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

Every cell phone, laptop, and tablet appear to come with their own charger.  If you are like me, you have probably compiled a number of chargers through the years.  So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, notebook, camera, or tablet computer that isn’t 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 phones, tablets, and cameras), and Apple Lightning Connectors.  Although 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 may be some generic chargers which boast the ability to be interchanged between notebooks.  This always requires changing of the charger”head” and may not be the optimal charging amperage or voltage for 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 if the charger is safe to use (depending on its listed amps and voltage).

Apple Lightning Connectors are standard on all new Apple devices, including iPads and iPods. For older devices using a 30-pin charge interface, a connector can be used to charge with the Lightning Connector.

For a charger to be used on a different device, it’s important that the plug  of the charger (the”head”) fit snugly to the charging port of the unit.  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 securely is only one part of this equation.

Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you’ll 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 located at the bottom of the charger, where it would meet up with the wall.  For the device you’re 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 apparatus, or just how much is being”pushed” to the apparatus by the charger.  A phone will usually pull up to approximately 5V, though a laptop can pull up to 25V.  A charger must equal the voltage required 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 quickly power is”pulled” to the apparatus, or how much electricity is used by the device.  The quantity of volts will never change, but the amount of amps that the device 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 that may be pulled from the device.  The number 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 unit is paired with a charger that cannot support the amp necessity, it can burn out the power supply and kill the device.

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 faster charging (so long as the voltage is equal).  *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 Isn’t 5v…

Some devices may have their voltage listed 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 score is telling you is that the device can take 5v minus 5 percent 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 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 car, it’s a 12V battery, but average alternators provide 13.8 to 14.4V charging voltage to the battery.

The problem with knockoffs, particularly cheap knockoffs, is that they frequently don’t support the energy requirements of the device, or aren’t built to keep a steady flow securely.  Overall, it’s better to stick with the charger designed for the device you’re 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, laptop, camera, tabletcomputer, or other device.  Be certain you follow exactly what we said and you should be ready to go!