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’ve probably compiled quite a few chargers through the years. So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, laptop, camera, or tablet that is not the original manufacturer’s charger which came with the device?
Types of Chargers
In this article, we’ll focus on three types of chargers: laptop chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with telephones, 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 fairly specific to the device they come with. However, there may 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 theoretically designed to be interchangeable, and are standard in many smartphones, Android devices, and tablets. Micro USB chargers typically have the same voltage, but may draw different amps. I will 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 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 a different device, it’s important 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 often specific to both make and model. However, the plug fitting securely is only 1 part of the equation.
Determined by the power brick of the charger you will find 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 charge, the voltage and amperage required will be seen 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 device, or just how much is being”pushed” into the device by the charger. A phone will usually pull up to approximately 5V, though a notebook can pull up to 25V. A charger must equal the voltage required by the device. This is important: drawing too high of a voltage could short out the device and possibly even begin 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 device 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 maximum amount of amps which can be pulled from the device. If a unit is paired with a charger which can’t support the amp requirement, it may burn out the power supply and kill the device.
So for those who have a modern USB device (smart phone, tabletcomputer, 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 may have their voltage recorded using a plus/minus on it like this: 5v +- 5%. If this is the case, 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 percent of 5v = 4.75 volts OR 5v and 5 percent of 5v = 5.25 volts. So this means anything between 4.75 t0 5.25v is safe to use (as long as the amperage of the charger is equivalent to or higher than the device’s listed amperage).
An interesting thing to note is all 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 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 typical 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 requirements of the device, or aren’t built to keep a steady flow safely. This can cause damage to the device but can also pose a safety/fire hazard. Overall, it’s best to stay with the charger made for the device you are using.
Now You Understand 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 include your smart phone, laptop, camera, tabletcomputer, or other device. Make certain to follow exactly what we said and you should be good to go!