If EC&M magazine’s 2013 Product of the Year Platinum Award Winner looks similar to last year, you’re not hallucinating. Building on 2012’s award-winning design, this dual USB charger and tamper-resistant receptacle device added a second receptacle position and now features a commercial application rating.

“With our first USB solution, the Combination USB Single Receptacle, we identified a need in the marketplace and wanted be the first to meet this demand,” says Michele Salimbeni, Eaton’s Cooper Wiring Devices business’ marketing manager for tamper-resistant receptacles. “Since smartphones, tablets, and digital devices have become even more commonplace, we received a tremendous response to the solution and decided to introduce a similar product that would accommodate the commercial market.”

This year’s winning entry is built on a 20A platform and features two integrated USB charging ports rated at 2.1A.

“Our first priority was to ensure the product had a high enough amperage to charge a variety of components,” says Salimbeni. “The depth of the device also had to be increased to accommodate the higher amperage charging, as well as allow for the two 20A receptacle positions.”

According to Salimbeni, one of the difficulties during product development was keeping the footprint of the device within the NEMA standard.

“With a higher amperage charging capacity and the ability to accommodate a 20A duplex receptacle — the 15A and 20A are on the same platform — this process proved to be a challenge,” she says. “We also worked hard to ensure the device would fit in multi-gang applications.”

Introduced to the market in September 2012, the USB Duplex TR Receptacle incorporates tamper-resistant shutters that provide code compliance with Sec. 406.12  of the 2011 NEC and offer increased safety by resisting the insertion of foreign objects that could cause electrical shock. The commercial-grade device also includes three pre-stripped 6-in. wire leads for line, neutral, and ground connection.

“Feedback during a rigorous beta testing process led us to design the product to terminate with wire leads rather than terminal screws for ease of installation,” explains Salimbeni.

Offered with a retail price tag of around $25 through electrical distributors, retailers, and online portals, additional features of the device include an LED indicator light that notifies users when a device is connected and being charged through the USB ports, a thermoplastic top and back-body that are virtually unbreakable, a zinc-plated steel mounting strap for added corrosion resistance, built-in wire strippers, and an automatic grounding system that eliminates the need for a bonding jumper in a grounded metal enclosure and provides a redundant measure of ground continuity where a jumper is used. Color choices include almond, black, light almond, ivory, and white.

“Identifying the need for a USB solution in the wiring devices market has led to some of the greatest innovations from our business within the last three years,” notes Salimbeni. “Not only was this product an extension of the single receptacle model, but we’ve built upon the duplex receptacle and recently introduced a hospital-grade solution to meet demanding environmental standards.”

 

GOLD AWARD

Wireless Test System

The first runner-up in this year’s Product of the Year competition comes from the portable test & measurement equipment category. Fluke’s CNX Wireless Test System wirelessly connects multiple measurement modules and sends simultaneous readings to a master device up to 20 m away. At the core of the product is a CAT III 1,000V/CAT IV 600V multimeter featuring a screen that displays its readings along with live readings from up to three other measurement modules. For more complex troubleshooting, users can view live measurements from up to 10 modules simultaneously on a computer equipped with the CNX PC adapter. Modules can take live measurements or log up to 65,000 sets of data. Features include AC voltage, AC current clamp, iFlex AC current clamp, and K-Type temperature.

 

SILVER AWARD

Demolition Screwdriver

This year’s second runner-up — Klein Tool’s Demolition Screwdriver — hails from the tools (hand) category. Suitable for prying and chiseling, the tool is designed to transfer impact force directly to the work surface. The screwdrivers are available in 4-in. and 7-in. sizes and feature a plated metal strike cap that protects the handle from hammer blows. A heat-treated shaft runs the length of handle to the metal strike cap, while the Cushion-Grip handle provides greater torque and enhances comfort.

 

AN EC&M TRADITION

The EC&M Product of the Year competition was established in 2000 to recognize excellence in new product development for the electrical industry. Designed to showcase inventiveness in product design, as well as improvements in safety and efficiency, the competition’s two-fold judging and voting process determines the most pioneering products of the past year that allow electrical design professionals, installers, and maintenance personnel to perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

Products eligible for this year’s competition were those introduced to the market between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2012. Out of the record-breaking 160 products entered this year, a hand-picked panel of judges ranked each product based on a uniform list of scoring criteria, ultimately selecting an unprecedented 46 category winners for the first phase of the competition. These category winners were then narrowed down to just three through an online poll available to our readers on the EC&M website. By casting their votes, EC&M subscribers determined the platinum, gold, and silver products of the year.

 

VOTING WINNERS

EC&M would like to congratulate the following three readers who each won $100 for voting in this year’s competition:

               • Tim Rupp, president, Rupp Electric Co., Lebanon, Tenn.

               • John Eckler, technician, Cherry Creek School District No. 5, Lakewood, Colo.

               • Henn Rebane, consulting engineer, Tampa, Fla.

The EC&M editorial team randomly drew these names from the list of voters who cast their vote in the online poll.

 

2013 Category Winners

Check out a list of all 46 Category Winners in this year's competition.