Unbeknownst to many, it is possible to charge an EV (electric vehicle) without the use of plugs, stations, sockets, or cables. These charging technologies have been employed for years now, to charge smaller-scale devices like smartphones. The technology typically employed to achieve wireless charging is called induction charging. Here, we dig a little deeper and look at the benefits and the shortcomings of this futuristic type of charging…
What Exactly is Induction Charging and How Does it Work?
Induction charging involves transferring power through magnetic fields from a coil usually inside a pad set into the ground, to a coil inside the device that must be aligned with the one in the pad. The coil inside the device is located on the underside of the vehicle. On the EV scale, this means that the pad is usually installed in a location where the EV can park on top of it.
What are the Benefits of Wireless Charging?
- Wireless charging is considerably more convenient than wired charging. The driver of an EV need not even exit their vehicle to begin the charging process, unlike with wired charging, where a driver must exit their vehicle and interact with a charging station.
- Should the technology become more widespread, the increase in convenience of charging should drive more people to adopt EVs over ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, thus having a positive effect on the environment through the influence of EV uptake.
- The pads used in induction charging are comparatively physically featureless when compared with the charging stations used in wired charging. This reduces public realm design issues such as roadside clutter of chargers, bollards and signposts, making spaces incorporating them more adaptable. Additionally, the chances of accidental damage and vandalism are significantly reduced.
- The technology is particularly promising for home and workplace charging. These vehicles would be able to charge while parked.
The Current Obstacles of Wireless EV Charging
- The technology cannot currently charge vehicles fast enough. The speed of charge available rules out wireless charging for situations such as quick top ups while travelling on the motorway. It therefore cannot currently compete with the speed of charge offered by conventional AC charging at home DC fast charging stations.
- There are significant inefficiencies involved in induction charging. A charging pad can have an energy efficiency of as low as 60%, compared to the much more efficient cable charger that provides a near 100% efficiency of energy transfer from the source to the vehicle’s battery. Furthermore, it is ideal in induction charging for the contact between the coils in the car and the coils in the charging pad to be as close to each other as possible. The charging pad would be inset into, or installed on top of the road, resulting in inches of separation between the base of an EV and the charging pad coils. This exacerbates the inefficiency issue of induction charging for EVs.
The increase to convenience provided by wireless charging does not currently outweigh the slow charge rate and efficiency limitations of the current technology. The units available are unable to compete with DC rapid chargers. With that said, the potential benefits of wireless charging technology do warrant keeping an appraising eye on developments in the area. If you are interested in the prospect of having an EV charging hub installed for your business contact us here.
Author: Connor Clarke, Marketing Associate, econetiQ
Connor is a green-conscious content writer based in Bristol. As an advocate for clean energy solutions, Connor is dedicated to inspiring and educating people to involve themselves in the EV industry.