In this review we are going to cover an item from SnapPower
, a company that's sole focus is to make your wall outlets more useful. Their main offerings are both 120V wall outlet cover plates, with one style that offers a USB port for charging your devices, and another style that offers a nightlight with a built-in sensor to automatically turn on when it gets dark. While they also offer USB cables that could be used with their "SnapPower Chargers", their wall plates are clearly the novel offering that makes them of interest.
What we have for this review is a SnapPower Guidelight
, which is a wall outlet cover plate that features a light sensor on the front and a bank of three LEDs on the bottom. These Guidelights are available for both duplex and decora style outlets, and come in the basic traditional colors of white, almond, and ivory. If you can install a typical outlet cover plate, you can install a Guidelight, but the only extra piece of advise would be to make sure the breaker to the outlet you are working on is off, just to be safe.
The sample we received came packaged in rather minimalistic packaging, which clearly is not meant for a retail environment. You have the outlet cover plate in a clear plastic case, with just a small slip of paper that tells you the URL of the installation instructions, as well as providing an email address that you can send questions to.
We will be installing the white, duplex style outlet cover shown in the images below. In the lower left corner you can see the ambient light sensor, but otherwise the cover looks like the basic kind you would find at the big box stores for under a dollar each. The Guidelights sell for much more than your typical outlet cover, which may be the first surprise... Amazon.com has them for $18 (plus $6 for shipping), while buying directly from SnapPower will set you back $15 (plus shipping, but with discounts available on orders of multiple Guidelights). Out of the box, the first thing I noticed about the Guidelight is that the overall width and height of the plate were the standard size available at the big box stores... which means it covers the least amount of the wall. I have been upgrading to the midsize plates on most outlets in my home, and when necessary use the larger sized plates, simply because they cover more wall and can hide imperfect cuts in the drywall and in general just make things look sharper. Checking the SnapPower site shows that they only offer these in one size.
The above right image shows the back of the outlet cover, where you can see how the magic happens. The two springy arms surrounding the mounting screw have metal contacts which touch the positive and negative terminals on the sides of your typical wall outlet. This takes 120V power from your outlet and delivers it to the circuitry and LEDs via traces under the U-shaped channel seen around the bottom half of the cover. A very simple, but clever design that allows the nightlight to fit in to a cover plate that will have this outlet look very much like any other outlet in the room.