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

Every mobile phone, notebook, 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 computer that is not the original manufacturer’s charger that came with the device?

Kinds 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.  Although some devices have chargers using a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most common.

Laptop chargers are fairly unique to the device they include.  However, there may be some generic chargers that boast the capability 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 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 listed amps and voltage).

Apple Lightning Connectors are standard on all new Apple devices, including iPads and iPods. For older devices using a 30-pin charge interface, a connector can be used to control the Lightning Connector.

The Plugs Must Be The Same

In order for a charger to be used on another device, it’s important that the plug  of the charger (the”head”) fit snugly to the charging port of the unit.  Micro USBs are the same across the board so far as charging heads, while laptop chargers are usually specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is only 1 part of the equation.

How Voltage and Amperage Matter

Determined by 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 up with the wall.  For the device you are trying to control, 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 into the apparatus, or just how much is being”pushed” to 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 needed by the device.  This is important: drawing too high a voltage could short out the device and possibly even start a fire, while too low a voltage will fail to charge the battery.

Amperage is how fast 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 unit is working.  The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device will be the maximum amount of amps which may be pulled by the device.  The number found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled at once. In order 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 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 equivalent ).  *Website Note: if you have an older device, it may not work with USB ports that use the newest Battery Charging Specification.

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

Some devices might have their voltage recorded with a plus/minus on it like that: 5v +- 5%.  If this is true, you may 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 plus 5% of 5v = 5.25 volts.  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 greater than the device’s listed amperage).

An interesting point to note is 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 way 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 they frequently don’t support the power needs of the device, or are not built to maintain a steady flow safely.  Overall, it’s better to stick with the charger designed for the device you are 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 efficiently use a charger that did not include your smart phone, laptop, camera, tabletcomputer, or other device.  Make certain you follow what we said and you should be ready to go!