Can You Use Any Charger With Any Cell Phone, Laptop, Camera, or Tablet?
Every cell phone, notebook, and tablet appear to come with their own charger. If you’re like me, you’ve probably compiled a number of 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 which came with the device?
Types of Chargers
In this article, we will focus on three types of chargers: laptop 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 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 might not be the optimal charging amperage or voltage to your device.
Micro USBs are designed to be interchangeable, and are standard in many 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 (based on its listed amps and voltage).
For older devices with a 30-pin charge port, a connector can be used to charge with the Lightning Connector.
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, while notebook chargers are usually specific to both make and model. However, the plug fitting securely is just one part of the equation.
How Voltage and Amperage Matter
Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you’ll find a tag 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 the wall. For the device you’re attempting to charge, the voltage and amperage required will be found 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 around 5V, though a laptop can pull up to 25V. A charger must equal the voltage required by the device.
Amperage is how quickly power is”pulled” into the device, 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 depending on how hard the unit is working. The number that you find on the battery that came with your device will be the maximum amount of amps which may be pulled from the device. 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 device is paired with a charger which can’t support the amp requirement, it may burn out the power source and kill the device.
So if you have a modern USB device (smart phone, tabletcomputer, or camera) you can plug into a high-amperage USB port and enjoy quicker charging (as long as the voltage is equal). *Site Note: if you have an older device, it may not work with USB interfaces that use the newest 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 may use a charger rated at 4.75 to 5.25v because that rating is telling you is that the device can take 5v minus 5% of 5v = 4.75 volts OR 5v and 5 percent of 5v = 5.25 volts. So this means anything between 4.75 t0 5.25v is safe to use (as long as the amperage of the charger is equivalent to or higher than the device’s listed amperage).
An interesting point to note is chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries they charge. That is pretty much how they work. There needs to be a voltage differential to produce the necessary current flow in the correct way 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 issue with knockoffs, especially cheap knockoffs, is they frequently don’t support the energy needs of the apparatus, or are not 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 efficiently use a charger that did not come with your smart phone, notebook, camera, tabletcomputer, or other device. Be certain to follow what we said and you should be ready to go!