In the 21st century, offering a phone charger to your guests is almost as essential as offering a drink. We have some suggestions on how to integrate communal chargers into your living space.
Every home is set up a little differently, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, we’ve rounded up a few flexible ways to provide a charger that easily integrates into common setups. We have our own picks for the gadgets that work best in each scenario, but if your home has different needs, you can still take the concept and adapt it with devices that fit your home.
For a Table Drawer: BESTEK 5-Port USB Charging Station ($26)
If you have a side table or coffee table with a drawer in it, I personally recommend this Bestek charging station. It features five 5V/2.4A USB ports, all capable of fast-charging your gadgets (as long as your USB cable supports it). In practice, I find it’s nice to have a few USB cables sitting in the drawer—a healthy mix of micro USB, USB-C, and Lightning cables should cover all your guests’ needs—so your guests can charge their phones, even if they don’t bring their own cables.
The charging station also has two regular AC outlets, so if your guests need a special charger—say, for a laptop—then they can plug that in as well. There’s a slot in the charging station where you can set a phone, though there’s only space for one device at a time. Still, you can plug in up to seven devices, so that should be more than enough for a small party to share.
For the Couch: PowerCube Extended Cable ($20)
The PowerCube is a neat little extension cable that puts outlets on nearly every side of a small cube-shaped surge protector. This makes it ideal for tucking under your desk, but I found a unique use for it: to run the cable under my couch to give your guests a power outlet at their feet. It’s common to put a charging station on the ends of a couch, which puts guests in the middle of the couch in an awkward position. Either leave their phone unattended next to someone else, string a cord along the couch, possibly getting in the way, or demand the seat next to the charger.
The PowerCube solved that problem in my house. My L-shaped couch almost always blocks a power outlet in every room that it’s in. So, conveniently, I plug the PowerCube into the outlet, then run the cable underneath the couch. Then, the cube sits at the base of the couch, in reach of anyone in the middle of the couch, while still being small enough to not get in the way of guests’ feet. This solution might not work in every household, but from experience, if you can make it work, it’s a convenient answer to a common problem.
For Big Parties: AUKEY Power Strip ($43)
If you’re having a big party—whether in your own home, or while traveling—then the Aukey Power Strip can handle your needs. At slightly less than 7″ tall, this mini-tower is compact enough to fit in your carry-on. It also features twelve regular AC outlets and six USB outlets. More than enough for a big group of people to find space for their charger.
If you want to set this up on a table in your home, it might be smart to have a few USB cables sitting around for your guests. However, with up to eighteen ports available, you might also want to encourage a bring-your-own-charger policy. This is particularly easy if you’re taking it with you while traveling. Personally, I’ve used this device at conventions when anywhere from a couple to a dozen devices need charging at any given time, and we’ve never come close to running out of space on the tower.
For Phone-Free Parties: Levin 10 Port USB Charging Station ($40)
This whole time we’ve been talking about how to let your guests charge their phone conveniently, but what if you’d rather your guests not be glued to their phone? Demanding that your guests put all their phones in a bowl in order to gain entrance to your party isn’t exactly unheard of, but it’s the nuclear option for dealing with distracted guests. If you’d rather give them a gentler nudge towards disconnecting, try getting a Levin 10 Port USB Charging Station and put it next to the front door.
This charging station has some built-in cables for Android and iPhones, with six USB outlets for any other cables you might need. It also has slots for up to ten gadgets to sit, cleanly organized. Having a dedicated charging stand—especially one that’s strategically placed away from where you and your guests will be hanging out—gives them access to a charger, while gently discouraging them from constantly checking their phone. You can choose whether you want to ask your guests to all plug their phones in, or just leave it as an option, but either way it will encourage more socialization than having a charger on the couch.