A SURGE IN POPULARITY

Householders are no longer content with standard fixtures and fittings and are increasingly demanding those ‘little extras’ which bring a boutique hotel experience into the home – this creates an opportunity for contractors to upsell easy-to-install products which meet this need for intuitive in-home design.

Here, Emma Segelov, head of marketing for MK Electric, looks at the role of USB integrated sockets within this, and the key product features to look out for.

Increasing popularity

In recent years, the popularity of smart devices has meant that there has been a sharp increase in the number of businesses which offer USB charging capability to customers. However, as our reliance on smart phones and tablets increases – and the number of smart devices owned on average rises – USB charging is beginning to become a ‘must have’ in the domestic space too.

And, it’s not just a case of convenience. Homeowners are on the lookout for products – such as USB integrated sockets – which mirror the premium, intuitive feel that they have become used to in leisure settings so they can replicate it in their homes.

Taking advantage

For electricians, this equals a valuable and easy upsell and an opportunity to add value to a project. However, it’s important to recognise that not all USB integrated sockets offer the same features and benefits, and by making the right selection, installation can be simplified, and a better experience offered to the end-user.

With this in mind, here are three key areas to consider when choosing a USB integrated socket for a domestic setting.

  1. Ease of retrofit

  2. When adding the installation of USB integrated sockets as an upsell to a wider project, it’s important that the contractor is able to offer fast, fuss-free fitting, in order to keep the homeowner happy without adding hours to the overall job.

    The best option here to look out for is those that fit into a standard 25mm back box. These products are suitable for both newbuild and retrofit applications as they ensure USB sockets are just as quick and easy to install as traditional wiring devices.

    Many of MK Electric’s solutions feature other installation benefits, too, including backed out and captive terminal screws and upward facing terminals with a funnel entrance to make installation faster and easier.

    This makes installation less disruptive to the homeowner as it’s as quick and easy as possible, which is a great selling point when offering USB charging capability to customers.

  3. Optimised charging

  4. User experience is crucial to the success of an USB integrated socket. And, for contractors who often earn business via word of mouth recommendations, it’s important to ensure that customers will be completely happy with their product experience.

    As applied to USB charging ports, it’s important to understand how this technology works, especially when it comes to how different devices draw charge. For example, a Samsung or an iPhone, a smartphone or a tablet, all charge in different ways. This explains why certain USB chargers can effectively power up, say, an iPhone 6, but would struggle to efficiently charge a tablet.

    This is where dynamic device recognition (DDR) comes in. DDR ensures that whatever make or model is being charged – Apple, Samsung, Nokia, iPad and many more – the device recognises the socket as it would its own charger and draws current from the USB charging socket in the way that best suits its design. This ensures optimal and efficient charging, no matter what the device.

    By choosing a solution which incorporates DDR, contractors can feel confident that in a world where every bar counts, the customer will get maximum efficiency from their USB socket, no matter how many different devices they need to charge.


  5. Safety
  6. As with every wiring device, safety is a crucial consideration when selecting an USB integrated socket.

    One key element to look for is comprehensive electrical protection against an overload or short circuit. MK's USB sockets have been designed so if the total charging current exceeds the rate level of 2A then the device will enter a current limited safety mode, or if voltage drops too much (e.g. under short circuit conditions) the output voltage will shut down completely. These features not only prevent damage to the socket, but vitally ensure user safety, too.

    For family homes in particular, it’s also vital to check for a three-pin child-resistant shutter system. Designed to prevent access to the electricity supply unless all three pins of a standard British plug are in position, protects against electrocution and provides a vital extra layer of safety.

    As homeowners demand more from the devices they use every day, there is a clear opportunity for contractors to upsell add-ons such as USB integrated sockets. However, in order to maximise these opportunities, it’s important to understand the key features to look out for, as these can not only provide a wealth of selling points for the contractor, but ultimately offer a safe and satisfactory overall product experience to the end user