In the 21st century, our need for power (electrical, that is) has increased exponentially. Everything we do on a regular basis seems to require an AC outlet – play games, watch TV, turn on a lamp, charge our USB devices, etc. When stepping back to think about how many things we own that need to be plugged in, it is staggering. So, why do our outlets still only have two plugs? The brain-child of FastMac is here to solve that exact problem.
The U-Socket is the power outlet by which all future outlets should be designed.
FastMac is a premier Apple developer, designer, and manufacturer of innovative products designed for use by/with Macintosh products. Among other quality products, FastMac has re-created the power outlet. The U-Socket has two AC receptacles, like a normal outlet, but on the left side, includes two powered USB hubs. Including the two hubs, the FastMac U-Socket allows four items to be powered simultaneously. This is incredibly beneficial when you do not want to unplug something to charge up your iPhone, iPad or iPod.
Consider the following example: you are heading to bed and need to charge your iPhone. Of course, there is only one power outlet behind your nightstand and it already has your clock and lamp plugged into it. The U-Socket is for you. With the U-Socket installed in that location, you can power your lamp, clock, and charge your iPhone via USB without the AC adapter.
In the box, FastMac includes the assembled outlet, proper screws, faceplate, extra neutral wire, pigtail clip, and instruction manual. In addition, you will need: needle nose pliers; phillips head screw driver; flat head screw driver; wire cutters; and 40 minutes (for a novice). Having just bought a house and never helping my old-man when I was younger, I have no experience with electrical outlets, electricity, or “+” and “-” currents. Thanks to the included instructions and a quick call to dear-old-dad, everything went swimmingly. The only difficulty I encountered was getting the U-Socket back in the gang-box. The U-Socket has a larger component on the back of the outlet, but it will fit with a little bit of torque on the screws.
The instruction manual includes excellent images, but for a real-world perspective, my install photos are listed at the bottom of this article.
Power Consumption and Safety Ratings
The U-Socket has 2400mAhs and the intelligence to share the power between charging devices. For example, when charging an iPad and iPhone, the power requirement will be larger on the iPad. Thanks to the U-Socket’s design, the outlet prioritizes electrical output to the device with the most demand; however, that is not to say the iPhone will only trickle charge. The electrical output is distributed across each charging item accordingly.
When it comes to electrical safety ratings, everyone tends to check for the shiny “UL” stamp listed somewhere on the cord or packaging. Several astute readers noticed the U-Socket is not UL – Listed, which is correct, but not necessarily concerning. After addressing this concern with FastMac, the following response was offered (condensed and modified for brevity):
The U-Socket is properly certified to pass all NEC codes in North America. FastMac elected to use a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) instead of UL-Listing. The NRTL is 100% equal to UL. UL listing is similar to asking for a specific name-brand item, where UL is the common name recognized for safety certifications but not the only certification of similar standard.
OSHA is the government organization that oversees proper safety certifications and has sanctioned approximately 12 testing laboratories. The NEC code book requires any device connected to power to have the proper OSHA safety certification. In our case, we chose TUV as the certifying laboratory.
To fully answer readers’ concerns, a copy of the certification is provided and below is a picture of the actual sticker approval list on the unit.
Conclusion Rating: 5/5[rating:5]
FastMac discovered and developed a product that we have needed for years, but no one else realized the necessity. All homes should include U-Sockets ($24.95, order) in key locations: bedrooms; behind the couch; in the kitchen; in the office; etc. If being green is a concern OR if saving money sounds sweeter, the U-Socket is designed to prevent “Vampire Draw,” which FastMac describes as the power pull of a regular AC power adapter when left in the outlet. The smart chip design prevents power drain, even if an adapter is plugged in. Finally, FastMac is very proud to design and build its products in the USA – as a proud patriot myself, I share in their excitement.
- Plug in 2 AC items and 2 USB gadgets at once
- No power pull from adapters when not in use
- Auto sensing USB hubs delivery the exact amount of power needed for your devices (2.4A-5V USB 3.0 Power Ports @2400mA)
- 5-Star Energy Efficient design
- Decorative designs
- Eliminate clutter
- Works with all USB powered devices
- Your house doesn’t come with them already installed
If you have questions or comments about my experience with the U-Socket, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @jim_gresham.
Personal Installation Process
***This is not intended as a complete guide. Working with electricity is extremely dangerous. Please consult the instalation manual when replacing your existing outlets.
Accessing wiring situation:
Final product with a Rokform Rokstand.