Many households are now a battlefield of fierce competition for USB ports to charge cell phones and tablets. Adding charging blocks to every available outlet is not a viable option, especially since outlet space is also often insufficient to meet the demands and gadgets of modern life.

Luckily, there are options available in the form of outlet adapters and actual outlets with USB ports added. Your choice will depend on how you feel about adapters protruding from your walls compared to your willingness to replace your current outlets to USB enhanced outlets.

Adding USB outlet adapters

This is the easiest method of adding USB ports without sacrificing outlet space. A USB outlet adapter is simply plugged into the current outlet and held in place with a center screw that is typically reserved for the cover plate of the old outlet.

This type of adapter will usually have two normal receptacles with either one or two USB ports between them. Charging power varies according to the price of the adapter, with the more expensive models having the fastest charging speeds.

Any type of outlet adapter protrudes from the wall, and may be displeasing to those who favor aesthetic appeal over practical need. They also take up additional space, which may be a issue in tight spaces.

Adding a USB enhanced outlet

It's relatively simple to change an outlet, and only requires a few simple hand tools and a willingness to work with electrical wiring.

You will need to buy a USB enhanced outlet and an open cover plate which allows access to the USB ports in the center of the outlet. If you intend to charge two items at once, or want superior charging speeds, you'll need to invest in a higher priced model.

Removing your old outlet

You will first need to turn off the circuit breaker that controls the flow of power to the outlet. If the breaker panel is not clearly marked, or you have any other doubts about your choice of breaker, plug an appliance into the outlet and turn off breakers until the appliance shuts off.

When the power is off, remove the center screw of the cover plate with a flat head screwdriver, then remove the outlet from the outlet box inside the wall by removing the two screws with a philips head screwdriver. Pull the outlet from the outlet box.

You will see either one or two sets of three wires attached to the outlet. Disconnect them by turning the terminal screws counterclockwise and pulling the wires away from the terminals. If two sets of wires are present, keep them separated.

Connecting the USB enhanced outlet

Connect the wires to the USB outlet in the same manner they were attached to the old outlet. The black wires will be connected to the gold terminals, the white wires to the silver terminals, and the green or copper wires to the single green terminal at the top of the outlet. Turning the terminal screws clockwise until the wires are held firmly in place.

Push the USB outlet into the outlet box inside the wall, and tighten the upper and lower retaining screws, then attach the new open cover plate with the screws provided.

Turn on the breaker and claim the new USB ports for yourself. You earned them with your new electrical repair skills.