Author Topic: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?  (Read 7695 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline notzippy

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 50
USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« on: April 08, 2015, 05:09:55 pm »
Using the screws on the side of an outlet for power, can they get a UL approval for that ?

Sure it looks easy to install outside of a receptacle box, but there sure isn't that much room inside.. If you install one of these and you get an electrical fire as a result of it (and it was not UL listed) I am pretty sure you are SOL insurance wise..

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/snappower/snappower-charger-a-usb-charger-in-a-coverplate-no



nz
 

Offline notzippy

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2015, 05:13:08 pm »
Found that this design will supposedly be UL approved according to the FAQ at the bottom of the page... hard to believe that
 

Offline electr_peter

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 936
  • Country: lt
Re: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2015, 05:51:13 pm »
I am 99.99% certain that no electric regulation code (in US, EU, everywhere) allows "contacts touching screws" to be called proper connection method. I would throw out such thing immediately if I found one in my property.

Also, such socket design is pretty poor and very dangerous. All it takes is one screw to go missing/unscrew/break, then one can touch exposed and unshielded (!) live screws from the sides and electrocute oneself. Am I the only thinking this is crazy?
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 05:58:55 pm by electr_peter »
 

Offline mikerj

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2293
  • Country: gb
Re: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2015, 06:46:56 pm »
Also, such socket design is pretty poor and very dangerous. All it takes is one screw to go missing/unscrew/break, then one can touch exposed and unshielded (!) live screws from the sides and electrocute oneself. Am I the only thinking this is crazy?

I does look weak.  Perhaps not so bad with a grounded metal cover, but a big area of plastic with big holes cut out of it being retained by a single screw in the middle doesn't seem like a great idea.  All it would take is for someone to trip over the USB cable (quite a common occurrence) and it will probably rip the whole front panel off.
 

Offline suicidaleggroll

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1455
  • Country: us
Re: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2015, 06:55:43 pm »
Also, such socket design is pretty poor and very dangerous. All it takes is one screw to go missing/unscrew/break, then one can touch exposed and unshielded (!) live screws from the sides and electrocute oneself. Am I the only thinking this is crazy?

Poor as it is, that's the standard fixture in the US.  This product is just making contact with those screw heads to use the power for something.

eg:
http://www.handymanhowto.com/how-to-replace-a-worn-out-electrical-outlet-part-1/
 

Offline AG6QR

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 825
  • Country: us
    • AG6QR Blog
Re: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2015, 06:57:07 pm »
The load being driven is probably restricted to a few watts (probably about 10W output, maybe a bit more input), so concerns about arcing or heat buildup due to the poor connection method may not be so serious.  Not that I'm defending this -- it is a really lousy way to get a connection.  I'd be concerned about interference with existing wires, and about people installing it on a receptacle that is a bit wider or narrower than the design allows.

But my biggest concern is that the only people who would be attracted to this are people who would value the simplicity of installation more than the security of good connections.  Such people shouldn't be tampering with their wiring in any way.  If you want a simple installation that will be secure, just plug straight into an outlet.
 

Online Ian.M

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 8190
Re: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2015, 07:06:50 pm »
You are right. The single screw coverplates are only safe enough to be permitted because there is nothing that can normally pull on them.  Its a dangerous P.O.S. 

Here's how MK handle providing USB charging at a socket.  It would replace one of the sockets in a two gang or three gang plate and is wired up excacly the sanme as an indivudual socket would be.
https://www.mkelectric.com/en-gb/Products/WD/logicplus/Powermodules/USBchargingmodule/Pages/default.aspx

However far more common over here is to have an integrated socket and front plate, e.g. this one with USB charging.
http://www.groupgear.co.uk/productsinfo.asp?id=23014

It would probably be OK if it was redesigned properly with pigtails for live neutral and ground and fixing screws at the ends, but I see little point in such products as the prospect of a houseful of USB chargers wasting their standby power 24/7 and steadily ageing till they go bang does not appeal.


 

Offline sunnyhighway

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 276
  • Country: nl
Re: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2015, 07:30:17 pm »
At least he got his previous project UL listed.
So he should know the drill.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/snappower/the-snaprays-guidelight-illuminate-your-life/description

http://database.ul.com/cgi-bin/XYV/template/LISEXT/1FRAME/showpage.html?name=QBSA.E357628&ccnshorttitle=Illuminated+Cover+Plates+for+Flush-mounted+Wiring+Devices&objid=1083127845&cfgid=1073741824&version=versionless&parent_id=1079291868&sequence=1

But with his new kickstarter he is drawing at least an order of magnitude more power from those pesky contacts.
And on top of that he added an easy way to rip off the face plate by simply pulling the usb cable.

Really doubt if he can get this listed too.
 

Offline notzippy

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 50
Re: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2015, 10:55:42 pm »
He is also talking about a 2 amp version which will increase the load to 10w...

But like most have said the real issue is people purchasing it will think it is as easy to do as this

 

Offline amyk

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6625
Re: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2015, 02:02:14 pm »
Are the screws on outlets in a standardised location?
 

Offline ConKbot

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1152
Re: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2015, 05:55:46 am »
Are some of you really griping about bare screws inside an outlet that either goes in a plastic or grounded metal box that has a cover on it?  Need an elf and safety inspector to coddle you as you work on an outlet that should be off and should be tested with a meter before you mess with it? Also a spring contact carrying 1/8A of current, should be fine as long as it has sufficient pressure. Which could vary from outlet to outlet, so is definitely a concern. But it's still the same thing that's in the chargers with flip out contacts, and I've even seen oem chargers (came with the phone, definitely legit) that had spring contacts to go from the prongs to the pcb.

Theres having a healthy respect for mains, and the borderline fearmongering over it that seems to go on over here.
http://youtu.be/xlgwoGb5Vxw
 ::)
 

Offline pickle9000

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2132
  • Country: ca
Re: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2015, 06:53:02 am »
It's an interesting idea.

From a code standpoint.

- I've never seen a coverplate that can potentially disturb the wires inside the box. That is probably the main safety issue. Would I trust a typical person to install? 
- Would need to meet basic building codes (plastic type, fire resistance and so on)
- Would need to fail safely

From a product standpoint.

- Other products are available to produce this functionality, combo outlet and usb. Simple to install but you do need to screw it in place.
- A cover plate that plugs into the socket would probably be a better choice from a marketing standpoint. A simply wart is also a good substitute.
 

Offline electr_peter

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 936
  • Country: lt
Re: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2015, 08:56:51 am »
Are some of you really griping about bare screws inside an outlet that either goes in a plastic or grounded metal box that has a cover on it?  Need an elf and safety inspector to coddle you as you work on an outlet that should be off and should be tested with a meter before you mess with it?
Concern is that cover can ripped open too easily exposing everything to any passer by. If you are smart enough not to touch it and check it, good for you.

Theres having a healthy respect for mains, and the borderline fearmongering over it that seems to go on over here.
http://youtu.be/xlgwoGb5Vxw
 ::)
A good way to find a misswired socket. Multiply that by people who saw this video or similar material, who do not understand risks involved and number of sockets.
I could show even more impressive tricks because I know in advance what I am doing and that wiring is correct, but this video is irresponsible.
 

Offline codeboy2k

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1838
  • Country: ca
Re: USB Charger in a coverplate UL Listing ?
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2015, 09:23:13 am »
Here's how MK handle providing USB charging at a socket.  It would replace one of the sockets in a two gang or three gang plate and is wired up excacly the sanme as an indivudual socket would be.
https://www.mkelectric.com/en-gb/Products/WD/logicplus/Powermodules/USBchargingmodule/Pages/default.aspx

Wait... what is this MK magic stuff you guys have that we don't get here? 
This MK breaker panel is charming and beautiful enough that it could actually be at my front door entry.
Instead, we get the ugly grey thing on the right that is buried deep in the basement or on the outside of the garage where you have to go out in the rain to fix a breaker... Sometimes it's deemed to be so ugly they bury it in a closet behind the vacuum cleaner and the overcoats.  grrrrr
UKUSA/Canada
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf