Can You Use Any Charger With Any Cell Phone, Laptop, Camera, or Tablet?
Every cell phone, laptop, and tablet appear to come with their own charger. If you are like me, you have probably compiled quite a few chargers through the years. So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, notebook, camera, or tablet computer that isn’t the original manufacturer’s charger which came with the device?
Kinds of Chargers
In this guide, we’ll concentrate on three types of chargers: laptop chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with phones, tablets, and cameras), and Apple Lightning Connectors. Although some devices have chargers with a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most frequent.
Laptop chargers are rather unique to the device they come with. However, there can be some generic chargers which boast the capability to be interchanged between laptops. This always requires changing of the charger”head” and may not be the best charging amperage or voltage for your device.
Micro USBs are theoretically designed to be interchangeable, and are standard in most smartphones, Android devices, and tablets. Micro USB chargers typically have the exact same voltage, but may draw various amps. I’ll explain this further later and how to know if the charger is safe to use (based on its listed amps and voltage).
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 another device, it’s important that the plug of the charger (the”head”) fit snugly to the charging port of the unit. Micro USBs are the same across the board as far as charging heads, whilst notebook chargers are often specific to both make and model. However, the plug fitting securely is only 1 part of this equation.
How Voltage and Amperage Matter
Determined by 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 located at the bottom of the charger, in which it would meet up with the wall. For the device you are attempting to control, the voltage and amperage required will be found on the battery that came with the device or on the manufacturer’s website.
Voltage is how much power the charger will draw into the apparatus, or how much is being”pushed” to the apparatus by the charger. A phone will usually pull up to approximately 5V, though a laptop can pull up to 25V. A charger must equal the voltage required by the device. This is important: drawing too high of a voltage could short out the device and potentially even start a fire, while too low a voltage will fail to charge the battery.
Amperage is how quickly power is”pulled” to the device, or how much power is used by the device. The quantity of volts will never change, but the quantity of amps that the system pulls may change depending on how hard the unit is working. The number that you find on the battery that came with your device will be the max amount of amps that may be pulled by the device. The amount found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled at once. To be able to exchange chargers, the amp number on the charger must equal or exceed the amp number listed on the device’s battery. If a device is paired with a charger that cannot support the amp necessity, it can burn out the power supply and kill the apparatus.
So for those who have a modern USB device (smart phone, tablet, or camera) you can plug into a high-amperage USB port and enjoy quicker charging (as long as the voltage is equal). *Website Note: if you have an older device, it may not work with USB ports that use the new Battery Charging Specification.
If The Micro USB Charger’s Voltage Is Not 5v…
Some devices may have their voltage listed with a plus/minus on it like that: 5v +- 5%. If this is true, you can use a charger rated at 4.75 to 5.25v because that rating is telling you is that the device can take 5v minus 5% of 5v = 4.75 volts OR 5v and 5% of 5v = 5.25 volts.
An interesting point to note is chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge. That is pretty much how they operate. There needs to be a voltage differential to generate the necessary current flow in the correct direction to charge the battery. If you look at your vehicle, it has a 12V battery, but average alternators provide 13.8 to 14.4V charging voltage to the battery.
Stay Away From Cheap Knockoff Chargers
The issue with knockoffs, particularly cheap knockoffs, is that they often don’t support the power requirements of the device, or are not built to maintain a steady flow safely. This can cause damage to the device but can also pose a safety/fire hazard. 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 efficiently use a charger that did not include your smart phone, notebook, camera, tablet, or other apparatus. Make sure you follow what we said and you should be good to go!