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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 have probably compiled quite a few 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 that came with the device?

Types of Chargers

In this guide, we’ll focus on three types of chargers: laptop chargers, micro USB chargers (these are used with telephones, tablets, and cameras), and Apple Lightning Connectors.  While some devices have chargers using a slightly different head or charging cable, these are the most common.

Laptop chargers are fairly unique to the device they include.  However, there may be some generic chargers that boast the capability to be interchanged between notebooks.  This always requires changing of the charger”head” and might not be the best charging amperage or voltage to your device.

Micro USBs are 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 (based 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.

The Plugs Must Be The Same

In order for a charger to be used on a different device, it’s essential 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 usually specific to both make and model.  However, the plug fitting securely is only 1 part of this equation.

Determined by 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 found at the bottom of the charger, where it would meet up with the wall.  For the device you’re 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 in the device, or how much is being”pushed” into the apparatus by the charger.  A phone will usually pull up to approximately 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 start a fire, while too low a voltage will fail to charge the battery.

Amperage is how quickly power is”pulled” to the device, or how much electricity is used by the device.  The amount of volts will never 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 are the max amount of amps that can be pulled from 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 device is paired with a charger that cannot support the amp necessity, it may burn out the power supply and kill the device.

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 quicker charging (so long as the voltage is equivalent ).  *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 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 can use a charger rated at 4.75 to 5.25v because that score is telling you is that the apparatus can take 5v minus 5% of 5v = 4.75 volts  OR  5v plus 5% of 5v = 5.25 volts. 

An interesting thing to note is all chargers supply a higher voltage than the batteries that they charge.  That’s pretty much how they work.  There needs to be a voltage differential to produce the necessary current flow in the correct direction to charge the battery.  When 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, particularly cheap knockoffs, is they often don’t support the energy needs of the device, or aren’t built to maintain a steady flow safely.  Overall, it’s best to stick with the charger made for the device you’re 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 include your smart phone, laptop, camera, tablet, or other device.  Make certain to follow what we said and you should be good to go!