USB a mess....

Everyone in my family has an IPhone, IPad AND a laptop...a few of us even have electronic readers.  I have this stuff because I get them as gifts or hand-me-downs, NOT because I intentionally go out and buy stuff that requires I learn a new skill! Frustrating but I eventually learn enough to make them useful!

But my biggest frustration was never having a convenient place to charge all these gadgets!  And to top it off, my kids were always stealing my charger cords and adapters when they misplaced theirs.  

So last year, when I was snooping around the electrical supply store looking for kitchen lighting, I found this AWESOME little outlet/USB port combo!  Totally cool and can easily be installed in an existing outlet!!! Not only can you use it to charge your gadgets without the bulky adapters, you still have functioning outlets!

Lowes has one that has one outlet and two USB ports, but I like this one because it has two outlets and two ports!  And seriously, YOU CAN DO THIS!!! It really is relatively easy!  I installed my daughter's today in less than 20 minutes...and took pictures while I did it!

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You will need the new outlet ($20-$25, depending on the type and where you get it), needle nose pliers if you have them and a phillips and flat head screw driver.  If you have an outlet tester that is great....if not, you can use a mixer or blow dryer to test the outlet.  Also, I keep these little "head lamp" lights handy just in case I need additional light while working. Soooo much handier than a flashlight!!!

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After turning off the power at the box, CAREFULLY check the outlet with a tester or something (lamp, mixer, blow dryer) that requires power (I use the tester AND at least 2-3 things that require power).  Just make sure there is no power to the outlet.  And trust me, don't ask someone else to do this for you!!!

BEFORE YOU START ANY ELECTRICAL PROJECT TURN OFF ALL POWER TO THE AREA YOU ARE WORKING!!  Find your circuit box and flip the switches to OFF. If you only turn off the switches labeled for the area you are working, you are ASSUMING it is labeled correctly.  Not me!  I turn it ALL off (I need to reset all my clocks anyway!)  And if you are really paranoid, you can always call the electric company and see if they will turn off your city block.  They wouldn't do it for me, but you never know! 

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Once you are certain there is NO power to the outlet, unscrew the cover and remove it.  Then unscrew the two little screws holding the outlet in the box, and pull the outlet out.  You will see either 2 black, 2 white and 1 bare wire attached to the outlet, or 1 black, 1 white and 1 bare attached.  If there are two black, two white and one bare, that just means there is power "coming in" to the outlet and there is power "going out" to another outlet.

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The black will be on one side and the white will be on the other.  Remove all the wires from the old outlet! Unscrew the little screws and then carefully "pry" the wires off!

This is where needle nose pliers come in handy! Normally the wires are "looped" around the screw...you may have to pry the loop open a tad to be able to slip it off the screw!  Sometimes, the wires may be stuck into the back of the outlet.  If that is the case, just loosen the screw and pull the wire out of the back!

My son-in-law Joel taught me an easy way to remember what goes where..."black to brass."  So the black wire(s) will be attached to the brass screw(s) on one side and the white wire(s) will be attached to the silver screw(s) on the other.  The bare wire (neutral) will always attach to the little green screw!  If you have two sets of wires (2 black/2white/1bare) you will use both brass and both silver screws.  If you only have one set (1 black/1 white/1 bare) you will attach one black to a brass screw, the white to a silver, the bare to the green, and just tighten down the extra brass and silver screw. 

Working with electrical wires is NOT as easy as it looks...they are very stiff and a tad difficult to manipulate.  Needle nose pliers are great if you have stiff hands like mine!  Once you get the wires "hooked" around the screws, tighten the screws down!

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After all your wires are secure, carefully insert the new outlet back into the box, secure with the two screws at the top and bottom of the outlet and put the faceplate back on! 

Now you can turn all your power back on...sometimes you have to make sure you flip the switch all the way to OFF and then flip it back to ON.!  Test your outlet again, and make sure you have power!!!

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Whether you install this in your kitchen, bedroom or entry hall, you really will enjoy the convenience of being able to leave your charger cords in the ports and still have complete use of the outlet for normal stuff like lamps and clocks. 

Super easy project!!!  JUST MAKE SURE YOU TURN THE POWER OFF FIRST!!!!!

I was featured at Creativity Unleashed!

Practically Functional