Can You Use Any Charger With Any Cell Phone, Laptop, Camera, or Tablet?
Every cell phone, notebook, and tablet appear to come with their own charger. If you are like me, you’ve 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 that came with the device?
Kinds of Chargers
In this guide, we will focus on three types of chargers: laptop chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with telephones, tablets, and cameras), and Apple Lightning Connectors. While some devices have chargers with a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most common.
Laptop chargers are rather unique to the device they come with. However, there can be some generic chargers which boast the ability to be interchanged between laptops. This always requires changing of this charger”head” and may not be the optimal charging amperage or voltage to your device.
Micro USBs are theoretically designed to be interchangeable, and are standard in most smartphones, Android apparatus, and tablets. Micro USB chargers typically have the same voltage, but may draw various amps. I will explain this further later and how to know whether the charger is safe to use (based on its recorded amps and voltage).
For older devices using a 30-pin charge interface, a connector can be used to control the Lightning Connector.
In order for a charger for use on a different device, it’s important that the plug of the charger (the”head”) fit securely into the charging port of the unit. Micro USBs are the same across the board as far as charging heads, whilst laptop chargers are often specific to both make and model. However, the plug fitting securely is only one part of the equation.
How Voltage and Amperage Matter
Determined by the power brick of the charger you’ll get a tag with the charger’s voltage (V) and amperage (A). For laptop chargers, this charging brick is often halfway down the charger and appears 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 the wall. For the device you’re attempting 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 approximately 5V, though a notebook can pull up to 25V. A charger must equal the voltage needed 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 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 find on the battery that came with your device are the maximum amount of amps that may be pulled by the device. The amount found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled simultaneously. In order to exchange chargers, the amp number on the charger must equal or exceed the amp number recorded on the device’s battery. If a device is paired with a charger which can’t support the amp necessity, it can burn out the power source and kill the apparatus.
So if you have a modern USB device (smart phone, tabletcomputer, 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 Isn’t 5v…
Some devices may 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 score is telling you is that the device 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 point 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 generate the necessary current flow in the correct direction 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.
The problem with knockoffs, especially cheap knockoffs, is they frequently don’t support the energy needs of the device, or are not 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’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 effectively use a charger that did not come with your smart phone, laptop, camera, tablet, or other apparatus. Make certain to follow exactly what we said and you should be good to go!