Communal USB Charge Point

Overview

I’m an Android user and have converted everyone in the house hold to be the same. As a convenience thing I decided to use one of the spare wall socket to USB plugs and put a micro USB cable in the lounge to save people wondering up and down the stairs where devices are normally charged overnight. What I thought was a good idea does have some draw backs

Concept

It was very simple. I had a USB charger from my Apple iPhone 3g days. I bought a 3 metre USB cable so that it can reach various seating areas in the lounge and so that people could continue to use their device whilst charging it. A caveat to that is not all seats could reach but I didn’t want to go longer than 3m or there will be a tangle of cables or trip hazard etc.

In The Beginning

It worked at first! 2 adults in a house hold with a tablet and phone each. It was enough to leave say a tablet on charge and be on hand when you get to those moments like “he’s been in another film” or “what does that mean!?” It also meant guests have a power source what I see as similar to the charge points in airports. You didn’t have to bring you plugs down from the bedroom or get them to go up and unplug your things.

Power Hoggers

When people started staying longer because we had a little people (baby) 1 power point was starting to become a bottle neck. Also it was making people lazy and not charging overnight and instead using the lounge as a replacement. Especially for tablets because they are not critical to receiving phone calls and also it’s only used when you’re bored (and awake). What makes it worse is that tablets have larger battery capacity so it takes longer to charge so the time things were left plugged in was taking longer and longer.

Long Term

After about 2-3 years my other half noticed the USB wasn’t securely plugged into her phone any more. A slight knock on the cable and it stops charging. I tested it on my Nexus 5 and it was fine. On closer inspection you can see the metal part of the micro USB was slightly bent out of shape. The pins worked fine but it was enough to upset some devices.

Common USB Cable
I replaced it with a FastCharge USB cable that was 2.5 metres. I splashed out a bit thinking it would charge devices faster but not necessarily more robust (not sure how you can make it more durable). Also the slightly shorter USB length should increase the amount of amps it can deliver. A side benefit to this was that it meant it couldn’t reach as many seats so people had to shuffle closer or not be with their device.

Another problem to resolve was the placement of the cable. Having some kind of holder would mean it will be directed to certain areas or more effort to get up and reach for the cable. Balancing that with people not putting it back so that it’s out of harms way is another factory. I may try to relocate the cable to see if there is a better place to put it.

Other Rooms

As time went on and phones were upgraded in the house hold we got new wall USB chargers (so much for EU mandating micro USB as the standard and future phones coming with chargers are optional). New chargers go in the bedroom and the older ones get regulated to travel bags.

Recently we had enough leave one in the spare bedroom and this is where the idea works really well. Foreign friends and relatives can use their USB cable (or ours) to charge their phones without having to bring any converters. Apart from possibly a laptop I can’t think of any other reason why you’d need a power supply.

Apple Users

I don’t have many people staying long enough with an iOS device that needs a charge but they can plug into the extension using the standard 3 pin connector. A possible issue I see is that most iPhone cables are quite short compared to the ones you can get for USB.

Summary

I still like the idea of having a spare charger in an communal area but it needs more consideration than just plugging into a socket with a USB cable dangling out.

About Danny

I.T software professional always studying and applying the knowledge gained and one way of doing this is to blog.

Danny also has participates in a part time project called Energy@Home [http://code.google.com/p/energyathome/] for monitoring energy usage on a premise.

Dedicated to I.T since studying pure Information Technology since the age of 16, Danny Tsang working in the field that he has aimed for since leaving school.

View all posts by Danny → This entry was posted in Blog, Hardware and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply