Notebook Battery Repair

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

Every mobile phone, laptop, and tablet seem to come with their own charger.  If you’re 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, laptop, camera, or tablet computer that is not the original manufacturer’s charger that came with the device?

Kinds of Chargers

In this guide, we’ll focus on three types of chargers: notebook chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with phones, tablet computers, 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 unique to the device they come with.  However, there can be some generic chargers that boast the ability to be interchanged between laptops.  This always requires changing of the charger”head” and may not be the best charging amperage or voltage to your device.

Micro USBs are theoretically designed to be interchangeable, and are standard in many smartphones, Android devices, and tablets.  Micro USB chargers typically have the exact same voltage, but may draw various amps.  I will explain this further later and how to know whether the charger is safe to use (based on its listed amps and voltage).

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

In order for a charger to be used on another 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 as far as charging heads, whilst laptop chargers are often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is just one part of the equation.

Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you’ll find 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, where it would meet the wall.  For the device you’re trying 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 in the apparatus, or how much is being”pushed” to the apparatus by the charger.  A phone will usually pull up to approximately 5V, while a notebook can pull up to 25V.  A charger must equal the voltage required by the device. 

Amperage is how fast power is”pulled” to the device, or how much power is used by the device.  The amount of volts will never 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 max amount of amps that can be pulled from the device.  The number found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled simultaneously. To be able to exchange 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 which can’t support the amp necessity, it may 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 quicker charging (so long as the voltage is equal).  *Site Note: if you have an older device, it may not work with USB interfaces that employ the new Battery Charging Specification.

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

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

An interesting point to note is chargers supply a higher voltage than the batteries they charge.  That’s pretty much how they work.  There has to be a voltage differential to generate 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 problem with knockoffs, especially cheap knockoffs, is that they often don’t support the power needs of the apparatus, or aren’t built to maintain a steady flow securely.  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’re using.

Now You Know 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 include your smart phone, laptop, camera, tabletcomputer, or other device.  Make sure you follow what we said and you should be ready to go!