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

Every mobile phone, laptop, and tablet appear to come with their own charger.  If you are 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 is not the original manufacturer’s charger which came with the device?

Types of Chargers

In this guide, 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.  While 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 can be some generic chargers that boast the capability to be interchanged between laptops.  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 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 listed 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 charge with the Lightning Connector.

In order for a charger to be used on another 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 often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting firmly is just 1 part of this equation.

Determined by the power brick of the charger you’ll 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 typically looks exactly like it sounds — a brick. For other types of chargers, like a smartphone charger, this information is usually located at the bottom of the charger, in which it would meet the wall.  For the device you are 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 in the device, or just 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 required 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 quickly power is”pulled” to the apparatus, or how much power is used by the device.  The amount of volts will never change, but the quantity of amps that the device pulls may change depending 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 that may be pulled by the device.  In order to swap 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 requirement, it may burn out the power source 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 equivalent ).  *Site Note: if you have an older device, it may not work with USB ports that employ the new Battery Charging Specification.

If The Micro USB  Charger’s Voltage Is Not 5v…

Some devices may 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 score is telling you is that the device can take 5v minus 5% of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v plus 5% 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 higher than the device’s listed amperage).

An interesting point to note is chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge.  That is pretty much how they work.  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 car, 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, especially cheap knockoffs, is that they often don’t support the energy requirements of the apparatus, or are not built to keep a steady flow safely.  Overall, it’s best to stick with the charger designed for the device you’re 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 come with your smart phone, laptop, camera, tabletcomputer, or other apparatus.  Make sure to follow exactly what we said and you should be good to go!