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How Does Fast Charging Technologies Work?

As you shop for a new device, what are your must-tick boxes? For most shoppers, the standard checks include screen size, camera, and processing power. Today, fast-changing technology is quickly becoming a standard as well. For example, who wouldn’t want a Smartphone that charges within minutes instead of hours? In our busy schedules, which we can hardly manage without devices, fast charging technology has proven invaluable. Nonetheless, before you invest in that fast charger, cable, or device, taking your time to understand the basics of how it works helps. You’ll make a more informed decision, making it easier to pick the right solution and care for them to realize the best results. Here is a quick look at how high-power car charger works to get you started.

How it works

Before we dive in, lets breakdown the basics;

  • Volts: Measure of voltage
  • Amps: Measure of current
  • Watts: Measure of electrical power

A common simplification that helps to understand how they all come together is a garden hose analogy. A volt, in this scenario, is equivalent to the pressure that pushes water through the hose. The measure of current is more like the hose’s diameter. This determines the water that can flow through. The watts are equivalent to the sprout spray you get. To sum it all, watts are a product of the amps and volts. Simply put, fast charging means that more power goes through the cable and into the battery. An example, an 18W charger could take an hour and a half to charge your phone, compared to a lower one, say 12W, which would need upwards of two hours.

The process isn’t that straightforward, though. Throwing more voltage to the battery doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll fat charge. The battery and the charge must meet the standards for the technology to work. The process uses constant current and constant voltage, broken down into phases as highlighted below.

  • Phase 1 – This phase uses constant current at a high level, but voltage increases towards the peak. At this point, more power is delivered to the battery.
  • Phase 2 – This is the saturation stage, where the voltage reaches its peak and the current drops. While checking out most devices, you’ll notice that the description tells you when the fast charging slows. Fast charging is most effective when the battery is below 50%. It also starts to diminish after passing 80% capacity. Such design is tailored to protect the battery and your device, considering the impact of the high voltage and rising heat levels.
  • Phase 3 – Trickle or topping kicks in after your battery is fully charged. At this point, the power slowly trickles in as the phone consumes the charge.

Fast charging technologies use varying techniques. For example, some manufacturers use batteries with higher C-rate, combined with materials that can withstand exposure to higher currents and temperatures. Others use batteries with multi-anode and cathode tabs. This lowers the internal resistance while increasing the current, facilitating faster charging. Regardless of the technology, though, fast charge is only effective if you use compatible solutions, including the devise, cable, and chargers.