Will Wireless Induction Chargers Replace AA Battery Chargers?

inductive chargers versus aa battery chargersInduction Chargers are offering a new kind of charging for wireless devices that use NiMH rechargeable battery technology. But is the technology advanced enough to replace standard AA battery chargers?

At first glance, it seems like total magic: new, wireless devices that can be recharged without plugging them in. All you have to do is sit them down on a plastic base and voila! They’re charging. Regardless of how tech-clueless you may be, most people know instinctively that in order to recharge a battery, metal has to touch metal in one way or another. How can energy seemingly pass “through the air” and recharge batteries?

Welcome to the world of inductive charging.

Inductive charging uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between two objects. Rather than having direct contact between two metal or copper power couplings, energy is transferred through the air, which means that you don’t have to have exposed metal surfaces that can corrode, cause a shock, or short out. For this reason, induction charging first made it on to the scene in the form of electric shavers and toothbrushes: because these gadgets frequently come in contact with water, they were ideal candidates for induction charging technology.

Now, however, we are beginning to see induction charging making its way into other consumer electronics.

For instance, “hot pads,” “hot plates,” and other flat induction chargers are now becoming available for mobile phones, digital cameras, and other mobile devices, which allow users to simply rest their gadget on the flat surface in order to get a charge — no plugging or unplugging needed. Even bigger news is the relatively new Energizer Induction Charger for the Wiimote. Wii gamers are particularly excited about this new induction charger, since it allows them to charge the batteries without having to take them out of the Wiimote.

Considering that gadgets like the Wiimote, as well as many digital cameras, camera flashes, and the Flip video camera all use AA batteries, people are beginning to wonder if AA battery chargers are soon going to disappear?

Not likely.

While induction charging is a great idea and solves a lot of issues with battery charging, nothing is going to unseat the popularity and use of AA battery chargers. All of the most reliable product reviews of the new Energizer Induction Charger indicate that, while the charger is indeed a convenient option, the charging power falls way short of what you would get if you used a AA battery charger instead. A great review from IGN says it best:

“Transmitting energy wirelessly, as you can imagine, is not nearly as fast or effective as transferring it through a physical connection, as such, it takes a significantly longer time to fully recharge the battery pack. To fully charge an empty battery, a Wiimote has to be placed on the charger for somewhere between six and eight hours; a pretty lengthy bit of time, no doubt.”

So, the question remains: what is most important when choosing a battery charger? Is the average Wii gamer willing to gain the ability to quickly and easily charge their Wiimote, all while getting a weak, unreliable charge, or is it better to cycle two sets of rechargeable batteries via a AA battery charger for a longer-lasting charge, albeit with the added hassle of having to wrestle with getting the Wiimote open?

Is it better to sit your digital camera down on an inductive charger and get an hour’s worth of battery life, or take an extra 5 minutes to change out fresh batteries charged in a AA battery charger and get 3 or more hours of use?

The fact is, people who invest in rechargeable batteries are willing to take the extra time to change out batteries from their mobile devices. That’s the whole point of rechargeable battery technology: you’re sacrificing a bit of convenience to get reusable energy that’s good for the environment and more reliable in the long run. Inductive chargers, while futuristic and impressive in their own right, simply do not match up against the reliability of a AA battery charger. If you want to experience the “magic” of inductive charging, best to keep it in the bathroom with your electric toothbrush.

Thanks for reading our article! If you’re ready to purchase some rechargeable batteries, battery chargers, or any other electronics accessory, then visit the Electronics Warehousewebsite and use promo code EWBLOG at checkout for 10% off your entire order, plus FREE shipping Australia wide!

5 Responses to “Will Wireless Induction Chargers Replace AA Battery Chargers?”

  1. 1 Terry Jan 26th, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    We are a church that goes through a ton of AA in our audio systems.
    We have tried rechargeable AA in the past with poor results do to human factor – not charging every week, losing the expensive batteries, not knowing which are charged, taking them in and out of mics, etc…
    My thought is wouldn’t it be great to leave the batteries in their wireless mics and body packs, then just place each mic onto a charging pad and then pick them up next Sunday morning?!? We don’t have to have a fast charge, they would be setting for days at a time.

    Is this available anywhere as of yet? Thanks for considering!

  2. 2 electronicswarehouse Jan 31st, 2011 at 2:04 am

    Yes I can see rechargeable batteries could be a problem in a large organistaion like a church where many people would be responsible for the batteries it could get messy.
    The best way would be to have 1 person responsible for them who would make sure they are charged up who is also responsible for setting up the sound system.
    At home these problems do not occur as I am the one who ensures they keep charged up. I guess it does take a bit of work to make sure they are charged up and ready to go but the small amount of work to do this can save you thousands of dollars and well worth the little extra effort.
    As to the induction chargers I am not aware of any yet available for regular consumer type AA style batteries yet. I know they are available for things like Wii remotes etc.
    The downside to them at the moment is their capacity is fairly limited. The Wii remote batteries are only 1600 mAh compared to Vapex AA’s that are 2900 mAh which will last for nearly twice as long.


  3. 3 TwoReplies Apr 21st, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    I totally agree that inductive charging takes more power and longer to charge than a physical connection… BUT there’s no reason inductive chargers CAN’T have the best of both worlds.
    Devices could easily have both inductive charging coils built in for those who like the convenience, AND still have contacts for when a faster charge is necessary.

    Additionally, induction charging could even be taken the other way… to provide the convenience to rechargeable battery users (when efficiency isn’t a priority).
    Duracell, Energizer and other battery manufacturers already make their rechargeable batteries pretty smart in the design and construction of the guts inside… but what if the outer shell itself was built with the inductive coils found in inductive charging devices?
    Personally, I’d LOVE to just drop a handful of dead rechargeable AA’s into a Energizer “charging bowl” and have those batteries be wirelessly charged. (Instead of having to constantly manage a collection of 20 or so batteries swapping them in and out of a charger’s four slots.)

    Such inductive charging rechargeables would be excellent in that perhaps you could also keep them IN the actual device while inductively charging. Imagine keeping a flashlight in your “charging bowl” and always knowing that if a blackout occurs, the batteries in it will be 100% fresh.

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