Southern Boating

How to install a USB charger

We’ve got all the tips on how to install a USB charger.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a boat owner that couldn’t use a new or additional USB charger outlet, particularly in light of the increased use of smartphones and tablets for navigation. Most boats have a standard 12 VDC outlet (allowing you to insert a USB charge adapter), however, the contacts can be unreliable aboard a bouncing boat, and the protruding adapter is prone to snagging. A dedicated USB socket is a much better alternative. Here’s how to enjoy a few hours on your boat while adding a convenience that everyone can appreciate.

The first step is selecting a USB outlet, but searching online results in seemingly limitless options. Narrow your search by selecting only water-resistant units constructed of marine-grade components such as those from Marinco, Mastervolt, Blue Sea, etc. Those are the ones you’ll typically see at most any marine chandlery or online distributor. Other features to look for include a water-resistant cover, dual USB ports and a power indicator light or backlighting. Some units even incorporate a 12 VDC power meter providing a quick, convenient way to monitor battery voltage.

Next, take a moment to step back and visualize the installation as a whole. Mentally walk through it in an effort to head off any potential problems: You’ve chosen an ideal location, but is there a path to run the power wires? This also provides a good opportunity to make a list of tools and materials needed to complete the job preventing those extra trips back to the chandlery for forgotten items.

Once you’ve chosen a USB outlet, planned the installation and assembled all of the necessary tools and materials, it’s time to get down to business. These tips will help you along the path to USB charger nirvana.

By Frank Lanier, Southern Boating December 2017

Photo: USCG