Can You Charge Other Devices With A USB-C Laptop Charger?

Do you wonder if you can charge other devices like smartphones with your USB-C laptop charger? Then, you should read this article to clarify your doubts on this question.

Nowadays, we all have many different chargers around the house, as most devices need their own charger to recharge their battery. However, in recent times. chargers with USB-C connection are the order of the day and the universality of this connector can allow us to charge different devices using a single charger. However, to what extent is this possible, and what about a laptop charger, whose power is much higher than that used by normal devices? In this article, we are going to dig into this and tell you what you can charge with a USB-C laptop charger.

Each device usually comes with its own charger, and there are times when we get to the point where we don’t know which charger was for which device. Recently, USB-C chargers are becoming more and more widespread for multiple devices, especially for smartphones and laptops, so it’s natural to wonder if it wouldn’t be simpler to be able to use a single charger for everything, right?

You can charge (almost) anything with your laptop’s USB-C charger

With the recent rise in popularity of certain standards (USB-C and USB-PD), the short answer to the question we posed is that in general yes, it is safe to use a laptop’s powerful charger to charge other devices. However and as you may have noticed if you are an observant reader is that we have used the expression “in general”, since as always there are some exceptions because ultimately it will depend on the laptop charger and of course also on the device whose battery you intend to charge with it.

For compatibility between the laptop charger and the other device to be successful (i.e. for you to be able to use the laptop charger to charge the battery of another device) two conditions must be met, the most obvious of which is that they share the same physical type of port, in this case, USB-C.

In 2014, the USB-C connector was formally announced by USB Implementer’s Forum (USB-IF), a non-profit organization that brings together industry-leading companies such as Microsoft, Intel or Apple. USB-C (initially known as USB Type-C) was conceived with the idea of creating a single universal standard that would solve all the problems of previous designs; fully reversible, USB-C would be small enough to fit in smartphones, but robust enough to power laptops and even monitors, as you may already know.

Fast forward to 2020 and USB-C has become the new standard in all kinds of devices, and today the vast majority of smartphones and laptops already carry this connector for power; in fact, the European Union is pulling strings to ensure that USB-C is mandatory on all smartphones from now on, so not only is it becoming more and more common to find devices with this type of connector but it soon looks like it will be mandatory.

Therefore and in summary, the first condition obviously is that both the laptop charger and the device whose battery you intend to charge is USB-C since you obviously cannot aspire to charge the battery of for example a smartphone with a conventional laptop charger with its specific type of plug, at least not without using an adapter.

It is essential to know the charging protocol

Having a USB-C connector does not guarantee that everything is automatically compatible, and the second condition, in addition to both devices sharing the physical USB-C connector, is that they also have the same charging protocol. Fortunately, if your laptop charges its battery via a USB-C port it will almost certainly support the USB-PD (USB Power Delivery) charging protocol. This is the most common protocol today and allows power output of up to 20V at 5A (100 watts of power) on laptops, and is also the protocol behind fast charging technologies recently implemented by Apple and Google on their iPhone and Pixel handsets respectively, for example.

It is essential to know the charging protocol

Today, all modern batteries have a built-in charge controller that regulates the input voltage and prevents overcharging. This works in conjunction with the fact that most chargers also support different output voltage levels, so in practice this means that when you connect a charger to a device, the two have a sort of “conversation” or “negotiation” in which the device “tells” the charger how much voltage and amperage to supply to charge your batter

Precisely because of this negotiation, this means that even if your device does not support fast charging function it will still work and charge its battery with your laptop’s USB-C charger, as the charger will simply default to the standard 5V and 1A rate needed by most devices. Now, whether it takes longer or shorter to charge the other device’s battery is another matter.

Always use an original/good quality charger

So far we have seen that the standard will allow you to charge virtually any modern device with a USB-C laptop charger, but there is one more thing to keep in mind: all of the above assumes that your laptop’s USB-C charger can successfully negotiate the power required by the other device, and while this is a very basic specification for almost any power supply, the reality is that there is still a small minority of “fake” and poor quality chargers that do not meet the specifications dictated by USB-IF.

Always use an original/good quality charger

So, the recommendation if you intend to charge another device using the USB-C charger of your laptop is to make sure that this is the original one (since it must meet a number of specifications and regulations, it must meet the USB-IF standard by necessity), or if it is not the original charger, make sure that at least it is of good quality and not a cheap and poor quality one that could give you problems.

You should know that some retailers like Amazon have already banned the sale of non-compliant USB chargers, but even so, it is still important to highlight this fact because if you try to charge the battery of, for example, a tablet with a charger “from the Chinese” could supply more voltage/amperage than you need (because it is not able to negotiate) and get to overload your device and damage it.

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