Repair Dewalt 20V Battery

Can You Use Any Charger With Any Cell Phone, Laptop, 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 over the years.  So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, notebook, camera, or tablet computer that isn’t the original manufacturer’s charger that came with the device?

Kinds of Chargers

In this article, we will concentrate 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 with a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most common.

Laptop chargers are fairly 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 optimal charging amperage or voltage for your device.

Micro USBs are theoretically designed to be interchangeable, and are standard in many 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 listed amps and voltage).

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

The Plugs Must Be The Same

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 as far as charging heads, whilst notebook chargers are often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting securely is only one part of this equation.

Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you will find a tag with the charger’s voltage (V) and amperage (A).  For laptop chargers, this charging brick is often halfway down the charger and typically looks exactly like it sounds — a brick. For other types of chargers, like a smartphone charger, this information is usually found at the base of the charger, in which it would meet the wall.  For the device you’re trying to control, 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 into the device, or 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. 

Amperage is how fast power is”pulled” into the apparatus, or how much electricity is used by the device.  The amount of volts will never change, but the quantity of amps that the device pulls may change based on how hard the device is working.  The number that you find on the battery that came with your device are 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 at once. If a unit is paired with a charger which can’t 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 (so long as the voltage is equal).  *Website 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 listed with a plus/minus on it like this: 5v +- 5%.  If this is true, you may 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 percent of 5v = 5.25 volts. 

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

Stay Away From Cheap Knockoff Chargers

The problem with knockoffs, especially cheap knockoffs, is that they frequently don’t support the power requirements of the apparatus, or are not built to keep a steady flow securely.  This can cause damage to the device but can also pose a safety/fire hazard. Overall, it’s better to stay with the charger made for the device you’re 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 efficiently use a charger that did not come with your smart phone, laptop, camera, tablet, or other device.  Be sure to follow exactly what we said and you should be ready to go!