Can You Use Any Charger With Any Cell Phone, Laptop, Camera, or Tablet?
Every mobile phone, notebook, and tablet appear to come with their own charger. If you are like me, you have probably compiled a number of chargers through the years. So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, laptop, camera, or tablet that isn’t the original manufacturer’s charger that came with the device?
Types of Chargers
In this article, we’ll focus on three types of chargers: laptop chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with phones, tablets, 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 fairly unique to the device they come with. However, there may be some generic chargers which boast the ability to be interchanged between laptops. This always requires changing of this charger”head” and might 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 different amps. I’ll explain this further later and how to know if 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 charge with the Lightning Connector.
For a charger for use on a different device, it’s essential 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, while notebook chargers are usually specific to both make and model. However, the plug fitting firmly is only 1 part of the equation.
How Voltage and Amperage Matter
Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you’ll find a tag with the charger’s voltage (V) and amperage (A). For laptop 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 located at the bottom of the charger, in which it would meet up with the wall. For the device you are trying to charge, the voltage and amperage required will be found on the battery that came with the device or on the company’s website.
Voltage is how much power the charger will draw into the device, or how much is being”pushed” to the device 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 fast 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 device pulls may change depending on how hard the unit is working. The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device will be 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 at once. In order 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 which can’t support the amp requirement, it can burn out the power supply and kill the device.
So if you have a modern USB device (smart phone, tablet, or camera) you can plug into a high-amperage USB port and enjoy quicker charging (so long as the voltage is equivalent ). *Website Note: if you have an older device, it might not work with USB interfaces that employ the new Battery Charging Specification.
If The Micro USB Charger’s Voltage Is Not 5v…
Some devices might have their voltage listed using a plus/minus on it like that: 5v +- 5%. If this is the case, you may use a charger rated at 4.75 to 5.25v because that score is telling you is that the device can take 5v minus 5 percent 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 equal to or higher than the device’s listed amperage).
An interesting point to note is chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge. That’s pretty much how they work. There needs to be a voltage differential to generate the necessary current flow in the correct direction to charge the battery. When you look at your car, it’s a 12V battery, but typical alternators provide 13.8 to 14.4V charging voltage to the battery.
The problem with knockoffs, especially cheap knockoffs, is that they frequently don’t support the power needs of the apparatus, or aren’t built to keep a steady flow safely. This can result in damage to the device but can also pose a safety/fire hazard. Overall, it’s better 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 help you. Now you know how to safely and efficiently use a charger that did not come with your smart phone, notebook, camera, tabletcomputer, or other device. Be certain you follow what we said and you should be good to go!