Can You Use Any Charger With Any Cell Phone, Notebook, Camera, or Tablet?
Every mobile phone, laptop, and tablet appear to come with their own charger. If you’re 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, laptop, camera, or tablet computer that isn’t the original manufacturer’s charger that came with the device?
Kinds of Chargers
In this guide, we’ll concentrate on three types of chargers: notebook 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 common.
Laptop chargers are fairly unique to the device they come with. However, there can be some generic chargers that boast the capability to be interchanged between notebooks. This always requires changing of this charger”head” and may not be the best charging amperage or voltage for 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 different amps. I will explain this further later and how to know if the charger is safe to use (based on its recorded amps and voltage).
For older devices using a 30-pin charge interface, a connector can be used to charge with 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 device. Micro USBs are the same across the board as far as charging heads, while notebook chargers are often specific to both make and model. However, the plug fitting firmly is only one part of this equation.
Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you’ll 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 located at the base of the charger, where it would meet 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 into the apparatus, or how much is being”pushed” to the apparatus 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 start 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 power is used by the device. The quantity of volts won’t ever change, but the amount of amps that the system pulls may change depending on how hard the unit is working. The number that you find on the battery that came with your device will be the maximum amount of amps that can 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 requirement, it may burn out the power source and kill the apparatus.
So for those who 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). *Site Note: if you have an older device, it might not work with USB interfaces that employ the newest Battery Charging Specification.
If The Micro USB Charger’s Voltage Is Not 5v…
Some devices may have their voltage listed using 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 score is telling you is that the device can take 5v minus 5% of 5v = 4.75 volts OR 5v and 5% of 5v = 5.25 volts. This means anything between 4.75 t0 5.25v is safe to use (so long as the amperage of the charger is equivalent to or greater than the device’s listed amperage).
An interesting thing to note is all chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries they charge. That’s 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 has a 12V battery, but average alternators provide 13.8 to 14.4V charging voltage to the battery.
The problem with knockoffs, especially 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 cause 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 Know How To Safely & Effectively Swap Chargers
I hope this article was able to assist you. Now you know how to safely and efficiently use a charger that did not include your smart phone, notebook, camera, tabletcomputer, or other apparatus. Be sure to follow exactly what we said and you should be good to go!