It was back in 2010 that wireless charging (inductive charging) was first demonstrated to us at a closed-door Bosch press event. It was all very hush-hush, but you could tell there was excitement in a new product that promised a whole new way at looking at keeping your tools at the ready—particularly with respect to tradesmen who work out of their trucks and vans throughout the day. Unlike many product prototypes, which often fall by the wayside waiting to be deployed to a market that is constantly changing, this one finally made it. Rebranded as the Bosch Power Ready Wireless Charging System, the Bosch inductive charging system shows promise. It was the first of its kind to hit the consumer residential or commercial construction market.
What is Wireless Charging (Inductive Charging)?
Inductive charging (or “wireless charging”) transfers energy from a power source to a battery via the use of an electromagnetic field. These batteries are the power receptacles that can either be separated from or integrated into, a tool or electronics device. Chargers in inductive systems use a coil which creates an AC (alternating current) electromagnetic field. A “receiving” induction coil in a battery, tool, or electronics device then converts that electromagnetic field back into an electrical current, charging the battery. Because these two induction coils are in close proximity, the result is that they form a sort of electrical transformer.
Inductive charging is becoming wildly popular for several reasons. One, it functions through protective “barriers”, meaning that your devices have less points of entry for water, dirt or other debris. Durability is also improved as you remove the need to constantly attach and detach batteries and battery packs. Finally, the medical community is ecstatic about inductive charging as it provides a means of recharging implanted devices without having to remove them from the body. Inductive charging is, by any definition, the future of how devices will receive energy.
The Bosch Power Ready Wireless Charging System
What we like about Bosch’s Power Ready Wireless Charging System is that it standardizes the way their drill/driver tools can be recharged in a way that provides flexibility, safety, and consistency for the user. It’s flexible because the Bosch WC18F charging frame can be used as a benchtop base station to recharge any tool equipped with a Power Ready Wireless Charging battery pack—at least any tool that can stand vertically on its battery pack (that covers most drills/drivers, and LED lights for starters).
You can also use the optional mobile holster to dock any of Bosch’s current drills or impact drivers safely while they recharge. This is perfect for mobile tradesmen who are out and about in work vans or trucks. If the place you store your tool also recharges it, then you’ll never lack for a full battery—and with Lithium-ion you don’t have to worry about the dreaded memory effect.
Components in the Bosch Power Ready Wireless Charging System
- WCBAT612 SlimPack 18V 2.0 Ah Battery
Like traditional 2.0 Ah battery packs, this battery has a 3-LED charge-level indicator and uses Bosch CoolPack technology for heat dissipation. The WCBAT620 4.0 Ah 18V Fat Pack is due out in Spring of 2015.
- WC18C Wireless Charger
This system will charge the WCBAT612 2.0 Ah battery pack to 80% in approximately 30 minutes and 100% in 50 minutes. A 5-LED charge status indicator lights up for easy identification of charge status.
- WC18F frame
This plastic accessory mounts the WC18C wireless charger to workbenches, shelves, side walls or other work surfaces, serving as a flexible and secure holder for the battery. You can also support a tool and battery when placed or mounted on a horizontal surface.
- WC18H Mobile Holster
Functioning as a complete charging and storage system, the WC18H can be mounted to any shelf or side wall for quick and convenient tool charging and storage. With it you never need to remove the battery from the tool, and it can be mounted vertically or horizontally on a workbench or in a truck or van. Three custom inserts are included to secure Bosch Compact Tough and Brute-Tough Drills, Drivers, and Impact Drivers and batteries to the charger.
Charging and Docking
Since the Bosch Wireless Charging battery packs are independent and removable—they’re not permanently affixed to their tools—there’s not much difference in how you think about the charging process. You just don’t have to remove the Bosch WCBAT612 Wireless Charging battery from the tool. Bosch claims the WC18C Wireless Charger will charge the 2.0Ah WCBAT612 battery to 80% full in 30 minutes and 100% in just 50 minutes. In my tests, I got a full recharge of a depleted battery in just under 47 minutes—I love when a company exceeds expectations! The wireless charger itself features a 5-bar LED charge status indicator that gives you a much better sense of the battery capacity than the on-battery 3-LED indicator.
Using Tools with the Bosch Power Ready Wireless Charging System
The beautiful thing about using the Bosch Power Ready system with Bosch’s existing power tools is that you don’t have any sort of learning curve. The WCBAT612 2.0 Ah Wireless slim pack is a tad thicker than the standard 2.0 Ah slim pack—nearly the size of a 4.0 Ah battery pack. It delivered a ridiculous amount of run-time, allowing me to drive hundreds of self-tapping screws to secure siding, trim, and roofing on a steel building we were constructing in Central Florida.
We were able to run the Bosch IDH182 Socket-Ready Impact Driver hard, driving screws through the thick sheet metal and into the steel structure beneath. It was quite a job, and the fact that the WCBAT612 was a tad thicker didn’t seem to register as I used the impact driver. The IDH182 felt well-balanced with this battery, and weight wasn’t noticeably different than when using the standard BAT612 or BAT 620. Overall, the convenience was an added “plus” and there aren’t a lot of negatives to report. Using other Bosch EC brushless motor tools with this system should yield results that are just as predictable and reliable.
It’s all but certain the world is moving towards this sort of technology—but, for the power tool industry, Bosch is most definitely leading the way. Whether other tool manufacturers will follow suit in the near future is uncertain, but the idea of inductive charging is something that makes a lot of sense. Bosch has certainly developed something with a lot of potential, and it will be great to see how the service industries, in particular, use this to ensure their tool batteries are constantly charged and ready to use for every call.