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

Every cell phone, laptop, and tablet seem 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 computer that isn’t the original manufacturer’s charger which came with the device?

Types of Chargers

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

Laptop chargers are rather 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 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 various amps.  I’ll explain this further later and how to know whether the charger is safe to use (based on its recorded amps and voltage).

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 to be used on a different device, it’s important that the plug  of the charger (the”head”) fit snugly to the charging port of the device.  Micro USBs are the same across the board as far as charging heads, while laptop chargers are often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is only one part of this equation.

Determined by the power brick of the charger you will get a label 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 up with the wall.  For the device you’re trying to control, the voltage and amperage required will be seen on the battery that came with the device or on the company’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, 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” to 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 device pulls may change depending on how hard the unit is working.  The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device are the max amount of amps which may be pulled by the device.  The number found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled simultaneously. If a unit is paired with a charger that cannot 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, 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 may not work with USB ports that use the newest Battery Charging Specification.

If The Micro USB  Charger’s Voltage Isn’t 5v…

Some devices may have their voltage listed with 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 apparatus can take 5v minus 5% of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v and 5 percent of 5v = 5.25 volts. 

An interesting point to note is all chargers supply a higher voltage than the batteries they charge.  That’s pretty much how they work.  There has to be a voltage differential to produce the necessary current flow in the correct direction to charge the battery.  If you look at your vehicle, it’s a 12V battery, but average 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 that they often don’t support the power needs of the apparatus, or aren’t built to maintain a steady flow safely.  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 are using.

Now You Understand 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 include your smart phone, notebook, camera, tabletcomputer, or other device.  Make sure you follow exactly what we said and you should be good to go!