Are you sick of lugging around multiple chargers for all of your devices and hate the fact that the giant batteries inside your phone and laptop seem to take forever to charge? If you answered yes, then you’re in for a treat.
Say goodbye to the heavy, cumbersome charging brick and hello to the svelte, powerful GaN charger. Gallium Nitride chargers are the next step in charging technology. They are more efficient at converting power, which means there is less wasted energy.
What Does GaN Mean?
GaN stands for Gallium Nitride. It is a semiconductor used to convert energy to power in various electronics. Gallium nitride has been used in this capacity since the early 90s, most commonly as light-emitting diodes. For example, if you’ve ever owned a Blu-Ray player, the laser that read the discs was gallium nitride.
However, more recently, gallium nitride has been used as a successor to silicon, a semiconductor to charge the batteries found in many consumer electronics, including laptops and mobile phones.
What’s Wrong With Silicon Semiconductors?
Since the dawn of the first electronic equipment, engineers have been trying to figure out how to convert raw electricity to power as rapidly and efficiently as possible. In this conversion process, the electricity that is not converted into power is wasted as heat.
For example, let’s go back to the 1950s and look at vacuum tubes. Not only were they large and expensive, they gave off a considerable amount of heat, indicating how inefficient they were. Next came transistors, which were smaller, cheaper, and significantly better at converting raw electricity to useful power.
Eventually, silicon was widely adopted as the best semiconductor material. Silicon has excellent electrical conductive properties and is cheap to produce. Silicon was the standard bearer for decades, with engineers able to get better performance for even less money.
Unfortunately, silicon has reached the apex of its efficiency. This means silicon has effectively hit a dead end, as it can no longer be improved. This is problematic in today’s world. Power efficiency requirements and environmental regulations are quickly outdating silicon semiconductors, as they can no longer keep up with modern demands.
How Do GaN Chargers Work?
Without getting too far in the weeds with technobabble, all semiconductors have what is called a bandgap. Essentially, this is how well a solid material can conduct electricity. Gallium nitride has a wider bandgap than silicon. As a result, gallium nitride chargers can handle higher voltages and higher temperatures than silicon. But what does that mean for the average consumer?
What Is the Advantage of GaN Chargers?
There are a number of advantages associated with using Gallium nitride over silicon-based chargers, with the biggest being efficiency. As we mentioned above, gallium nitride can handle higher voltages and temperatures compared to silicon. This is because GaN chargers are more efficient at converting raw electricity into usable power. As a result, they generate considerably less heat and less wasted energy.
Additionally, because there is less heat, the components of GaN chargers can be packed closer together. This means the charger can be much smaller than silicon-based chargers.
Furthermore, gallium nitride is capable of conducting energy at higher voltages. An electrical current can pass through GaN much faster than silicon. Ultimately, this means your devices will charge faster with a GaN charger than with a silicon one.
In summation, GaN chargers are more power efficient, significantly smaller, and capable of charging your devices much faster than a silicon-based charger.
Are GaN Chargers Compatible With Multiple Devices?
Because GaN chargers are much smaller, they incorporate USB-C Power Delivery. in layman’s terms, USB-C Power Delivery is a fast charging protocol. It supplies increased levels of power compared to standard chargers. For example, USB-C PD can charge your device up to 70% faster than a standard 5W charger.
Unfortunately, not every device is compatible with USB-C PD. However, iOS users will be pleased to know that iPhone 8 and later support USB-C PD, as well as many Android phones, tablets, and even laptop computers. To find out whether your device supports USB-C PD, consult your user manual or manufacturer’s website.
Provided your device supports USB-C PD charging, you’ll also need to have a USB-C charging cable, as well as a USB-C PD wall or car charger. (For our picks of the best of the best, check out the next section.) There are a number of GaN USB-C PD chargers on the market – all at different price points. So which one should you get?
It depends on how much power your device needs. Generally speaking, a larger device, like a laptop, would need a charger capable of delivering 30 – 100W. A tablet would need somewhere between 18 – 30W, whereas a cell phone would need anywhere from 18 – 45W. To ensure you get the right charger for your device, consult the recommendations of your device’s manufacturer.
GaN Charger Recommendations
Gallium nitride chargers can be found at retailers everywhere. From brick and mortars like Best Buy and Walmart to online retailers like Amazon, you will have no trouble finding them. However, there are many models to choose from, from a number of manufacturers. To help you pull the trigger on your new GaN charger, we’ve rounded up some of the best available today.
1. Hyphen-X 100W GaN Fast Charger
If you have to run multiple devices at the same time, the Hyphen-X GaN charger can meet all your charging needs. It can charge up to four devices at a time with its two USB-A and two USB-C type ports. So you can charge two laptops along with two other devices such as smartphones, speakers, and table lamps simultaneously.
The Hyphen-X charger comes equipped with an industry-grade GaN chip Innoscience Power IC to deliver more power and better performance than most alternatives. It means fewer heating issues and higher charging efficiency as you can have around an hour of charging time with it. It has a power rating of 100W which is more than enough to deliver fast charging for devices such as MacBook Air, Dell XPS, iPad Pro, and iPhone 13/12/11.
2. Belkin Dual 68W GaN Charger
What if you have more than one device that can take advantage of superfast GaN charging? With the Belkin Dual 68W GaN Charger, you’ll be able to top up your laptop and your phone simultaneously. The charger features intelligent power-sharing technology that can detect the safest and most efficient charge to each device.
When charging one device, the Belkin Dual GaN charger delivers 60W of power. With both charging ports in use, the charger splits the power. One port is dedicated to larger devices like laptops and delivers 50W. The other port delivers the remaining 18W for mobile phones.
3. Amazon Basics 100W Four-Port GaN Wall Charger
Need to charge a bunch of devices? The Amazon Basics 100W Four-Port GaN Wall Charger has you covered. This charger features two USB-C ports: one that outputs 60W and another that pumps out 18W. This means you can easily charge larger devices like a laptop as well as your mobile phone. However, that’s not all – you also get 2 USB-A ports rated at 17W each.
Despite having so many ports, the Amazon Basics Four-Port GaN charger is still small enough to slide into a bag and carry around. The unit measures a mere 3.15″ x 3.14″ x 1.16″ (8.02cm x 8.00cm x 2.95cm). With the AmazonBasics Four-Port GaN charger, you shouldn’t have any issues topping up all your devices. Even better, it won’t break the bank either. At the time of this writing, you can pick one up for under $50.
4. Basesus 65W 3-Port Charger
So you want to try a GaN charger, but the price is turning you off, and you’re having a hard time coming to terms with the fact a lot of them only have one lousy charging port. The Baseus 65W 3-Port Charger may be exactly what you’re looking for.
With an asking price of only $35 for 65W of power, this is one of the cheapest GaN chargers you can get your hands on. The cherry on top is that it boasts three charging ports: two USB-C and one USB-A. Granted, it’s from a lesser-known brand, but with 4.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon, it’s definitely worth a look.
5. TECKNET 65W PD 3.0 GaN Charger
The TECKNET 65W GaN charger comes with two Type-C ports and one Type-A port with support for power delivery 3.0 charging with PPS technology. It can fully charge a laptop like the MacBook Pro within two hours. Plus, it’s compatible with a wide range of smartphones and devices like iPhone 13, iPad Pro, Galaxy S21 Ultra, MagSafe, and even Nintendo Switch.
The charger is made from a blend of high-quality ABS and PC plastic to deliver a durable shell along with protection against excessive current and overheating. All these features are packed in a 50% smaller chassis than regular chargers, weighing around 0.25lb. Moreover, it has a foldable plug design, making it more portable and easier to store.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can GaN chargers be used to charge electric vehicles as well?
Not at the moment. However, it’s not a farfetched idea to imagine charging your electric vehicles with a GaN charger one day. In fact, Navitas Semiconductor, a company that makes super-fast chargers for smartphones has stated that their next big bet would be building a GaN-based charging device for all-electric vehicle users.
2. Are GaN chargers the future?
It’s quite likely. Not only are GaN chargers more efficient than silicon-based chargers, but they also take up less space. Other than that, they require fewer components to build, making it cheaper to mass-produce them. And since gallium nitride has a higher bandgap than silicon, it can handle higher voltages and temperatures more easily. Putting up all these factors together, we can say that there is a high chance for GaN chargers to overtake the market share held by silicon-based chargers.
3. How fast are GaN chargers compared to silicon-based chargers?
Due to the difference in properties of the two materials, GaN-based semiconductors are more than twenty times faster than ordinary silicon-based chargers. Moreover, they can deliver thrice the amount of power and charging speed, while being half the size and weight of their silicon counterparts.
Image credit: Unsplash
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