Inductive charging uses the electromagnetic field to transfer energy between two objects. A charging station sends energy through inductive coupling to an electrical device, which stores the energy in the batteries. Because there is a small gap between the two coils, inductive charging is one kind of short-distance wireless energy transfer.

The other kind of charging, direct wired contact (also known as conductive charging or direct coupling) requires direct electrical contact between the batteries and the charger. Conductive charging is achieved by connecting a device to a power source with plug-in wires, such as a docking station, or by moving batteries from a device to charger.

Induction chargers typically use an induction coil to create an alternating electromagnetic field from within a charging base station, and a second induction coil in the portable device takes power from the electromagnetic field and converts it back into electrical current to charge the battery. The two induction coils in proximity combine to form an electrical transformer.

Greater distances can be achieved when the inductive charging system uses resonant inductive coupling.


Inductive charging carries a far lower risk of electrical shock, when compared with conductive charging, because there are no exposed conductors. The ability to fully enclose the charging connection also makes the approach attractive where water impermeability is required; for instance, inductive charging is used for implanted medical devices that require periodic or even constant external power, and for electric hygiene devices, such as toothbrushes and shavers, that are frequently used near or even in water. Inductive charging makes charging mobile devices or Electric Vehicles more convenient; rather than having to connect a power cable, the unit can be placed on or in close proximity to a charge plate.

 In the Electric Vehicle industry it has been suggested that standardized inductive charging could minimize problematic cabling and connective infrastructure.


One disadvantage of inductive charging is its lower efficiency and increased ohmic (resistive) heating in comparison to direct contact. Implementations using lower frequencies or older drive technologies charge more slowly and generate heat for most portable electronics; the technology is nonetheless commonly used in some electric toothbrushes and wet/dry electric shavers, partly for the advantage that the battery contacts can be completely sealed to prevent exposure to water. Inductive charging also requires drive electronics and coils that increase manufacturing complexity and cost.

Newer approaches diminish the transfer losses with ultra thin coils, higher frequencies and optimized drive electronics, thus providing chargers and receivers that are compact, efficient and can be integrated into mobile devices or batteries with minimal change.

 These technologies provide charging time that are the same as wired approaches and are finding their way into mobile devices rapidly. The Magne Charge system used in the GM EV-1, Chevy S-10 EV and Toyota RAV4 EV vehicles employed high-frequency induction to deliver high power at an efficiency of 86% (6.6kW power delivery from a 7.68kW power draw).

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