Provides: USB power/charging via wall oulet
Minimum Requirements: 14 gauge (15A) electrical circuit, 16 cubic inch or larger single gang electrical box
Price: $29.95 (quantity discounts available)
NewerTech’s Power2U AC/USB wall outlet is the kind of accessory you decide you really need to have, then find out maybe you don’t. The first time I saw it, I figured I should put one in every room of my house. But then I thought about my USB use, and realized it’s not as excessive as I thought. For the most part, USB is still a method of connecting devices to my computer, not to my wall. And when I want to charge the iPhone, iPad, etc., I have docks for that.
So, after wrestling around with a good place to install my Power2U review unit, I finally landed on an outlet in the kitchen, near the garage door. Normally, we have an accessory here that plugs into the outlet and docks the iPhone right there on the wall. But it can’t support an iPad, it charges only one device at a time, and the flip out dock has been flipping out too far lately, holding the iPhone at an angle that leaves me uncomfortable. The Power2U solves all those problems, and only creates one; I’ve now got an ugly chord hanging out of my outlet pretty much all day long.
But before I focus on the functionality, let’s talk about the installation. You don’t need to know a whole lot about electrical wiring to install the Power2U. In fact, all you really need to know is how to shut it off (well, that and if your outlet matches the Power2U specs). I flipped the breaker in the basement, tested the old outlet to make sure it was cold, then removed it. From there, you just need to connect three wires; hot (black), neutral (white) and the ground wire (bare or green). The Power2U comes with screw plates so you don’t have to bend the wire around the screw, and they work pretty well (although you’ll want to have some needle nose pliers handy). My only problem is that one of the screws was stripped and wouldn’t hold the wire in place. I was able to use a screw from the old outlet to solve this. You likely won’t have this problem, though, and if you follow the instructions, you’ll be fine.
The unit was a bit difficult to reseat, but that’s due to my wiring, not the device. Once I had it in safely and securely, it was just a matter of putting the plate back on, turning on the breaker, and then plugging in a USB device. Easy. The two USB ports on either side of the outlet have spring loaded doors that slide shut when not in use, and which open comfortably to fit a standard size USB plug (no problem on those that come with Apple’s iDevices). My only issue at this point is that my review unit came with only one screw cover. Again, you likely won’t have this problem.
Now that it’s in place, I kind of like the Power2U. The cable is easy enough to put away when it’s not in use, and I don’t have to bother with Apple’s outlet adapter to charge my devices. Plus, it frees up the counter space that would’ve otherwise been occupied by a dock (although I still like to have an iPhone/iPad stand there to support the device(s) when charging).
If you’re looking for a convenient method of charging your USB gadgets that’s out of your way when you don’t want it, the Power2U is a good way to go.