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For years, I wanted a sleek looking USB wall outlet for our living room.
It just makes perfect sense: turn a regular wall outlet into a phone charger (or a charger for your camera or any other electronic gadget with a USB port) without having to unplug another item from the outlet first.
If it’s designed right, then it blends into your home decor, rather than being an eyesore like many of the traditional USB wall chargers out there.
Belkin USB Wall Charger
The first one I bought (4 years ago) was this Belkin travel USB wall charger.
It was the first of its kind with a built-in USB port.
This type of adapter turns a regular wall outlet into a wall outlet with 4 outlets and 2 USB ports.
The adapter itself has 3 outlets on it, and the outlet plug on the back of the adapter swivels in every direction, so you can still use 1 of the 2 outlets from the standard wall outlet — for a total of 4 outlets available to you at any given time.
The Belkin USB Wall Charger has served its purpose well for us. But it’s not sleek. And it’s pretty much an eyesore like the rest of ’em.
So I’ve mostly only used it for travel purposes (at business conferences held in large convention halls, and in hotel rooms) — to charge our many gadgets away from home when outlets are few & far between.
SnapPower Outlet Coverplate With USB Charger
Today, there’s a new USB wall outlet that’s super sleek. You don’t even know it’s there!
The SnapPower USB outlet coverplate is the first ever USB charger built into an outlet coverplate.
It’s a standard wall coverplate with 1 USB port built into the side.
The best part: the USB charger part is basically invisible (except when it’s in use).
The folks at SnapPower gave me 2 of these USB wall outlet chargers to try.
I put 1 in the living room and 1 in the kitchen:
- The living room outlet/charger is near where I do most of my blogging and at-home work.
- The kitchen outlet/charger is right as you walk into the kitchen — which is the outlet that visitors to our home have always used to charge their phones.
I use the living room one on a daily basis. That particular outlet also has a reading lamp and my laptop plugged into it. So it’s great not having to unplug one of those — just to charge my phone every day while I’m working.
We use the kitchen one only when guests are here visiting. That’s the biggest reason that I’m happy the Snap Power USB wall outlet doesn’t look like a charger. It just looks like a regular wall outlet. So it blends in with my regular kitchen decor when it’s not being used (which is most of the time).
In the above photo, you can see (left to right):
- The kitchen and pantry light switches on the far left
- The SnapPower USB wall outlet on the back corner wall (with a phone charging)
- A SnapPower nightlight wall outlet on the left side of the stove
- A regular wall outlet on the right side of the stove (partially covered by the knife set)
- Another SnapPower night light wall outlet on the far right
In case you’re wondering, I bought 5 of the SnapPower nightlight wall outlets myself and wrote an article about them long before the company offered to give me 2 additional ones to review. Since it’s the most energy-efficient night light on the planet, I was happy to share that news with our environmentally friendly readers at the Green Guide.
Pros & Cons Of SnapPower USB Wall Outlets
On the plus side:
- Eliminates the need to unplug something just to charge your phone
- Has built-in surge protection
- Very sleek and modern looking
- Has a thin profile – so it doesn’t stick out very far from the wall
- You don’t have to buy a special USB receptacle to get the benefits of USB charging from a wall outlet
- No special tools or wiring required to install
Here’s how to install it…
First, remove your current outlet coverplate (there’s just 1 screw in the center of the coverplate itself). Then, replace it with a SnapPower USB outlet coverplate (again, it just takes 1 screwdriver (no other tools or wiring required).
On the minus side:
- You have to supply your own charging cord (but if you’ve got a phone, then you’ve probably already got a charging cable).
- If you have your own charging cord, then you probably also have a charging adapter that plugs into the wall. So, technically, the only reason you’d need a SnapPower USB outlet coverplate is if the 2 plugs are already being used by other electronics.
- Doesn’t work with GFCI outlets (the ones with a reset button in the center)
- It’s designed such that the way you put the coverplate on the wall outlet is dictated by the direction of the ground prong in your outlet. If the ground prongs are on the bottom, the coverplate should be pointed with the USB charger part on the bottom. If they’re on the top, then the charger should be on the top.
Here’s a tip…
Depending on how crowded the inside of your outlet boxes are (you won’t know until you take the outlet cover off), you might be able to get a good enough connection if you change the direction of the SnapPower coverplate itself. For example, in my house, the charger works just fine in the “wrong” direction — I wanted it that way, so the USB port would be closest to the far corner of the room. (My ground plug is on the bottom of the outlet holes, yet I have the coverplate turned upside down so the USB charger is on top of the coverplate — as seen in the photos.)
I got my first computer in 1986 and immediately started writing, saving documents, and organizing my entire life on it. Thus began my love affair with gadgets and all things tech. I built my first website in 1998 in old-school HTML code — before websites were "a thing". Blogs weren't invented yet. It was the same year that Google was born. My husband and I created TheFunTimesGuide.com in 2004 — before YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, and Mashable were launched. That was the year Facebook started and 'blog' was the Word of the Year according Merriam-Webster. Ever since then, anytime a new electronic gadget hits the market… I have to have it. (My husband's impulsive nature to try out every new tech gadget invented is even worse than mine!) When I'm not trying out fun new tech gadgets, you'll find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).