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What is Inductive Charging?

M. McGee
Updated May 16, 2024
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Inductive charging is a method of moving power wirelessly. A power-generating source system is placed near a power storing or power-transferring system. An electromagnetic field is generated between the two objects, and power moves from one system to the other. Inductive charging is a common way of moving power from a main system to a subsystem, such as the power grid to a local transformer. It may also work on a smaller scale, allowing hand-held gadgets to benefit from wireless recharging.

Regardless of the scale used, inductive charging works the same way. To start, two power systems are placed very close to one another. These power systems do not need to be exposed or connected to each other. Each of these power systems contains an electrical coil. This coil stores electricity for the device’s eventual use.

As a result of the coils’ proximity to each other, they generate a low-power electrical field that connects them. This field allows the two systems to transfer electricity as though they were connected. In general, this will result in the two power systems sharing electricity until they both have exactly the same amount of power. Since a small amount of power is lost in the transferal, this equilibrium is generally only possible when both systems are out of power.

With inductive charging, one of the devices generates power or has an external power source, and one of them doesn’t. Since one device is constantly powered, it will never run out of electricity; this is the sender. When the receiver can’t take on any more power, the sender stops sending it over. This system works around the normal problem of induction by constantly keeping the power systems full.

Induction has several advantages over standard power transferal. One of the main benefits is that it's wireless. This allows the power systems to have a modular construction, making repairs easier. Since it is wireless, the power systems may be completely enclosed, making the system air- and watertight. In the case of electric gadgets, there is no upper limit on the amount of devices that may be charged at once; this allows a single inductive charging mat to charge several items at the same time.

The main disadvantages of inductive charging are heat and power consumption. In most cases, it takes more power to inductively charge an item than charge it through normal means. This is a result of the power lost to the electrical field used to connect the coils. In addition, the process has the potential to generate a lot of heat. The amount of heat generated is an indicator of the amount of electricity being lost during the process.

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M. McGee
By M. McGee
Mark McGee is a skilled writer and communicator who excels in crafting content that resonates with diverse audiences. With a background in communication-related fields, he brings strong organizational and interpersonal skills to his writing, ensuring that his work is both informative and engaging.
Discussion Comments
By anon117220 — On Oct 09, 2010

The main omission here is that the power source has to have alternating current or the receiver will only get one spike if DC is applied to the Primary coil. So, this will not work for source power that is like a battery or capacitor unless that input power is interrupted or reversed or the field hitting the secondary will not vary. It is the varying field that induces the energy into the secondary.

By anon117090 — On Oct 09, 2010

I am wondering if the human body can be part of this system. I once had a friend whose little electric train stopped running. He tried everything but it wouldn't move. I put my finger on the rail and that train started toward my finger. Is that power conduction?

I can also set a styrofoam cup on the table and move it around without ever touching it. Just move my hand close to it and keep shifting my hand.

It would be interesting to know more about this.

By entrepreneur — On Oct 09, 2010

@analytic It is not as seamless of a consumer-experience as it should be, but you can set up a inductive charging station for yourself. There are third-party companies that sell charging mats as well as replacement battery-covers for many devices. You simply replace your original battery cover with the new one and you have your induction charging station... Of course it would be ideal if these systems were built directly into our gadgets - we are going to have to wait longer for that.

By analytic — On Oct 09, 2010

I am surprised that the use of an induction charging mat (or charging pad) has not caught on by now. I would have thought that consumers would love the ease of just dropping a gadget on the charger without having to worry about annoying cables and adapters.

It is time for the electronic gadget industry to come together and decide upon a standard so that we could all benefit from inductive power.

M. McGee
M. McGee
Mark McGee is a skilled writer and communicator who excels in crafting content that resonates with diverse audiences....
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