What Is a Charger? Definition, Usability, Types, FAQs, and More!

Nowadays, a charger is an essential element of life. Especially when it comes to those electronic devices and equipment that are part of our daily activities, such as cell phones and computers.

what is a charger
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With the passing of time and technological advances, chargers have evolved, there are different power outputs and shapes and sizes, it is now possible to charge our mobile devices without having to use cables and the charging time is getting faster and faster.

But do you know how they work?

If the answer is no, you’ve come to the right place!

Here we explain how chargers work, what types exist, and share with you a bit of their history.

What Is a Charger?

Simply put, a battery charger – or simply charger – is a device used to supply an electric current in the opposite direction of the discharge current, to a battery or rechargeable cell to restore its energy charge.

The charging process includes the voltage or current at a certain time and level, which depends on the size and type of battery to be charged.

History Of Chargers

The invention of the battery is one of the most important events in history. Thanks to it, we can perform many of the activities we do today. 

The first battery that was invented in history was in the 19th century, by the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta. Who, after performing some experiments, declared the invention of the battery, which caused a revolution in the world of physics and electricity. 

After the invention of the battery, it was very important to take steps to develop battery chargers, which have been created with different designs, shapes, and powers depending on the use to be given to them.

Do you remember the universal clamp charger that was so popular around the world in its day? 

These were one of the first models designed to charge devices with removable batteries, such as cell phones.

Then, designs with uniquely shaped charging ports began to be manufactured: round, flat, long, and short, of which there were all kinds of models and specifications, so they were not compatible with each other.

When audio and video devices such as MP3 and MP4 became popular, attention began to focus on data transfer between different devices, and a smaller “Mini USB” type charging socket was created.

These began to be widely used in digital cameras, cell phones, mobile hard drives, and other electronic products.

The next generation to the “Mini USB” is the “Micro USB”. It is also known as the “fast charging charger”, which is a type of charging port that is smaller, faster in data transfer, and more durable. It can recover at home charge by 60% in the first 30 minutes of being plugged in.

The latest innovations are the Wireless chargers for cell phones. They have an electromagnetic induction principle, with which it is no longer necessary to use cables as in conventional chargers.

The most interesting thing about looking back at the history of chargers is that they are becoming more efficient, faster, and easier to use.

Function Of Chargers

Chargers have three key functions, which make up the charging cycle: 

Carrying the charge to the battery.
Optimizing the rate of charging.
And finally, knowing when to end the charging process.

Some simple chargers are designed to disconnect manually at the end of the charge cycle, while others have temperature and voltage sensing circuits accompanied by a microprocessor that determines the state of charge and automatically shuts off at the end of the charge.

How Does a Charger Work?

To understand how a charger works, it is important to understand that a battery works by converting its stored chemical energy into electrical energy. 

When its electrolyte level is depleted, the charger is the device responsible for supplying the direct current (DC) needed to activate the electrolyte used in the battery. 

The entire charging process is focused on optimizing the charging rate and when to stop charging.

A charger’s charge cycle should end once the battery reaches the energy level for which it was designed. However, standard chargers do not have the ability to know when the charge has reached 100%, so they continue to supply power to the battery. 

When this happens, the battery begins to release that extra energy in the form of heat which directly affects its lifespan.

It is important to keep in mind that chargers are always manufactured for a specific battery, taking into account the amount of current it will provide and the time it will take to charge.

For example, modern devices such as electric vehicles, cell phones, and laptops use lithium-ion batteries, which last a long time if charged with the correct charger.

This is why manufacturers recommend using the same brand chargers to charge specific brands of batteries.

Types Of Chargers

It is connected via a USB cable to an external device, such as a cell phone, tablet, or digital camera.

Chargers can be classified by their charging circuit, capacities, and performance. Some of the well-known chargers are USB, Powerbanks, Smart, and Wireless.

Below we take a look at them and some others that you may haven’t considered before:

Timer chargerThe output current of such a charger is cut off after a predetermined time. It is common to find such chargers for sale together with a battery pack.
Maintenance ChargerA trickle charger is a device designed to charge at the rate of self-discharge. A battery can be left on this charger indefinitely, maintaining its charge without overheating from excess power.
Smart ChargerThe smart charger controls the battery voltage, temperature, and the time it takes to charge. This provides an adequate charging current at each moment.
Pulse chargerSome chargers use pulse charging technology in which a train of DC pulses is applied to the battery, whose rise time, width, frequency, and amplitude are very precisely controlled. 
Single ChargerA single charger is designed with lead-acid technology that does not change its output current according to the battery charging time. 
Wireless chargerThis is a platform that, plugged into the mains, is capable of electromagnetic induction charging an electronic device. You will not need a cable connecting the charger and the device you charge.
USB chargerThe USB charger is a charging device, which has at one end a plug to connect it to the home network and at the other end, one or more USB output connection ports.
Portable charger or Power BankThe chargers are portable external batteries that are used to charge phones and various modern electronic devices, such as Smartphones like iPhones or other devices like Tablets, e-books, speakers, and smartwatches.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wrap Up

We probably haven’t been thinking a lot about how important the charges are. But after this article, I’m sure you may start recalling what you have been doing wrong when charging your devices.

If you want to make your machines, appliances, smart devices, etc, last more, make sure you use the correct chargers before it’s too late.

PS: As a recommendation, a smart charger can charge a battery up to 85% in less than an hour, so this device could help you when you’re in a hurry.

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Alberto Araujo
Alberto Araujo

Alberto Araujo is a former tech support professional that had a change of heart and now aims to write top-notch tech content for his readers. Writer, digital nomad, tech-geek and hunger for knowledge, that’s how you can describe him. If you want to learn about technology, building PCs, and software applications to make your life easier, his content is for you.

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