Electrical Wiring in the Home/usb outlet wiring
QUESTION: Hello. I purchased a usb charging outlet. It has black, white and green wires extending from the box. The ideal place for this outlet appears to be in a circuit. There are two wire bundles, each with black, white, ground extending from the wall box. Both sets are attached to the outlet being replaced. It's a non-GFCI box. I tried capping off one set of b/w/g and attaching the usb box to the other set of wires but that disabled other outlets.
1) Would it be safe to attach both black, both white, and both ground wires to the usb outlet.
2) Would that potentially damage any devices to be powered through the usb outlet or damage the usb outlet?
ANSWER: David you are not adding right? Just replacing/upgrading?
If you are not adding it should be just fine, by installing in parallel like the original.
The only thing that bothers me with these outlets is surges and other fairly normal, in this day and age... but A PROBLEM
If you don't have a whole house surge protector or something in FRONT of any USB 5 volt circuit, [it could provide some protection in the outlet itself, but I bet it is not adequate.
It not as clean but I would prefer a UPS of some sort, and one with a USB charging port.
These USB outlets are convenient, but the surges and other issues are often overlooked.
If you are planning to charge a bunch of stuff at this outlet I would look to see if the outlet provides any line to neutral protection L-N .
It will fit technically just like any other outlet, but surges can come from coffee makers and other devices ON THE SAME CIRCUIT INTERNALLY most are not aware of that
So you can do this as a normal install should be fine as far as amps so on, but these damn spikes and electronics don't mix, that is why you need suppression in front of ANY USB and computers, phones chargers electronics,
I have a lamp with a USB port on it, never use it, and I have tons of protection, I use both UPS and rack mount voltage regulators with internal protection Line to Neutral not ground,
SO the outlet could work, but you MUST KNOW what else is ON the circuit and what protection you have in front of electronic gear
If it is just raw circuit, I would say go another route, now some of these USB outlets have protection but the physical limitations tell me not enough.
A whole house filter I would say go for it, knowing the other loads but if not I would use it sparingly and carefully, shoot me a note to my e-mail if you need more info, but the outlet would not be wired incorrectly as a replacement.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Mr. Babbit,
Thank you for the very complete answer. Yes, replacing, not adding. Much of your answer is over my head but one point I believe to have understood is that surges could happen on this circuit that might damage my devices. They're too expensive to risk. I am going to do my due diligence and check this USB outlet to determine if there's any surge protection built in.
Would it be safer if the USB outlet were installed in a box that has only one set of wires b/w/g? That is, no other electronics (blender, waffle iron, hairdryer) one the same circuit?
Phones, iPads and other devices come with outlet adapter plugs but no warnings about charging on multiple outlet circuits. Your answer has me a little concerned about charging devices on multi-outlet circuits might be risky. A little confused...
hey Dave and it gets more complex, the issue is complex and technical it would take a book to get started,
Here is the problem with all this stuff going electronic so fast, the need for CLEAN POWER, AND SAFE POWER ALONG WITH ENVIRONMENTAL NUTS who have maybe the right heart but no concept of what really pollutes
just for a second, the electric car, the hybrid so on, wonderful idea but we have to charge the batteries they are not a self contained circuit or ecosystem.
By the time you figure the belching smoke from coal fired plants, the belching smoke it took to build batteries to build the car, to NOW deliver a charge to the batteries, the smoke is four times more with each car than if the car were simply gas driven, Except FOR ONE LITTLE FACTOR efficiency an electric motor can be rated as high as mid 90 in eff., where an internal combustion engine is at best 40-50%
Then add in all the power hungry chargers useless power strips, and all this energy is needed now one amp at a time, 25 years ago, it was a few amps at a time but not even close to the demand now days because now we have a billion devices back then a million rough example
Dave, As far as trying to prevent surges from the HARD SIDE the 115 volt side of things, there is no box no anything I Know of to suppress surges
With this type of outlet which probably cost you a pretty large amount of cash, with NOTHING IN FRONT you are charging your devices at the same risk level as your can opener [assuming it is electric] loose a can opener ten bucks
Lose a charger phone or multiple devices not only the cost of the device but the friggin hassle to get everything reprogrammed, deal with warranties and fuss with it all is just a nightmare,
If you have a bunch of USB devices as most of us do, you have to protect those circuits, I am getting a million questions on this,
Your utility sends spikes down your line probably every day, most are switching transients that come from adjusting load at substations, most are harmless but the first time a piece of switchgear malfunctions and your lights go black, on, black on, the HARD SIDE is given a huge but short ZOLT
It weakens motor windings which are literally hundreds of times larger than any electronic device the biggest circuit no bigger than a fraction of a strand of hair,
Here is my advice for now, I would charge stuff through as small as you can get UPS they act like and sometimes are isolation important isolation transformer, which induces voltage to the secondary but NOT CURRENT
It is a huge buffer for spikes but the UPS itself could end up trash, this is serious problem that not many understand
A $99.00 dollar small UPS will charge a lot of USB devices at the same time putting a firewall between your devices and the rest of the world but they are clunky and not nice and clean like this wall outlet, I Personally would NEVER install one, just due to the risk, I would rather sacrifice some old small laptop for a charging center might not even boot up, just one that has live usb there are a million ways to go about this, but sooner or later everyone will fill the pinch I see it growing and I get the issues more and more and more
I have no nice an clean and easy analogy for this, need to work on one, but forget the USB tied to your main power
I would rather sacrifice decor in favor of this high dollar stuff, which means you will have to hide it, the logistics are never easy the logistics of a USB tied to an outlet are very desirable, but your devices are exposed like taking the charger taking some jumpers alligator clipped jumpers and clamping them on to some overhead line,
MOST OF THE TIME it would be fine, but when a car hits a telephone pole and takes out a large transformer surges go everywhere
Utilities switch loads so if the north side of happy land is demanding more power, they switch some from the south side when they do a spike or surge or high freq signal is tossed down the power lines, some dissipate, some fry the guts out of everyones TV , but they say nothing about this potential hazard I have seen some in the tiny tiny small print from a utility but think about it who reads that ?
I don't want to make you paranoid and afraid to plug anything into anything,
MOST OF THE TIME it is fine, but it is getting to be more frequent and much more often.
When the guy built or designed the can opener the last thing he or she was concerned about was someones cell phone, what the hell does a can opener have to due with a cell phone,
Nothing back a few decades ago, now we have USB outlets on our regular outlets and that is a ploy to sell you redundancy and convenience. How clever here is a usb port for the whole family
I have not found one from any manufacturer that has enough protection on the usb side, to make me happy, now if they used an isolating transformer that would be one thing, but here is a link to popular mechanics take:
then check this out, now your cell phone has it's own insurance category see a pattern ?
For now I would suggest if you can and if has not been wired they should take it back
As you have nothing to protect the AC side, you have nothing to protect the DC supplied by the USB and some devices will charge some require more power Chargers range from .01 amps to 10 amps and more, most people are not EEs yet we have to charge this stuff,
take a look at one sample charger in your home and find the amperage or current rating probably something like 5 volts dc 1.0 amps to make it simple then find the current rating of the possible new wall outlet, is it large enough or more than 1 amp?
They can build those at whatever power rating they want and most layman are not going to understand, so hanging a USB replicator is possibly out of the question depending on the power available from this new outlet,
I know confusing and you have the thing, but the best I can do is tell you I have a whole house protector, a power conditioning center, then individual protection in the form of UPS boxes to cover computers, high dollar amps, so on, one I have the AC covered now I go down to individual devices,
believe me I have the same need for charging all this just happen to be a high voltage guy and a low voltage guy, not even the TOP Expert in the World can tell you where a lightning bolt might dissipate
They know in general but for sure no way, this is an up and coming profit center for the same buttheads that steal from us everyday
If you have no problems with your charging situation hang loose, I cannot tell you if the outlet although it seems like the most powerful way to go USB not in reality it depends on the output power of the outlet in USB or DC outlet, these outlets are often very large they need to rectify the voltage to dc lower it to 5 volts and all that stuff has to jammed into a wall outlet with no chance of cooling,
Read up on the subject, maybe install it, and try something something that is maybe older or simple to replace and see how it goes,
ONE outlet unless you some kind of port replicator is fairly useless anyway and they aint going to put 5-10 amps in that little device although again it is much larger than normal outlets,
you can use my personal email it is much less cumbersome than going back through allexperts, and a hand for about.com they simply provide this service for nothing, I like that so I help out it is the best way I know to give someone a hand or prevent a bad situation, but to get to me is all about.com wants to do, very cool they have no problem if I put my personal infor out there which aint real smart of me, but it does go faster