This post originally appeared on tBL member Richard Neuman's blog The Owner's Rep and is republished with permission. Find out how to syndicate your content with theBrokerList.

USB-Cubicle-4Twenty years after the invention of USB charging cables for just about every electronic device, systems furniture manufacturers have finally caught up and just started offering USB electrical charging ports to panel system wiring harnesses. This is fantastic news.

For years, combination duplex 110/USB outlets and USB only outlets could be picked up in your local hardware store.  But for USB outlets in the cubicle, the engineer’s answers were always “systems furniture component technology lags behind that which is available for general construction.”

Why is USB charging phenomenal news? Cubicles are commonly outfitted with only three outlets for a total of 6 receptacles. Counting the CPU, two to three monitors, task light and a printer, that leaves nothing for other devices. Users circumvent this by adding power strips which are illegal in NYC and many other jurisdictions. Further, large brick-like power supplies can unintentionally block a second power receptacle, thus you now lose two plugs instead of just one.

This summer I was advised by my Steelcase rep that a project of mine that was furnished with the Answer system has the distinction of being their first client in New York City to use these UL approved USB electrical modules! And it doesn’t disappoint.  The in-panel USB now allows users to plug in their cell phones, tablets, music players or any device with just a standard USB cable minus the power supply. The port is a module in the harness and can be located at baseline or beltline.

The major benefit is USB charging modules free up the receptacles for regular 110 wired devices. It also calms down IT departments since users won’t need to plug in their devices into the computer which can introduce viruses into networks.

I’m hopeful other manufacturers will “get charged” by this and add it to their product line soon.

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Richard Neuman is an Owner’s Rep and Move Consultant with NY based Relocation Management Solutions, Inc.

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