With consumers increasingly relying on the use of technology wherever they are, public locations,from hotels and airports to office buildings and leisure locations, they expect charging facilities to be provided to meet this need. As a result, there has been a significant increase in demand for power sockets with integrated USB charging outlets. Here, Kevin Norman, Senior Product Manager at Rexel, explains why they present a real opportunity for the electrical contractors, and discusses some of the considerations those looking to install integrated USB charging outlets, should be mindful of.
I’m sure we can all agree that power sockets with integrated USB charging outlets are now the must have electrical accessory, aiding the charging of the ever increasing number of consumer electronic devices, including phones, laptops, tablets and cameras to name a few.
Integrated USB sockets offer a great way to streamline device charging by removing the need for adapters, and leaving the 13A, 3 pin power sockets free to use . However, although convenience is a huge driver for their growing popularity, there are a number of factors that electrical contractors must consider if they are to take advantage of the opportunity USB sockets present, as the wrong specification can not only impact the long-term performance of the socket, but in some instances pose a serious safety risk.
The most important factor when comparing USB charging sockets is amperage. Look for the rating in amps (A) of the USB charging outlets. Amps define the strength of the electrical current, or the strength of the flow. This is very important as devices such as iPads require a higher flow of electricity (amps) to charge effectively, typically 2.1 amps. Most iPhones on the other hand require only 1.0 amps. So you need to make sure the amperage for the USB sockets is able to meet the criteria of all devices.
The latest power sockets are available with two, three and four charging outlets; for example two and three outlet rated at 3.1A total output 5V and four outlet 4.2A total output 5V, again contractors should be mindful thattotal output is shared across the USB ports.
Most modern devices use 'intelligent charging' circuitry which means they will take the maximum amperage they can for optimum charging. This means you can safely plug a phone into a higher rated USB outlet, but if you plug a tablet, or any device requiring a higher charge rate, into a 1.0 amp socket it will charge extremely slowly and it may not even show that it is charging.
Electrical contractors should look to specify USB sockets that share a minimum of 2.1 amps (single sockets and 3.1 amps (double sockets) for quick charging on multiple devices.
Check the specification carefully though, some print 2.1 amps next to each socket but this is usually the total combined amperage.
At Rexel we have carefully crafted our Newlec range of Slimline White Moulded and Decorative Screwed and Screwless USB sockets, enabling electrical contractors to choose from a double 13A switch socket outlet with twin USB chargers with a total charging output of 3.1A or single 13A switch socket outlets with twin USB chargers offering a 2.1A total charging output. The Slimline White Moulded range also includes double 13A switch socket outlets with three USB chargers (3.1A total output) and double 13A sockets with four USB chargers (4.2A total output).
The collection provides electrical contractors with a wide range of options, including three high quality Decorative finishes, polished chrome, brushed steel and black nickel, to help meet the ever growing demand amongst homeowners and commercial developments for modern and stylish designed decorative accessories including a range of sockets with Smart USB charging capabilities.
Whilst most of us appreciate the convenience of having USB sockets installed within our homes, Rexel believes that the use of low cost, unbranded products might present the risk of electric shock and/or fire.
In fact a recent study by Electrical Safety First found that the extralow voltage parts of the USB power supply were not always suitably segregated and/or electrically separated from the low voltage (230 V) parts of the accessory and/or, in the case of 13 A sockets, of the fixed wiring.
And so, with the fast growth of this market, the industry has seen an influx of poor quality and sometimes dangerous 13A plug in chargers in the UK market. In response to this, Rexel has worked to develop a safe, reliable and convenient range of fixed installation charging options which also 'free up' 13A socket outlets. This helps protect expensive devices against the potential damage that can occur from the use of incompatible and sometimes counterfeit self- purchased loose chargers.
Complying with the latest standards BS 5733, our Newlec Decorative USB Sockets have been extensively tested, and comprise smart USB technology to automatically detect power demand and adjust its charge pattern accordingly. An ideal solution for domestic and commercial specifications, the sockets features an automatic ‘standby’ mode to conserve energy when not in use and an ‘overload protection’ capability for connected devices.
So, as convenience continues to be a key driver for consumers it is important electrical contractors are able to continue to specify products which not only meet and exceed their expectations but also do so with safety as standard. For more information on Rexel’s range of USB sockets, visit www.rexel.co.uk