All about Tesla’s Wireless Power Tower | History, Wireless Electricity, Wardenclyffe Tower, Tesla Coils

Everything you want to know about Wireless Power Tower . We are in a time when we are witnessing science fiction of a few years back becoming a basic reality. Be it the video calls we had once seen in Star Wars or the extensive automation that we are seeing in every phase of our daily lives. The scientists and engineers are able to convert every imagination and concept into reality. One such scientist was Nikola Tesla, a scientist with great potential and vision who lived at a time that was not equipped to comprehend his experiments or his theories.

Wireless Power Tower : History and Tesla’s Inordinate Discovery

Nikola Telsa /Image/credit : commons.wikimedia

Nikola Tesla had worked with the electric field since the very start of his career. He worked with Tivadar Puskas as the chief electrician in Budapest, Hungary. He moved to Paris to work in the Continental Edison Company and worked in generating dynamos and motors. He was later moved to the United States to work at the Edison machine works.

While working at the Machine Works Tesla was given projects to improve the working of certain machinery or equipment including an arc lamp-based street lighting system. It was these works that probably ignited the passion in Tesla to experiment on new electrical possibilities.

Tesla had hardly worked at the Machine works for six months when he quit and started to work on patenting his arc lighting system. This was a start to his journey in the field of the invention independently. The improved DC generator that he introduced was the first patent that he received from the United States.

Thereafter Nikola worked with various investors to work on many of his theories on new technologies of that time.

One of the most ambitious of such scientific undertaking was the wireless electricity tower. Tesla envisioned his new system to supply wireless power to run all the industries across the world. It was a remarkable project that earned very few believers and certainly stunned many. This was probably the main reason why Tesla had to struggle to get an investor for this ambitious project.

He did finally convince J. P. Morgan and received $150,000 to work on this project against the promise that he would work towards wireless communication over the Atlantic.

Working functionality of Tesla’s Wireless Power Tower :

We can consider Tesla as a pioneer of wireless electricity or induction technology which is a reality now but was incredibly far-fetched in his time. Tesla, backed by available finances went on to construct the Tesla tower, also known as the Wardenclyffe Tower in Shoreham, New York in 1901-1902.

The idea for a large tower to transmit power started when Tesla was working on a wireless power transmission system in the 1890s. The first invention in this field of work was the Tesla Coil which was developed while he experimented on a wireless lighting system. In a search for a higher frequency alternator Tesla opted for spark-excited resonance circuits that could go beyond the 20kHz limit of standard alternators.

How did Tesla transmit electricity wirelessly?

By using an air gap and adjusting the iron core in an induction coil, Tesla was able to generate very high voltages. During his early efforts on wireless power experiments, Tesla was able to light up bulbs across a room using the Tesla coil to transmit radio frequency power over short distances. As his experiments continued, he was able to increase the distance by using a receiving resonant circuit and inductive coupling between coils and wires. This is the same concept which is applied in the wireless charging of smartphones now.

Between 1899 and 1900 Tesla built a giant coil which he called as the Magnifying transmitter with the aim to transmit energy over a large distance in his Colorado Springs laboratory. The photos published of the Tesla coil emitting sparks as he sat in the laboratory is famous till date and was one of the first of its kind.

Tesla equipped with a high voltage generating and emitting apparatus was eager to use the concept in transmitting electric power in large quantities to power industries and providing free energy for all. He started his work on the Wardenclyff tower which was about 187m high with elaborate groundwork which included waterproof tunnels through which energy was to travel.

What happened to Tesla’s wireless electricity?

Tesla envisioned that the Earth itself was a viable conductor that could be used to conduct electricity over large distances thus letting go of the use of wires. He intended to pump electric power and drive it back onto the earth system at an enormous rate creating enough ripples and disturbances such that it could spread through the Earth’s surface and could be tapped from anywhere in the world to run industries and other types of machinery.

He intended to draw millions of volts of power through the air from the Niagara Falls and then feed it to the cities for commercial and private use which he called the Wireless World System.

Tesla continued with his experiments to convert his vision into reality, but it was taking time. Marconi, on the other hand, was able to transmit a signal across the Atlantic before Tesla could. This nullified the promise that Tesla had made to J. P. Morgan in return for the finances. Tesla required further funds to continue with his experiments to convert the theory of wireless conduction of electricity over large distances but was denied by his sole investor.

Would Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower have worked ?

The experiment could not proceed any further and the highly ambitious project had to be abandoned midway due to the lack of funds in 1906. Tesla had run into debts and could no longer support his experiments. All investors were directed towards the new trans-Atlantic wireless messaging by Marconi which by manifolds was less expensive than Tesla’s wireless power project. Tesla could not pay back the mortgage that he had taken against the tower with George C. Boldt and the entire plant went into foreclosure.

Why was Tesla’s tower destroyed?

Boldt could not find any use for the tower and decided to demolish it to get some funds from the scrap. On 4th July 1917, the demolition of the tower was started using dynamite and it was completely demolished by September of the same year.

The property since then has changed many hands and now it has been converted to a museum dedicated to Tesla and his works. There are many who still believe that Tesla’s theories and work could have been realized had he been able to conduct further experiments.

Although there were various shortcomings in his theories and postulates some still believe that it can be made into reality. In fact, a tower resembling the Wardenclyff tower has been built in Texas by the Viziv Technologies in partnership with Baylor University Research and Innovation Collaborative. There are other towers built on the same principles in Russia as well called as the High Voltage Marx and Tesla Generators Research facility. They have claimed that the plant is able to meet the energy demand of the entire nation for about 100 microseconds thus realizing Tesla’s vision of wireless power.

Are Tesla coils dangerous?

Tesla coil transformer from 1908 / Photo via

Tesla kept most of the plans and data about the plant away from the public and the media hence not much is known about the working of the plant other than the theory that he had shared to get investors interested. Though possible over smaller distances Tesla did not consider the loss of energy when transmitted over larger distances. If the plant would have been completed this would have been a major setback for Tesla.

The other issue is that Tesla did not consider the fact that inductive coupling sends power in all directions equally which would become difficult to harness for one particular machine placed in a static position, hence there will be an excessive loss of power.  This stray energy if tapped by other machinery may become dangerous for example pacemakers or electric kitchen appliances and others.

Is Wireless Power really possible?

Yes, wireless power is possible to an extent and much of the research are on. Despite all of these shortcomings, Tesla did lay the foundation of the concept which has been realized now on a smaller version of “charging over the air” or COTA technology. The variation is that a receiving chip is embedded on the device that is to be powered and it receives direct transmission over the air from the Transmitter.

Designed by Ossia this technology is a much closer version to what Tesla had envisioned.The Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia showcases the lifelong work of this great Scientist and his contribution to the development of technology. The Nikola Tesla Archive has been inscribed into UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programm due to its importance in the development and history of Electrification of the world.

With this we wrap up Telsa’s wireless power tower guide. Hope you liked it, please do share your it. Recommend us more interesting topics related to wireless technology. We will research from the core and cover that all for you.

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WG Staff

WG Staff at is a team of tech enthusiasts, technology geeks. We writes about wireless technology guides and wireless products by spending immense amount of hours & research to serve you the best articles.

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