usb power outlet.jpg

You can pre-order yours now at Fastmac. Supposedly they will ship “in early 2010.” Or you could just make your own. If you try it, remember Louie the Lightning Bug: “You gotta play it safe around electricity.” [via Slippery Brick]

Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

  • Piro

    A lightening bug is a bug that is losing weight. A lightning bug is a firefly. I assume you meant the latter.

  • ifreecarve

    This got my hopes up until I noticed that it requires a specially-shaped switch cover. I hope this company carries the color, finish, and style of switchplates to match what’s already in your house!

    I think that if they arranged the top and bottom outlets so that the 2 ground pins are closest together, they may have been able to squeeze the USB ports in at the side — allowing them to fit the standard size rectangular opening.

    • Odin

      This has not passed UL approval. I have gone through the approval process, and my experience has shown that UL is a make or break. “In Process” is nice, but not good enough.

      UL is an underwriter, kinda like an insurance company. They will test every failure mode, and you only pass if your failure mode does not result in a fire. They only pass those companies who produce something that will be safe, no matter what happens. (They are not perfect, but if an item does not pass, it has a design flaw)

      If it does not pass UL, then it is a fire hazard. Yes, UL does go a little overboard. However, if I’m going to have something permanently attached to my house for the next 10 years, I want to know that every failure mode is safe, and my house won’t catch on fire.

    • KC8RWR

      Don’t you have a Dremel?

  • Bob

    Vampire Power/Standby Power Loss — there’s no way to unplug these things, so for every outlet you have that has built in USB power ports, you’re drawing power 24/7/365. Bad for the planet.

    • Abuthemagician

      They say on the site that they designed it so it wouldn’t vamp power… In any case I am going to get one when they get it UL approved. This will be perfect next to my bed.

    • Matt

      Check out the comments from the fastmac website…

      Please also note that the USB ports only draw power when something is physically connected to the port. We didn’t want a vampire port that continually sucks and wastes power when not in use so this was one of the features on the top of our priority list during the design phase.

  • Jim K.

    I wonder about whether there would be any code problems with these. I know in our area mixing low voltage with high voltage in the same path is a no-no.