CHARGING ALONG: TOO MANY RECHARGERS
A. Michael Noll
June 22, 2015
© 2015 AMN
It seems everything we have today – smart phones, cell phones, tablets, computers, watches, toothbrushes, cameras, vacuum cleaners – have batteries that need to be recharged. I have so many chargers all over the house – and many stored away — that I no longer remember what each charges.
The chargers are also know as power supplies. But by any name, they seem to proliferate on their own – as do the appliances that require them. Good old-fashioned batteries are used less and less. Even many flashlights use rechargeable batteries, requiring yet another charger. On a trip, a bag load of chargers goes along.
The electrical engineering behind these chargers is quite basic. In some cases, it is as simple as a transformer and a few diodes. Others are a trifle more sophisticated so that they can be used on 110 or 220 volts. In standby mode, they all consume very little electric power. Unfortunately, they all look much the same – hence all the confusion. They also mostly all produce 5 volts DC, but at differing current loads. Too much is fine – too little is not. The different plugs are a problem. The chargers used for computers usually operate at higher DC voltages and can be somewhat sophisticated, sensing when the computer is fully charged and going into a standby mode.
The electrical genius Nikola Tesla envisioned some sort of energy field that would cover the planet, delivering power wherever needed. Some variation on his idea might be the solution to recharging all our devices. An electric field would be created within our homes that could be tapped for slow trickle recharging of our devices. In close proximity, electromagnetism works well for recharging. But Tesla envisioned something over a vast area – although it only needs to work within a home or business.
Perhaps I should collect billions from greedy investors – and then just charge away into oblivion to the tranquility of my own tropical paradise island – with no computers, cellphones, or anything to be recharged.
The article really got me charged up. The return of DC seems to be Edison’s revenge over Westinghouse. Could there be a solution emerging in which wall plugs routinely provide USB-type power, ie a greater standardization of DC? The transformation from line DC could be done inside the wall box, maybe with a few options of voltage and amps.