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Stay in charge; Never enough gadget chargers in the house? Richard Burr reveals how to install USB plug sockets, so that running out of juice is never an issue.

How many times have you run around the house looking for a USB adaptor plug?

Do you have to unplug other things to charge your phone at night? Are you sick of arguing with offspring/partners over where your chargers have gone? I have the solution - it's cheap, simple, and you'll wonder what you did without it.

Double sockets with USB chargers are now very popular. They're so easy to fit and can replace existing double sockets without any trouble. They're exactly the same size and can be bought from most DIY and electrical outlets. A degree of confidence is required, but if you follow these four steps, you'll be charging away in no time.

1TURN OFF THE JUICE Never work on electrics unless you are sure they're turned off. I recommend you get a socket tester, around PS15. Test on your old plug socket prior to turning off electricity, so you know they work.You'll have a consumer unit (under the stairs or at the front door). Inside you will see a row of fuses or MCBs (Micro Circuit Breakers). Each fuse should be labelled with the area it covers. Select the correct fuse and flip it to 'off'. You can flip the master switch and turn everything off to be sure, but you'll need to reset all your clocks. Check your socket tester is showing no power, and you're ready to go.

2 OUT WITH THE OLD You'll need a small, flat-headed screwdriver. On front of your existing socket, you'll see two screws - one at each side. These attach your socket the box inside the wall. Unscrew both of these and gently pull the socket forward. You'll need enough slack in the wires behind to be able to completely flip the socket down so that the back surface accessible (if you can't, stop here, screw everything back and get a professional to do the job).

If wiring is pre-2004, the wires you'll find inside will be red, black, and a green and yellow striped one. If wiring after 2004, they will be brown, blue, and a green and yellow striped one. Red and brown are live, indicated by an 'L', black and blue are neutral, indicated by an 'N', and the green and yellow are earth, indicated by an 'E' or by three vertical lines. Using your small screwdriver, undo the connections for these wires and take off old socket.

3 IN WITH THE NEW Unpack your new double socket. Note which are the live, earth and neutral connectors - it is vitally important you wire the socket correctly.

The exposed copper ends of your wiring need to be cut off, as they will have been weakened by tightening into the old socket. Expose about 5mm of copper on each wire by stripping the coloured casing using a side cutter (around PS6 from Amazon). Be careful - you only want to cut through the plastic sheathing - NOT the wire.

Before you make the final connection, use a small screwdriver to fully open the terminal screws. Push the wire(s) into the corresponding terminal until no copper wire is exposed. Tighten with screwdriver. These need to be firmly fixed but be careful - if you tighten too much, you can shear through your copper wire.

Once all wires connected, do one last check - brown or red are live, blue or black are neutral and green and yellow stripes are earth. Push new socket into place, being careful not to trap any wires between the socket and box. Either use the old screws, or the screws provided with your new socket (they are usually found on the back surface of the socket, to screw the socket front in place. If you have a small spirit level, check everything is straight, but be careful not to over tighten your screws - you don't want to crack the plastic casing of your new socket.

4 Go back to your consumer unit and flick your fuse or fuses back on. It should stay on - if flicks back off immediately, go back and check your connections into the socket.

Once the power is back on, go and check the socket works properly with your socket tester if you try to test by plugging in a lamp, you may miss some faults, even if the lamp turns on). And that's it.

Charge up devices whenever you like, without looking for plug adaptors, and then get all evangelical with your mates about how useful they are.


ADAPTABLE USB sockets are simple to install and will end the search for special plugs
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 6, 2018
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