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Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 2934
Experience:  29 years as a Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, 5 year college Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma in Digital Electronics, Former Illinois Licensed Home Inspector
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I'm working on a startup idea which would ideally draw power

Customer Question

Hello,
I'm working on a startup idea which would ideally draw power from commercial facilities and businesses' overhead facility power -- such as wired electrical signs, smoke detectors, cameras, or simply wiring going to lighting.
My device will be powered with Micro USB. There are countless cheap adapters that provide a red and black wire going to an in-line plastic bump/box which then terminates at a Micro USB. The rating on one of these is 12V-36V DC input to 5V 2.1amp out to Micro USB.
My question is, can I simply connect these wires into the aforementioned potential power sources of a facilities overhead -- for example, my office building has false ceiling tile, could I reasonably expect to be able to find a good spot to reach 12V-36V DC power?
Secondly, what type of power is typically supplied to exit signs, wired smoke detectors, security cameras, etc?
Thanks,
-Garrett
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
See attached example of one of these cheap cables to potentially power my device from the overhead of a facility/building
Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question.

1) Your application will require a DC transformer which will need to be plugged into a 120 volt receptacle.

2) Common DC voltage sources are not readily available within any building. Any application that requires a DC voltage source is always utilized by either a built-in or external DC voltage power supply source.

3) Lighting signs are always AC voltage. Typically 120V or 277 volt

4) Smoke detectors are typically a combination of 120 volts AC and 9 volts DC or can be either or.

5) Security cams are typically powered by a DC power pack (transformer), similar to the type used to charge a cell phone or tablet for example.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Hi Kevin,Thanks. I guess what we're trying to avoid is plugging into a standard outlet. Perhaps a better way of asking would be, if you needed to power a small device mounted on a wall that had a Micro USB input (~500mA / 5V), what would be the most efficient and easiest way to do this at scale -- our product would be aimed at Businesses/Commercial spaces like restaurants, coffee shops, corporate offices, etc. We're just trying to provide a way to go into the overhead and hook into power in a way that a facility manager could handle (hopefully without a full fledged electrician).I'm not sure if you saw, but I posted photos of the type of adapter we were able to find online that seems to have red/black leads that I would think could be connected into existing power...Thanks,
-Garrett
Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

Thanks for the replies.

1) As you are already aware, a USB is 5VDC powered. You would either require a USB power pack that plugs into a wall receptacle, similar to the types used on a tablet.

2) The other option is to have the customer install a USB outlet which is hard-wired via 120 volts. Then any USB cable can be plugged directly into the USB outlet which will provide the necessary 5VDC output voltage.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Hi Kevin,We already provide a 'USB Wall Wart' with our prototype device. However, customers are asking for a way to hook into their facility power. So, I think your Option #2 is more likely the solution. Is there a way to provide a solution that doesn't require a new junction box with USB female receptacle but instead is just a cable that can be wired into an existing junction box? We'd like to ship this along with our product for the customer to 'install' (or connect into their existing power in the overhead).Could you recommend any off-the-shelf solutions that are inexpensive and easily installed (possibly a link to them or what they're called so I can Google it)? Again, we're trying to provide our business customers with an option that doesn't require complex electrical work but can be done by a handyman or facility manager who typically do work on things like lighting, ethernet ports, etc.Thanks,
-Garrett
Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

1) Home Depot or Lowe's or any local electrical supply store sells USB outlets.

See link shown below as these come in a variety of ports and are either 15 or 20 amp rated.

http://www.homedepot.com/s/usb+outlet?NCNI-5

2) If your product will be installed above a suspended ceiling, another option is to provide the customers with a USB extension cable. However, the USB extension cable would need to be fished thru an interior wall or plastic wiremold could be installed. Then a standard USB wallwart could be plugged into any nearby existing 120 volt receptacle. The use of a USB cable extension would minimize electrical work in many, but not all applications as long as there is a nearby 120V receptacle. Your thoughts?

See link shown below for USB cable extenders.

http://www.homedepot.com/s/usb+cable?NCNI-5

Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks..............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks..............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks...............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks.............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks.............Kevin:)

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