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I am curious to know if this new wall USB/Receptical is even legal to install? As I got talking with friends on Facebook, the question came up about low-voltage and high voltage in one box and what protection there is to prevent a 110 spike through the UBS ports. Also, ThinkGeek doesn't mention if it is UL Listed.

Picture of receptical

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I notice it "isn't available for sale at this time" -- Are you sure this is a real product? Thinkgeek has a habit of adding a dozen or so fake products each April 1st and keeping them around. Sometimes they turn into real products, sometimes they are perpetually out of stock. –  Saiboogu Jun 30 '11 at 19:55
    
It was just added a week or so ago. –  Mike Wills Jul 1 '11 at 0:04
    
Tends to make it seem like a real product, then. Doesn't look very well thought out - the answer below already does a good job of summing up the issues with it. –  Saiboogu Jul 1 '11 at 1:40

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The concern that I know of is that you don't want the wiring to risk shorting high voltage wiring to a low voltage wire or device. For that reason, you don't run phone and cable lines within the same wall cavity as electrical (and I also keep plumbing away from electrical).

It's hard to tell from the pictures, but I'd hope the USB components are fully enclosed, just as the internals of the outlet are. Assuming that's the case, and I'd be surprised to see thinkgeek selling it if it wasn't, then it's no different then worrying about the possible short when a USB adapter is plugged into the outlet.

Edit, looking at one of the zoomed pics I'm seeing what appears to be part of a metal enclosure around the USB, which should be grounded. That should prevent any shorting risk to the USB. That said, my concern is that the thin parts of the wall plate could easily crack on this, and then you're getting yourself into the task of creating a custom wall plate to fit the USB plug openings.

Edit2: As much as I love thinkgeek, you can pickup something like this surge protector/usb plug for less. No turning off of the breakers needed.

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I see a screw terminal very close to the metal jacket for the USB port. I wonder if the instructions discourage using the screw terminals and tell you to use push-in terminals in the back. It looks like they just attached the transformer to the side of a regular receptacle. I might be leery about using it. –  billoreid Jun 30 '11 at 19:37
    
I probably wouldn't use it myself, but more because compact USB plugs are so cheap, and you can get power strips with USB built in if you really need it. Looking at the screw, I don't see how you'd get a wire on it with the USB there, so I think you're right about the push-in's on the back, and I hate those with a passion. –  BMitch Jun 30 '11 at 19:44
    
The item you linked in is made by Belkin, which in my experience in retail electronics tends to be a very inferior brand. The idea is right though, +1 for the simpler solution. –  Stephen Jun 30 '11 at 21:21
    
Another reason not to buy any of the current generation of in wall USB outlets is that the high power USB charging spec is adding 5A @ 5/12/20V modes (100W is enough for most laptops); meaning you'll need to replace the outlet in a few years because it won't be compatible with many of your new devices any longer. –  Dan Neely Dec 11 '13 at 15:45

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