How Does Wireless Charging Work?
The technology behind wireless charging really took off in the past few years as more and more essential products adapted and used this as a key feature in their current release, making this an alternative, albeit a legit option, vs. wired charging moving forward. This holds especially true due to its newly established prominence in the development of wireless charging features on smartphones.
This recent development, in turn, begs us to ask these questions: How does it really work? What are the basics of how it was first developed? How energy-efficient is it? What does the future hold for this technology? Is this just another “fad” that will only have a short life span and become obsolete in the near future?
This article will help us know all the related questions regarding the wireless charging technology we have on hand as it is at present.
Basics of Wireless Charging Technology
There are a number of distinct applications for how wireless charging technology can be used, but mainly, we will focus on how it can be used with smartphones and other portable devices.
How does it work? Scientifically speaking, wireless charging works by using electromagnetic induction for power output and delivery. Inductive charging is best explained by “Oersted’s law.” The law states that when an electric current flows through a wire, it generates a magnetic field.
Using a very tight coil and having electricity flow through it creates a very strong magnetic field. Then a “receiver” is set up to “take” energy from that same strong magnetic field and convert the “taken energy” back into an electric current. The transfer of electricity from the source to the receiver happens in the air when both are placed directly against each other over a very short distance.
Explained thoroughly, electromagnetic induction happens due to the transmission of electrical energy via a magnetic field. The alternating current creates fluctuations in the magnetic field and, in turn, produces energy that can power up devices.
These are certain design and implementation principles that can be applied with a lot of variety, but the same basic principle is applied whether charging your smartphones, other portable devices, or even charging electric cars.
Known Methods of Wireless Charging Technology
There are three known methods of wireless charging technologies that are applied to commercial products in the present, and they differ mainly due to the distance at which they are capable of charging your devices:
1) Charging pads, the most commonly used, that use tightly-coupled electromagnetic inductive or non-radiative charging;
2) The use of charging bowls or through-surface type chargers that use a more loosely-coupled or radiative electromagnetic resonant charging that is capable of generating a charge within a short distance; and
3) uncoupled radio frequency (RF) wireless charging that allows a trickle charging capability at distances of a couple of feet.
The first, and the most commonly used technology so far, allows the charging setup of placing the devices on a dock or charging station and offers a convenient multi-purpose and pocket solution for keeping your phone’s battery full at all times.
You will be sure to encounter a variety of different names for wireless charging along the way, such as inductive charging or WiFi charging. Both terms are used interchangeably on the market, so doing your own research and double-checking the compatibility of your device’s product specifications is essential before making an educated purchase.
What is The Standard of Wireless Charging Technology?
The Wireless Power Consortium developed Qi wireless charging, which is currently the worldwide smartphone charging standard. To understand it better, this applies in the same way as Bluetooth and USB 3.0 as the standard to simplify computing for everyone. In the past, there were different competing standards, but all were overtaken by the Qi Standard. Almost all wireless charging devices support the Qi standard.
Why choose a wireless charging setup?
One word: convenience. There’s no doubt that the reason you’ll choose to use a wireless setup is for the convenience it gives.
First and foremost, wireless charging stations can help reduce clutter on your home or office desk. There is zero risk of tripping on the power cables as well, as you’re not using them anymore.
Secondly, wireless charging means fewer crowded power outlets. Because you can charge multiple devices in multiple charging ports, this is the best way to maximize access.
Thirdly, if you’re a cautious person, you’re also limiting your exposure to the risk of surveillance and data theft. Using USB cords to charge your devices, especially in public areas such as airports or cafes, will make you prone to hacking. Using wireless charging eliminates this threat.
However, as with all technologies, there are certain hold-ups that may bother us. Let’s take a quick look at some of the fears of using wireless charging technology.
The Associated “Fear” of Using Wireless Setup
The device is heating up. Wireless charging generates some heat, as does charging with a wired power cord. But the heat generated, coupled with the fact that wireless charging technology is fairly new, makes the user anxious. Unless there is really a factory defect with your device or its charging pod, the user’s anxiety is usually unwarranted.
Overcharging the device, There are also concerns about overcharging, as users will be more likely to forget devices that are charged wirelessly compared to those that are charged using traditional power cords. As a result, some claim that charging wirelessly will greatly accelerate the deterioration of your device’s battery life.
However, almost all manufacturers design their wireless chargers with this concern in mind. An auto-shutoff charging option was put in place, which stops the flow of energy as soon as your device is fully charged, even if you leave it on the charging pad.
This round of battery health fears worries us the most. To illustrate, you can think of batteries as tires on your car or motorcycle. Are there ways to extend the lifespan of the tires attached to your vehicles? Definitely. Is the way you drive helping prolong the tread of your tires? Yes. But will they eventually need to be replaced? Absolutely. The point is, as with all things, you’ll need to replace them eventually.
What to look forward to in the future?
Wireless charging technology is so popular right now that it is almost certain that manufacturers will invest heavily in R&D to develop it further. Thanks to the widely accepted Qi standard, manufacturers are already deploying the technology in the form of convenient and secure public charging stations, more efficient charging mechanisms, and sturdy, portable materials.
Wireless charging isn’t perfect for now, but consider it still in its infant stage. It will continue to evolve in many ways that we can’t imagine, and further developments in technology will continue to blow our minds. Charging wirelessly without the distance being a limiting factor is also a possibility. The future is blinding for wireless charging technology!