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

Every mobile phone, notebook, and tablet appear 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, laptop, camera, or tablet computer that isn’t the original manufacturer’s charger that came with the device?

Kinds of Chargers

In this article, we’ll focus on three types of chargers: laptop 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 come with.  However, there may be some generic chargers that boast the capability to be interchanged between laptops.  This always requires changing of this charger”head” and may not be the optimal charging amperage or voltage to your device.

Micro USBs are theoretically 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 will 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, such as iPads and iPods. For older devices with a 30-pin charge interface, 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 securely into the charging port of the unit.  Micro USBs are the same across the board so far as charging heads, while laptop chargers are often specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting securely is just one part of the equation.

How Voltage and Amperage Matter

Somewhere on the power brick of the charger you will 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 found 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 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 apparatus, or just how much is being”pushed” into the apparatus by the charger.  A phone will usually pull up to around 5V, though a notebook 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 fast power is”pulled” into the apparatus, or how much power is used by the device.  The amount of volts will never change, but the amount of amps that the device pulls may change depending on how hard the unit is working.  The number that you locate on the battery that came with your device are the maximum amount of amps which may be pulled from the device.  If a device 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 (so long as the voltage is equivalent ).  *Website Note: if you have an older device, it might not work with USB interfaces that use the new 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 percent of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v and 5 percent of 5v = 5.25 volts. 

An interesting point to note is all chargers provide a higher voltage than the batteries they charge.  That’s pretty much how they operate.  There needs to be a voltage differential to generate the necessary current flow in the proper way to charge the battery.  When you look at your vehicle, it’s a 12V battery, but typical 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 maintain a steady flow securely.  This can cause damage to the device but can also pose a safety/fire hazard. Overall, it’s best to stay with the charger designed for the device you’re using.

Now You Know 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, notebook, camera, tablet, or other device.  Make certain you follow exactly what we said and you should be ready to go!