Noco Battery Repair

Can You Use Any Charger With Any Mobile Phone, Notebook, 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 quite a few chargers through the years.  So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, notebook, camera, or tablet that isn’t the original manufacturer’s charger that came with the device?

Kinds of Chargers

In this article, we’ll concentrate on three types of chargers: laptop chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with telephones, tablets, and cameras), and Apple Lightning Connectors.  While some devices have chargers using a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most common.

Laptop chargers are rather specific to the device they include.  However, there can be some generic chargers which boast the ability to be interchanged between notebooks.  This always requires changing of the charger”head” and might not be the best charging amperage or voltage to your device.

Micro USBs are theoretically designed to be interchangeable, and are standard in most 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 (depending on its recorded amps and voltage).

For older devices using 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, while notebook chargers are often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is only one part of the equation.

How Voltage and Amperage Matter

Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you’ll get a tag 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 the wall.  For the device you’re attempting to control, 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 into the device, or how much is being”pushed” into the device 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 a voltage could short out the device and potentially even begin 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 will never change, but the amount of amps that the device pulls may change depending on how hard the unit is working.  The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device will be the max amount of amps which may be pulled by the device.  In order to swap chargers, the amp number on the charger must equal or exceed the amp number recorded on the device’s battery. If a unit is paired with a charger that cannot support the amp requirement, it can burn out the power source and kill the device.

So if you have a modern USB device (smart phone, tablet, 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 might not work with USB ports that use the new Battery Charging Specification.

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

Some devices might 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 apparatus can take 5v minus 5% 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 they charge.  That’s pretty much how they work.  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 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 issue with knockoffs, particularly cheap knockoffs, is that they frequently don’t support the power needs of the device, or are not built to maintain a steady flow safely.  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 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 effectively use a charger that did not come with your smart phone, laptop, camera, tabletcomputer, or other device.  Make sure to follow what we said and you should be good to go!