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

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

Kinds of Chargers

In this guide, we’ll 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 using a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most common.

Laptop chargers are fairly unique to the device they include.  However, there can be some generic chargers that 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 many smartphones, Android devices, 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 recorded 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 interface, a connector can be used to control the Lightning Connector.

For a charger to be used 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, whilst notebook chargers are often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting securely is only one part of the equation.

Determined by the power brick of the charger you will find a tag 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 found at the base of the charger, in which it would meet up with the wall.  For the device you are trying to control, the voltage and amperage required will be found on the battery that came with the device or on the company’s website.

Voltage is how much power the charger will draw into the device, 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 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 system pulls may change based on how hard the device is working.  The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device are the maximum amount of amps which may 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 which can’t support the amp necessity, it can burn out the power source and kill the apparatus.

So if you have a modern USB device (smart phone, tablet, 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 interfaces that employ the newest Battery Charging Specification.

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

Some devices might have their voltage listed using a plus/minus on it like that: 5v +- 5%.  If this is the case, 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 plus 5% of 5v = 5.25 volts. 

An interesting point to note is all chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries they charge.  That’s pretty much how they operate.  There needs 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’s a 12V battery, but average alternators provide 13.8 to 14.4V charging voltage to the battery.

The issue with knockoffs, particularly cheap knockoffs, is that they often don’t support the power requirements 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 best 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 effectively use a charger that did not come with your smart phone, laptop, camera, tablet, or other device.  Make certain you follow exactly what we said and you should be ready to go!