Benefits Of Wireless Chargers
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Last Updated on July 14, 2021 by Gabriel Goddy
Have you wondered why most new phone manufacturers encourage wireless charging for your phones? That’d be because wireless charging has lots of benefits, which if you read through this guide, you’d see for yourself.
What Is Wireless Charging?
Wireless charging (also known as inductive charging) means, as the name suggests, you no longer need to plug a cable into your smartphone to charge it. Simply placing it face up on a special mat or tabletop is enough to start charging up your smartphone’s battery. As long as the smartphone supports wireless charging, you’re good to go.
Wireless charging is effortless, reliable, safe, and here to stay. Best of all, wireless charging is now available for all sorts of Qi-enabled devices, from phones to smartwatches, earbuds, and more.
What’s ‘Qi’ wireless charging?
There are a couple of competing standards in the wireless charging industry designed for portable gadgets such as smartphones. Most smartphones support both the Wireless Power Consortium’s Qi and the PMA or AirFuel Alliance standards, meaning that they will work on most available chargers.
Qi is rapidly becoming the most popular wireless charging standard and the one used by Apple for its new iPhone 8 and iPhone X.
How wireless charging works
Broadly speaking, there are three types of wireless charging, according to David Green, a research manager with IHS Markit. There are charging pads that use tightly-coupled electromagnetic inductive or non-radiative charging; charging bowls or through-surface type chargers that use loosely-coupled or radiative electromagnetic resonant charging that can transmit a charge a few centimeters; and uncoupled radio frequency (RF) wireless charging that allows a trickle charging capability at distances of many feet.
Both tightly coupled inductive and loosely coupled resonant charging operate on the same principle of physics: a time-varying magnetic field induces a current in a closed loop of wire.
It works like this: A magnetic loop antenna (copper coil) is used to create an oscillating magnetic field, which can create a current in one or more receiver antennas. If the appropriate capacitance is added so that the loops resonate at the same frequency, the amount of induced current in the receivers increases.
This is resonant inductive charging or magnetic resonance; it enables power transmission at greater distances between transmitter and receiver and increases efficiency. Coil size also affects the distance of power transfer. The bigger the coil, or the more coils there are, the greater the distance a charge can travel.
In the case of smartphone wireless charging pads, for example, the copper coils are only a few inches in diameter, severely limiting the distance over which power can travel efficiently.
But when the coils are larger, more energy can be transferred wirelessly. That’s the tactic WiTricity, a company formed from research at MIT a decade ago, has helped pioneer. It licenses loosely coupled resonant technology for everything from automobiles and wind turbines to robotics.
In 2007, MIT physics professor Marin Soljačić proved he could transfer electricity at a distance of two meters; at the time, the power transfer was only 40% efficient at that distance, meaning 60% of the power was lost in translation. Soljačić started WiTricity later that year to commercialize the technology, and its power-transfer efficiency has greatly increased since then.
Is Wireless Charging Safe?
Not to worry: wireless charging is safe. After decades of extensive research on possible health effects of electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded there is no evidence to support the claim that low-level EMF exposure can cause negative health issues. Evidence shows there is actually less risk with a wireless charger compared to traditional chargers. Why? Your body will have limited contact with the charger while it’s on. EMF emissions produced by wireless chargers (particularly Qi) have already been proven safe for humans. Additionally, the notion that wireless charging pads can damage the phone or its battery is a myth. If using a low-quality wireless charger, there are chances of that happening but most high-quality wireless charging pads like the Futura X are built to prevent damage to the phone while in use. It’s normal for a device to get slightly warm during wireless charging. Conventional plug-in chargers also feel warm to the touch while charging.
Applications And Advantages Of Wireless Charging:
- Low Power and High Power Application: The technology can be applied on portable devices such as smartphones, wearables, and laptop computers, which typically charge at power levels below 100 watts, as well as on larger electronic devices and appliances such as electric vehicles and hybrids, and medical equipment, among others, which charge at power levels between 1 to 300 kilowatts.
- Promotes Durability of Devices and Accessories: Remember that the technology works by powering or charging a device without electrical contact. Hence, it removes the need for plugging a cable into a charging port. Repeated plugging and unplugging could wear and tear the charging wires and the charging ports on the devices. A wireless charging implementation that magnetically and easily attaches to a device, such as MagSafe Charging from Apple, lessens wear and tear further.
- Convenience: The number one benefit of having wireless charging is that you will not have to deal with cords again. It leaves the need for messy cords and makes it much simpler by just letting you drop your phone at the charging station. Additionally, you will not have to worry about where you left your cord and the need for different chargers. With wireless chargers, you can charge all your phones simultaneously.
- Reduced Risk of Electrical Faults: Wear and tear from repeatedly plugging and unplugging a charging cable to a port can create material damages that could increase the risk of electrical faults. Furthermore, because there is no electrical contact in charging via electromagnetic induction, the electronic components of the device and corresponding accessories are enclosed and safe from corrosive moisture and oxygen.
- Water Resistant and Dust Resistant Devices: The technology also enables the design of portable devices that are resistant to water and dust. More specifically, by removing the charging port, manufacturers can develop products that are completely sealed. Wireless charging also supports plans to introduce portless connectivity. The outer shells of high-end wearable devices have exemplified this design direction.
- Specific Medical Applications: Researchers in the fields of medicine and engineering are capitalizing further on the advantages of wireless charging by exploring specific medical applications. Currently, some ongoing studies and experiments are testing the feasibility of using inductive charging to power implants, sensors, and other embedded medical devices to eliminate the need for invasive corded charging.
- Dynamic Charging for Vehicles: Designers of futuristic smart cities have taken into account the widespread use of electric vehicles in their design considerations. Of course, the downside of this mode of transportation is that they need to be recharged for a considerable amount of time. Some vehicles take up to 4 hours to fully charge. Designers have considered integrating inductive charging coils on roads that would continuously charge these electric vehicles while in motion to resolve this issue.
Limitations And Disadvantages Of Wireless Charging:
- Not Entirely Wireless: A wireless charger still requires a cable. This is especially true for portable devices. More specifically, peripheral accessories such as a charging pad need to be connected to a power source. A power bank that can deliver a charge through induction charging is an exemption. However, the fact remains that plugging in a power outlet. Freedom of movement remains limited.
- Charging Via Cable is Still Faster: Limited charging speed is a critical disadvantage of wireless charging. The entire technology remains less efficient than wired charging. More specifically, in situations in which a user needs to charge up his or her device in as fast as possible due to time constraints, charging via a cable and using a brick that supports fast charging is still the best option.
- Higher Cost and Price Points: Devices that use this technology as an add-on feature are relatively expensive because of the added manufacturing cost and complexity. Furthermore, they will also need specialized accessories such as a charging pad or mount that are considerably pricier than cable chargers. The technology requires drive electronics and coils in both the device and the accessory.
- Different Technological Standards: There are different standards used in implementing inductive charging technology. Examples include the Qi standard developed by the Wireless Power Consortium, the Open Dots standard by the Open Dots Alliance, and the Rezence standard from the Alliance for Wireless Power. The existence of these standards means that not all devices are compatible with inductive chargers.
- Mobility: It is the signals transmitted between your mobile phones and the charger which are wireless, but you still need to plug the charging station into a wall. So, it makes the charging stations non-portable. Additionally, you must keep the device on the pad at all times and it cannot be moved. This obviously makes it difficult to operate the phone while it is being charged.
Different Wireless Charging Standards
Two major competing organizations specify inductive and resonance charging standards, and both have their share of supporters. The more well-known one is the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), which counts Apple, Google, and Xiaomi among its members, while the AirFuel Alliance includes the likes of Dell, Duracell, Gan systems, and more. Many companies, like Samsung and Huawei, are members of both organizations.
The WPC develops and regulates the most popular wireless charging standard, Qi, which is used by most smartphone manufacturers, including Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, etc. AirFuel, on the other hand, is tying up with airports, hotels, and cafes in Europe, as well as large restaurant chains like MacDonald’s and coffee shops like Starbucks in the US, to roll out wireless charging stations at public spaces. This, many believe, might eventually help wireless charging gain wider adoption.
Wireless charging is a new technology in the world of gadgets; hence it certainly will require some time for more development to be truly wireless and also to gain popularity with all.
While comparing the pros and cons, wireless charging is convenient and is worth giving it a try.