Chargers, Adapters & So on-Here’s What’s to Know

Every single device that we’re using nowadays comes with its very own charger. The moment you’re counting the devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop and so on) you realize that you have so many chargers and cables to handle on your desk. As clutter is one of the main problem around the house, it’s only natural that we’re all asking if we really need to use a single charger for just one device or it’s possible to find one that works for at least a couple of them.

Gone are the days when you couldn’t even ask this questions. At last, standards have changed so it’s easier for us to handle the whole situation. Let’s take it step by step and see what are the aspects to take under consideration.

What are the main types of chargers?

Even if the chargers have become more standardized in time, there are still various charger types to use out there:

main types of chargers

  • Laptop chargers

We still don’t have a standard type of charger for laptops. You still need to get the charger especially made for your laptop. Connectors aren’t standardized just yet so the risk for plugging the wrong charger into your laptop are really slim. There is some change happening as we speak thanks to the introduction of USB Type-C.

  • Micro-USB chargers

They used to be the standard for ages and many tablets and smartphones are still using the standard Micro-USB connectors. They actually took over the Mini-USB connectors and the according chargers that old cell phones used to have. In order to align to the European Union’s directives in terms of common type of chargers for smartphones, Apple had to design the Lighting-to-Micro-USB-adapter. And if you’re looking for a better organization of your cables on your desk, you can find now a device that winds and stores your MacBook charger in 5 seconds or so. Look for the discount coupons and give it a try asap.

  • Apple’s Lighting Connector

Apple sure has its own very special story in the world of chargers. It uses the Lighting connector for its mobile devices since 2012. The recent iOS devices are using the Lighting connector and may be linked to any Lighting charger certified/designed by Apple. The older devices are still using the 30-pin dock connector. However, Apple designed a connector that lets you link a new device to the Lighting connector to the older charges with the 30-pin dock connector (if it’s mandatory for you to do it).

  • USB Type C

This is the latest standard in the scene and it’s in fact a reversible connector that sustains higher data throughput and better charging rate. It literarily took the place of Micro-USB and it’s slowly becoming a standard charging solution for several laptops.

From what we know, you’re using at least one of the aforementioned chargers. So you also know which device uses which type of chargers so mixing or combining comes with its own risks.


Volts, amps and watts- what’s to know?

In order to understand the charger compatibility, it’s best that we get an idea about how they really work.

Thinking of a water flowing through a pipe is the most useful metaphor for understanding volts, amps and wats.

  • Voltage (V) relates to the water pressure
  • Amperage (A) refers to the volume of water going through a pipe
  • Wattage (W) is linked to the rate of water output and you find it out by multiplying the voltage by the amperage.

Volts, amps and watts

For years, mobile phone chargers would only come in two varieties: 5V/1A and 5V/2.1A. the small chargers were designed and used for the smartphones, whereas the larger ones were made for tablets. Any phone charger was used with pretty much any type of phone, and most tablet chargers were good to use on any tablet.

All Micro-USB chargers had a 5V rate, so you didn’t have to stress about plugging your phone into a charger with too high voltage by mistake.

It’s unbelievable that the things took for a turn and got more complicated. The larger device batteries and the revolutionary charging technology (Qualcomm’s Quick Charge) allow various formats (USB-C is just one of them) to provide better charging throughput. Chargers are more complex nowadays and all the info you need you can find it written in a very small text on the charger itself.

How does charging work?

Let’s say that your phone comes with a 5V/1A charger. As most of the modern chargers work a lot faster than that, we can say that this one is rather a slow charger. Does this mean you cannot use a 5V/2.1A nor a 9V/2A charger? One may be tempted to say “not”, but that’s not the case at all. As a matter of fact, a higher amperage charger is going to charge your phone a lot faster and safe too.

That’s because all modern batteries come with chip built-in that controls the input, so they’re able to allow what they can take. This type of chargers actually supports the “smart” features so you should always go with the high-quality chargers and not the cheap ones.

Charging bricks that handle more than 5V are going to be USB-C from end to end so it’s not possible to use a Lighting cable or a Micro-USB by accident.

Charging bricks usb-c

That’s the main reason for which you can use a Quick Charger on an old smartphone that doesn’t handle the Quick Charging technology as both the charger and the battery come with the safeguards in place, reducing the risk for accidents. Your phone is just going to charge at the normal speed its designed for.

Can any charger be used with just any device?

Shortly put, the answer is probably “yes”, but the results aren’t always the same. For instance, if you’re going to use a 5V/1A charger for your very new smartphone, you’re not going to be impressed with the results as it’s only going to charge your device a lot slower than its genuine charger. Many of the new smartphones out there do take faster chargers.

The situation is a bit different for laptop. If it comes with a specific charging port, you shouldn’t use anything else outside of the stock charger (you’re not going to be able, anyway). As USB-C is the very first USB technology that permits high throughput to charge laptop batteries, you’re going to need a new laptop that needs USB for charging and not a proprietary power cable. The obvious question is: can you use the smartphone charger on your laptop? What about the other way around?

The answer is going to be “yes” most of the time. However, a smartphone charger is going to work really slow for powering up your laptop, but it’s going to be able to charge it if the laptop is in standby mode. The best way to find out is to simply try it. If it’s not working, chances are it’s not going to damage your device.

USB-C laptop charger

Keep in mind that you may also use the USB-C laptop charger for charging your smartphone. The safeguards are going to let the charger and the battery to work together and automatically default to the fastest charging speed. It’s really amazing.

One last tip for the road

Even if you’re not going to be able to use just one charger for all of your devices at home, you may still use just one for the emergencies. Or you can get yourself involved in a very sophisticated project that is going to allow you use just one charger for all. Are you up for it?