I agree - it is stealing. Where a radio/TV station brodcasts energy that will propagate away never to return, most of the line frequency field around the line is energy that returns to the line and does not propagate away (the wave length of 60Hz is almost 5,000,000 meters). Putting an energy harvesting device near the line is just making an illegal transformer.
no, I think my analogy is correct. If you set up something to gather energy from the EM field surrounding the power line, you have created an energy leak that is above and beyond the stuff already leaking away.
To expand the water line analogy, if you put a suction cup on the leak site and used a pump to pull water thru the leak site, thus increasing the net loss thru the leak, you have tapped in even though you didn't create the breach in the pipe.
Setting an antenna out and extracting useful work from the em field around a power line is going to increase the radiated loss from the line. So, you have tapped into the power line, albeit wirelessly, and are extracting energy from it. You are not gathering energy that would have otherwise have been lost, you are adding to the energy loss. The stuff that was being lost is still being lost.
There are all good considerations. I think other users address all of these comments, but I guess it remains to be seen how this will all be handled if this device is used and commercialized more broadly. Thanks for your comment, RichardBradleySmith.
Richard, the induction charging systems I know about plug into a wall outlet to draw their power. That outlet is part of a metered power system. Hence, that power is being paid for and all you are doing is changing the way in which it is delivered to the target device. Power companies probably love them, since the delivery method is not as efficient as a direct wire connection (you're radiating in all directions) and so takes more power and provides them with greater revenue than if you simply plugged your unit into a power brick of some kind.
Richard, I am not a legal authority nor can I speak for the power companies, but I believe the answer is "yes" there is a law against this. It's considered theft of service, same as if you tapped into a water main that crossed your property without paying for the water. It's only the small size of the theft that makes it something power companies will probably ignore. If you were to take a noticable amount, then they probably would (and have in the past) prosecute.
If by charging from RF you mean taking the radiated energy that radio and television broadcast stations put out, it strikes me that is a different situation. They are not selling the energy, they are selling the marketing opportunity of connecting sponsors with listeners. If what you do interferes with their ability to provide a signal to anyone who wants it, then they too may have legal recourse to stop you. However, to have that kind of effect you would have to take a lot of their RF energy over a wide area. Not very likely. So, capturing and repurposing the RF energy that crosses your path is probably not theft since it is not the energy they are selling.
As to RFID, why do you think that might open a can of legal worms? It is very short range, very short duration, and is intended to have its power captured (by the RFID tag). Again, capturing that energy for your own purpose does not impede the RF creator's purpose unless you interfere with its intended operaton, which you are unlikely to do, or take so much power that the RF creator sees a cost impact.
It's really interesting to read all of this information in the comments about where the electricity is originating and whether this is stealing or not. I would not have thought about it this way so I appreciate all this new perspective. Thanks to our incredibly intelligent and savvy readers for their commentary and debate.
So what your saying is it is a enegry "suck". I have a friend that lives next to some power lines. What if he gets a battery charger from this guy and his batteries are always charged. You think there is a law against this? What about charging from RF? How is that stealing? Then when you get into RFID, oh my god, the lawyers are going to love that one!
Ann, power companies do want to keep their radiated power losses down. It is, after all, a loss that they must pay for. It's like having a leak in a water main. But the cost of capturing that radiated power is greater than the value of the power recovered, so the power companies live with the compromises they made when selecting 60Hz as the frequency in the first place.
Social or economic implications? Well, if a million people took 1 milliwatt/second for an hour each each from the power grid's EM fields, that would be 360 kilowatt hours. My power company charges $0.089 per KWH, so that's $32 per hour or about $280,000 per year if there's a million taps going on 24/7. Or about $0.28 a year per person. It might be feasible to absorb that cost into everyone's electric bill. But the more energy folks take from the EM fields, the higher that cost will rise. It'll be like taxes - many folks paying for this "free" benefit, but not necessarily the ones actually receiving that benefit. Seems unfair and open to abuse.
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