Milwaukee Battery Repair Kit

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

Every cell phone, laptop, and tablet seem to come with their own charger.  If you are 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 that isn’t 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.  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 can be some generic chargers that boast the capability to be interchanged between laptops.  This always requires changing of the 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 most smartphones, Android devices, and tablets.  Micro USB chargers typically have the exact same voltage, but may draw different amps.  I will explain this further later and how to know whether 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 with a 30-pin charge port, a connector can be used to charge with the Lightning Connector.

The Plugs Must Be The Same

For a charger for use on another device, it’s essential that the plug  of the charger (the”head”) fit securely into the charging port of the device.  Micro USBs are the same across the board as far as charging heads, whilst laptop chargers are often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is just 1 part of this equation.

How Voltage and Amperage Matter

Determined by 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 located at the bottom of the charger, where it would meet the wall.  For the device you are trying 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 device, or just how much is being”pushed” to 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 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 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 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 will be the maximum amount of amps which may be pulled by the device.  If a unit is paired with a charger which can’t support the amp necessity, it can burn out the power source and kill the device.

So for those who have a modern USB device (smart phone, tablet, or camera) you can plug into a high-amperage USB port and enjoy faster charging (as 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 Is Not 5v…

Some devices may have their voltage listed with 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 score is telling you is that the device 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 thing to note is all chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries they charge.  That’s pretty much how they operate.  There needs to be a voltage differential to produce the necessary current flow in the correct direction to charge the battery.  If you look at your vehicle, it has 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 that they often don’t support the power requirements of the apparatus, or aren’t built to maintain a steady flow securely.  This can cause damage to the device but can also pose a safety/fire hazard. Overall, it’s best to stay with the charger designed for the device you are 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 include your smart phone, notebook, camera, tabletcomputer, or other device.  Make sure to follow exactly what we said and you should be good to go!