How Do “Self-Charging” Remotes Work?

A close up of the Alexa voice button on the Amazon Alexa Voice Remote Pro.
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

What if you had a TV remote that you never needed to charge or replace the batteries? That may sound like a futuristic dream, but it’s actually been a reality for a little while already. The technology is pretty cool.

What Is a Self-Charging Remote?

Let’s start with the basics—what the heck is a “self-charging” or “self-powered” remote, anyway? It’s essentially a remote with technology that allows it to maintain a charge without traditional charging methods.

A self-charging remote will keep a charge without needing to be placed on a wireless charger, plugged in with a cable, or have its batteries replaced. If you’ve owned a TV at any point in your life, you probably know the frustrations of a remote with a low or dead battery.

There are a couple of different methods being used to accomplish this, but it’s still very new technology. The first self-charging remotes appeared on the market in 2021. We should only see more in the future.

Types of Self-Charging Remotes

Samsung Eco Remote
Samsung

As you may have guessed, solar is one technology that self-charging remotes have used. However, these aren’t the solar panels you’re used to.

Ambient Photonics is a manufacturer of solar cells used in some self-charging remotes. As the company name implies, these cells are able to harvest low light for energy. They can gather enough light from just being in a room with some ambient light.

Notice I didn’t specify which kind of light. Ambient Photonics says its technology can “absorb photons from real-world low artificial light and natural light sources and convert them into energy.” In other words, you don’t need to put the remote in a window to charge up. That’s pretty amazing.

But wait, there’s more. If being in a room with any form of light isn’t enough, some self-charging remotes are also using RF harvesting. Samsung’s 2022 Eco Remote features this technology. It actually “collects” 2.4GHz radio waves from your Wi-Fi router.

In the case of the Samsung remote, it uses both forms of self-charging technology. As long as the remote is either in a room with any light or within Wi-Fi range, it can theoretically maintain a charge indefinitely. Of course, if it does die, you can always charge it with traditional methods.

More Coming Soon

Powerfoyle Google TV remote.
Exeger

As mentioned, this is still very new technology, and not super easy to get your hands on just yet. For example, the Samsung Eco Remote with RF harvesting is very hard to find—the solar-only Eco Remote is more available. However, more devices are on the horizon.

At CES 2023, TW Electronics and Exeger announced a remote that works with Google TV. It features “Powerfoyle” technology, which—like Ambient Photonics—converts both natural outdoor light and artificial indoor light into energy.

Speaking of Ambient Photonics: the company was also present at CES 2023, and it had a modified Amazon Fire TV remote to show off. At the time of writing, nothing official has been shared, but Amazon is a lead investor in the company.

It’s clear that this technology is going to be something we see more often. Is it a big deal to charge your remote or replace the batteries a couple of times per year? Not really, but why wouldn’t you use completely free energy to do it if you could?