Sentry Battery Charger Repair

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

Every mobile phone, laptop, and tablet seem to come with their own charger.  If you are like me, you have probably compiled a number of 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 that came with the device?

Types of Chargers

In this article, we’ll concentrate 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 rather unique to the device they come with.  However, there may 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 optimal charging amperage or voltage for 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 exact same voltage, but may draw different amps.  I will 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 with a 30-pin charge interface, a connector can be used to control the Lightning Connector.

The Plugs Must Be The Same

For a charger to be used on another device, it’s essential 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, whilst notebook chargers are often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is just 1 part of the equation.

How Voltage and Amperage Matter

Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you’ll get a label with the charger’s voltage (V) and amperage (A).  For notebook 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 located at the base of the charger, in which it would meet up with the wall.  For the device you are attempting to control, 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 apparatus, 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 quickly power is”pulled” into the apparatus, or how much electricity is used by the device.  The amount of volts won’t ever change, but the quantity of amps that the system pulls may change based on how hard the device 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 from the device.  The amount found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled simultaneously. In order to swap 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 apparatus.

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 newest 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 score is telling you is that the device can take 5v minus 5% of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v and 5% 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 equal to or greater than the device’s listed amperage).

An interesting thing to note is 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 proper 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 problem with knockoffs, especially cheap knockoffs, is 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 stick with the charger designed 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, tabletcomputer, or other device.  Be certain you follow what we said and you should be ready to go!