How do you manage the central "charging station" in your household?
September 11, 2019 9:25 AM   Subscribe

In our household we have a convenient area next to an outlet on our kitchen counter that has become the central charging station as well as the repository for both devices as well as accessories: portable charging packs, cables, earbuds, dongles, etc. We have tried a few different ways to organize this section but it inevitably devolves into a chaotic mess. How do y'all address this issue in your household?

There are only 3 people using this station, but it often feels like double the number. Part of the existing strategy is to have a dual-USB charger with two USB-lightning cables (for iOS devices) that are theoretically never supposed to move. This leaves one outlet open for other random needs (typically charging a portable charger via micro-Usb).

What often ends up happening is the cables get taken when someone is in a rush, or in the nuclear option the entire wall charger gets taken, which can create real tension in our otherwise peaceful household.

So is there some magic combination of wall charger, cable management and device storage that I need to be aware of?
posted by jeremias to Technology (22 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Start with a USB charging tower, so that no one is ever going to take it with them, unlike the plugs that came with your devices.

Consider zip-tying your 'never go anywhere' cables to the charging tower if the configuration allows for that.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:32 AM on September 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

I can count at least 8 charging spots in our house. The kids leave devices in the living room to charge overnight. Husband and I, our phones charge in bedroom on our own side of the bed. There are permanent chargers located near 3 lounging chairs. Husband has another one his desk. We tried the central spot and it was ridiculous.
posted by Ftsqg at 9:33 AM on September 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

A charger with 6 outputs, 6 cables dedicated to it, and one of those vertical office folder organizers with a slot for each cable/device so devices/cables don't make a cluttered tangle.

So is there some magic combination of wall charger, cable management and device storage that I need to be aware of?

It sounds like the problem is less the kitchen location than having insufficient cables and chargers for use outside of the kitchen. Having more of those (and perhaps a larger charger in the kitchen) seems like the way to go.
posted by Candleman at 9:35 AM on September 11, 2019 [7 favorites]

We have a charging station in the kitchen, but we also have charger set ups always ready "to go". I have one in my bag at all times, and we have another set that are in another bag that can be thrown into whatever as needed (along with the portable batteries). That way the chargers in the kitchen, bedsides, and living room don't have to be moved.

I've come to the personal understanding over the years, it's kind of worth the piece of mind to have chargers everywhere, such that I don't have to worry about the kitchen or bedside ones disappearing or needing to remember to grab it or put it back.
posted by kendrak at 9:43 AM on September 11, 2019 [7 favorites]

I’ve been happy with this, as has a friend I gave one to.

You can swap out the cables if necessary for other devices, and when one of the lightning cables failed, the company sent me two new replacements.
posted by elphaba at 9:47 AM on September 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

I have a power strip with built in USB like this, but more importantly, I'd keep a basket of wall wart chargers and cords by it. Make it easy to have/find a cord to go, and people are less likely to take the permanent one.

If my family were worse about it, I'd install an outlet with usb. Try taking that.
posted by advicepig at 9:52 AM on September 11, 2019

In the kitchen we have a wooden or bamboo plate rack (parallel rails with upright dowels for holding a stack of plates on their sides) where iPads & iPhones & Kindles can be stood up to charge. It looks like this one at Amazon:

It sits at the end of the counter, next to a four-way outlet. There's a drawer under the countertop with a plastic organizer, and everyone's power adapters & cables are labelled separately. (If you don't put away your cable or charger, someone else is likely to use it. Quelle horreur!)

I charge my phone on my bedside table because once in a blue moon work might have an overnight problem. *shrug*

All laptops get charged on a desk in the office, or maybe in the living room if someone was up late doing homework. Laptop power bricks get stuffed in this one messy desk drawer if my wife finds them left out.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:01 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We had the same problem in our kitchen!

We purchased a charging station box similar to this one. Our power strip, wall chargers, and the bulk of their associated cords live in the box. We use ties to keep the cords in control in the box, and the male ends of the cords are free outside of the box for us to use.
posted by golden at 10:06 AM on September 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

We have a "charging station" box from somewhere, probably World Market that hold the charger inside and lays all the devices on top with holes for cord (it's hard to describe). But basically there's a 5 outlet usb charger with dedicated cables and none of them ever move. There's now 2 USB C, 2 micro-b and one mini-b (for old stuff). One of these days I should upgrade to a newer charger with proper USB C PD support, but it's basically for overnight charging so no one minds. It goes by the garage door in the family room. I feel like having a real actual piece of sort-of furniture is good as it reinforces the notion that all this stuff stays put.
posted by GuyZero at 10:07 AM on September 11, 2019

You could get a multiple wireless Qi charger like this and forgo cables for the devices that can charge with Qi.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:46 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding the type elphaba mentioned, plus a set of really short (like 6" or 12") cords for it. No one will steal such short cables, plus they aren't as messy looking.
posted by hankscorpio83 at 10:57 AM on September 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I live alone and I managed to cause charger problems for myself until I just bit the bullet and got a lot more cables and usb mains plugs than a single adult should need. I have four dotted round my one bedroom apartment, including one multi usb charge unit and one Qi charger and two on my home office desk. Another one lives in the car, and two more in my laptop bag...I don’t have a dedicated desk at the office otherwise I’d have a couple that live on my desk, too.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:58 AM on September 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

We use an AmzonBasics 6 port charger with cables dangling from all ports. We call it Medusa.
posted by w0mbat at 11:10 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

If someone in my household takes/ does something that messes with others' routines, they are responsible for cooking dinner every night for a full week.
posted by metasarah at 11:37 AM on September 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I invested in this, and it's been pretty great.
posted by cleverevans at 11:43 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I got a big brick-like charger with multiple USB slots and it's hidden inside a basket with a lid. All of our devices + the charger fit into the lidded basket.
posted by Ostara at 12:05 PM on September 11, 2019

I've also outfitted everyone with a nightstand lamp that has an additional USB port in it. These are generally paired with long 10-foot charging cords. The charging cords in the main charging station are 6-12 inches.
posted by Ostara at 12:07 PM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We purchased a charging station box similar to this one. Our power strip, wall chargers, and the bulk of their associated cords live in the box. We use ties to keep the cords in control in the box, and the male ends of the cords are free outside of the box for us to use.

Ooooh, I'm really liking this one because of the container for all of the other bits and bobs that I mentioned: dongles, earbuds etc.

A lot of the other solutions seem to solve the charging and devices issue, but not necessarily the other random crap that isn't used frequently but when needs to be located on demand.
posted by jeremias at 12:28 PM on September 11, 2019

Lots of furniture has built-in storage that can be repurposed- telephone end tables, nightstands, sewing tables, phonograph cabinets ( chez nous). You can run usb power into kitchen drawers. As many cables as needed, and a family habit of putting devices and their dongles there, will make a habit for them as are habitual.

If cables keep vanishing you just have to balance the cost, waste, and hassle of replacements and/or blame... not sure that’s a material problem, but it can help to mark all cables for individual users when they come into the house (electrical tape, washi tape). Some people notice if they have someone else’s cable.
posted by clew at 2:51 PM on September 11, 2019

We bought a bunch of black cables for my dad, and mum kept the white ones. Now she knows that she can steal back a white one without feeling guilty. Short specifically colour charger cables should help with the cable stealing issue. Powerboards with USB ports should stop the blocks being stolen.
posted by kjs4 at 4:45 PM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I made a charging box liked golden's out of a shoe box covered in decorative wrapping paper, very similar to this one and this one. You use an Exacto knife to cut a big hole for the power strip cord in the back and a bunch of little holes for the USB cords in the front. Batteries and earbuds can go in the box and be hidden. Works for me, plus I feel "thrifty."
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:34 PM on September 11, 2019

We have one of those office folder type charging stations for the 4 of us (2 phones, 2 Kindles, 3 tablets, earbuds) but it sounds like one of the issues you have is that people take the cords to use elsewhere. My solution to this problem was just to buy a bunch of cords so that there is always one available. We have cords that live in each of our cars, one that lives in my travel kit, one at my office, one in my work tote (and one that plugs into my bedside lamp, but I have an on-call job and an old phone with poor battery life, so that one I'd agree is superfluous for most people).
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 4:54 PM on September 12, 2019

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