Charging devices at home can often feel painfully slow. While newer devices support faster charging, older homes usually don't have the proper electrical wiring to take advantage of it. Rewiring the outlets in your home to support faster charging is a complex but doable DIY project. With proper precautions and planning, I was able to rewire the outlets in my home for faster charging without hiring an electrician.
In this comprehensive guide, I will walk through all the steps I took to upgrade my home's electrical wiring to support faster USB and USB-C charging from my wall outlets. I will cover safety precautions, materials needed, wiring diagrams, step-by-step installation instructions, and tips for troubleshooting issues.
Working with electrical wiring carries risks of electrocution and fire. To ensure safety, I took the following precautions:
- Shut off power at the main circuit breaker panel - This isolates the wires and prevents accidental shocks. I also used a multimeter to verify power was off.
- Wear insulated gloves - Thick rubber gloves prevent accidental contact with live wires.
- Work on one circuit at a time - Rewiring each branch circuit individually reduces confusion.
- Label all wires - Color coding and tagging wires avoids mix-ups.
- Inspect existing wiring - Check for damage before connecting new wiring.
- Follow all electrical codes - Adhere to national and local codes for safe installation.
Gather the Right Materials
To rewire my home's outlets, I gathered the following materials:
- Electrical wire - 14/2 or 12/2 NM cable with ground. Match gauge to existing wiring.
- Wire stripper - For removing sheathing and connecting wires.
- Voltage tester - For double checking power is off.
- Electrical tape - For insulating wire connections.
- Wire nuts - For joining copper wires together.
- USB outlets - With appropriate amperage rating for device charging.
- Junction boxes - If adding new outlets in wall.
- Fish tape - For running new wire through walls.
- Conduit - For surface mounted wiring.
Having the right tools and materials before starting allows the project to go smoothly. Always double check local building codes for any requirements before beginning electrical work.
To understand how to rewire my outlets, I studied wiring diagrams. Here are two common ways USB outlets can be wired:
USB Outlet Wired Into Existing Circuit
This wiring splices the USB outlet into the existing circuit by connecting hot, neutral, and ground wires. The regular outlet remains functional.
Standalone USB Outlet
Here the USB outlet is wired without a regular outlet. Hot and neutral connect to the outlet while ground wires splice through to downstream outlets.
The key in both methods is providing a continuous hot, neutral, and ground through the entire circuit. I applied these concepts to add multiple USB outlets across several circuits in my home.
With safety and planning completed, I was ready to start the installation. Here is the step-by-step process I followed to rewire each outlet:
1. Turn Off Power and Verify
I turned off the main breaker and verified with a voltmeter that power was off for the entire circuit I was working on. Working on live wires can cause severe shocks.
2. Remove Existing Outlet
I unscrewed the existing outlet and pulled it out of the electrical box, being careful not to touch the wires. I left wires connected for now.
3. Prepare USB Outlet
I connected the hot (usually black), neutral (usually white), and ground (usually bare copper) wires to the USB outlet. I matched wire colors and made tight connections.
4. Connect Wires
With all wires prepped, I connected the outlet neutral wire to the circuit neutral, the hot wire to the hot, and the grounds together. Continuity is crucial.
5. Install Outlet
With wires securely connected, I screwed the USB outlet into the electrical box and restored power. I performed voltage tests to verify proper operation.
6. Label Circuit
As a final step I marked the outlet to note which circuit it was on. This helps avoid confusion during future electrical work.
By methodically following these steps, I was able to safely upgrade over a dozen outlets in my home for faster USB charging speeds. Proper planning and precautions made it a smooth DIY project.
Despite best efforts, problems can arise during DIY electrical work. Here are some troubleshooting tips:
- No power - Check all connections, reset breaker. Verify wires have continuity.
- No ground - Use a multimeter to test for ground wire connectivity.
- Not charging devices - Ensure compatible USB standard. Test chargers on other outlets.
- Sparking - Immediately stop. Turn off power and inspect wires for shorts.
If at any point I felt unsure about the results of my work, I would stop and call a licensed electrician. Safety is paramount when dealing with electrical systems.
Rewiring outlets for faster USB charging without hiring an electrician is an achievable DIY project. With proper planning, materials, and adherence to electrical codes and safety practices, I was able to upgrade outlets throughout my home. While working slowly and methodically, I added USB-A and USB-C outlets that allowed me to take advantage of my devices' fast charging capabilities. This project improved convenience and reduced device charging times without increasing my home energy costs. Please let me know if you have any other questions!