Wireless Charging Is a Disaster Waiting to Happen

We crunched the numbers on just how inefficient wireless charging is — and the results are pretty shocking

Eric Ravenscraft
Debugger
Published in
7 min readAug 5, 2020

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Wireless charging is increasingly common in modern smartphones, and there’s even speculation that Apple might ditch charging via a cable entirely in the near future. But the slight convenience of juicing up your phone by plopping it onto a pad rather than plugging it in comes with a surprisingly robust environmental cost. According to new calculations from OneZero and iFixit, wireless charging is drastically less efficient than charging with a cord, so much so that the widespread adoption of this technology could necessitate the construction of dozens of new power plants around the world. (Unless manufacturers find other ways to make up for the energy drain, of course.)

On paper, wireless charging sounds appealing. Just drop a phone down on a charger and it will start charging. There’s no wear and tear on charging ports, and chargers can even be built into furniture. Not all of the energy that comes out of a wall outlet, however, ends up in a phone’s battery. Some of it gets lost in the process as heat.

While this is true of all forms of charging to a certain extent, wireless chargers lose a lot of energy compared to cables. They get…

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Eric Ravenscraft
Debugger

Eric Ravenscraft is a freelance writer from Atlanta covering tech, media, and geek culture for Medium, The New York Times, and more.