What do you think of USB replacement receptacles?

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  #1  
Old 12-31-11, 10:06 AM
wgc
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What do you think of USB replacement receptacles?

Online I've seen several companies releasing USB receptacles as replacements for standard receptacles, however none are very descriptive about electrical and safety requirements. Does anyone know whether these are really safe and acceptable to use? Better yet, has anyone tried one?

As one example, I really like the idea of the Quattro USB receptacles from Currentwerks - USB Outlet Quattro | Current Werks

Some questions that come to mind include:
- They have essentially no information about box fill - how can I figure what to allocate for these?
- They don't say anything about UL or other certifications. Don't they need one? Is it implied? A couple of the companies seem to be having PR battles over which is "fully" UL certified. What?
- They don't say anything about overcurrent protection. Don't they need a fuse or something? Or is that implied?
- Does the code object to low voltage devices like this sharing a junction box with line voltage devices?
- It would be convenient to have a receptacle like the above quattro share a 2-gang box with a standard receptacle, if they hadn't designed it with an integrated single gang faceplate. But might there be code or safety reasons they are intentionally preventing this?
 
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  #2  
Old 12-31-11, 11:14 AM
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Till these devices display a proper "U.L. Listed" logo, I would assume they haven't been tested by U.L. and wouldn't use them. The company doesn't seem to know as much about electrical devices as they do about electronic devices. It's actually pretty common knowledge that nominal voltage is 120 volts and not 110 volts. This makes me wonder also if they even realize these devices need to be U.L. Listed.
 
  #3  
Old 12-31-11, 11:48 AM
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I was thinking about something like this yesterday. My application would be to add a raceway from an existing box, and use the Quattro with a new 2-gang box. I would put a switch between the line and the USB device. Even though these say no vampire draw, and that would be easy to accomplish, I'd like to have a cutoff to take this off the circuit.

Regarding the Duo, I don't like the idea of having a USB plug that close to a 120V receptacle. I've seen too many instances of 120V plugs partially pulled out, and a USB male connector has a lot of exposed metal that could short exposed blades quite nicely.

There are any number of opinions on UL. In some industries I have talked to pros who say as long as it's CSA, it's OK with them because UL costs are so much higher and CSA listing is comparable. But if the competition has UL listings and you're not getting contracts because you don't have them, you don't have much choice.
 
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Old 12-31-11, 12:08 PM
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cooper wiring devices makes one, both UL and CSA Listed.

Shop Cooper Wiring Devices 15-Amp White Decorator Dual USB Electrical Outlet at Lowes.com

At $20 (at least at lowes) I'd have a hard time putting down $20 for one.
 
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Old 12-31-11, 12:16 PM
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Box fill would be the same as any other type of device, two times the wire size connected to the device. IE: if there is #14 wire connected to the device, the device itself requires 4 cu in.

It wouldn't need any overcurrent device other than the one that is already in place for the branch circuit. It is no different than a plug in USB adapter.

The low voltage is contained in the device. It is a non-issue.
 
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Old 12-31-11, 12:32 PM
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Pass & Seymour/Legrand also makes a version of this.
 
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Old 12-31-11, 02:51 PM
wgc
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Cool. I didn't know there were any from the "normal" brands. There's a lot that looks good about that one from Cooper, but they don't say anything about the electronics. The reviews say it's too low an output for charging the larger devices - oh well.
 

Last edited by wgc; 12-31-11 at 02:52 PM. Reason: cooper
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Old 12-31-11, 04:54 PM
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I fail to see the use in one. Every computer has 3, 4 or 5 USB ports on them that will charge any device you have. Having one in the wall invites the uneducated to prod and pry into it to see what makes it tick. Maybe there's a good reason to have them.
 
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Old 12-31-11, 05:13 PM
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I can share my personal experience Larry. Behind the headboard are adapters for the Kindle and a cell phone. I would not need these with a receptacle that had the USB built-in. My laptop also will not charge anything if it is in sleep mode or turned off.
 
  #10  
Old 12-31-11, 05:24 PM
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Yeah. A lot of the new electronics are using usb type connections. This would make it very convenient.
 
  #11  
Old 01-01-12, 04:51 AM
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I fail to see the use in one. Every computer has 3, 4 or 5 USB ports on them that will charge any device you have.
I would have said that a few years ago also but we no longer have a desktop computer (or even a desk). We have laptops where the USB ports are not powered unless the computer is in use. Not only do my wife and I have cell phones that recharge over USB, but the kids just got mp3 players and portable speakers that recharge over USB: 7 devices and counting.

We could have wall warts scattered through the house but they're obnoxious bulky things that keep getting lost.
 
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Old 01-01-12, 08:45 AM
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OK, I can see clearly, now. Just use USB to whatever your appliance is and charge direct from the receptacle.
 
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Old 01-01-12, 11:31 AM
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I would install these in my kitchen personally, as we charge our phones and such on top of the microwave.

These USB receptacles would be nicer if they could connect to a central computer.
 
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Old 01-03-12, 10:33 PM
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I can see where this would be neat to have, but it's way overpriced for what it is. You can do the same thing with a cheap ($10 or less) powered USB hub. You can even modify said hub into a high speed charging center (you lose the data capability though) with a few dabs of solder. It doesn't even need to be hooked to a computer to work.

Justin, the reason these can't be hooked to a computer is (aside from the hv/lv in the same box problem) the ports are configured for high current/high speed charging. This means the data pins are shorted together. This is what devices capable of high speed charging look for so that they know they can draw higher current (up to 1A). On straight up USB, the device pulls 100mA and negotiates with the host for up to 500mA.

If anyone is interested, this is how you do it (I used an iHome mini hub that cost $8.99)..

Take ANY USB hub (doesn't even need to be USB2.0) with an external AC adapter and open it up

On each port you want to enable high speed charging on (one per amp of adapter rating, so if the adapter is 2.5A, convert 2 ports max) bridge the center two pins with a dab of solder, then using an XACTO knife CAREFULLY scratch away the copper traces that connect the center pins to the chip. That's it! Just make sure you mark those ports (I colored the port with a sharpie). The remaining ports will still charge devices, but just at low current, as if they were plugged into a computer's USB port. And again, any ports that have been converted are no longer going to be used for data.


 

Last edited by JerseyMatt; 01-03-12 at 11:09 PM.
  #15  
Old 01-18-12, 04:26 PM
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Cooper USB wall receptacle.

If you're an Apple user don't bother! Installed one in daughters room today, will not charge iPod touch, iPad, or iphone4. The only thing I could get it to charge is my old nano....don't bother!
 
  #16  
Old 01-22-12, 05:17 AM
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update

The brand I had my eye on, just updated their info and answered my questions. Can anyone confirm whether the certifications sound complete, since they're not an electrical company? They also said there is no reason not to put it in a two gang box next to a standard duplex receptacle: but I don't know what that requires other than "it fits".

- "Output: 22 Watts 5VDC 4.4A (2.1A maximum per port)". The Cooper brand only has 700mA total output across both slots whereas the iPad wants a lot more. This ought to do the job.

- Their www site implied an integrated faceplate for the Quattro, but they responded by email that I can use any Decora style.

- I don't know if this was in response to my email also, but now they say "he Duo or Quattro has been safety tested to meet or exceed the 2011 NEC ( National Electrical Code ). This code is updated every 3 years & the 2011 NEC has been in effect August of 2010. In addition the Duo or Quattro has been certified to the following UL standards: UL 1310 & CSA 22.2 No. 223, UL 60950-1 & CSA 22.2 No 60950-1 and UL 514c (face plates) "
 
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Old 01-22-12, 09:36 AM
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Update on my end, too. I was in the Denver airport the other day and they were everywhere, especially at the communications deskettes scattered throughout.
 
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Old 01-22-12, 01:15 PM
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In addition the Duo or Quattro has been certified to the following UL standards: UL 1310 & CSA 22.2 No. 223, UL 60950-1 & CSA 22.2 No 60950-1 and UL 514c
That's interesting, but when will they get the U.L. Listing? Tested to U.L. standards is fine, but it doesn't really mean squat till they have a U.L. Listing. I'd wait till they are listed.
 
  #19  
Old 05-05-12, 08:24 AM
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Here's another USB receptacle...

[ATTACH=CONFIG]296[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]301[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]302[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]303[/ATTACH]

I just bought one on Amazon. Just be careful - this device is much larger than a standard 120V plug, so you need to measure before you buy one.
 
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  #20  
Old 05-05-12, 09:35 AM
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- "Output: 22 Watts 5VDC 4.4A (2.1A maximum per port)". The Cooper brand only has 700mA total output across both slots whereas the iPad wants a lot more. This ought to do the job.
I was going to caution you to beware of low USB power output on these, but I see you got the answer on that - and that updates my info too. Thanks.
 
  #21  
Old 05-05-12, 10:14 AM
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I bought the Duo and use it to charge an iPhone and an iPad simultaneously. It's only rated 3.2A compared to 4.4A for the Quattro.

I am glad I had a deep 2-gang with a single-gang mud ring and stranded wire. This would be tough with 12 AWG and a single-gang box.

One odd thing is that the iPad will start charging immediately when plugged in, but the iPhone sometimes seems to require that the USB end of the cable be unplugged and then re-plugged to start charging. I found this on both ports with different cables and regardless of whether the iPad was charging on the other port. Need to further isolate.
 
  #22  
Old 05-13-12, 09:31 PM
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Apple products, especially ipads, are very picky about what they will charge from. Some charging devices are 'Apple Ready' and others are not. There are actually adapters which trick the Apple device into charging from any USB port.

Amazon.com: XMultiple iPad USB Charging Adapter: Computers & Accessories
 
  #23  
Old 05-13-12, 10:29 PM
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I guess I can see some use for such a plug and I guess they are safe enough but I never charge anything from a usb port and always use a charger. I never have cared for those new smart phones anyway and have always used a standard cell phone. I am also on pre-paid as I rarely use my phone enough to justify paying more money. Until recently my pre-paid service didn't have smart phones and now they do. I could see these though in new homes or remodels probably sooner rather than later but for my household not likely even if I do have to replace a plug.
 
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