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

Every cell phone, laptop, and tablet seem to come with their own charger.  If you’re 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, notebook, camera, or tablet that is not the original manufacturer’s charger that came with the device?

Kinds of Chargers

In this article, we will focus on three types of chargers: notebook chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with phones, tablet computers, and cameras), and Apple Lightning Connectors.  While some devices have chargers with a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most frequent.

Laptop chargers are rather specific to the device they include.  However, there can be some generic chargers which boast the ability to be interchanged between laptops.  This always requires changing of the 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 if the charger is safe to use (based on its recorded 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 port, a connector can be used to control the Lightning Connector.

In order for a charger to be used on another device, it’s essential that the plug  of the charger (the”head”) fit securely into the charging port of the device.  Micro USBs are the same across the board so far as charging heads, while laptop chargers are usually specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is only one part of this equation.

Determined by the power brick of the charger you will get a tag with the charger’s voltage (V) and amperage (A).  For notebook chargers, this charging brick is often halfway down the charger and typically looks exactly like it sounds — a brick. For other types of chargers, like a smartphone charger, this information is usually found at the base of the charger, in which it would meet up with the wall.  For the device you’re trying to charge, the voltage and amperage required will be seen on the battery that came with the device or on the manufacturer’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 laptop can pull up to 25V.  A charger must equal the voltage needed by the device. 

Amperage is how quickly power is”pulled” to the device, or how much electricity is used by the device.  The quantity of volts won’t ever change, but the quantity of amps that the system pulls may change based on how hard the unit is working.  The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device are the max amount of amps which can be pulled by the device.  If a unit is paired with a charger which can’t support the amp requirement, it may burn out the power source and kill the device.

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 faster charging (as long as the voltage is equivalent ).  *Site Note: if you have an older device, it might not work with USB interfaces that use the new Battery Charging Specification.

If The Micro USB  Charger’s Voltage Isn’t 5v…

Some devices may have their voltage listed with a plus/minus on it like this: 5v +- 5%.  If this is the case, you can use a charger rated at 4.75 to 5.25v because that score is telling you is that the apparatus can take 5v minus 5 percent of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v and 5% of 5v = 5.25 volts. 

An interesting thing to note is chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries 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 car, it has a 12V battery, but average alternators provide 13.8 to 14.4V charging voltage to the battery.

The issue with knockoffs, particularly cheap knockoffs, is they frequently don’t support the energy needs of the apparatus, or aren’t built to keep 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 designed for the device you’re 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, laptop, camera, tablet, or other apparatus.  Be sure you follow exactly what we said and you should be good to go!