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Here’s a review and step-by-step install for Newer Technology’s Power2U Dual-USB Wall Outlet. It was something we saw at CES that we wouldn’t normally see in a hardware store like Home Depot or retail tech store like Best Buy and Newer Technology sent us a review unit to check it out. The Power2U Dual-USB Wall Outlet is a full blown outlet replacement for your stock outlet in your home. It is not a plate or extender that is plugged on top of your typical outlet.
The Power2U comes fully assembled with its own protective housing and wire plates for thick electrical wiring. Out of its package, the construction of its housing feels robust and heavy duty for an outlet of this type and it comes with faceplate screws and a one page manual. The outer plate which surrounds the 2 outlets and 2 USB jacks also has a set of bolt covers to give the Power2U a seamless look.
Installation (Download Manual)
Now installing it is a whole different story. You’re going to need some strong flat nose pliers that can bend some very thick electrical wire and a good screwdriver to tightly weave the wires on the Power2U’s plates. The ease (or difficulty) of Power2U’s installation will be dependent on the kind of outlet system you have. Once you head to the fuse box and shut off your outlets, the easy part of the installation ends there. Most (if not all) outlets have a metal box protecting the stock outlet, while some others do not (or they are of different size). In our installation, our electrical wires were contained in a metal box housing and the rest of the wires were encased in a flexible metal tubing that is bolted onto the housing itself. While the ideal situation would have been to swap the stock outlet with the Power2U and screw in the electrical wires, this was not the case for us. The Power2U can’t fit in the metal case and the large gauge (thickness) of the electrical wires don’t make it easy for you to just pull the box. Unless you have metal box big enough to enclose the USB wall outlet, you’re left with two choices:
- Spend your time straightening the wires out with a plier to take the box out entirely or
- Take apart the metal box plate-by-plate
We ended up doing the second choice because it was just easier and took less time (and, well, see site name). Once the metal box was taken apart, all that remained was a rear plate where the wires would pass through. If the electrical wires are more flexible, we recommend going with the first choice and walk away with a cleaner install. If your metal box can be disassembled on the spot and you’re not obsessed with making your wires perfect (or conscious of what’s behind the outlet), the install will definitely be easier and quicker.
Now comes the wiring. Once you’ve gotten the old outlet removed, you’ll be doing a lot of wire bending with your pliers. Once the L-shaped bending has been done for all the wires, you’ll insert them into their respective screw blocks. According to the installation manual, brass screws on black wires, silver screws on white wires and green screw for the bare (or green wire). It should look like this once you’re done. We also recommend wrapping electrical tape to cover the wire contact plates.
Before we begin mounting the outlet in place, we also recommend plugging in a nitelight and switching on your fuse box to make sure it works. Once it works, you’re ready to finally mount it.
Screwing/Bolting on the Power2U will be dependent on how large your outlet’s cutout is. If your cutout is too big (like ours here), you might have issues bolting/screwing them on. We installed it on the surface of a kitchen island cabinet, so the experience is slightly different when installing through the typical drywall cutout. We ended up using some long screws to reach the wood surfaces. We also had to be careful not to bend the screw plates when installing the outlet.
Once we got everything in, the rest was easy – the tiny screws, the faceplate, screw covers, etc. Of course, once you have the faceplate on, you’re probably going to obsess over its alignment but once it’s on, the outlet looks flush and seamless against the surface. Now comes the actual part:
Plugging in typical AC plugs will definitely feel newer than stock outlets for obvious reasons. As for the USB jacks, the charging is extremely quick for every device we’ve connected. We got a chance to plug in the iPhone, HTC Arrive, iPad, iPod Touch, FlipCam, Blackberry Playbook and a Sony Handycam. When we plugged in the iPhone at 25% charge, the outlet fully charged the device in 40-50 minutes. The HTC Arrive charged at similar times and it carried a 10% charge prior to plugin. The Power2U’s specs aren’t just fancy talk. This thing walks the walk. When you have a 5.2 volt, 2000mAh charger with an integrated on/off safety switch built into an outlet tapping right from electrical wires, it works brilliantly.
There’s also something to be said about not having to unplug other appliances just to charge a mobile device. From the surface, the Power2U feels like an unnecessary purchase for convenience but once you’ve experienced having the outlet in your home, you’ll want one everywhere. The outlet doesn’t get crowded with all four plugs being used unless you’re using one of those adapter-style plugs.
Overall, at $30, it’s a very nice convenience to have that adds a high-end flair to your home and possibly a nod of approval from your techie friends for conveniently charging their precious electronics.