Charles Battery Charger Repair

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 over the years.  So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, laptop, 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: notebook chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with telephones, 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 unique to the device they come with.  However, there may be some generic chargers which boast the ability to be interchanged between notebooks.  This always requires changing of this charger”head” and may not be the best charging amperage or voltage for your device.

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

For older devices using a 30-pin charge interface, a connector can be used to charge with the Lightning Connector.

The Plugs Must Be The Same

In order for a charger for use on another device, it’s important 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 as far as charging heads, while laptop chargers are usually specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is only 1 part of this equation.

Determined by the power brick of the charger you will find 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 are attempting to control, 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 apparatus, or how much is being”pushed” to the apparatus by the charger.  A phone will usually pull up to approximately 5V, while a notebook can pull up to 25V.  A charger must equal the voltage required by the device.  This is important: drawing too high a voltage could short out the device and potentially even begin a fire, while too low a voltage will fail to charge the battery.

Amperage is how quickly power is”pulled” to the apparatus, or how much power is used by the device.  The amount of volts will never change, but the quantity of amps that the device pulls may change based on how hard the device 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 from the device.  If a device is paired with a charger that cannot support the amp requirement, it can 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 quicker 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 new Battery Charging Specification.

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

Some devices might have their voltage listed using a plus/minus on it like this: 5v +- 5%.  If this is true, 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 percent of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v and 5% 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 all chargers supply a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge.  That is pretty much how they work.  There needs to be a voltage differential to produce the necessary current flow in the proper way 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 problem with knockoffs, particularly cheap knockoffs, is that they often don’t support the power needs of the apparatus, or are not built to maintain 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 stick 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, tabletcomputer, or other apparatus.  Be certain to follow what we said and you should be ready to go!