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

Every mobile phone, laptop, and tablet appear 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 article, we’ll focus on three types of chargers: notebook 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 common.

Laptop chargers are fairly unique to the device they come with.  However, there may be some generic chargers that boast the capability to be interchanged between notebooks.  This always requires changing of the 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 same voltage, but may draw various 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 interface, a connector can be used to control the Lightning Connector.

The Plugs Must Be The Same

For a charger to be used on a different device, it’s essential 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, whilst laptop chargers are often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is only one part of the equation.

Determined by 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 appears 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 up with the wall.  For the device you are trying to control, the voltage and amperage required will be seen on the battery that came with the device or on the manufacturer’s website.

Voltage is how much power the charger will draw in the device, or how much is being”pushed” into 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 required by the device.  This is important: drawing too high of a voltage could short out the device and possibly even start a fire, while too low a voltage will fail to charge the battery.

Amperage is how quickly power is”pulled” into the device, or how much power is used by the device.  The quantity of volts won’t ever change, but the amount 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 will be the maximum amount of amps that may be pulled by the device.  The amount found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled simultaneously. If a unit is paired with a charger that cannot support the amp requirement, it may burn out the power source 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 quicker charging (so long as the voltage is equal).  *Site Note: if you have an older device, it might not work with USB ports that employ the newest Battery Charging Specification.

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

Some devices may have their voltage recorded using a plus/minus on it like this: 5v +- 5%.  If this is true, 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 percent of 5v = 5.25 volts. 

An interesting point to note is all chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge.  That is pretty much how they work.  There has to be a voltage differential to generate 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 problem with knockoffs, especially cheap knockoffs, is that they often don’t support the power needs of the device, or are not built to keep a steady flow securely.  This can result in damage to the device but can also pose a safety/fire hazard. Overall, it’s better to stay with the charger made for the device you’re using.

Now You Know 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 come with your smart phone, notebook, camera, tabletcomputer, or other apparatus.  Be sure you follow what we said and you should be good to go!