It may seem that the scarcity of charging ports in your home is growing exponentially. It's bad enough that all of your phones and tablets need USB ports, but now accessories such as remote controls are being charged with USB connections instead of plugs.
You can add precious USB charging ports without sacrificing equally precious electrical outlets by replacing your traditional outlets with those enhanced with USB ports.
What do you need to change to a USB enhanced outlet?
USB enhanced outlets have the two traditional receptacles, but also have dual USB ports in the center of the outlet.
An open cover plate
The cover plate that hides and protects your old outlet will not work with a USB enhanced outlet, because it only allows the two receptacles to be exposed. You will need an open cover plate, which is basically a rectangular frame held in place by a sub-plate that fits around the outlet.
Flat and Philips head screwdrivers
Shutting off the power
The first step in any electrical project is to turn off the power to the component that is being repaired or replaced.
You can do this by turning off the circuit breaker that controls the power to the component, which in this case is the outlet.
The circuit breakers inside your breaker box control various lines, or circuits, throughout your home. The area that each individual breaker controls should be marked on a chart on the inside of the breaker box door.
If it is not clearly marked, or you are unsure that you are turning off the correct breaker, plug a working appliance into the outlet and turn it on.
The appliance will shut off when you've shut off the correct breaker.
Removing the old breaker
When the power is shut off, use the flat head screwdriver to remove the center screw of the old cover plate. Use the Philips head screwdriver to loosen the two screws that hold the outlet in the gang box inside the wall
You can then pull the outlet from the wall and disconnect all wires connected to the sides of the outlet by turning the screw terminals counterclockwise and pulling the wires away from the terminals. Keep the wires separated.
Installing the USB enhanced outlet
You will begin by placing the sub-plate for the open cover plate around the outlet before connecting the wires. You will then loosen all of the screw terminals on the sides of the outlets.
There will be either one or two sets of three wires that were connected to the old outlet.
If one set of wires need to be connected, you will loop the black wire under the top brass terminal screw and tighten the screw by turning it clockwise. You will then connect the white wire to the top silver terminal and the green wire to the single green terminal in a similar manner.
If you found a second set of wires, you will connect the second black wire to the bottom brass terminal, the second white wire to the bottom silver terminal, and the second green wire to the lone green grounding terminal. Both green ground wires can share the single terminal.
You will then push the outlet into the gang box inside the wall, and secure it with the upper and lower screws. Snap the cover plate onto the sub-plate, turn on the breaker and bask in the glow of charging lights.
For help with a project like this, contact an electrician.