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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’re 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 is not the original manufacturer’s charger which came with the device?

Types of Chargers

In this article, we will focus on three types of chargers: notebook chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with phones, 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 frequent.

Laptop chargers are fairly specific to the device they come with.  However, there may be some generic chargers which boast the capability to be interchanged between notebooks.  This always requires changing of this 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 most smartphones, Android devices, 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 (based on its recorded amps and voltage).

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 for use on a different device, it’s essential 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 laptop chargers are usually specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting securely is only 1 part of this equation.

Somewhere on 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, in which it would meet the wall.  For the device you’re attempting 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 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” to the apparatus, or how much power is used by the device.  The amount of volts won’t ever change, but the amount of amps that the system pulls may change based on how hard the unit is working.  The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device will be the max amount of amps which can be pulled from the device.  The amount found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled simultaneously. In order 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 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 equal).  *Website Note: if you have an older device, it might 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 using 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 apparatus can take 5v minus 5% of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v and 5 percent of 5v = 5.25 volts.  So 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 greater than the device’s listed amperage).

An interesting thing to note is chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge.  That’s pretty much how they work.  There has to be a voltage differential to produce the necessary current flow in the correct direction to charge the battery.  If you look at your car, it has a 12V battery, but typical 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 apparatus, or are not built to maintain a steady flow securely.  Overall, it’s better to stick with the charger made for the device you are using.

Now You Understand How to Safely & Effectively Swap Chargers

I hope this article was able to help you.  Now you know how to safely and effectively use a charger that did not include your smart phone, laptop, camera, tablet, or other apparatus.  Be certain to follow exactly what we said and you should be ready to go!