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The Fastmac USocket Revisited

FastMac-USocketSome time ago at Engadget there was a post reporting that Fastmac was about to start shipping their much delayed USocket. The USocket combines a normal wall electrical outlet with a DC power supply that feeds a pair of standard USB ports. Further, each port provides enough current to charge even heavy loads like Apple’s iPad.

I though that this device sounded like a great idea so I visited the companies web site and ordered four. That would let me put one at each night stand in the bedroom, one in my office and another in our TV room.

Near the end of January I placed the order then waited for delivery. In fact, I forgot about the order. When in mid-May I finally remembered that I had placed the order I filed a trouble report with Fastmac to inquire about its status.

The company literally never responded to my trouble report. Instead, they simply shipped the order. I did receive an email notice that the order had been both billed and shipped. Given their behavior I doubt that I’ll ever buy anything from them again.

Last weekend I took a hour to try installing the first of the USockets. It would replace the outlet nearest Stella’s night stand. It would charger both her Nook Color and Android cell phone. However, I found that I couldn’t actually install the USocket into the existing utility box. It simply didn’t fit in the existing metal utility box.

The USocket is actually a normal Leviton outlet with the DC power supply and USB ports added. These components mount in the rear and to the side of the outlet. The upshot of this is that the USocket is a fairly tight fit into some kinds of electrical utility boxes.

In truth, there are a variety of different kinds of electrical utility boxes. The various box designs support mounting in different fashions. The rather traditional steel utility box that I was faced with is mounted to the wall stud using screws through the inside of the box. That leaves the raised screw heads inside the box. There simple wasn’t enough width to the inside of the box for the USocket.

Stella had asked my assistance fetching some garden supplies from our local Lowe’s so I took that as a chance to seek a different, hopefully more spacious, kind of electrical utility box. There I found a range of utility boxes.

Some are intended for use in new construction and are not easily fit into an existing home without making a significant opening in the wall.  Others are specifically made to be easily installed into an existing home without damaging the wall.

wiremold single surface box 150Wiremold also makes plastic boxes that mount in front of existing utility boxes, expanding their volume to accommodate more wire, or in this case the increased size of the USocket. I’ve purchased two of these to facilitate mounting the USockets in the bedroom.

If, like me, you are installing your USocket into an existing home you should check the location and see if the existing box has the space. If there is a considerable mass of wiring inside the existing box then you may find that you need an extra deep box to provide enough space for the wire and the USocket.

I remain hopeful that the USocket will be a handy addition to our home & office. However, getting them installed has proven more troublesome than anticipated.

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