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Can You Use Any Charger With Any Cell Phone, Notebook, Camera, or Tablet? 

Every mobile phone, laptop, and tablet seem to come with their own charger.  If you are like me, you’ve probably compiled a number of chargers over the years.  So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, laptop, camera, or tablet computer that is not the original manufacturer’s charger that came with the device?

Types of Chargers

In this article, we will concentrate on three types of chargers: laptop chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with telephones, tablets, and cameras), and Apple Lightning Connectors.  Although some devices have chargers with a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most common.

Laptop chargers are fairly specific to the device they include.  However, there may be some generic chargers that boast the capability to be interchanged between notebooks.  This always requires changing of this charger”head” and might not be the best charging amperage or voltage to your device.

Micro USBs are designed to be interchangeable, and are standard in many smartphones, Android apparatus, and tablets.  Micro USB chargers typically have the exact same voltage, but may draw different amps.  I will explain this further later and how to know whether the charger is safe to use (depending on its listed amps and voltage).

Apple Lightning Connectors are standard on all new Apple devices, such as iPads and iPods. For older devices with a 30-pin charge interface, a connector can be used to control the Lightning Connector.

The Plugs Must Be The Same

In order for a charger to be used on a different device, it’s important that the plug  of the charger (the”head”) fit snugly to the charging port of the device.  Micro USBs are the same across the board as far as charging heads, whilst notebook chargers are usually specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting securely is just one part of the equation.

How Voltage and Amperage Matter

Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you will get a tag with the charger’s voltage (V) and amperage (A).  For other types of chargers, like a smartphone charger, this information is usually found at the bottom of the charger, where it would meet up with the wall.  For the device you are attempting to control, the voltage and amperage required will be seen on the battery that came with the device or on the company’s website.

Voltage is how much power the charger will draw in the device, or how much is being”pushed” into the apparatus by the charger.  A phone will usually pull up to around 5V, while a notebook can pull up to 25V.  A charger must equal the voltage needed by the device. 

Amperage is how fast power is”pulled” to the device, or how much electricity is used by the device.  The amount of volts won’t ever change, but the quantity of amps that the device pulls may change depending on how hard the unit is working.  The number that you find on the battery that came with your device are the max amount of amps that can be pulled from the device.  The number found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled simultaneously. If a device is paired with a charger which can’t support the amp necessity, it may burn out the power supply and kill the apparatus.

So if you have a modern USB device (smart phone, tablet, or camera) you can plug into a high-amperage USB port and enjoy faster charging (as long as the voltage is equal).  *Site Note: if you have an older device, it may not work with USB interfaces that employ the newest Battery Charging Specification.

If The Micro USB  Charger’s Voltage Is Not 5v…

Some devices may have their voltage recorded with a plus/minus on it like this: 5v +- 5%.  If this is the case, you may use a charger rated at 4.75 to 5.25v because that rating is telling you is that the apparatus can take 5v minus 5% of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v and 5 percent of 5v = 5.25 volts.  This means anything between 4.75 t0 5.25v is safe to use (as long as the amperage of the charger is equivalent to or greater than the device’s listed amperage).

An interesting thing to note is chargers supply a higher voltage than the batteries they charge.  That’s pretty much how they work.  There has to be a voltage differential to produce the necessary current flow in the proper way to charge the battery.  When you look at your car, it has a 12V battery, but typical alternators provide 13.8 to 14.4V charging voltage to the battery.

Stay Away From Cheap Knockoff Chargers

The issue with knockoffs, especially cheap knockoffs, is they frequently don’t support the energy needs of the device, or are not built to maintain a steady flow safely.  Overall, it’s best to stay with the charger made for the device you are using.

Now You Understand How to Safely & Effectively Swap Chargers

I hope this article was able to assist you.  Now you know how to safely and effectively use a charger that did not include your smart phone, laptop, camera, tablet, or other device.  Make sure to follow exactly what we said and you should be ready to go!