Wall Outlets with USB connectors

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In the electrical dept at a building supply store, I saw for the first time electrical outlets that fit in a standard box, and they contain one regular AC outlet and two USB connectors. The package says that they have a built in converter. The cost was around $13. The question I had, is what are they for? For example, when I plug a USB device in my computer, it serves a purpose. For example a USB external hard drive for storage, a USB mouse or keyboard, or USB printer. Plugging these same devices into that outlet will not give the printer anything to print, or data for the USB hard drive, nor will the keyboard or mouse control anything. So what are they for?
I initially thought maybe they are for charging a cellphone, but my phone came with an AC adaptor charger as well as a 12V car charger. So, why would I need a USB charger, when I already have chargers. I'm not really up on all the latest technology, but I cant see any reason to have these USB wall outlets.
Anyone know their purpose?
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*They are for charging devices without having to use the transformers that plug into the outlet. It is suppose to help reduce the clutter of power supplies that hog regular receptacles.
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I assume that since these devices have the converter built in, they are constantly "on".
Does that mean that they use just as much electricity as the regular wall worts which many people say should be unplugged when not in use?
I can picture someone (like me) who might opt for the convenience of having USB ports in the kitchen, the bedroom, the shop etc. Am I now powering the equivalent of 3 or 4 or more wall worts 24/7?
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On 6/27/2012 8:40 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

That'd be my issue with these, and why I'd rather buy one or two stand-alone units. Just plug them into an outlet when needed. Plus, you'd have one to travel with.
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Hell Toupee wrote:

I've not looked at these units in detail, but it would seem to me that it would be a very simple design element to have the USB supply unpowered unless a USB cable was plugged into one or both USB ports. A simple mechanical switch, a few cents worth of materials. Of course people leaving cables plugged in would defeat this, but it would still help overall.
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I don't know how much it will help.
I know me. Even if I install 5 of these around the house, odds are that there will be a cable plugged into at least one of them - the last one I used. Just like I don't unplug my phone's wall wort from where it lives, I doubt I'll unplug the cable from the receptacle. I'll just grab my phone and go.
In fact, knowing me, I'll probably buy a couple more cables and plug them into various locations so I can charge my phone where ever I want. I doubt I'll be alone in that practice.
As it stands now, I have a wall wort plugged in 24/7, a USB cable plugged into my home computer 24/7 and a USB cable plugged into my work computer 24/7.
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Something like this?
(Amazon.com product link shortened)- Combination/dp/B007NC5GI4/ref=pd_sim_e_3
If you don't want to replace the outlet, they also make plug-in versions. You could move this style from room to room if needed:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)- Protector/dp/B0065KWUCK/ref=pd_cp_e_0

You could always install a standard switched outlet:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)- Receptacle/dp/B00004YUMX/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid40893381&sr=8-8 &keywords=switched+outlet
Then use any plug in USB charger, such as this:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)- Packaging/dp/B003FWLZTK/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid40893546&sr=8-5 &keywords=dual+usb+charger
Leave the cable/charger plugged in, and flip the power switch when you remove your device. Of course, this would tie up the only available electrical outlet unless your USB charger has a power outlet (many do).
If you don't mind the cable clutter, you could plug all your wall worts and USB chargers into a power strip that has individual switches like this:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)- Strip/dp/B005HTQAK8/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid40894461&sr=1- 1&keywords=switched+power+strip
Everything stays plugged in, you just flip the switch on when you need it.
There are a lot of options to balance cable clutter, portability, and power use. Personally, I just unplug the power adapters when I'm not using them, but I don't have many mobile devices.
If I really wanted a deluxe USB charging center, I would replace the single gang electrical box with a two or three gang box. Then install the switched outlet and one or two of the wire in USB outlets. That's more work than most people would want to do, but it would result in a clean installation with no vampire power.
Anthony
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The SCOSCHE 4 Port USB Home Charger scares me a bit, simply based on the price: $5.97.
I bought a couple of cheap USB wall wort chargers on eBay. I think I paid $10 for 2.
Every time I plugged the charger into my smart phone, it would start opening apps and flipping through my home screens. It even rebooted the phone a few times. I tossed both of them.
A co-worker bought an el-cheapo USB charger from a different source and it turned his smart phone into a brick. Lucky for him the phone was under warranty so he got it replaced, but it was a major hassle to "rebuild" the new phone so that it acted like his old phone.
I'd shy away from anything that cheap on the fear that it would destroy my smart phone or iPad.
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There are many other's, that's just one I ran across while doing some quick searching.

That's where things really need to be standardized. I have a bare bones basic Motorola cell phone. It comes with a wall wort that has a typical USB plug on it. Of course, if I plug any other USB charger into the phone, it won't charge. You would think a USB plug would be a USB plug, but both of our experiences show otherwise.
If all devices used the same USB charging arrangement, we would only need a single wall wort or USB charger cable. But, fat chance of that happening as proprietary seems to be the order of the day these days.
Anthony
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On Wed, 27 Jun 2012 06:40:05 -0700 (PDT), DerbyDad03

They should put USB ports in stuff that already use vampire electricity, like the TV.
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Yours doesn't?
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On Wed, 27 Jun 2012 19:16:21 -0400, " snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz"

Yes. Mine does.
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Ok? I guess I don't get your point.
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On Jun 27, 8:02pm, " snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz"

I'll take a shot at his point....
"They should put USB ports in stuff that already use vampire power, like my TV, which has one. My microwave, my DVR box, and my fish tank filter should have one also. Anything that uses power 24/7 should have USB port available for charging devices."
OK, so maybe I stretched his point a bit, but I think it was just in the way your interpreted the phrase, "like the TV".
He meant that all vampire-like devices should have one, just like his TV does.
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wrote:

Ah! I hadn't thought of reading the sentence that way. OK, I see...

No use. Waste of money.

Maybe. I can see a (small) use for USB there, even.

It wouldn't save anything.

I see. Now. ;-) Thanks.
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On Jun 27, 8:46pm, " snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz"

If my microwave had a USB port, I could charge my phone in the kitchen without using a wall wort or receptacle. It would be similar the receptacles that started this thread.

Actually, my DVR box has a USB port on the front. I have TWC and I think I recall being told the port is for future use. I think other cable companies use it for connecting external drives.
I've never tested it to see if it would charge a device. I'll have to find a throw away device and try it.

The fish would be able to charge their devices without leaving the tank. Every morning I have a wet trail on the carpet to the nearest receptacle from those darn fish.

You're most welcome.
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wrote:

Why? You do know that the USB port on your phone has a limited number of insertions and the battery an limited number of charge cycles. Leave it in the bedroom. USB ports cost money, too.

My DVR doesn't have a USB port, I don't think, but all of the cable and satellite boxes I've seen in the past ten years do.

I suppose you pay for their phone and data service, too.

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On Jun 28, 8:37am, " snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz"

Huh? I must not be getting your point. What difference does it make if I am inserting the cable/charging the phone in the bedroom, the kitchen or the garage? When it needs to be charged, I'm going to plug it in some place. Whether the other end of the cable is plugged into my microwave or a bedroom based wall wort won't change the number of insertions or charge cycles.
In other words, right now, if I need to be in the kitchen and my phone needs charging, I'll grab the cord from the bedroom and bring it to the kitchen. If the microwave had a port I'd just use that one. Either way, the phone is going to get plugged in.
Remember the point of this whole thread was about making USB ports more "convenient" by having them installed right in the receptacles. It got expanded to "If a device is always on anyway, why not add a USB port and make it available."

My DVR and cable box are one and the same.

Of course I do. After all, they're just fish. It's not like they can go out and get a job.

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The other factor is that while it's charging, you may want it near you so that if it rings, you can answer. I don't think it wouldn't be a bad idea to put a USB charging port in some countertop appliances, like a microwave. I'd view it as an added feature when comparing models. Going to be in the kitchen for awhile, you could plug it in without having to unplug and move the charger from someplace else. It also avoids having to tie up a kitchen counter outlet with a charger.
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wrote:

Exactly my point and that's why I don't quite understand krw comments about "insertion counts" and "charging cycles" as they relate to a USB port on a microwave.
Users are going to charge their devices when required so I don't see how a USB-ported microwave (or any other appliance) increases the "insertion counts" or "charging cycles".
Granted, I could have totally missed his point, so we'll have to wait and see.

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