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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’re like me, you’ve probably compiled quite a few chargers through 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 article, we’ll focus on three types of chargers: laptop chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with phones, tablet computers, and cameras), and Apple Lightning Connectors.  Although some devices have chargers using a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most frequent.

Laptop chargers are fairly unique to the device they include.  However, there can be some generic chargers that boast the ability to be interchanged between notebooks.  This always requires changing of the charger”head” and might not be the best charging amperage or voltage to your device.

Micro USBs are designed to be interchangeable, and are standard in many smartphones, Android apparatus, 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 (based on its listed amps and voltage).

Apple Lightning Connectors are standard on all new Apple devices, including iPads and iPods. For older devices with a 30-pin charge port, a connector can be used to control 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 snugly to 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 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 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’re 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 in the apparatus, or how much is being”pushed” into the device 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 required by the device.  This is important: drawing too high a voltage could short out the device and possibly even start a fire, while too low a voltage will fail to charge the battery.

Amperage is how quickly power is”pulled” to the apparatus, or how much power is used by the device.  The quantity of volts won’t ever change, but the quantity 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 are the maximum amount of amps that may be pulled from the device.  To be able to exchange 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 necessity, it may burn out the power supply and kill the apparatus.

So if you have a modern USB device (smart phone, tabletcomputer, or camera) you can plug into a high-amperage USB port and enjoy faster charging (as long as the voltage is equal).  *Website Note: if you have an older device, it may not work with USB ports that use the new Battery Charging Specification.

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

Some devices might have their voltage listed with a plus/minus on it like that: 5v +- 5%.  If this is true, 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 and 5 percent 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 equal to or higher than the device’s listed amperage).

An interesting thing to note is all chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge.  That is pretty much how they work.  There needs to be a voltage differential to produce 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.

Stay Away From Cheap Knockoff Chargers

The problem with knockoffs, particularly cheap knockoffs, is they frequently don’t support the energy needs of the apparatus, or aren’t built to keep a steady flow securely.  This can result in damage to the device but can also pose a safety/fire hazard. Overall, it’s better to stay with the charger made for the device you’re 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, laptop, camera, tablet, or other device.  Make sure to follow exactly what we said and you should be ready to go!