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

Every mobile phone, notebook, and tablet appear to come with their own charger.  If you are like me, you have probably compiled a number of chargers through the years.  So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, notebook, camera, or tablet that is not the original manufacturer’s charger that came with the device?

Kinds of Chargers

In this article, 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 include.  However, there may be some generic chargers which boast the ability to be interchanged between notebooks.  This always requires changing of this charger”head” and may not be the optimal charging amperage or voltage to your device.

Micro USBs are theoretically 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’ll explain this further later and how to know whether the charger is safe to use (based on its recorded 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 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 securely into the charging port of the unit.  Micro USBs are the same across the board so far as charging heads, whilst notebook chargers are usually specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting securely is just 1 part of the equation.

How Voltage and Amperage Matter

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 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 company’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 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” to the device, or how much electricity is used by the device.  The amount of volts won’t ever change, but the amount 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 are the max amount of amps which may be pulled from the device.  The number found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled simultaneously. If a device is paired with a charger that cannot support the amp necessity, 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 faster charging (so long as the voltage is equivalent ).  *Website Note: if you have an older device, it might not work with USB interfaces that employ the newest Battery Charging Specification.

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

Some devices might have their voltage listed with a plus/minus on it like that: 5v +- 5%.  If this is the case, you may 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 and 5% of 5v = 5.25 volts. 

An interesting thing to note is chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge.  That is pretty much how they work.  There needs to be a voltage differential to generate the necessary current flow in the correct direction to charge the battery.  When you look at your vehicle, it has a 12V battery, but typical alternators provide 13.8 to 14.4V charging voltage to the battery.

The problem with knockoffs, especially cheap knockoffs, is they frequently don’t support the power requirements of the device, or aren’t built to keep a steady flow securely.  Overall, it’s better to stay with the charger designed for the device you’re using.

Now You Understand How to Safely & Effectively Swap Chargers

I hope this article was able to assist you.  Now you know how to safely and effectively use a charger that did not come with your smart phone, laptop, camera, tablet, or other device.  Make certain to follow what we said and you should be ready to go!