Tech Tuesday: USB Charging Ports

posted in: Techie Posts | 3

Welcome to Tech Tuesday! Each week we will post anything techie that we have done in our RV. If you missed it, last week’s post was all about WIFI That Works and was a very popular post!! If this is something that you have questions about, you can read all about it here.

This week we are installing USB charging ports in our Class A motorhome. It seems we are just full of things that need USB based charging. Multiple phones, iPad, Kindle, every outlet in our bus seems to be full of little chargers!

Worse, while most of our outlets are powered by the inverter and always live, a few are not. The ones in the bedroom slide are dead unless we are plugged in. Ditto for the one next to the couch. And up front where DW sits, the outlet in under the dash, if I stop to take the dogs out or get fuel, I trip over all her cords.

So, the first trick was to find DC powered charging ports. These days you can walk into any home center or hardware store and find A/C charging ports like these,ac outlet usb charger but I wanted ones that would work from our batteries, and would always have power, shore power or not, inverter or not. I could find a bunch of black ones, they seem to be popular with boating types, and last week, I finally found a white one! USB charger portI bought 10 of them. Figure I’ll use 4, and offer the rest to fellow RV’ers for a small fee, installed. They can be found on Amazon here: White dual usb charger socket

 

The first one I put in was on my DW’s side of the bed. She plugs her iPhone charger in here when she sleeps, but this outlet isn’t on the inverter, it is dead when we’re not plugged in.

Lots of action here, first step was to pull everything out and see what’s behind the wall.Searching1
With DC circuits, you always have a positive and a negative (ground). Many times, where there is a switch, there may be only 2 wires, power in (from the fuse) and power out (to the controlled device). For our charger port, we need one of each, unswitched power, and ground.
In this location, I had a light switch, and a switch for the ceiling fan (round one) along with an A/C outlet. There was also some aluminum framing inside the wall.
I did some poking around with my voltmeter, and decided to use the power in to the fan switch, and just screw into the aluminum framing for my ground. (there just weren’t any ground wires for me to tap into!)Voltmeter
I used a green wire, crimped on a ring terminal, and used a self tapping screw to secure it to the aluminum behind the a/c outlet.
For the power, I stripped back some insulation from the black power wire into the fan switch. I wrapped my new wire around the stripped section, soldered it, and taped it up good.power wire1
Next step is to drill a hole. I VERY carefully made sure there was NOTHING behind where I put the drill. I was above the horizontal aluminum support, right of the wall stud next to the window, and CERTAIN there were no wires inside that wall. Then I used a hole saw to punch the hole, making sure not to drill right thru the side of the RV! Hole1The next step was to fish the wires through the wall and out the hole.fished1
Finally, I reinstalled the switches and outlets I’d removed, connected the USB charger port to the new wires (the connections are different colors, and the positive is marked with a +). It’s vital to observe the proper polarity. If the wires are backwards, your phone will probably blow up!

I pushed the new charging port thru the hole, screwed it down, and done. The job took less than an hour, and the next one will be faster.

Here’s the finished product.

USB charger done

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3 Responses

  1. Jason Reich

    Nice install and details; I did a similar one with a dual socket with 2 usb portd and a 12v socket (also from amazon). If you boondock, you may want to add a switch as well, to avoid the small but continuous drain of the 5v voltage regulator.

    • Jim Mellema

      Thanks. We don’t really need the switch, plenty of power with 900 watts of solar (that will be a future “Tech Tuesday”) but I really wish this thing didn’t have a bright blue LED spotlight on it!

  2. Jason Reich

    For the bright blue LED, you could try “dark dots” that will dim them: http://www.amazon.com/LightDims-793573834232-Original-Strength/dp/B009WSJNCW
    Or the cheap approach is to just touch up the LED with a sharpie!

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