet is simple. You can put one in just about any standard outlet box.

What Does a USB Outlet Do?

A USB outlet looks much like a standard outlet. The main difference is it has USB ports. These sockets let you plug a USB cable directly into the wall without using an adapter. Therefore, the device is charged directly from the electrical circuit.

How Do I Choose a USB Outlet?

There are many brands and models now available. Usually, a USB receptacle has two standard electrical outlets and up to three USB sockets/ports; most commonly, the receptacle has two outlets and two USB ports. Some models replace the second standard plug with an additional USB port. Depending on the model, you may find different outlet and USB socket combinations.

When installing a product:

  • Select a USB outlet listed by Underwriters Laboratories, which proves it’s been safety tested.
  • Don’t replace a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) with a USB outlet, unless it’s on a GFCI circuit. 
  • Avoid replacing a receptacle dedicated to a large appliance like an oven or refrigerator.

Another advantage of USB outlets is that there’s no concern over using an off-brand charger. They have smart chips that sense the amount of power a device needs. As long as you use a manufacturer-specified cable, the USB outlet is safe to use.

Where Should I Put a USB Outlet?

It’s best to pick a spot for a new outlet before you go buy one. The most common places for USB outlets include living rooms, which are often occupied. A bedroom is a convenient location as well and helps avoid disagreements over whose device to charge and when. Recharging in the kitchen can be an option as long as you don’t accidentally swap out any GFCI outlets, while a home office is a suitable place to charge a phone. 

Types of USB Outlets

It’s worth noting that not every USB outlet is made the same. The most common type is a USB-A outlet, which accepts a square connector and comes in various setups. A USB-C connector has data transfer capability and allows for faster charging. Some outlets have combinations of USB-A and USB-C sockets. Other newer options to look for include Quick Charge outlets and Power Delivery outlets that enable fast charging via USB-C.

How to Install a USB Socket

To install a USB wall outlet, you’ll need tools such as Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, needle nose pliers, and a wire stripper. You should have an outlet voltage tester handy as well. There are a few steps to getting the receptacle installed and working; these go as follows:

Cut the Power

Turn off the circuit breaker connected to the existing outlet. If the breaker panel isn’t properly labeled, shut off one switch at a time until you find the right one. You can also turn off all the electricity to be on the safe side. Use a voltage tester at the outlet to make sure no current is flowing through it.

Remove the Old Wall Plate/Receptacle

Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the cover plate and a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the top and bottom screws holding the outlet to the wall. 

Note the Wiring Setup

You’ll need to know which wires are connected to where for later reference. It helps to draw a diagram or take a picture. You can also use sticky notes or tape to label the wires. Standard outlets usually have white neutral wires, black hot wires, and copper or green ground wires.

Disconnect the Old Receptacle

Depending on the wires, remove the screws holding them in or release any clamps you find by pressing the release button or using a screwdriver or small tool. Straighten out the wires with needle-nose pliers.

Connect the Wires to the USB Outlet

Following the new receptacle’s instructions, install each wire in its correct position. Some models have color-coded screws that match up with specific wires. Connecting the ground wire first can make it easier to position the device and connect other wires. Your reference diagram or photo can be useful here too.

Secure the Receptacle

Once all the wires are tight, insert the receptacle in the wall box; shorten or adjust the wires if it’s a tight fit. Secure the outlet to the wall with the Phillips head screws. Don’t over-tighten the connection but make sure you can’t move the receptacle. Then attach the cover plate.

Turn the Power On and Test Your USB Sockets

Switch the circuit breaker back on and plug in a USB device. If the wall charger is receiving power, you should see an icon or light on the device that indicates it’s charging. Depending on the outlet, an LED light may show that charging is in progress.

Contact Express Electrical Services for USB Socket Installation Help

Customers in Southern California rely on us for all types of electrical installation help. We can assist in installing USB outlets if you’re not experienced in doing so. Licensed and trained, our technicians ensure the job is done right and that your new receptacle works flawlessly. If you want new USB sockets installed in your home, book a visit online or call 323-727-7799 today.