• Ultimate Charging Station Guide

    The Ultimate Guide to Phone Charging Stations


    With so many different designs and models of phone charging stations now available across the world, trying to understand the perfect model for you can be quite a daunting task. Should it be free, or should we charge customers? Do we need secure lockers, or can phone sit unsecured? How big should it be? What power requirements are there?

    We understand you’ve got a lot of questions, and very little literature out there to help you navigate and make an informed purchasing decision.

    Fortunately the bright minds here at Chargebar have compiled The Ultimate Guide to Phone Charging Stations – all the information you’ve ever needed and the world’s most up-to-date synposis of the global phone charging station market. Our 3 years of in-market research, knowledge and experience guides you through the different models, designs, and applications. We also analyze the various locations where a phone charging station can be installed as well as what’s required once it’s installed.

    So no matter whether you’re a University, Office Building, Airport, Hotel, or Hospital, or one of the hundreds of other out-of-home locations where a charging station can be positioned, this guide is well worth a read. Enjoy!

    Definition of a ‘Phone Charging Station’

    Before you read another line, let’s make sure you’re in the right place!

    We define ‘phone charging station’ as a place for people to recharge their mobile phone or tablet battery when out-of-home. This includes your traditional out-of-home locations such as shopping centers, airports, universities, etc, as well as private locations such as office receptions, hotel rooms, and conference facilities.

    These products are typically purchased by businesses, however there is growing use of smaller phone charging stations for use in home offices and common areas of the house (e.g. living room).

    Phone charging stations are capable of charging multiple smartphones, tablets, and other devices (e.g. camera) at once.

    This definition does not include phone the myriad of consumer products available that recharge only one or two devices, such as phone docking stations for your computer, typically phone chargers, cables which have multiple connectors or any other similar paraphernalia.

    Phone charging station ‘nicknames’

    In our time, we’ve heard phone charging stations called just about everything and anything. No doubt you found us on Google with some variation of the many different nicknames going around! You’re not alone.

    Phone charging stations are still a relatively unknown concept and it seems everyone calls it something different. A firm title is yet to emerge, however phone charging station is leading the race.

    There are several variations for the word ‘phone’:

    • Mobile
    • Universal
    • Public
    • Cell Phone (US only)

    For example, you might call it a Mobile Charging Station.

    Variations for the word ‘charging’ are:

    • Charge
    • Charger
    • Recharge
    • Recharger
    • Recharging

    Continuing with the above example, you might call it a Mobile Recharge Station.

    Variations of the word ‘station’ are:

    • Kiosk
    • Machine
    • Tower
    • Vending
    • Bar

    Continuing with the above example, you might call it a Mobile Recharge Kisok.

    Foreward though, we’ll stick with Phone Charging Station.

    There’s no such thing as a ‘rapid charge’

    Around 2007 / 2008, many phone charging station manufacturers emerged offering a turbo-charged recharge speed. In most cases, this was a fabrication/marketing ploy – in fact many failed to even charge at the same speed as a wall charger.

    However, some phone charging stations were able to provide a fast charge, but only by cranking up the voltage and currently being ‘pushed’ to the mobile device. This practice was both unsafe and damaged the phone’s battery, and would only work on older model phone that were incapable of detecting that the power being supplied was too high.

    With the introduction of mobile device operating systems, the ability to recharge at full speed vanished. When a modern day smartphone or tablet is connected to any charger its operating system will first check whether the power settings are correct. If just one of the variables is incorrect, the phone will ‘throttle’ (i.e. slow down) the charging speed to a trickle, or in some cases, competely stop charging.

    If, and only if, all the power settings are correct will the device ‘pull’ the maximum possible current and charge at the same speed as a wall charger.

    Therefore, the fastest a device will ever recharge on a phone charging station the same speed as a wall charger. Think about it for a second – if Apple or Samsung could safely deliver a faster charging speed, wouldn’t they have already done it?

    Anyone telling you they have a rapid phone charging station is downright lying to you! Stay clear of these manufacturers!

    The very fastest an Apple iPhone will recharge is about 10% in 10 minutes and never any faster. We bet you’re thinking that’s pretty slow, right? Well it’s important to point out here that phone charging stations are rarely used for a 100% recharge. We’ve found that the average charging speed is about 15 minutes – enough to get a quick battery boost and get you through the rest of the day.

    Should the user pay for the service, or should it be free?

    Just when we think we’ve seen every possible style and design of a phone charging station, boom, up pops another one. So many in fact, it’s hard for us to keep track!

    Despite this, there are some common themes that have emerged and we’ve done ouru best to simplify it for you.

    There are two main applications, namely ‘Free-to-use’ and ‘User Pays’:

    1. Free-to-use

    This is where the user (i.e. the guy/girl who needs to charge his/her smartphone) is able to use the phone charging station for free.

    2. User Pays

    In this application, the user is required to pay for the service. For example, the user may require to pay $2 into the phone charging station’s coin slot, or to the proprietor of the venue.

    Phone charging stations emerged in Japan nearly a decade ago as a User-Pays concept. Back then, Nokia phones dominated the market and charging speed was dictated by the phone charging station, not the device’s operating system.

    Very quickly User Pays phone charging station companies began springing up all over the world. Entrepreneurs were attracted by the possibility of a passive income from selling electricity to battery thirsty consumers.

    Whilst there are still plenty of User Pays models still around, the Free-to-Use model has emerged as the most popular. Venues have begun to offer free device charging as a customer service initiative, similar to services like free WiFi.

    Additionally, phone charging stations offer the opportunity for retail and hospitality venues to increase foot traffic into their venue. Consumers are completely addicted to their smartphone and will actively seek out locations where they can recharge for free. Once they’re inside and charging, most will purchase something (e.g. a beer).

    The User Pays model, whilst appearing attractive initially, has several complications. With the majority of venues now installing Free-to-Use charging stations, those venues with User Pays models will soon find themselves isolated from their competition. Combined with the relatively low proportion of users who are willing to pay for a recharge, and issues with vandalism, the User Pays model is likely to become rare and uncommon.

    With or without charging cables?

    So now that you understand the different applications, let’s talk about design. you can put phone charging stations into two buckets – those which provide multiple charging cables (e.g. Apple’s iPhone 5 lightning cable) for the user, meaning that anyone can use it, and those which provide a place for people to plug their onw charging cable.

    In the vast majority of cases, phone charging stations provide charging cables for users. Why? Mainly because the proportion of people who carry around their charging cable with them is low.

    The only exception to this is international airports, where most travellers carry their charging cable with them. However, even in this scenario, there are still people who have forgotten their charger or need to charge more than one device at once (e.g. their smartphone and their tablet).

    JCDecaux, one of the world’s largest out-of-home media companies, developed the Samsung Power Pole, which provides multiple power points for users to recharge their devices and laptops at over 20 airports globally.

    Outside of airports, most venue proprietors understand people won’t carry around their cable in their pocket always (… would you?) and prefer the service is availble to the largest possible audience. This explains why phone charging station with charging cables provided are by far and away the most popular.

    Which design works best? Open Ledge, Lockers, or Power Banks?

    The next design element to address is the phone charging station type. You can boil it down to three categories – open ledge, lockers, and power banks.

    1. Open Ledge

    Open ledge can be defined as any design where the smartphone or tablet sits connected and unsecured to the phone charging station. Typically these will have a lip, tray, or pocket to rest the device on whilst charging. Consequently, the user is required to wait by their device whilst it recharges.

    2. Lockers

    Just like the locker at your local gym, there are some models which provide a small locker to securely house your devices whilst charging. A key, pin code, or credit card is required to open and close the locker compartment.

    3. Power Banks

    An emerging concept is the use of power banks, or portable device battery chargers. In this case, the proprietor of the venue keeps a collection of power banks and charging cables in a secure location (e.g. behind the bar). If a customer needs to charge their device, the staff provide the power bank and relevant cable. In return, some identification (e.g. driver’s license), credit card, or small deposit is retained so that the power bank and cales are returned once the device has been charged.