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What is a Battery Charging Station?

By Summer Banks
Updated May 16, 2024
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A battery charging station is a unit that provides electrical or solar power for more than one device with portable batteries. Units are typically used with laptop computers, mobile phones, and mp3 players. Connection to the battery charging station may be made with a universal serial bus (USB) port.

Electrical charging stations traditionally plug into the wall for electrical power. Power is then distributed to several different portable devices, based on the number of outlets provided. Converters may be needed for each device being charged on the station. For instance, one mp3 player may connect with USB, while a cell phone may require a different type of charging connector.

Solar charging stations generally use solar cells or panels to collect electricity, which is then used to charge mobile devices. A solar charging station typically offers limited charging power based on the solar cell's direct contact with sunlight. If the unit is not in direct sunlight, charging time may be extended. If no sunlight is available to power solar cells, charging may be halted and the portable device may discharge power.

In some cases, the term battery charging is used to describe an organizer for portable cell phones, smartphones, and mp3 players. These may feature shelves that allow separation, and holes in its back to allow charging cords to pass through. Standard electrical bars or outlet extension bars can be used to supply power to each charging cord. Battery charging station units typically provide one or more docking brackets, shelves, or some other form of holder to house devices.

Some eco-friendly automobiles also use charging stations to recharge electric, hydrogen, or alternative vehicle power systems. Compressed air vehicles and plug-in hybrids are two more common automobile styles that require a battery charging station or hydrogen replacement station. Quick electrical automobile charges can cause overheating of batteries due to the higher current volumes needed to push sufficient power into the battery. These quick chargers take a minimum of 10 minutes to charge, in most cases.

If alternative energy is generated with solar panels, wind turbines, or water turbines, a battery charging station may be used to collect excess power that is not used for primary electrical needs. In this case, electricity is typically stored in batteries attached to a diverter. The diverter ensures power is moved from one battery to another when a charge is complete. If a diverter is not attached, battery life may be reduced, as excess electricity often produces heat, which can damage energy storage cells.

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Discussion Comments
By titans62 — On Jul 23, 2012

I never understood exactly how the electric car charging stations worked. If I understand it correctly from this article and other things that I have read, once the charge gets low, you can just pull up to one of these places and plug your car in for it to charge. Is that right? The article says 10 minutes, but that is a minimum. How long does it take a normal car to charge at one of these places, and how much does it cost?

I think that is the biggest problem with purely electric cars right now. The batteries take a while to charge, especially from home. Once they are charged, they can only get you 40 or so miles before they die. That severely limits the places you can go with the car, and the majority of people will still need a traditional car for longer trips. I don't think most people are willing to pay upwards of 30,000 dollars for a car to run errands in. I'm sure they will be more practical someday, but not today.

By jmc88 — On Jul 23, 2012

@TreeMan - Very interesting. I might have to keep my eye out for one of those. I guess it would have to work through some sort of electromagnetic transmission. It seems like you would almost have to have a special kind of battery, though.

One of the places I am glad they have battery charging stations is at the airport. For some reason, it seems that every time I get to the airport my phone is about dead. Most of the bigger airports have areas with different sized USB plugs where you can charge your phone for free. I have also seen similar stations at amusement parks, but you have to pay to use those, I think.

I have never heard of the docking station type things that the article mentions. Is it talking about a thing that you buy for your home that stores several cell phones while they are charging? If so, I would be interesting in finding where to buy one of those. We have 4 cell phones in my house, and it's nearly impossible for everyone to keep track of their chargers.

By TreeMan — On Jul 22, 2012

@Emilski - I have never personally used a solar battery charging station, but my friend has a cell phone charging station that is powered by the sun. He is a hiker, and goes on trips that can last weeks or months at a time. For most of the trip, he doesn't have any sort of electrical power.

The charger he has just has a small solar panel that connects to a little USB battery charger that plugs into his phone. I would have to assume it works a bit slower than a normal charger, but it gets the job done for him.

I don't know if they have actually come out with them yet, but I remember seeing something a while back that was like a battery charging pad. Basically, you put your phone or MP3 player on the pad, and it was supposed to charge the battery without any cords. I have no idea how it worked, but it would be great to not have to worry about where your phone charger is.

By Emilski — On Jul 21, 2012

I was not aware that the technology was available to have solar powered battery chargers. That seems like it would be very handy if you were traveling or doing something like camping outdoors. I have never used a solar charger. How efficient are they? Do they work as quickly as a normal charger that is plugged into the wall, and how much do they cost?

I also remember back in the 90s when reusable batteries were popular for a while. I don't believe that they were the same type of reusable batteries that we have nowadays. With the batteries, you also had to buy a large, plastic case that served to recharge the batteries. Besides the batteries being pretty expensive, I also seem to remember that they didn't last nearly as long as regular batteries did. I figure that is why they eventually fell out of favor.

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