Functional redesign of the wall electrical outlet
By Mike Hanlon
February 27, 2006
February 28, 2006 Don’tya just love a simple and clever solution. One of the legacy items in every home that just never seems to get updated is the electrical wall outlet or power socket or whatever you call it. Designed in the dark ages before low voltage transformers and other humungous devices became commonplace, we’ve seen an elegant solution for a powerboard in the Powersquid but we haven’t seen an elegant solution to overcome this problem for the wall outlet until this revolutionary re-take by 360 Electrical. The concept is simple – the new wall outlets have receptacles that rotate a full 360 degrees in both directions. The receptacles click and hold in 18 different positions, enabling you to find a way to plug in those big fat problem plugs without eclipsing the next outlet. “The idea and patent came from a real world problem. For professional reasons, I was carrying two cell phones and was getting frustrated that I could not charge them simultaneously in the same outlet because of their large plugs,” recalls Kimberly Gerard, 360 Electrical’s president.
“Our solution is so simple and it usually gets a big smile, especially when I show the outlet to other women. They readily relate stories about trying to plug in tools like curling irons with their bulky hairdryer GFCI plugs in the same outlet. Then they ask me where they can buy them.”
In addition to cell phones and hairdryers, numerous common products with large plugs will benefit from 360 outlets: Cordless hand tools drills and saws Cordless yard tools electric trimmers electric mowers Cordless phones Nightlights Rechargeable electric razors Baby monitors Handheld vacuums Digital cameras and camcorders MP3 digital music players Under-the-cabinet kitchen stereos Rechargeable two-way radios Rechargeable flashlights PDAs and portable e-mail devices Notebook computers
360 outlets are ideal for strategic locations in homes and offices where products with large plugs are most heavily used. Those outlets tend to be high traffic areas like kitchens, home offices, bedrooms, bathrooms and garages.
Functionally, 360 Electrical duplex outlets maintain the same footprint and provide the same power as conventional 15 Amp, 125 volt receptacles. But the real difference comes in the “plug and turn” technology that allows the insertion of a large plug and the ability to rotate the plug a full 360 degrees to make space for another plug in the same outlet. Receptacles turn and hold in place to accommodate multiple plug sizes and shapes. The patented design allows for devices to maintain power even during rotation.
Installation is as easy as a standard outlet with a size that fits a standard electrical box. Each outlet is back-wired for speed and accessibility. For beginning do-it-yourselfers, clearly labeled callouts for hot, neutral and ground connections are molded right on the back of each outlet.
Aesthetically, the decorator, snap-on, screwless wallplate makes 360 outlets an elegant addition to any room. “These outlets grab your attention,” says Gerard. “We’ve found they are true conversation pieces because people are attracted to the unique appearance of a common, everyday wall socket flipped upside down or sideways.” Outlets will be available in white, almond, light almond, ivory and black to coordinate with a wide range of interior decors.
A standard residential-grade outlet is just the beginning as the company intends to release a whole family of electrical solutions using its 360 degree technology and simple colour-coded instructions to target the DIY replacement market. Additional products in the 360 Electrical line will include GFCI outlets, 20-Amp commercial grade outlets, 250 volt outlets, multiple outlet, plug-in wall taps and power strips.