We charge our devices every day but most people don’t stop to consider how the electricity gets into your devices. You have probably never thought about it, but you might expect that it would be difficult to understand. This article will walk you through the journey electricity takes from the wall outlet to the charger, and ultimately to your phone or tablet.
The first stop for electricity is to leave the wall outlet and enter your charger. The electricity enters at a high voltage and the socket pins can vary depending on where you purchase your electronics.
It is important to note that the voltage of the electricity coming out of your wall socket is very high. In the USA and Canada 120V is normal, while most other countries feature 220V. These voltages are so high, that they would cause severe damage to your devices if your charger allowed it to reach your phone.
In addition to the variation in wall outlet voltages, the wall outlet pins can also vary too. If you have traveled internationally, you already know that other countries have standards for making socket plugs. Most adapters focus on American, European, British, and Australian plugs. However, there are actually many more slight variations on these standards.
Controlling the Current
As mentioned earlier, the electricity that is supplied to a wall socket generally is supplied at a high voltage. But, for an electrical appliance that has a battery, this high voltage would do serious damage over time. So, it is important for the charger to control that the voltage of the electrical current that makes it to your devices.
The transformer is the first stop for electricity that is heading from the wall to your phone. In a wall charger, the transformer generally lowers the voltage to be more suitable for charging a device. This is one of the main components of a charger that ensures that the charger will not negatively affect your battery. If you want to read more about protecting your phone’s battery, you can click here.
In addition to the transformer, X-capacitors are another stop on electricity’s journey to your phone. The X-capacitor’s job is to control electrical surges. For instance, a lightning strike can cause a surge that could damage your electronics. X-capacitors are there to limit that damage.
An electrolytic capacitor might remind you of the AA batteries that might be more familiar. However, electrolytic capacitors are not meant for long-term storage, they are designed to control high voltages. They store the energy for the short term, which will allow the charger to make sure it is supplying the proper charge to your device for maximum effectiveness.
Electricity Meets Silicon
All of these components or mounted on a printed circuit board (PCB), which are generally thought of as being green. On the other side of the PCB, you will notice that they are a lot of black chips. These components are every bit as important as the larger components on the other side.
In your charger, the integrated circuit effectively acts as the brain. It communicates with the phone to supply the correct amount of power. Phones often have fast charging protocols, so if the charger supports these protocols your phone will charge faster. If the charger doesn’t support your phone’s fast charging protocol, the phone will request a lower amount of power to ensure the power doesn’t exceed what is safe for the battery.
Electricity Meets Your Phone
After the charger optimizes the current for your device, it is ready to power your phone. Every phone has different requirements and standards for charging. Your iPhone and your friend’s Samsung Galaxy don’t expect the same amount of power when charging. This is why the integrated chip needs to communicate with a phone, but cables and ports are also involved with determining charging speeds.
Internally, the charging ports usually have their own chips that communicate with the integrated circuit to make sure the charger is properly. As you probably know, there are multiple types of USB connections. While USB-A and USB-C are both common, high-performance charges prioritize USB-C connection types. If you want to learn more about USB connection types, you can click here.
Some people don’t realize that their charging cables have a huge impact on the efficiency of your charger. Thunderbolt chargers, Lightning chargers, and high-quality USB cables have their own chips. These chips are meant to help the charger communicate with the device.
In the near future, you can expect to see charging cables that can supply 240W of power to a device. This will open the door for high-end gaming laptops to be charged by the USB-C standard. However, currently, the most powerful chargers are 100W.
What Does This Mean for You?
Hopefully, you have enjoyed the simplified explanation of how electricity gets from the wall to your device. For the most part, the average consumer doesn’t need to know about the components that make your devices work. However, it is important that you prioritize reputable devices. It might be convenient to buy a cheap charger at the convenience store, but there is a lot that goes into creating a secure charger and charger cable.
- USB Basics: Types, Speed and Why It Is So Popular
- USB-C Charger 101: All You Need to Know
- Will Apple Use USB-C Port On iPhone?
- USB-C vs Lightning: What’s the Difference?