Dry Battery Repair

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 are like me, you’ve 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 computer that isn’t the original manufacturer’s charger which came with the device?

Kinds of Chargers

In this guide, we’ll focus on three types of chargers: notebook chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with telephones, tablets, and cameras), and Apple Lightning Connectors.  Although some devices have chargers with a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most common.

Laptop chargers are rather specific to the device they include.  However, there may be some generic chargers which boast the ability to be interchanged between notebooks.  This always requires changing of the charger”head” and might 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 apparatus, 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 whether the charger is safe to use (depending on its listed amps and voltage).

Apple Lightning Connectors are standard on all new Apple devices, including iPads and iPods. For older devices using a 30-pin charge port, a connector can be used to control the Lightning Connector.

The Plugs Must Be The Same

In order for a charger for use 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 often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is just one part of this equation.

How Voltage and Amperage Matter

Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you’ll get a tag with the charger’s voltage (V) and amperage (A).  For other types of chargers, like a smartphone charger, this information is usually located at the base of the charger, where it would meet up with the wall.  For the device you are 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 just how much is being”pushed” into the apparatus by the charger.  A phone will usually pull up to approximately 5V, though a laptop can pull up to 25V.  A charger must equal the voltage needed by the device. 

Amperage is how fast power is”pulled” into the device, or how much electricity is used by the device.  The amount of volts will never change, but the quantity of amps that the system 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 maximum amount of amps which can be pulled by the device.  The amount found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled simultaneously. To be able to exchange chargers, the amp number on the charger must equal or exceed the amp number recorded on the device’s battery. If a unit is paired with a charger which can’t 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, tablet, or camera) you can plug into a high-amperage USB port and enjoy faster 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 recorded using a plus/minus on it like this: 5v +- 5%.  If this is the case, you can 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% of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v plus 5 percent of 5v = 5.25 volts.  This means anything between 4.75 t0 5.25v is safe to use (so long as the amperage of the charger is equal to or greater than the device’s listed amperage).

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

The problem with knockoffs, particularly cheap knockoffs, is that they often don’t support the power needs of the device, or are not built to maintain a steady flow securely.  Overall, it’s best to stick with the charger designed for the device you are 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 effectively use a charger that did not come with your smart phone, notebook, camera, tablet, or other apparatus.  Be certain you follow exactly what we said and you should be ready to go!