Wireless charging allows you to charge your gadgets without connecting a USB cable It’s pretty pretty, but how does it actually work? Why bother at all? What are the disadvantages?
Everything you need to know about how wireless charging works is covered right here. You will soon forget what all this mess of wires was like!
A matter of incitement, dear wat (son)
Typically wireless chargers use a property of magnetism and electricity known as “induction” charging. Basically, the electric current is converted into a magnetic field. This field then induces an electric current in the device you want to charge.
This is a bit of an oversimplification, but essentially this is what happens during the wireless charging process. Each device has two coils, one each, that convert energy from one form to another.
This is the most common form of wireless charging you’ll likely find in personal gadgets like smartphones or smartwatches. Induction charging only works over very short distances. Usually 10 mm or less. So while power is â€œwirelessâ€, you usually need to put your device on some kind of charging pad for it to leak. Such induction chargers use low frequency signals to transfer energy from the charger to the device.
Wouldn’t it be great to just walk into a room and plug all your devices into the mains? This is the promise of resonant charging. Using high frequency radio waves to wirelessly transmit energy to devices.
The big advantage of this method is that relatively high-frequency waves can travel much further than induction chargers can allow. We’re talking about multiple legs. So, as long as you stay within the reach of the coil, your device will turn on.
It’s a futuristic idea, but electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla implemented it over a century ago. If history had taken a slightly different direction, wireless electricity could become the standard way of doing business today.
There are different approaches to how wireless charging works, each with its own pros and cons. Different companies have different views on how we all want to use wireless energy in our daily lives. This has led to the emergence of several wireless charging standards, and as you probably guessed, these standards do not interact with each other.
Qi wireless chargers use a short-range induction method and this is what you’ll find in most personal wireless charging devices.
The AirFuel standard uses a long-range resonance technique and you are unlikely to find it built into your gadgets. However, you can buy dedicated charging cases for smartphones that will add AirFuel to them.
One thing you might notice about wireless charging, regardless of the standard, is that it doesn’t deliver as much power. Fast charging has become the standard when using a cable. Modern USB-C smartphones and laptops can often accept 40 to 60 watts of power. Using USB-C Power Delivery, you can transfer 100W of power over a USB-C cable, but current lithium-ion batteries in a phone can’t handle that.
Qi or AirFuel chargers don’t have that much power, but both standards are evolving. At the time of writing, 40W wireless fast charging has started hitting the market and AirFuel hopes to hit 100W at some point in the future. We can also expect improvements in battery technology, making it easier to charge devices faster.
For now, however, one of the main drawbacks of wireless charging is that it is slower than direct wired charging and cannot actively power devices that require even a moderate amount of power to operate.
One charger to control them all
One of the huge benefits of wireless charging is that it eliminates all cable standards. Okay. this is assuming all of your devices use the same standard, but Qi charging is becoming more common for devices like smartphones.
So anyone with a Qi device can just put it on a tablet and charge it. It’s cool, but the real awesome feature is the ability to charge multiple devices on the same charging pad at the same time. You will need a single coil charger for each device you want to charge.
For example, “triple chargers” have three coils and therefore three charging points. You can put three devices next to each other and charge them at the same time. This can be a pretty elegant solution. For example, if you place the triple charger on a side table in your living room, it will be a central place where people can put their devices.
Devices that charge wirelessly only
Most devices that charge wirelessly, such as smartphones, also offer wired charging. However, there are some devices that only allow wireless charging. Smartwatches are one example of this, and if you think about it, it makes sense.
If you want to create a truly dust and waterproof device, having multiple ports can be a challenge. Not to mention, in small devices like wireless headphones or smartwatches, there is often no room for standard connectors anyway.
How does wireless charging work on large devices? While there are no phones, tablets or laptops known to us with exclusive wireless charging yet, we don’t assume this will never happen. A completely sealed device using only wireless connectivity and charging, will open up new possibilities in terms of reliability and design.
Phones and power banks that provide wireless charging
Wireless chargers themselves have become wireless in the sense that you can now get batteries and even smartphones that can charge devices wirelessly using the Qi standard.
Smartphones like the Note 10+ have a feature known as â€œWireless Powershare,â€ and it’s very handy for charging devices like wireless headphones or smartwatches. Wireless power supplies are of course useful for this use case as well, but it also opens up an interesting opportunity to attach your phone to a power bank and temporarily use it as one module without a cable.
Qi short-range induction charging is definitely not going anywhere, but we’ve seen some impressive demonstrations of long-range charging using the resonance method. If you equip an LCD TV with a take-up coil, simply placing it within range of another coil installed in the wall will turn it on.
With the ability to wirelessly transmit power and data, product developers can discover new possibilities. Perhaps an interesting future awaits us for devices that always have power that do not need to be opened, and in some cases, batteries may no longer be needed to operate.
Of course, it will take some time before long distance wireless communication becomes the norm. You can of course expect a lot of resistance. There are already many (usually unfounded) concerns about electromagnetic radiation technologies such as 5G, causing health or environmental concerns. We expect similar complaints to arise as wireless transmission of power over long distances becomes more prevalent.
However, at this point, it seems like no one has a problem with induction charging over a very short distance. How many of your devices can be charged wirelessly? How often do you use this feature? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.