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

Every mobile phone, laptop, and tablet seem to come with their own charger.  If you are like me, you have probably compiled quite a few chargers through 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 article, we will focus on three types of chargers: laptop chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with telephones, tablets, and cameras), and Apple Lightning Connectors.  While some devices have chargers using a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most frequent.

Laptop chargers are fairly specific 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 the 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 different amps.  I’ll explain this further later and how to know whether the charger is safe to use (depending 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.

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 device.  Micro USBs are the same across the board so far as charging heads, while laptop chargers are often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is only 1 part of the equation.

Somewhere on 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 are trying to charge, 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 device, or just 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. 

Amperage is how fast power is”pulled” to the device, or how much power is used by the device.  The amount of volts won’t ever change, but the quantity of amps that the device pulls may change based on how hard the unit is working.  The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device will be the maximum amount of amps that may be pulled by the device.  The amount found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled at once. In order to exchange chargers, the amp number on the charger must equal or exceed the amp number recorded 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 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 (so long as the voltage is equal).  *Site Note: if you have an older device, it might not work with USB interfaces that use the newest 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 can use a charger rated at 4.75 to 5.25v because that score is telling you is that the apparatus can take 5v minus 5% of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v plus 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 higher than the device’s listed amperage).

An interesting thing to note is chargers provide 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 proper direction to charge the battery.  If you look at your vehicle, it has a 12V battery, but typical 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 requirements of the device, or aren’t 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 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 assist 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 sure to follow exactly what we said and you should be good to go!