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

Every mobile phone, notebook, and tablet appear to come with their own charger.  If you’re like me, you have probably compiled quite a few chargers over the years.  So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, notebook, camera, or tablet that is not the original manufacturer’s charger that came with the device?

Types of Chargers

In this guide, we’ll focus on three types of chargers: notebook 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 fairly unique to the device they include.  However, there may be some generic chargers which boast the ability to be interchanged between laptops.  This always requires changing of the charger”head” and might not be the optimal charging amperage or voltage for 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 different amps.  I will explain this further later and how to know if the charger is safe to use (based on its listed amps and voltage).

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 to be used on another 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 as far as charging heads, while laptop chargers are often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting securely is only 1 part of this equation.

Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you will find 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 bottom 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 around 5V, though a laptop can pull up to 25V.  A charger must equal the voltage needed by the device.  This is important: drawing too high of a voltage could short out the device and possibly even begin a fire, while too low a voltage will fail to charge the battery.

Amperage is how fast power is”pulled” into the apparatus, or how much electricity is used by the device.  The amount of volts won’t ever change, but the amount 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 are the maximum amount of amps that can be pulled from the device.  To be able to swap chargers, the amp number on the charger must equal or exceed the amp number listed on the device’s battery. If a device is paired with a charger that cannot support the amp requirement, it can 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 (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 Isn’t 5v…

Some devices may have their voltage recorded with 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 apparatus can take 5v minus 5% of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v and 5% of 5v = 5.25 volts.  So 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 greater than the device’s listed amperage).

An interesting point to note is chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge.  That is pretty much how they operate.  There has to be a voltage differential to produce the necessary current flow in the correct direction to charge the battery.  When you look at your car, it’s a 12V battery, but average alternators provide 13.8 to 14.4V charging voltage to the battery.

The issue with knockoffs, especially 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.  This can cause damage to the device but can also pose a safety/fire hazard. 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 help you.  Now you know how to safely and effectively use a charger that did not include your smart phone, notebook, camera, tabletcomputer, or other device.  Make certain you follow exactly what we said and you should be good to go!