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Can You Use Any Charger With Any Mobile 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 computer that isn’t 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 with 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 capability to be interchanged between laptops.  This always requires changing of this charger”head” and may not be the best charging amperage or voltage for your device.

Micro USBs are theoretically 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 whether 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.

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 device.  Micro USBs are the same across the board as far as charging heads, whilst laptop 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 will get a tag 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 found at the base of the charger, in which it would meet the wall.  For the device you’re trying to control, the voltage and amperage required will be seen 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 just 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 power is used by the device.  The amount of volts won’t ever change, but the amount of amps that the device pulls may change depending on how hard the unit is working.  The number that you find on the battery that came with your device are the max amount of amps which may be pulled from the device.  The number found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled simultaneously. If a device is paired with a charger which can’t support the amp requirement, it can burn out the power source 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 equivalent ).  *Website 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 may have their voltage recorded with 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 percent of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v and 5 percent 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 point to note is all chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries 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.  If you look at your car, 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 issue with knockoffs, particularly cheap knockoffs, is that they often don’t support the energy requirements of the apparatus, or are not built to keep a steady flow safely.  Overall, it’s better to stay with the charger designed for the device you are 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 come with your smart phone, notebook, camera, tabletcomputer, or other device.  Be sure you follow what we said and you should be good to go!