What are the limitations to inductive charging? Why can’t we charge mobile computers or even electric vehicles like this?

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What are the limitations to inductive charging? Why can’t we charge mobile computers or even electric vehicles like this?

In: Physics
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We can it’s just more expensive for the electronics needed for high power switching, and very sensitive to alignment and distance. And if you put a piece of metal in the way you get an inductive heater instead of a charger which makes it harder to build around. That and they are a bit inefficient especially when misaligned. Inefficiency at high power means a waste of power for one, but also potentially kilowatts of heat being generated somewhere. Though there are different research projects working on the alignment problem.

Like overall inductive charging is -less- convenient than wired charging, and more expensive. If you have something that needs sealed it makes sense, but for phones and laptops it’s more of a gimmick. Like sure you can just place your phone on a charging pad, wich may make sense in a car phone dock but what do you do if you want to still use your phone while it’s charging?

So we’re getting closer, but it’s just not quite at the point where it’s useful enough and cheap enough to be widely supported and standard enough that having a wireless charging dock in your car will be as common as having usb ports are nowdays.

A few car brands (BMW for example) already talking about it beeing the future (and for sure working on it). And I’m sure there are already some prototypes out there.

As the others have said, the only real advantage of inductive charging is its ability to deliver power across non-conductive barriers – whether that is a rubber and composite enclosure or a conductive lead hanging in the air. There are fairly few use cases where that capability justifies the lower efficiency and potential safety implications of inductive charging.

The ideal use case would be an electric toothbrush – damp environment with high risk of contamination (toothpaste), low power, free choice of materials, plenty of time to charge between uses, and you can design whatever sort of cheap, custom dock you want. Any other solution requires compromising the seal on the toothbrush or leaving exposed contacts somewhere on the body. Makes best use of the strengths of inductive charging while being affected by none of its weaknesses.

A mobile computer – laptop, tablet, or phone – is on the other end of the spectrum. Devices aren’t generally kept in wet or dirty environments, they require middling to substantial power, their materials are limited by certain market expectations and structural needs, fast charging is preferred, and on almost every occasion they would be charging, they could just as easily be plugged in.

An electric bicycle might be a use case as well. Consider a elementary school or a college where you have a small fleet of electric bicycles available to the student body. You might have a battery sealed into the frame, and a special plastic pylon onto which an inductive charger can clamp in a specific configuration and orientation. This allows even incompetent or careless users to charge the bikes simply by returning them to a rack, without having to deal with mangled/contaminated/jammed up charging ports or potentially exposing the contacts searching fingers.