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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’ve probably compiled quite a few chargers through the years.  So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, laptop, camera, or tablet that isn’t the original manufacturer’s charger which came with the device?

Kinds of Chargers

In this guide, we will focus on three types of chargers: notebook chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with telephones, tablets, 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 rather unique to the device they include.  However, there can be some generic chargers which 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 to your device.

Micro USBs are theoretically 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’ll 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 interface, a connector can be used to charge with the Lightning Connector.

For a charger for use on another device, it’s essential 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, whilst notebook chargers are often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting securely is only 1 part of the equation.

How Voltage and Amperage Matter

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 typically looks 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, in which it would meet the wall.  For the device you are attempting to charge, 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 in the device, or how much is being”pushed” to the apparatus 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.  This is important: drawing too high of a voltage could short out the device and potentially even begin a fire, while too low a voltage will fail to charge the battery.

Amperage is how fast power is”pulled” to the apparatus, or how much power is used by the device.  The amount of volts won’t ever change, but the quantity of amps that the system pulls may change depending on how hard the device is working.  The number that you find on the battery that came with your device are the max amount of amps which can be pulled by the device.  In order to swap 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 that cannot 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, tablet, or camera) you can plug into a high-amperage USB port and enjoy faster charging (as long as the voltage is equivalent ).  *Site Note: if you have an older device, it might not work with USB ports that employ the new Battery Charging Specification.

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

Some devices may have their voltage listed using 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 percent of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v and 5% of 5v = 5.25 volts. 

An interesting point to note is all chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries that 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.  When you look at your vehicle, 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 they often don’t support the power needs of the device, 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 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 efficiently use a charger that did not include your smart phone, laptop, camera, tabletcomputer, or other apparatus.  Make certain you follow exactly what we said and you should be good to go!