Can You Use Any Charger With Any Cell Phone, Notebook, Camera, or Tablet?
Every cell phone, notebook, and tablet appear to come with their own charger. If you’re 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 is not 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. Although some devices have chargers using a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most common.
Laptop chargers are fairly specific to the device they include. However, there may be some generic chargers that boast the capability 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 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 whether the charger is safe to use (depending on its listed amps and voltage).
For older devices using a 30-pin charge interface, a connector can be used to control the Lightning Connector.
The Plugs Must Be The Same
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 unit. 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 just 1 part of the equation.
How Voltage and Amperage Matter
Determined by the power brick of the charger you’ll 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 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 are attempting to charge, 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 in the apparatus, or how much is being”pushed” into the device 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 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 apparatus, or how much electricity is used by the device. The quantity of volts won’t ever change, but the amount of amps that the system pulls may change based on how hard the device is working. The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device will be the maximum amount of amps that can be pulled from the device. The amount found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled at once. If a unit is paired with a charger that cannot support the amp necessity, it may burn out the power source and kill the device.
So if you have a modern USB device (smart phone, tabletcomputer, or camera) you can plug into a high-amperage USB port and enjoy faster charging (so long as the voltage is equal). *Website Note: if you have an older device, it may not work with USB ports that use the newest Battery Charging Specification.
If The Micro USB Charger’s Voltage Is Not 5v…
Some devices might have their voltage recorded using a plus/minus on it like that: 5v +- 5%. If this is the case, 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 plus 5% of 5v = 5.25 volts. So this means anything between 4.75 t0 5.25v is safe to use (so long as the amperage of the charger is equivalent to or higher than the device’s listed amperage).
An interesting point to note is all chargers supply a higher voltage than the batteries that 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 way 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 issue with knockoffs, particularly cheap knockoffs, is that they often don’t support the power requirements of the apparatus, or aren’t 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 stay with the charger designed 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, tabletcomputer, or other apparatus. Be sure to follow what we said and you should be good to go!