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SnapPower Charger review: Quickly add one USB charging port to almost any outlet

Jared Newman | Dec. 2, 2015
It's much less expensive and a whole lot easier to install than other solutions we've tried.

SnapPower

Let me start with a confession: I’ve never reviewed an outlet cover before.

The $20 SnapPower Charger, however, is not a typical outlet cover: In addition to covering a standard electrical outlet, the SnapPower Charger provides one USB charging port that can power pretty much any phone or tablet.

USB outlets are not a new invention—we reviewed the Power2U USB charger outlet in August—but the SnapPower's main selling point is that it’s just a cover: You don’t need to remove and replace the entire outlet or touch any wiring. The SnapPower draws electricity from the outlet’s existing side screws through a pair of protruding prongs.

So far, I’ve been satisfied with how the SnapPower Charger works. But whether you should actually buy one really depends on your battery-charging needs.

An only slightly intimidating setup

Although the SnapPower Charger doesn’t require any rewiring, you’re still dealing with an outlet, and the product’s manual is very clear in stating that failure to follow instructions could kill you. You’ll first need to take a trip to the circuit breaker and cut the electricity to any outlet you’re planning to work with. Before unscrewing your existing cover, you’ll also want to plug a device into the outlet to make sure it’s not drawing any power.

snappowerinstall 
Slipping a pair of prongs over an outlet’s side screws draws power for the USB port. Credit: Jared Newman

Once you’re certain the power is off, installing the SnapPower Charger is pretty easy. A typical outlet has a pair of metal screws on each side of the receptacles, just above and below the midpoint. With a little finagling, you can slide both power prongs around the screws while lining up the outlet receptacles with the cutouts on the cover. Once everything’s in place, use a flathead screwdriver to fasten the cover to the wall, and turn the circuit breakers back on.

While my setup was simple, SnapPower does warn of some trickier scenarios: Insufficient clearance around the drywall, residual drywall mud, excess wires, or a poorly centered outlet are all grounds for getting an electrician involved, which sort of defeats the purpose. Some outlet types are also incompatible, including GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets—the ones with built-in test and reset buttons (these are typically installed in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms where water might be present).

In my images, you’ll notice the colors of the outlet covers don’t match the outlets. SnapPower only sent samples of its white outlet covers, but the company does offer light almond and ivory options if that’s what you need. There’s also a “Decor” variant with a rectangular receptacle cutout (compatible with Leviton’s Decora receptacles).

 

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