Our dependence on mobile electronics has greatly improved the way we communicate and share information on the go, but inside most homes it has created a charging nightmare. Most mobile devices need to be charged daily and with multiple people living in a household, often with more than one device that needs charging, it has created a traffic jam at the charging station. We have reviewed a number of products in recent years (Energizer iSurge, Callpod Chargepod, PowerMat) that plug into an outlet and try to make charging your devices easier. We’ve had solutions that are add more either power outlets and USB/or ports as well as others that try to make life easier with wireless charging. While these solutions have worked well over the years, they have always felt like ‘stop gap’ workarounds, rather than the solution to the problem. None of the charging solutions that we have ever reviewed have actually physically replaced the wall outlet itself.
NewerTech introduced a product last year called the Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet that hopes to solve the mobile device charging dilemma by designing the first and only patented, UL listed AC/USB outlet for powering and/or charging four devices simultaneously. The idea changing the outlet helps get to the source of the issue, but also requires people to dabble with electrical wiring and that might put a few people off. And, in some areas you need to pull a permit with the city when you do any electrical work. Here in the United States you can run up to your local Lowe’s or Home Depot and pick up a standard 2-outlet 15-Amp flush mounted power outlet for about $0.59 each or in a contractors pack of 10 for $4.58 ($0.46 each). The NewerTech Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet used to cost $29.99, but earlier this month the company slashed the suggested retail price by 25-percent, which brought the price down to $22.99.
Inside the hard to open clamshell packaging you’ll find detailed instructions with pictures and the power outlet. The outlet comes with a faceplate, two pre-installed electrical box mounting screws, two faceplate retaining screws and two cosmetic white caps for the faceplate screw holes. Everything you need to install the Power2U 15-Amp outlet comes with it.
The Power2U has spring-loaded Safety Shutters turn block the USB ports when they are not in use and when the shutters close it shuts off power to the USB devices. They make plugging USB devices in tricky the first few times, but after several times you get the hang of it and can plug in devices with one hand. This outlet is designed to charge iPads, iPhones, iPods, Android tablets and phones, tablet computers, MP3 players, GPS devices, digital cameras, and other USB 3.0/2.0/1.1 chargeable devices without the need of an adapter.
With the faceplate removed you can get a better look at how the shutters work. When you slide the spring loaded door open it slides over and presses down on a switch that powers on the USB port. When you pull the USB device out the door closes, thus depressing the switch and killing all the power to the USB port. A simple, yet effective design that keeps you safe and improves power savings.
The one thing that shocked us about the Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet was how physically large this power outlet is. In the image above you can see that it is nearly three times deeper than a standard outlet. The Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet can be installed on any 15 Amp circuit that uses a standard 16 cubic inch electrical box. If the location you want to put this is in a shallow box, then you are out of luck! It should also be noted that the Power2U AC/USB outlet is only available for 15 Amp electrical runs. NewerTech informed us that a 20 Amp version has been submitted for UL certification and if all goes well it could be out in Q4, 2012.
We installed the NewerTech Power2U AC/USB power outlet on a desk area on one side of our kitchen. The wall has a travertine tile backsplash, so due to the added thickness we couldn’t use the supplied mounting screws that came with the Power2U. No big deal as we were able to use the ones from the existing outlet.
The installation only takes a few minutes and is the same as changing out any ordinary power outlet. We won’t go into the specifics of how to wire this for safety and liability reasons, but you can watch an installation video on how to do it on the NewerTech website.
Once installed the Power2U worked as advertised and we were able to charge four devices without the need of any adapters! The two USB ports are rated at 5.2 Volts or 2000mA (2 Amps or 10W), which is equivalent to the output of one Apple iPad wall adapter.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions:
NewerTechnology has a great product here that makes the lives of anyone with multiple electronics a little easier by providing a way to charge them without the need of any adapters. It fixes a common problem and is the only UL approved outlet that is on the US and Canadian markets. The one thing holding this product back is the $27.99 price tag, but for many that price will be justifiable. The MSRP was lowered to $22.99 earlier this month, but the street price is still higher. OWC is offering the Power2U for $27.99 each or $22.99 each, if you buy two at once.
The Power2U has a few minor downsides that we need to point out. The first is the sheer size of the of the outlet due to all the circuity. It makes installation tricky and it might not fit in all electrical boxes. If you plan on buying one of these you should measure your electrical box to ensure that it will fit before ordering. You can do this by measuring the depth, width, and height of the electrical box and multiplying them together. If you come up with a cubic inch measurement over 16 you can use it. A standard depth outlet box is 3″ deep x 3″ tall x 2-1/8″ wide and is 19.125 cubic inches. The second gripe we had is that we would really like to see a 20 Amp version of the Power2U! Our office is fully wired for 20 Amp service and we’d love to install a few of these outlets there! Lastly, the Power2U is only available in white. White is certainly the most common color, but if you wanted a different color you’ll need to get creative and paint it or something.
At the end of the day we love the Power2U AC/USB wall outlet and wish we would have been able to get one years ago. We first started talking about this type of outlet on Legit Reviews back in 2009, so this review has been a long time coming!
Legit Bottom Line: The NewerTech Power2U AC/USB wall outlet is a great addition to your digital lifestyle and will most certainly make your life easier.