How to choose a USB charger for the office

USB charging hubs have come to be essential items for a lot of offices. Now most employees are bringing a smartphone or tablet (or both!) to work, charging devices through a PC or laptop is no longer sufficient.

This guide will help you choose the right USB charging hub for your circumstances, as well as answer some questions around safety and compatibility.

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Consider what kind of devices you need to charge

What devices do your employees use? Chances are everyone has a smartphone, while some might also be using tablets, digital cameras or audio-visual equipment.

Different devices charge on different currents. Charging a device with less than its optimum current can prolong the time it takes the battery to replenish itself.

As our power module chart shows, smartphones require only 1 amp (A) of current to charge at full speed, while tablets and other larger devices need double that amount.

Once, employees would charge all devices using the USB port of their work PC or laptop. However, because most computer USB ports provide only 0.1A to 0.9A of current, charging devices like smartphones and tablets took an inconveniently long time.

Depending on the model, a USB charging hub can supply up to 5A of current per port. And as hubs are designed to charge multiple devices at the same time, they still provide enough power even when the current is shared across two or more ports.

Device Ideal charging hub

Smartphones

(1A of current per device)

Chip USB Power Module

  • 2 x 2A ports
  • On desk

Face Power Module

  • 2 x 2A ports
  • In desk

Inca Power, USB Charging & Data

  • 2 x 5A ports on either face, if specified
  • On desk

Tablets and other larger devices

(2A or more of current per device)

Horizon Power and Data Module

  • 2 x 2A ports
  • In desk

Harmony Power, USB Charging, Data & Media

  • 2 x 5A ports
  • On desk

(White plastic)

(Silver metal)

Contour Power, USB Charging, Data & Media

  • 2 x 5A ports
  • On desk

Decide how many USB charging hubs you need

The number of USB charging hubs you install throughout your office will depend on the layout of the rooms and your employees’ needs.

Communal areas

Many modern offices have communal areas in which employees can gather, whether it’s for meetings, conference calls, brainstorming sessions or simply to socialise or take a break from work.

Nowadays, meetings don’t just involve a group of people sitting around a table, but also include some form of visual aid provided by a tablet or laptop hooked up to a display screen or projector. For this reason, meeting rooms need to be equipped with enough plug sockets and charging ports for employees to work efficiently.

And rather than have cables and leads trailing around people’s feet, you can integrate your charging hub into the desk or conference table. A power module such as CMD’s Reveal is ideal for this. It slots seamlessly into the table and has a retractable lid that allows easy access and protects the sockets when they’re not being used.

Even better, with CMD’s Porthole QI Wireless Induction Charger, you can eliminate wires completely. Simply place your compatible device on top of the unit and it will begin to charge.

Individual workstations

It might be that your employees do most of their work at their own designated desk. If this is the case, installing one charging hub per desk may be of benefit.

Power modules designed for individual workstations usually feature at least two USB charging ports as standard. Having one of these at each desk ensures every employee has a charger to hand when they need it.

Establish where best to install USB charging hubs

You can install USB charging hubs in three places:

  • On the desk
  • In the desk
  • Under the desk

Installing on-desk and under-desk charging hubs is really easy—you place them wherever you need them either on your desktop or underneath.

In-desk charging hubs might involve a little more labour, in that you may first need to saw a hole in the furniture for the hub to slot into. Don’t worry, though—this is straightforward and we provide templates with the product (they are also available on our website). From there, it’s simply a case of screwing the fixtures in place.

The table below outlines the benefits of each location:

Position Example Image Benefits

On the desk

Inca Power, USB Charging & Data

Very convenient to install and use. The module can be placed anywhere on the workstation and provide easy access to a charging port.

In the desk

Porthole IV Power & 4A USB Charger

Can be installed into a desktop easily, without having to make space. Perfect for staff who need an open desk on which to lay files and documents.

Under the desk

Conti

These power modules can be placed out of the way under a desk. However, you may need longer charging leads for your devices.

The web pages for all our products have installation guides you can download.

Use USB chargers safely

With USB charging moving from computer ports to dedicated charging hubs such as wall chargers and power modules, questions of safety have arisen.

Below are some guidelines on what to do to make sure your chargers and devices are safe.

Check the rating

Before you buy any USB charger, check that it carries the ‘CE’ marking. This stands for the French ‘Conformité Européene’ and means ‘European Conformity’. It’s a certification mark that shows the charger has been manufactured to strict European health and safety standards.

Read the manufacturer’s instructions

Just because your device fits the charging port doesn’t mean it’s compatible. Check the instructions that come with your device to make sure you’re charging it in the proper way. Using the wrong power supply risks damaging your device.

Check you have the right USB cable

Most cables are fine to use with any USB charger, USB plug socket or USB port on a computer. However, it’s always best to check the manufacturer’s instructions. Otherwise, you may damage the device’s battery or circuitry or risk the device overheating (and possibly catching fire!).

Charge your device at the best time

To avoid the risk of devices overheating while unattended, try not to charge them overnight when you’re asleep, or while you go out. This isn’t always practical, however, so if you do leave a device charging while unattended, make sure your smoke detectors are in full working order, just to be on the safe side.

Check voltage and amperage when travelling abroad

Not all charging ports in other countries deliver the same amount of power, be it from a computer port, plug, wall socket or other power module. Research the country you’re visiting to see if you’ll need an adapter.

Beware cheap chargers!

You’ll find fake or uncertified chargers on many market stalls, in shops and over the internet.

Avoid these at all cost! Counterfeit chargers have a far higher chance of overheating, catching fire and exploding. Using an uncertified charger may also void the guarantee that comes with your device.

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