Can You Use Any Charger With Any Mobile Phone, Laptop, Camera, or Tablet?
Every cell phone, notebook, and tablet seem to come with their own charger. If you’re like me, you’ve 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 isn’t the original manufacturer’s charger which 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 specific to the device they include. However, there can be some generic chargers which boast the capability to be interchanged between laptops. This always requires changing of the charger”head” and might not be the best charging amperage or voltage for your device.
Micro USBs are 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’ll explain this further later and how to know if the charger is safe to use (depending on its recorded amps and voltage).
For older devices with a 30-pin charge port, a connector can be used to charge with the Lightning Connector.
The Plugs Must Be The Same
For a charger for use 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, while notebook chargers are usually specific to both make and model. However, the plug fitting firmly is just 1 part of this equation.
How Voltage and Amperage Matter
Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you will get a tag with the charger’s voltage (V) and amperage (A). For laptop chargers, this charging brick is often halfway down the charger and appears exactly like it sounds — a brick. For other types of chargers, like a smartphone charger, this information is usually located at the base of the charger, where it would meet up with the wall. For the device you’re trying to charge, 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 into the device, or how much is being”pushed” to the device 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.
Amperage is how quickly power is”pulled” to the device, or how much power is used by the device. The amount of volts won’t ever change, but the quantity of amps that the device pulls may change based on how hard the device is working. The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device are the maximum amount of amps that can be pulled by the device. The amount 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 necessity, it can burn out the power supply and kill the device.
So if you have a modern USB device (smart phone, tabletcomputer, 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 use the new Battery Charging Specification.
If The Micro USB Charger’s Voltage Isn’t 5v…
Some devices may have their voltage recorded 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 rating is telling you is that the device can take 5v minus 5 percent of 5v = 4.75 volts OR 5v and 5 percent 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 equal to or higher than the device’s listed amperage).
An interesting point to note is all chargers supply a higher voltage than the batteries they charge. That is pretty much how they operate. There has 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, particularly cheap knockoffs, is they frequently don’t support the energy needs of the device, or aren’t built to maintain a steady flow safely. Overall, it’s best to stay 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 come with your smart phone, laptop, camera, tablet, or other apparatus. Be sure you follow what we said and you should be ready to go!