As I wrote in “Are Induction Cooktops Worth It?”, wife and I recently rented out a beautiful new apartment. One of the perks of our new home is a Bosch induction cooktop.
Before we moved in, I’d been cooking on an electric stovetop for years. So it took me a little research to find out how an induction cooktop works, and how to make the most of it for my home cooking.
When I research a topic, I have a couple of techniques that help me find out what questions people are asking the most frequently on it. Curiously enough, a question that not that few home cooks were asking about induction cooktops was…
Can you charge your phone on an induction cooktop?
Don’t try to charge your phone on an induction cooktop. If you do, you risk damaging your phone beyond repair. Wireless chargers are designed to send power to your phone based on a specific voltage and frequency. An induction cooktop can easily send higher voltage at a different frequency, causing permanent damage to your phone.
“Jim, are you sure you did your research well this time? I mean… Why would folks even ask that question,” some of you are probably thinking.
The question makes more sense that it seems at first glance.
Induction cooktops and wireless phone chargers are based on the same technology. Alternating current is passed through a copper coil. As Danish physicist Hans Christian Ørsted discovered in 1820, a moving electric charge creates a magnetic field.
The magnetic field that induction cooktops and wireless phone chargers create fluctuates in strength as the alternating current keeps changing amplitude. This is where they start to differ in application and use.
In the case of an induction cooktop, the oscillating magnetic field produces an electrical current in your frying pan or pot. This current flows through the resistance of the cookware and results in resistive heating. Simply said, an induction cooktop heats ferromagnetic cookware from the inside.
Phones and wireless chargers are different. Induction-compatible phones have a copper coil of their own called the “receiving coil.” The oscillating magnetic field produced by the wireless charger also produces an alternating electric current in the receiving coil of your phone. Your phone then converts this into direct current using a rectifier—and uses it as energy to charge its battery.
The simple truth why you shouldn’t charge your phone on your induction cooktop is that what works for your frying pans and pots may completely destroy your phone’s inner parts. The voltage and frequency that your induction cooktop emits are most probably not the ones your phone was built to withstand.
If you do insist on trying this trick (despite the risk of damaging your phone beyond repair), set your cooktop to the lowest heat and keep your phone at a maximum distance from the induction plate—bringing it closer slowly and gradually until it starts to charge. Keep in mind that the longer you keep doing this for, the more damage you risk to inflict on your phone.
But why take the risk when you can simply watch other people doing it? Ah, the perks of modern-day life!
Here’s a clip of someone charging their iPhone X using their Siemens induction cooktop:
Are Induction Cooking and Wireless Charging Safe?
The short answer is that induction cooking and wireless charging are generally safe.
How safe you think they are will depend on what you think about exposure to electromagnetic fields.
As with many other technological innovations, studies on the health effects of electromagnetic fields have been generally inconclusive.
Electromagnetic fields are nothing new. The Earth itself has a magnetic field. It makes magnets work and birds use it to intuit direction as they fly and navigate in the sky.
Radio waves (AM and FM) are a type of man-made electromagnetic field. Mobile networks and Wi-Fi routers work using radio frequencies to send signals between transmitting and receiving devices. Electromagnetic fields are generated by direct current (DC) power systems, which most trains and subways use.
At the same time, if you are sensitive to electromagnetic fields, you should pay caution. For example, anything that produces an electromagnetic field can interfere with pacemakers. Which is why it’s recommended that people with pacemakers keep a distance of at least 60 centimeters (2 feet) from induction hobs and wireless chargers.
Is Wireless Charging Bad for Your Phone’s Battery?
Contrary to popular belief, wireless charging is actually better for your phone’s battery and can help to extend your phone’s battery life.
The reason is in the way most people charge their phones. People who use a charging cable usually charge their phones once a day. People who use wireless chargers, on the other hand, tend to “top up” their phone’s battery continuously throughout the day by leaving it on the wireless charging pad.
Charging your phone’s battery mid-drain is actually better for its lifespan than charging it full-drain. Users of wireless chargers are more likely to charge their phones mid-drain whereas users of charging cables like me are more likely to charge their phones once or twice a day.
A final thing that affects your phone’s battery life is whether or not you stop charging it once it’s full. Wireless chargers do this automatically—unlike charging carbles, which you need to remove manually.
All in all, wireless charging is better for your phone’s battery. As long as that charging doesn’t happen on your induction cooktop 🙂 .
The Bottom Line
Theoretically, you could charge your phone on your induction cooktop. But both in theory and in practice, you risk damaging it beyond repair.
Don’t try this at home. Some have succeeded, others have needed to buy a new phone. Which side of the coin you end up on is not something that you can easily predict or control.
Yes, it’s true that both induction cooktops and wireless phone chargers are based on the same technology and laws of physics. But there’s a difference between heating up water in a pot as quickly as possible and charging a complicated piece of technology like a modern-day phone.