These days it seems like everyone is cutting cords, and wireless technology is quickly becoming the standard. We’ve got wireless phones, cameras, and Wi-Fi that can deliver an Internet connection just about anywhere. So it’s only natural that scientists would turn their attention to wireless electricity at some point.
Imagine not having to plug in to get power. Or homes that don’t need to be connected to electric lines. But is it more of a sci-fi fantasy than a possible reality? Let’s find out!
Wireless Power Isn’t a New Idea
Some people may think that wireless electricity is a novel concept that has come about in the modern Internet Era. But those people would be wrong. Scientists, physicists, and engineers have been working on wireless power for over 130 years.
Nikola Tesla was among the first to toy around with the idea of creating a system that could wirelessly transmit power. His attempts lead to the creation of the Tesla coil that can produce up to a million volts of electricity. That is the amount needed to transmit electricity wirelessly. Tesla even built the now-famous Wardenclyffe Tower in 1901 with the goal of transmitting electricity from it.
Where We’re At With Wireless Electricity Today
Tesla laid a very firm groundwork for wireless electricity long ago, which begs the question “why don’t we have wireless electricity today?”
Although Tesla was very optimistic about the adoption of wireless electricity, his investors were less impressed with the way things were progressing. J.P. Morgan (who funded Tesla’s wireless electricity experiments) pulled the plug on it by defunding the project. Advancements were stopped short, and Tesla’s tower was demolished.
That could have been the end of Tesla’s wild notion that he could transmit electricity wirelessly, essentially for free. But it’s a concept that’s just too enticing to ignore.
Tesla himself realized that transmitting electricity through airwaves proved to be virtually impossible beyond a short distance. However, he discovered the ground was a much better conductor for his methods. Using metal rods buried in the ground, Tesla claimed he was able to power on lightbulbs that were hundreds of feet away from his lab.
Scientists today think wireless electricity is possible, but few agree with Tesla’s approach. They say magnetic induction and microwaves are the keys to transmitting energy wirelessly. Researchers around the world, including a group from Stanford University, are working towards putting the final pieces of the puzzle in place.
Wireless electricity transmission is actually being used on very small scales right now. For several years, physicists have been able to power multiple devices wirelessly without a direct line of sight for up to 30 feet. Furthermore, the devices being charged were in motion. This was achieved through magnetic resonance coupling, feedback resistors, and voltage amplifiers.
For researchers at Stanford, distance isn’t the issue as much as the amount of power being transmitted. Once they are able to transmit larger quantities of energy and produce wireless power receivers, the researchers believe it is possible for wireless electricity to be used in real-world settings. And it’s a possibility that isn’t far away. There are ongoing wireless electricity projects that hope to produce tangible results by 2031.
The Advantages of Wireless Power Transmission
Is wireless power something that’s even worth pursuing? Is it worth the hassle to completely transform the electric system across the U.S.? The short answer is – yes.
No More Cords
The most obvious and immediate advantage of wireless power transmission is getting rid of the tangle of cords that keep devices shackled to an electric outlet. They would no longer be needed since electricity is delivered through the air. Not only is it more aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also safer with fewer cords around.
Wireless Power Transmission Could Decrease Electricity Costs
One of the biggest advantages of wireless power transmission is its promise of free electricity. While electricity wouldn’t be free (it still has to be generated after all), there’s a good chance it would cost less eventually.
The infrastructure for buildings would cost less if electricians didn’t need to wire the whole property. Maintenance of the electric system would be reduced, which decreases the expense of delivering electricity. There would even be less need for technicians to serve as meter readers.
Implementing new technology typically costs more upfront, but as it’s adopted and becomes more widespread prices tend to decrease even lower than they started.
Electricity Could Reach More Places
It’s hard to believe, but there are still many places on this Earth where electricity isn’t readily available. Getting electricity to some structures is extremely difficult due to lack of infrastructure, environmental challenges or both. If electricity can be transmitted through the air it would bring power to millions of people throughout the world.
Electric Cars Could Charge as They Drive
Another major invention of the last century was electric vehicles (EVs). Despite misgivings, demand for electric cars has steadily increased in recent years as concerns over climate change and gas prices have risen. If wireless electricity transmission were possible electric vehicles could charge as they are driven. How far an EV can go on a charge would be a non-issue.
Less Toxic Waste
Disposable batteries are serious pollutants. In the U.S. alone, almost 3 billion batteries are thrown away each year. The toxic materials inside can leak out and contaminate the soil or water. With wireless power, it’s possible to develop batteries that can be recharged over and over again while in use, thus greatly reducing the number of batteries that need to be made and eventually discarded.
While we wait on wireless electricity to become a reality, Provider Power can help you tap into the electric grid with the flip of a switch. Just input your zip code to find available electricity plans in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.