Hybrid Car Battery Repair

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

Every cell phone, laptop, and tablet seem to come with their own charger.  If you’re like me, you have probably compiled quite a few chargers over 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 that came with the device?

Types 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.  Although some devices have chargers with a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most common.

Laptop chargers are rather specific to the device they include.  However, there may be some generic chargers that boast the ability 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 designed to be interchangeable, and are standard in many smartphones, Android apparatus, and tablets.  Micro USB chargers typically have the exact same voltage, but may draw various amps.  I will explain this further later and how to know whether the charger is safe to use (depending 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 a different device, it’s important 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 firmly is only 1 part of this equation.

How Voltage and Amperage Matter

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 typically looks exactly like it sounds — a brick. For other types of chargers, like a smartphone charger, this information is usually found at the bottom of the charger, in which it would meet up with the wall.  For the device you are attempting to charge, 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 how much is being”pushed” into the device by the charger.  A phone will usually pull up to approximately 5V, while a notebook can pull up to 25V.  A charger must equal the voltage needed by the device.  This is important: drawing too high a voltage could short out the device and potentially 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 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 unit is working.  The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device are the maximum amount of amps that may be pulled by 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 may burn out the power supply 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 might not work with USB interfaces that use the new Battery Charging Specification.

If The Micro USB  Charger’s Voltage Is Not 5v…

Some devices may 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 percent of 5v = 5.25 volts. 

An interesting thing to note is chargers supply a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge.  That is pretty much how they work.  There needs to be a voltage differential to generate the necessary current flow in the proper 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, especially cheap knockoffs, is that 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 stick 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 include your smart phone, laptop, camera, tabletcomputer, or other device.  Make sure you follow exactly what we said and you should be good to go!