Electric Bicycle Battery Repair

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

Every cell phone, notebook, and tablet seem to come with their own charger.  If you are like me, you have probably compiled a number of chargers through the years.  So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, notebook, camera, or tablet computer that is not the original manufacturer’s charger which came with the device?

Types of Chargers

In this article, we will concentrate on three types of chargers: laptop chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with phones, 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 come with.  However, there may be some generic chargers which boast the capability to be interchanged between laptops.  This always requires changing of the charger”head” and might 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 various amps.  I’ll explain this further later and how to know whether the charger is safe to use (depending on its recorded amps and voltage).

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

In order for a charger for use on a different device, it’s essential 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 so far as charging heads, while notebook chargers are usually specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting securely is just 1 part of this 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 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 located at the base of the charger, in which it would meet the wall.  For the device you are trying to control, 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” to the device by the charger.  A phone will usually pull up to around 5V, while a notebook can pull up to 25V.  A charger must equal the voltage required by the device. 

Amperage is how quickly power is”pulled” to the device, or how much electricity is used by the device.  The quantity of volts will never change, but the amount of amps that the device pulls may change based on how hard the unit is working.  The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device will be the max amount of amps which may be pulled by the device.  If a unit is paired with a charger which can’t support the amp requirement, 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 quicker charging (so long as the voltage is equivalent ).  *Website Note: if you have an older device, it might not work with USB ports that use the new 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 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.  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 chargers supply 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 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.

Stay Away From Cheap Knockoff Chargers

The issue with knockoffs, especially cheap knockoffs, is that they often don’t support the energy needs of the device, or are not built to keep a steady flow securely.  Overall, it’s best 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 effectively use a charger that did not come with your smart phone, laptop, camera, tabletcomputer, or other device.  Be certain you follow what we said and you should be ready to go!