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

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

Types of Chargers

In this guide, we will 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 fairly specific to the device they include.  However, there can be some generic chargers that boast the capability to be interchanged between laptops.  This always requires changing of the 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 many smartphones, Android devices, and tablets.  Micro USB chargers typically have the same voltage, but may draw various amps.  I’ll explain this further later and how to know if the charger is safe to use (based on its recorded amps and voltage).

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

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, whilst laptop 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 will get a label with the charger’s voltage (V) and amperage (A).  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 trying to control, 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 into the device, or how much is being”pushed” into the apparatus by the charger.  A phone will usually pull up to approximately 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” into the device, or how much power is used by the device.  The amount of volts will never change, but the amount of amps that the system pulls may change based on how hard the unit is working.  The number that you find on the battery that came with your device will be the maximum amount of amps that may be pulled from the device.  In order to swap chargers, the amp number on the charger must equal or exceed the amp number listed on the device’s battery. If a unit is paired with a charger which can’t support the amp requirement, it can burn out the power supply and kill the apparatus.

So for those who 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 interfaces that use the new Battery Charging Specification.

If The Micro USB  Charger’s Voltage Is Not 5v…

Some devices may have their voltage listed using a plus/minus on it like this: 5v +- 5%.  If this is the case, you may 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 percent of 5v = 5.25 volts. 

An interesting point to note is chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge.  That is pretty much how they operate.  There needs to be a voltage differential to generate the necessary current flow in the proper way to charge the battery.  When you look at your vehicle, it has a 12V battery, but typical alternators provide 13.8 to 14.4V charging voltage to the battery.

Stay Away From Cheap Knockoff Chargers

The problem with knockoffs, especially cheap knockoffs, is they often don’t support the energy requirements of the device, or aren’t built to maintain a steady flow securely.  This can cause damage to the device but can also pose a safety/fire hazard. Overall, it’s better to stick with the charger made for the device you’re using.

Now You Know 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.  Make sure to follow what we said and you should be ready to go!