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

Every mobile phone, notebook, and tablet appear to come with their own charger.  If you’re like me, you have probably compiled a number of chargers over the years.  So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, notebook, camera, or tablet computer that is not the original manufacturer’s charger which 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 fairly specific to the device they come with.  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 most smartphones, Android devices, and tablets.  Micro USB chargers typically have the exact same voltage, but may draw various amps.  I’ll explain this further later and how to know whether the charger is safe to use (based on its recorded amps and voltage).

For older devices using a 30-pin charge interface, a connector can be used to charge with the Lightning Connector.

The Plugs Must Be The Same

For a charger to be used on another 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 so far as charging heads, whilst laptop chargers are often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is only 1 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 other types of chargers, like a smartphone charger, this information is usually located at the bottom of the charger, in which it would meet up with the wall.  For the device you’re trying to control, 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 device, or how much is being”pushed” into the device 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 needed by the device.  This is important: drawing too high 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 fast 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 based on how hard the unit is working.  The number that you find on the battery that came with your device will be the max amount of amps which may be pulled by the device.  If a device is paired with a charger which can’t support the amp necessity, it may burn out the power source 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 faster charging (so long as the voltage is equivalent ).  *Website Note: if you have an older device, it may not work with USB ports that use the new Battery Charging Specification.

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

Some devices might have their voltage listed using a plus/minus on it like that: 5v +- 5%.  If this is true, you may 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 plus 5% of 5v = 5.25 volts.  This means anything between 4.75 t0 5.25v is safe to use (so long as the amperage of the charger is equal to or higher than the device’s listed amperage).

An interesting point to note is all chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge.  That’s pretty much how they operate.  There needs 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 has 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, particularly cheap knockoffs, is that they often don’t support the energy requirements 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 designed 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 effectively use a charger that did not come with your smart phone, notebook, camera, tabletcomputer, or other apparatus.  Be certain to follow exactly what we said and you should be ready to go!