Everything You Need to Know About Wireless EV Charging – WrEVs

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Have you ever forgotten to plug in your phone before bed and woke up to a dead battery? We’ve all been there. Now imagine if you could just set your phone on a wireless charger instead. No cables, no fumbling around in the dark, just smooth wireless charging. This technology already exists for our phones and other devices, and it’s starting to make its way to electric vehicles too!

Wireless EV charging aims to make re-charging your electric car as simple as parking over a charging pad. As more automakers roll out electric models, wireless charging could be the key to convincing folks to go electric by taking away the plug-in headache.

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about wireless EV charging and its potential to truly unleash the electric future. Let’s dive in!

What is Wireless Car Charging and How Does It Work?

how wireless-ev-work
PluglessPower.com

It is also known as inductive charging, and it works by transferring electricity between a charging station and a receiver installed in the vehicle using electromagnetic fields.

Here are the key players that enable the wireless magic:

  • Charging pad: This power transmitter pad is installed on the ground where you park your EV. It creates an alternating electromagnetic field via copper coils inside.
  • Receiver: Your EV has a receiver coil module installed underneath. When parked over the charging pad, the receiver coil can take power from the electromagnetic field.
  • Inverter: This device converts the alternating current from the grid to the required frequency for wireless transmission.
  • Rectifier: It transforms the alternating current back to the direct current for charging the car’s battery.

It’s similar to how wireless phone chargers work, just amped up to handle an EV battery’s needs! The main benefit? No cords, no connectors, no hassle – just park and charge!

When is Wireless Car Charging Coming?

Wireless EV charging is already here in limited form, but widespread adoption is still a few years away.

BMW, Mercedes, and a few other automakers currently offer wireless charging pads as an option on select models. However, the charging power is still quite low compared to plug-in systems.

More powerful, next-gen charging pads capable of 11-22 kW power transfer are nearing production readiness. These will offer charging speeds on par with Level 2 plug-in stations.

Companies like WiTricity, Momentum Dynamics, and Electreon are working on rolling out wireless charging infrastructure. Analysts predict that by 2025, over 100,000 Level 2 wireless charging spots will be installed worldwide, concentrated in Europe, the US, and China.

As the technology improves and costs come down, wireless charging for EVs could leap from early adoption to a standard feature in the next 5-10 years. Exciting times are ahead!

Does It Actually Work? We Tested It to Find Out

Wireless EV charging sounds futuristic, but does it actually deliver on the promise? It was time to put it to the test.

I test-drove an EV model equipped with wireless charging capability. After driving around for 50 miles and depleting the battery to 20% charge, it was time to power back up.

I pulled into a designated wireless charging spot and carefully aligned the charge port area under my car with the pavement pad. A light on the dash lit up to confirm I was parked correctly for charging.

After grabbing a quick lunch, I returned to find the battery back up to 80% charge in an hour! Just like magic, it had charged wirelessly while I was away.

Overall, it performed as advertised with no issues. The only caveats were needing to be very precise when parking over the charging pad, and the slower power transfer rate compared to plug-in rapid charging.

However, the convenience factor was undeniable. Not having to deal with cables, connectors, and getting your hands dirty plugging in makes wireless charging a tempting upgrade. The technology works, and as it keeps improving, so will user experiences.

Benefits of Wireless EV Charging

Ditching those cables offers some compelling perks. Here are some of the top benefits of wireless EV charging:

  • Convenience: Just park over the charging pad – no cables or wall boxes are required to charge your EV!
  • Easy integration: Wireless charging pads can be seamlessly built into parking spots, so EV charging infrastructure can blend into our surroundings.
  • Weatherproof: No more wet, dirty charging ports in rain or snow. Wireless charging works in all weather conditions.
  • Accessibility: Lower barriers for charging since you don’t have to get out of your car to connect any cables.
  • Autonomous readiness: Self-driving cars will need self-charging abilities which wireless charging enables.
  • Reduced maintenance: Without physical connectors being plugged in thousands of times, there’s less wear and tear and risk of port damage.

Wireless charging clearly has a lot going for it! It solves many pain points of conventional plug-in charging.

Wireless Charging in the United States Market

wireless charging intrest graph
SFMagazine

The US is one of the biggest potential markets for wireless EV charging adoption. Here are some key facts about the state of wireless charging in America:

  • California, Washington, and Massachusetts currently have the most wireless charging spots installed.
  • Major deployments are focused on taxi/ride-hailing fleets as they rack up high mileage and frequent charges.
  • The Department of Energy is funding research on next-gen wireless systems capable of 50-150+ kW charging.
  • Legislation like the EV Freedom Act aims to build a national wireless charging network spanning highways.
  • WiTricity, Momentum Dynamics, Electron, and Hevo are key American players pushing wireless charging tech.

While Europe currently leads in wireless charging adoption, the US market is ramping up quickly thanks to government initiatives, private investment, and American innovation.

Wireless EV Charging Infrastructure Costs

What will it take to build out a ubiquitous wireless charging network? Let’s look at the costs involved:

  • Charging pads: $2,000 – $4,000 per pad based on power output. Higher output means higher costs.
  • Installation: $10,000 – $20,000 for wiring, construction, permits, and labor per charging spot.
  • The system costs: $1,500 – $2,500 for supporting electronics like inverters and grid connections.
  • Maintenance: $500 – $1,000 per year for monitoring, repairs, and operations.

For a full charging stall with an 11-22 kW wireless pad, the upfront cost is around $30,000-50,000. That’s 2-3X more than plug-in charging stations for now.

But as technology advances and scales up, wireless should hit cost parity with plug-in systems within 5-7 years, making large-scale deployment financially feasible.

Wireless Charging Options for Electric Vehicles

Wireless charging capability is starting to roll out across many EV models. Here are some of the top options currently available:

  • BMW: Offers wireless charging as an option on most models including the i3, iX3, i4, and iX. Charging power up to 11 kW.
  • Mercedes: Wireless charging is available on EQS, S-Class, and EQE models. Up to 11 kW power output.
  • NIO: Chinese automaker focusing on battery swapping, but also offers 7 kW wireless charging on their ES8 and ES6 models.
  • Hyundai/Kia: Have demonstrated wireless charging tech but are not commercially available yet on models like Ioniq 5 and EV6.
  • Tesla: No native wireless charging capabilities yet, but some third parties offer aftermarket receiver retrofits.

More automakers are jumping on board with each new model generation. Within 5 years, wireless charging should be a common feature alongside plug-in charging for EVs.

Wireless Charging Challenges and Limitations for Electric Vehicles

While promising, wireless EV charging has hurdles to overcome before it’s a seamless experience:

  • Parking alignment: The charging pads have a sweet spot that requires precise parking to connect properly. Missing the spot means no charging.
  • Power transfer limits: Current systems max out at around 22 kW output, much lower than ultra-fast 150+ kW plug-in chargers.
  • Efficiency: Some power is lost during the wireless transfer process, so efficiency is lower compared to plug-in charging.
  • Cost: The charging pads and supporting systems are still very expensive to manufacture and install.
  • Safety concerns: High-powered electromagnetic fields require careful shielding and monitoring to prevent interference issues.

However, engineers are already tackling these challenges with solutions like automated parking guidance, advanced power control methods, safer magnetic coil designs, and more.

Which is Better: Wireless Charging or Wired?

When it comes to EV charging, which method reigns supreme – wireless or plug-in? Let’s compare the pros and cons:

Wireless Charging

Pros: Convenient, no cables, weatherproof, autonomous ready

Cons: Slower charge rate, higher upfront costs

Wired Charging

Pros: Faster charging speeds available, lower infrastructure costs

Cons: Inconvenient cables and plugs, tripping hazards, weather exposure

Ultimately, it depends on your priorities and needs as a driver. For fleet or rideshare vehicles that charge frequently, wireless offers major perks. For private owners who charge at home mostly, wired charging may suffice.

Wireless is the future, but plug-in charging will co-exist for high power needs. A hybrid model letting you choose either charging method may be the best solution during this transition period.

Why is Car Wireless Charging So Slow?

Today’s wireless EV charging typically maxes out at 11-22 kW power transfer. That pales in comparison to ultra-fast 150 kW+ plug-in chargers that can nearly replenish a battery in under an hour. So what limits the speed?

  • Heat management: Higher power means more heat. Keeping the system’s coils cool enough is a challenge.
  • Alignment: Perfect alignment is required between the car and the charging pad for maximum efficiency. Misalignment causes power losses.
  • Size: Larger charging coils can transfer more power, but fitting bulky pads on vehicles is tricky.
  • Cost: High-output charging electronics are still very expensive to produce at scale.

However, early electric vehicle batteries charged even slower on wired connections. Engineers will solve these problems as wireless charging tech evolves. We could see 50-150 kW systems within the next decade that charge nearly as fast as plug-in systems.

Do Wireless Car Chargers Drain Car Batteries?

Some people worry that staying parked over wireless charging pads will actually drain their car battery if it’s already fully charged. Fortunately, that’s not the case!

The wireless charging system communicates with the car to stop power transfer once the battery hits full capacity. Modern lithium-ion batteries also stop accepting charge when full.

So once your EV battery reaches 100%, wireless charging pads automatically go into standby mode until the battery level drops again and needs more power.

The days of overcharging or “cooking” batteries are in the past. You can leave your EV parked on a wireless charging spot without any concerns about draining the battery!

What is the Future of Wireless EV Charging?

Wireless charging has come a long way quite quickly, but it’s just scratching the surface of its potential. Here’s what the future may hold:

  • Charging highways where EVs charge wirelessly while driving along electrified roadways.
  • Ultra-fast charging systems are embedded at traffic lights to top up your commute.
  • Charging pads are installed everywhere – parking garages, curbsides, and driveways – providing ubiquitous charging access.
  • Autonomous electric vehicles can find and self-charge wirelessly without any driver intervention.
  • Large-scale renewable energy integration and smarter grids enabled by wireless charging demands.

While predictions vary, wireless EV charging could enable a true tipping point where our transportation network goes fully electric in the coming decades.

The Major Players in the EV Wireless Charging Market

Who are the trailblazers pushing wireless charging forward around the world? Here are some of the big players leading the charge:

WiTricity – industry pioneer with 11 kW systems adopted by major automakers like BMW and Nissan. recently raised $34 million.

Momentum Dynamics – their automatic parking and charging robot can deliver up to 250 kW wirelessly. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Electreon – successfully tested in-road wireless charging highways in Italy, Germany, Sweden, and Israel. Now expanding to the U.S.

Plugless Power – making aftermarket wireless charging retrofit kits for owners who want to add the capability to existing EVs.

Hevo – a startup with a novel distributed architecture using small transmitters embedded in parking spots. Raised $7 million in seed funding.

These innovators are driving wireless charging forward from research to real-world systems. As they scale up deployments, costs will come down, cementing wireless charging’s role in our electric transportation future.

Will Tesla Have Wireless Charging?

The EV leader Tesla does not currently offer wireless charging capabilities on their models. However, Tesla has patented wireless charging tech in the past.

Elon Musk has also hinted they are working on extendable charging connectors to simplify plugging in, which could be a precursor to wireless charging.

There are also some third-party adapters by companies like Plugless Power that can add wireless charging to newer Tesla models.

Given Tesla’s history of embracing new technology that improves the user experience, there is a good chance they will introduce native wireless charging at some point in the coming years.

Conclusion:

In this guide, we took a complete look at the potential of wireless EV charging to transform electric vehicle infrastructure.

While still in its early stages, wireless charging offers clear benefits in convenience and accessibility that could speed up mainstream EV adoption.

As charging speeds accelerate and costs come down, wireless charging will likely spread nearly everywhere you find cars – homes, garages, businesses, curbsides, and highways.

Sure, charging cords will stick around longer for some high-power use cases. But make no mistake, the future is wireless.

So next time you hop in your EV, get excited for the day when charging takes no more effort than parking! The wireless revolution is charging ahead.

Is It Safe to Park Your Electric Car in the Garage? – WrEVs

FAQs:

How is wireless EV charging different from inductive smartphone charging?

The underlying technology is similar, but wireless EV charging requires much higher power levels, larger coils, and precise auto alignment to work efficiently. Smartphone charging only needs 5-10 watts, while EVs may need 11-22 kilowatts!

Are wireless EV charging stations available yet?

Yes, limited wireless charging stations are rolling out now around the world, though mainly targeted to taxi/fleet vehicles currently. Widespread public infrastructure is still in the early stages.

Is wireless charging bad for EV battery health?

No, wireless charging does not damage EV batteries when used properly, thanks to robust battery management systems. However, extremely high charging power could potentially degrade batteries faster over time.

Can I retrofit my existing EV with wireless charging?

Possibly! Some third-party companies offer wireless charging receiver pads that can be installed on model-specific EVs to add this capability. But native integration from automakers works best.

How safe is wireless EV charging technology?

Extensive shielding and monitoring ensure wireless magnetic fields are kept stable and safe for humans and electronics. Government safety standards also regulate exposure well below risk levels.

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