Sealed Battery Repair

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

Every cell phone, laptop, and tablet seem to come with their own charger.  If you’re like me, you’ve probably compiled quite a few chargers over the years.  So the question becomes: is it safe to use a charger with your phone, notebook, camera, or tablet computer that is not the original manufacturer’s charger which came with the device?

Types of Chargers

In this guide, we’ll focus on three types of chargers: notebook 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 rather specific to the device they include.  However, there can be some generic chargers that boast the ability to be interchanged between notebooks.  This always requires changing of the charger”head” and may 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 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 whether the charger is safe to use (based on its listed amps and voltage).

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

The Plugs Must Be The Same

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

Determined by the power brick of the charger you will get a label 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 base of the charger, where it would meet up with the wall.  For the device you are trying to charge, the voltage and amperage required will be seen 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 device, or just how much is being”pushed” into the apparatus by the charger.  A phone will usually pull up to approximately 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” into the apparatus, or how much power is used by the device.  The quantity of volts will never change, but the amount of amps that the system 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 that can be pulled from the device.  To be able to exchange chargers, the amp number on the charger must equal or exceed the amp number listed 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 apparatus.

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 (as long as the voltage is equal).  *Site Note: if you have an older device, it may not work with USB ports that employ the newest Battery Charging Specification.

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

Some devices might have their voltage listed using a plus/minus on it like that: 5v +- 5%.  If this is true, 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 percent of 5v = 5.25 volts.  This means anything between 4.75 t0 5.25v is safe to use (so long as the amperage of the charger is equivalent to or higher than the device’s listed amperage).

An interesting point to note is all chargers supply a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge.  That’s pretty much how they operate.  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.

Stay Away From Cheap Knockoff Chargers

The issue with knockoffs, particularly cheap knockoffs, is that they frequently don’t support the power requirements of the apparatus, or are not built to maintain 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 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, notebook, camera, tablet, or other device.  Make sure to follow what we said and you should be ready to go!