How to Install a USB Wall Charger Outlet

In this digital age, it can be a challenge to help an older home keep up with our ever-increasing technological needs. For example, do you have more devices that need charging than you have available outlets in convenient, accessible locations? We had just a 1-gang (two outlets) electrical setup in a prime spot in our kitchen, which just wasn’t enough when the blender, griddle, Bose speaker, iPad, and phone all needed electricity simultaneously. It became apparent that we needed to update our electrical situation, stat.

How to Install a USB Charger OutletView in gallery

Step-by-step instructions to install a usb chargerView in gallery

This tutorial provides step-by-step instructions on how to take a standard 1-gang outlet (with two available openings) and expand it to a 2-gang outlet (with four available openings) PLUS two USB connectors. And the good news is, it’s a quick and relatively easy exchange…with far-reaching benefits. Ready? Let’s do it.

*Note: The author is an experienced, but not professional, home improvement enthusiast. Neither the author nor Homedit is responsible for any potential damages or harm caused during the process of following this tutorial.

DIY Level: Beginner to intermediate

Duplex USB charger for wallView in gallery

Materials Needed:

  • *(not all materials are shown; modify this list as appropriate for your needs and setup)
  • Front-nail 2-gang electrical box(the blue plastic ones for interior), DEEP – 38 cubic inches
  • A 1-gang USB charger outlet (these are a bit more expensive than standard outlets, but worth the space-saving functionality!)
  • A rectangle-faced 1-gang standard outlet
  • A rectangle-slotted 2-gang outlet face plate
  • Razor blade, drill, screwdriver

Identify the outlet needingView in gallery

Identify the outlet needing to be expanded and/or upgraded to a USB charger outlet. Flip the breaker to this outlet and double check that there is no electricity running to this outlet. Remove the face plate.

Remove the old outletView in gallery

Remove the outlet (and any spacers) by unscrewing the top and bottom outlet screws.

Gently pull the outlet awayView in gallery

Gently pull the outlet away from the blue electrical box and unscrew the wires from the outlet.

removing the blue electrical boxView in gallery

Next we’ll be removing the blue electrical box and installing a 2-gang box. If your drywall is already removed (check out this tutorial for removing drywall), the next few steps will be fairly easy to do. If your drywall is still intact, you’ll need to identify which side of your outlet has the stud. Then you will need to use a drywall saw to cut the drywall on the non-stud side of the outlet box to the width of your new blue double electrical box.

Using a flat screwdriverView in gallery

Using a flat screwdriver, loosen the nails attaching the blue box to the stud. These are generally found at an angle on the top and bottom of the blue box.

Pull out nailsView in gallery

Pull out nails, then remove the blue box. Unhook wires from the box as you pull it out.

wires will stay in the wallView in gallery

The wires will stay in the wall. (I’m stating the obvious, just in case.)

Grab your new 2-gang blue boxView in gallery

Grab your new 2-gang blue box. A couple of things about what you want to make sure of: (1) Your box can be front-nailed to the stud. This prevents damage to existing insulation. An exception to this recommendation is if your drywall is not already removed during this process; if that is the case, you might want to use a standard electrical box and deal with the insulation damage rather than mess with having to remove bits of drywall then replace them. (2) Your box is extra deep. We recommend a 38 cubic inch box (many 2-gang boxes are smaller, like around 34 cubic inches). You need that extra depth because the USB outlet is deeper than standard outlets.

Hold the box up to the stud overView in gallery

Hold the box up to the stud over the old box’s hole, and mark where you want to cut the insulation to.

Use a razor blade to cutView in gallery

Use a razor blade to cut through and remove the insulation.

Your box should fit snuglyView in gallery

Your box should fit snugly and cleanly into the opening.

Use a screwdriver and a hammerView in gallery

Use a screwdriver and a hammer to remove the appropriate knockout (top or bottom, whichever direction your wires are coming from). You should only need to remove one knockout of the smallest size (1/2”).

wires through the knockout holeView in gallery

Pull the wires through the knockout hole and insert your box next to the stud.

Mount your box to the wallView in gallery

Mount your box to the adjacent stud with wood screws. Predrilling is optional, but I generally recommend predrilling just to be safe.

Slice the insulation to fit the boxView in gallery

Slice the insulation to fit the box “wings.” Insulation should be flat and smooth around all edges after box is installed.

Using wire pliersView in gallery

Using wire pliers, straighten the ends of the wires in the box.

Cut two stripsView in gallery

You will now need to cut two (each) strips of 12-gauge wire in black and white, each about 4”-6” in length.

Remove the end casingsView in gallery

Remove the end casings on both ends of both black and both white wire strips, about 1/2″ to 3/4″ in from the ends.

Strips something like theseView in gallery

Your strips will look something like this.

Double the number of wiresView in gallery

The idea is that you will be doubling the number of outlets here, so you will need two black wires and two white wires (and two ground wires) to attach to the ends of the existing black and white and ground wires, respectively.

Prepare all wiresView in gallery

To rephrase, each wire nut (the black, the white, and the ground) will combine the ends of three wires so that two wires of each are available for the two outlets.

Secure and protect the endsView in gallery

Secure and protect the ends of the wire nuts with electrical tape. You don’t need to use electrical tape for the ground wires, though.

Use needlenose pliersView in gallery

Use needlenose pliers to bend the ends of the wires into a small semi-circle.

curved ends will hook ontoView in gallery

These curved ends will hook onto the screws on your outlets.

Match the black wireView in gallery

Match the black wire with the outlet’s gold screws, the white with the silver, and the ground (bare copper wire) with the green.

Hook the ends of the wiresView in gallery

Hook the ends of the wires under the appropriate screw head, then tighten it down carefully with a screwdriver.

Attache the usb chargerView in gallery

After you’ve attached one black, white, and ground wires to one outlet, you should have a black, white, and ground wire left to attach to the second (USB charger) outlet.

match the black wire againView in gallery

Again, match the black wire with the gold screw, the white wire with silver, and the ground/copper bare wire with green.

Your outlets should be firmly attachedView in gallery

Your outlets should be firmly attached and ready to install in the electrical box at this point.

aligned in the direction you wantView in gallery

Make sure the outlet “faces” are aligned in the direction you want, then push them into the box.

perfectly vertical and parallelView in gallery

Make sure they are perfectly vertical and parallel, then screw the outlets in.

USB charger outlet will stick out furtherView in gallery

The USB charger outlet will stick out further than the standard outlet. You may opt to use a spacer behind the standard outlet to bring it forward ever so slightly, although this is not necessary.

Install drywall around your new outletsView in gallery

Install drywall around your new outlets. (Check out our tutorial onhow to install drywall.)

Install your tile or whatever elseView in gallery

Install your tile or whatever else, if applicable, to the drywall. (Check out our tutorial on how to install a subway tile backsplash.) Then install the face plate.

gadget-charging spaceView in gallery

Viola! You’ve done it. You just freed up some serious gadget-charging space.

USB Charger Outlet For KitchenView in gallery

This is the first, and probably last, time this iPhone will have the USB charger all to itself.

Small but important kitchen gadgetView in gallery

Enjoy your small-but-important technological upgrade to your home!

Check out other tutorials in our DIY Kitchen Upgrade Series:

DIY Faux Concrete Countertops

How to Upgrade Your Kitchen Lighting

How to Remove Kitchen Tile Backsplash

How to Install a Subway Tile Kitchen Backsplash

How to Replace a Kitchen Faucet