Charging a cellphone, for most of us, requires jamming a tiny electrical contact into the base of our phones and hoping the connection has not worn out completely, or worse, broken on either end of the connection. Believe me, having to take my iPhone to a repair guy who needs the sign-in code to fix the device is a disturbing experience.
On our boats, some of us still rely on a cigarette lighter connection on the electrical panel to enable a direct, hardwired source of current to our cellphones. However, we can eliminate all this hassle with a waterproof wireless cellphone charger for Qi-enabled devices. For those of us who are still using pre-Qi generation cellphones, it is probably time to consider upgrading to this convenient new technology.
Qi charging pads are available in a variety of different styles and colors from several manufacturers. For a marine environment, of course, our choice of charging pad needs to be guaranteed waterproof.
One popular device is the Moon Wireless Charging Pad, “the world’s smallest and thinnest” wireless charger, which measures only 2.44 inches in diameter and 0.15 inches thick. It’s so small and thin that the Moon charger looks more like a shot glass coaster than an electrical device.
The Moon charger is rated waterproof IP67, produces no heat and features “foreign object protection,” which simply means it will not try to charge or magnetize your winch handle, handheld GPS or Rolex if it comes to rest on the unassuming little disk. What’s more, the bottom of the pad has a non-slip surface, making it a good choice for a nautical environment. At only $29.99, this is a hard deal to beat.
The Scanstrut ROKK Waterproof Wireless Charger offers both 12-volt and 24-volt charging for portable devices. Designed specifically for sailing craft, powerboats and recreational vehicles, the ROKK charger is rated IPX6 waterproof, meaning it can resist heavy splashes of water from waves crashing on deck.
A unique capability of the ROKK charger is its ability to be installed underneath the nav station work surface or cabin table out of sight and out of the way. ROKK offers four options for installation: a dedicated phone holder that keeps the phone stable, an embedded below-surface charging ring, a flat surface mount or a raised bezel surface mount.
For the below-surface mount, you simply install the charger under the nav table or deck and mark the charging spot. This installation is ideal for fiberglass or wood surfaces where charging space competes with other materials or activities. The other two surface mounts offer greater visibility for fellow crew and guests.
If you prefer not to use surface charging, you can purchase the optional phone mount, ensuring your cellphone will stay fixed in one place, which is critically important when sailing in inclement conditions.
Whichever brand or model of Qi wireless charger you select, make sure the entire surface of the unit exposed outside the cabin is rated at least IPX6 waterproof. The thin power cable should be sealed, not removable, where it connects with the charging surface, protecting the unit from water ingress. Price is always important, but considering the relatively low cost of these devices, we can demand the best quality in order to protect our most frequently used communication link.