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Are wall chargers interchangeable?

While packing for my upcoming trip I came up with this question? Would my IPhone charger and my Sony Cyber-shot camera be able to use the same wall charger? They both have similar features, they each plug into the wall and have a USB port. The only differences are on the cords, and I would have both. Would there be a difference in electricity output, or ?. I just checked my Mophie power bank and it would seem that only 1 wall charger should suffice for all 3? Is there specific info on the wall charger that I should look for? Maybe this is a ridiculous question, but I don’t normally think about it here at home but rather just plug it in. I travel very light so each item should be necessary! I’d welcome advice! Any yes, I do carry the proper wall adapters, and each charger says 100-240v so they are fine for Europe.

Posted by
5827 posts

Maybe. Look at the specification nameplate of your charger units. Our iPhone 6 charger is rated with a 5 watt (5 VDC 1 Amp) output.

It appears that Sony chargers are rated with a 5 VDC 1.5 Amp output.

If your Sony camera's charge time is based on a 1500 mA at 5 VDC, I would expect that it would take 50% longer to charge at 1000 mA from your iPhone charger. It shouldn't do any damage as both chargers output at 5 VDC.

Posted by
3494 posts

USB is a standardized interface. The output of one USB plug/charger is compatible with others. This does not mean each produces the same amount of power or that one can run another device off of a different USB plug.

The power output can vary greatly. While it will never hurt to plug a device into a lower power USB, it just means the device will either take longer to recharge, or it might not charge at all. Plugging into a higher power USB plug will allow the device to charge faster than it normally does using the USB charge provided with the device. The device being charged will never pull more power from a USB charger than it can handle as well as never trying to pull more power than the charger can provide.

If you are wanting to save the small amount of space most modern USB chargers occupy, leave the lower power one (in this case Apple) at home and take the higher power output one with you. It would be good to test that the devices will charge from the other charger before leaving home.

Posted by
6792 posts

I can only say that while a USB output will not damage any device, the power output does vary. This means that on some chargers, my Samsung phone takes either 2 hours or 12 hours to charge, and my tablet may not charge at all if the output is not high enough.

In my experience, for the small amount of space and weight, best to take your original 110V to USB charger for each device. If you play around and determine that one works for all your devices at home, then no difference in Europe.

Posted by
94 posts

Thanks for the advice. I will give the charger that I will most likely take to Europe a trial run with each device first before it gets packed up.

Posted by
32050 posts


The "simple" answer is that if you were to take the charger with the highest current output, it should work to charge all devices (assuming that the charging current for all devices was below what the charger was designed to deliver).

There's a slight risk in using one charger for multiple devices. If that charger were to fail or be forgotten in the last hotel you stayed in, you'd be without a charger for every device you have. I always make sure that I have a backup especially for things like that.

Posted by
6687 posts

Because we are still using an original Ipad (on the kitchen wall, as a calendar), I'd say it's important to understand that "Apple" does not sufficiently describe the current (Amperes) requirement of ALL Apple devices. Newer devices need more than the nominal output of a generic, white-box "USB Plug". Some Apple devices will run, but not increase their charge very much when attached to a minimal charger "wall wart."

It is generally understood that all Apple devices are well designed to stop charging when the device has reached its full charge. I think there are some, cheaper brand devices that it's not recommended to leave plugged in for long periods of time after they are full. There are a number of USB supplies that have both a low-current and a high-current output, to reduce worry about these differences.

Posted by
5827 posts

Here's a maybe answer from Popular Mechanics:

The actual amperage is determined by the load (i.e., the iPad or
iPhone). According to Steve Sandler, founder and chief technical
officer of AEi Systems, an electronics analysis company, modern
battery-powered electronics have a lot of complexity between the
charger and the battery, including battery-charging circuits within
the device and battery-protection circuits in the lithium-ion battery
itself. These circuits are designed to manage the flow of electricity
to the battery, and if the circuits inside the iPhone were designed to
tolerate 1 amp, but are routinely exposed to 2 amps, that could stress
the system over time.

Posted by
31007 posts

designed to tolerate 1 amp, but are routinely exposed to 2 amps, that could stress the system over time.

Sorry, especially to Popular Mechanics with which I spent many a happy hundred or two hours when an electronics mad kid back in the stone age at the beginning of transistors and the decline of the vacuum tube, but that's a load of tripe.

Posted by
94 posts

So, judging by the array of responses this is ‘clear as mud’ for a lot of folks out there as well! I actually started to realize the difference in charging capability when I attempted charging my new Mophie power bank. It arrived with a short cord ending in a USB. I originally tried charging it using the old style Apple ‘cube’. It wouldn’t fully charge. I called Mophie and they suggested trying a different charging device. I tried the newer Apple charging ‘cube’, the one with the folding plug. I’m guessing it is capable of a faster charge. I was using a USB attachment each time with very different results. Anyway, the new Apple charger worked great.
Nigel, I love your response. Sounds to me like there’s a good story behind your comment.
As for me, I am a woman with very little understanding as to the specifics of how the electrical components work. I’m probably more likely to learn to speak Hungarian overnight! I just want all my devices working when I need them. Thanks to all for the help!