Can You Use Any Charger With Any Mobile Phone, Laptop, Camera, or Tablet?
Every cell phone, notebook, and tablet appear to come with their own charger. If you are 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 computer that is not the original manufacturer’s charger that came with the device?
Kinds of Chargers
In this article, we will focus on three types of chargers: notebook chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with phones, tablet computers, 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 that boast the ability to be interchanged between laptops. This always requires changing of the charger”head” and might 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 different amps. I’ll explain this further later and how to know if the charger is safe to use (based on its recorded amps and voltage).
Apple Lightning Connectors are standard on all new Apple devices, such as iPads and iPods. For older devices with a 30-pin charge port, a connector can be used to charge with the Lightning Connector.
The Plugs Must Be The Same
In order 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 device. Micro USBs are the same across the board as far as charging heads, whilst notebook chargers are often specific to both make and model. However, the plug fitting securely is just one 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 bottom of the charger, in which 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 in the apparatus, or just how much is being”pushed” into the apparatus by the charger. A phone will usually pull up to around 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 of 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 device, or how much electricity is used by the device. The quantity of volts won’t ever change, but the amount of amps that the system pulls may change based on how hard the unit is working. The number that you find on the battery that came with your device are the maximum amount of amps which may be pulled by the device. 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 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 may not work with USB ports that employ the new Battery Charging Specification.
If The Micro USB Charger’s Voltage Isn’t 5v…
Some devices might 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% of 5v = 4.75 volts OR 5v and 5% of 5v = 5.25 volts. 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 operate. There has to be a voltage differential to generate the necessary current flow in the correct direction to charge the battery. When you look at your car, it has a 12V battery, but average alternators provide 13.8 to 14.4V charging voltage to the battery.
Stay Away From Cheap Knockoff Chargers
The problem with knockoffs, especially cheap knockoffs, is that they often don’t support the energy requirements of the device, or are not built to keep a steady flow safely. This can cause damage to the device but can also pose a safety/fire hazard. Overall, it’s best to stay 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 efficiently use a charger that did not include your smart phone, laptop, camera, tabletcomputer, or other apparatus. Be sure you follow what we said and you should be good to go!