Tri Cities Battery And Auto Repair

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

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

Kinds of Chargers

In this guide, we will concentrate on three types of chargers: notebook chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with phones, tablets, and cameras), and Apple Lightning Connectors.  Although some devices have chargers with 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 capability to be interchanged between notebooks.  This always requires changing of the charger”head” and may not be the optimal charging amperage or voltage to your device.

Micro USBs are designed to be interchangeable, and are standard in most smartphones, Android apparatus, 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 whether the charger is safe to use (depending on its recorded amps and voltage).

Apple Lightning Connectors are standard on all new Apple devices, including iPads and iPods. For older devices with a 30-pin charge port, 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 important that the plug  of the charger (the”head”) fit securely into the charging port of the device.  Micro USBs are the same across the board so far as charging heads, whilst laptop chargers are usually 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 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 bottom of the charger, where it would meet the wall.  For the device you’re attempting 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 in the device, or how much is being”pushed” to the apparatus 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.  This is important: drawing too high a voltage could short out the device and possibly even begin a fire, while too low a voltage will fail to charge the battery.

Amperage is how fast 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 will be the max amount of amps which can be pulled by the device.  The number found on the charger is how many amps can be pulled simultaneously. If a device is paired with a charger which can’t support the amp requirement, it may burn out the power supply and kill the apparatus.

So for those who have a modern USB device (smart phone, tabletcomputer, or camera) you can plug into a high-amperage USB port and enjoy faster charging (so long as the voltage is equal).  *Website 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 Is Not 5v…

Some devices might have their voltage listed with 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 apparatus can take 5v minus 5% of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v and 5 percent of 5v = 5.25 volts. 

An interesting point to note is all chargers supply a higher voltage than the batteries they charge.  That is pretty much how they work.  There has to be a voltage differential to generate the necessary current flow in the correct way to charge the battery.  When 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, especially cheap knockoffs, is that they frequently don’t support the energy needs of the device, or aren’t built to keep a steady flow safely.  Overall, it’s better to stick with the charger made for the device you’re 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 effectively use a charger that did not come with your smart phone, laptop, camera, tablet, or other apparatus.  Make sure to follow what we said and you should be ready to go!