Electrician's plastic invention gets a jolt from Kickstarter

By Catherine Kavanaugh
Staff Reporter

Published: March 6, 2014 11:01 am ET
Updated: March 6, 2014 11:07 am ET

Image By: SnapPower Interest in the SnapRays outlet covers, which have integrated LED lights, has taken off thanks to a funding campaign on Kickstarter.

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A guide light built into a plastic electrical outlet cover sparked a lot of interest — and monetary pledges — for a Utah electrician using Kickstarter to raise money to get his idea into production.

Jeremy Smith, 41, of Provo exceeded his $12,000 goal in just two hours and raised $130,000 and counting less than 36 hours into his month-long crowd-funding campaign that started March 3.

Smith invented what he is calling SnapRays Guidelights. His outlet covers are made of ABS and have a bottom edge equipped with light-emitting diodes. The device eliminates the need for night lights and frees up space for other plugs.

SnapRays are going for pledges of at least $12 for one on Kickstarter and almost all are spoken for by supporters.

The devices can be installed in seconds over standard electrical outlets. Turn off the power. Remove the existing cover plate. Press on a SnapRays Guidelight. Turn the power back on. That’s it.

Smith’s patented “power extractors’’ — two prongs on the back of the outlet cover — enable the device to draw power from the receptacle without any hardwiring.

He is in China overseeing the startup of production of the outlet covers while his business partner, Sean Watkins, 29, monitors their Kickstarter site.  The friends are co-founders of a company called Snap Power and this is their first product.

“I’m excited. I’m thrilled,” Watkins said in a telephone interview.

He chalked up the positive response on Kickstarter to friends and family and the contractors he and Smith met at the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas last month.

“I can sum it up in one word: simplicity,” Watkins said. “There’s no hard wiring. There’s no messing with anything. Anybody can do it and that makes it an attractive product.”

The business partners selected ABS plastic for its durability and to meet Underwriter Laboratories’ electrical codes. They did a limited production run for the UL tests and to have samples for the trade show.

“All the home builders, electricians and wholesalers that came by really liked it,” Watkins said.

The business partners are getting a lot of feedback on Kickstarter with requests for more colors and an outlet cover compatible with ground fault circuit interceptors (GFCIs).

Smith posted a response online to the latter suggestion, saying “We are currently considering a GFCI design at this time and have even played around with some prototypes. We hope to be able to offer them in the near future.”

Another backer would like SnapRays with a motion sensor for bedrooms: “The last thing I want are LED lights on all night. That said, amazing idea for other locations in the house.”

Project supporters also mentioned alerting their friends to the SnapRays Kickstarter project on their Facebook pages.

Kickstarter uses social media to raise money for everything from publishing books to recording albums to building classrooms out of shipping containers. Project creators have 30 days to meet their financial goals or the backers’ pledges aren’t collected and the project gets nothing.

Project creators offer “rewards” for pledges. Most of Smith’s supporters — about 700 — pledged $24 for a three-pack of SnapRays Guidelights, which come in white, ivory and almond. However, that was after 500 supporters pledged $40 for a five pack and that reward hit its limit.

The business partners recently quit their day jobs to devote all their energy to Snap Power.

“It’s gotten busy and we had to switch over full time,” Watkins said.


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Electrician's plastic invention gets a jolt from Kickstarter

By Catherine Kavanaugh
Staff Reporter

Published: March 6, 2014 11:01 am ET
Updated: March 6, 2014 11:07 am ET

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