Can You Use Any Charger With Any Mobile Phone, Notebook, 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 a number of chargers over the years. So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, notebook, camera, or tablet that isn’t the original manufacturer’s charger which came with the device?
Types of Chargers
In this guide, we will focus on three types of chargers: laptop 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 common.
Laptop chargers are rather unique 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 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 many smartphones, Android devices, and tablets. Micro USB chargers typically have the exact same voltage, but may draw different amps. I’ll explain this further later and how to know if the charger is safe to use (depending on its listed amps and voltage).
Apple Lightning Connectors are standard on all new Apple devices, such as iPads and iPods. For older devices with a 30-pin charge interface, a connector can be used to charge with the Lightning Connector.
The Plugs Must Be The Same
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 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 1 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 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 bottom of the charger, where it would meet the wall. For the device you’re trying 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 into the apparatus, or how much is being”pushed” into the device by the charger. A phone will usually pull up to around 5V, while a laptop 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 fast power is”pulled” to the apparatus, or how much electricity is used by the device. The quantity of volts will never change, but the quantity of amps that the device pulls may change depending 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 which may be pulled from the device. 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 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 if you 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). *Website Note: if you have an older device, it may not work with USB interfaces that use the newest Battery Charging Specification.
If The Micro USB Charger’s Voltage Isn’t 5v…
Some devices might have their voltage recorded using a plus/minus on it like this: 5v +- 5%. If this is true, 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 percent of 5v = 4.75 volts OR 5v plus 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 higher than the device’s listed amperage).
An interesting point to note is all chargers supply a higher voltage than the batteries they charge. That’s pretty much how they operate. There needs to be a voltage differential to generate the necessary current flow in the correct way to charge the battery. If you look at your car, it’s 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, particularly cheap knockoffs, is that they frequently don’t support the power requirements 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 made for the device you are using.
Now You Know How To Safely & Effectively Swap Chargers
I hope this article was able to help you. Now you know how to safely and efficiently use a charger that did not come with your smart phone, laptop, camera, tabletcomputer, or other apparatus. Be sure you follow what we said and you should be good to go!