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Newer Technology Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet: More power to your USB devices

I'll admit that I'm not the best person to be writing about a do-it-yourself project involving electricity. After all, I've zapped myself more than once while replacing wall switches and installing light dimmers, and I once had smoke pouring from my kitchen ceiling after installing a new light fixture. But I'm going to get out my insulated gloves and screwdriver to install a Newer Technology Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet (US$39.95) to replace a standard AC outlet in my home.

The Power2U is an innovative AC wall outlet that adds two USB 3.0/2.0 ports to the standard three-prong grounded outlets. Installable on any standard 15A electrical circuit, the outlet is fully listed and approved by Underwriters Laboratory (UL). You can plug standard home fixtures such as lamps and clocks into the two AC outlets and still have two fully-powered (10 Watt) USB ports perfect for charging up your iPad, iPhone, or other favorite electronic toy. What's also nice is that you can dispense with the "wall warts" -- the power bricks that you need for every device.

The Power2U has a Smart Power feature that outputs just enough power to match whatever the device being charged requires, and the USB ports have Safety Shutters that close and turn off the ports when the cable is removed. For do-it-yourselfers who are less likely to electrocute themselves than I am, the Power2U comes with a complete step-by-step manual for installation.

Before you try to install the Power2U, you might want to check the size of your receptacle box. The outlet requires a 16 cubic inch or larger receptacle -- Newer Technology notes that you should power off the existing outlet, remove the faceplate cover, and then measure the height, width, and depth of the box to get an idea of the volume of the current box. If it's too small, or if you have a fear of being zapped, contacting a licensed electrician to put in a new receptacle box and install the Power2U is a good idea.

If I was building a new home, you can be sure that I'd ask the homebuilder to install at least one of the Power2U outlets in every room. The Power2U wall outlet is a new take on an old standard, and a great way to bring order to the proliferation of USB power cables in your home.

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