So, you’ve got your iPad, you’ve been charging it faithfully with the official Apple iPad charger that came with your tablet, but you find yourself on the road, and you’ve forgotten to bring your charger, what should you do? If your response is to pack your iPad away until you get back to your charger, we have some news for you, almost any USB outlet will bring your iPad back to life. Not every outlet, mind you, let us explain why:
Amperes, milliampere-hours (mAh): What do they all mean?
You have likely seen the term ‘mAh’ when we talk about batteries in our favorite mobile devices, and the term ‘Amp’ when you look at the fine print on the charger that came with your iPad or other tablet. Your iPad has as much as 7340mAh and your iPad charger is rated at 2.1Amp but what does that really mean?
To state the obvious, your gadgets need a battery to get going. We evaluate batteries in terms of their ability to hold an electrical charge, hence the terms “charging” and “discharging”. When your iPad is turned on, it is discharging the battery, or, using up the stored electrical energy, and when we are charging, we are refilling the battery with electricity again. Having said that, the term “current”, which is calculated through the unit “Amperes,” describes the rate at which these electrical charges flow.
As a side note, and you know this already, your iPad does not discharge at a constant rate. Heavy gaming, use of mobile data and/or WiFi, and the like, which would require a higher amount of current to function properly, will discharge your iPad faster when compared to just casual browsing of the internet.
Moving on, when we speak of milliampere-hour (mAh), this denotes the amount of current that can be sustained by a battery for an hour. Simply put, this refers to the capacity of the battery, and the higher it’s rated, the bigger the capacity. As an example, let’s say you have a battery rated at 2000 mAh, if the average load needed to turn on the display of your device is 1000 milliamperes, then you will get 2 hours of battery life.
Time to put discharging behind us, let’s now look at the charging process.
All the concepts and properties of discharging a battery apply when we charge back up, except everything is basically in reverse. We mentioned that if you look at the fine print on your iPad charger you’ll see a current rating, measured in Amperes, or simply A. This is the rate at which your charger refills the electrical charge of your battery – the higher it’s rating, the faster it should charge. Taking our example earlier of a 2000 mAh battery, when connected to a charger rated at 2 A, (that’s 2000 mA,) you would only need 1 hour to fully charge back to full. Likewise, the same battery connected to a charger rated at only 1A would need 2 hours to fully charge.
Won’t a USB adapter for my phone work for my iPad?
You may have previously attempted to use a phone charger to power your iPad, you will have noticed that it works, however, it took forever to actually charge. Let us look at the numbers. Take for example the iPhone 6 (1810 mAh battery) and the iPad Air 2 (7,340 mAh). The chargers specifically made for these devices are rated at 1 Ampere and 2.1 Amperes, respectively. If you use the iPhone’s 1-Ampere charger for your 7,340 mAh iPad battery, it will take you more than 7 hours to fully charge your iPad Air 2. As you might imagine, your iPad’s charger, rated at 2.1 Ampere, will run about 3 and a half hours to fill up your tablet.
These calculations apply to the USB ports on your desktop or laptop as well. These ports are only able to supply approximately half an Ampere (0.5 Amperes, or 500 milliAmperes). We’ve already seen it take over 9 hours to charge on these USB ports, which works just fine, if you’ve got the time.
Why can’t I just use a 100 – Ampere charger to charge my iPad in an instant?
We live in a time of instant gratification, as such, you may be inclined to imagine a super-rapid charger, and I wish that were possible. Unfortunately, if such a charger even existed, it would only destroy your device. Yes, a charger that can supply more current would be able to charge your device faster, but that is only true to a certain point. Your devices are equipped with current-limiting components that would prevent them from receiving more current than they should, even 3 Ampere may be restricted on a device accustomed to 2.1 Ampere input. 100 Amperes is simply too much. In fact, that much current is even deadly and should not be messed with.
Which are the best USB adapters for my iPad?
Now that you know a little bit more about batteries, chargers and the electricity behind them, we would like to take a look at a few recommended USB adapters for your iPad.
Apple 12-Watt USB Adapter
[Price: $19.00, Amazon]
What better way to charge your iPad than to use Apple’s own USB adapter? Luckily, this guy comes in the box when you purchase a new iPad, but if you are looking for a spare, you can grab this original equipment charger from Apple, or through retailers like Amazon. Apple has two official USB adapters for the various iPads, they both feature a very compact design that is easy to travel with. One adapter is rated at 12 Watts, and offers 2.4 Amperes of current, the other is at 10 Watts for 2.1 Amperes of current, both are sure to efficiently charge your iPad in no time.
If genuine Apple products give you piece of mind, this is worth a shot.
Most of us own more than one device. Be it tablets, smartphones, iPods, or any of the many other battery powered electronic devices that rely on a USB charger. That being said, a dual port USB adapter can come in handy as it can charger more than one device at a time. The iClever Dual Port USB Adapter is like the Anker chargers we’ve looked at before, bringing their own smart charging, dubbed “Smart ID technology”, wherein the adapter can identify what specific device is plugged in so it can adjust the current output to provide maximum charging speed without destroying your device. I’d say its a pretty clever feature indeed.
It should be noted that this specific adapter rates both ports at a maximum of 2.4 Amperes each, giving you the ability to charge two iPads at a time, if needed. Other features of this adapter include protection from over-current, short-circuit, and over-temperature situations, and a discrete blue LED indicator to keep you informed of use without lighting the room at night.
Powergen’s USB adapter is fairly similar to iClever’s USB adapter above, at least in terms of features. Enjoy the same over-charging, short-circuit and over-temperature protection, plus dual ports and a discrete blue LED indicator. As to the dual ports themselves, this is where things get interesting. One port is labelled with “A”, and the other as “N/A”. What do they mean? Powergen claims that the port labelled with “A”, is designed to charge Apple products more efficiently, and the “N/A” port for non-Apple products.
Both ports offer a maximum current output of 2.4 Amperes each. This whole Apple vs Non-Apple thing must be related to Powergen’s sophisticated circuitry underneath aimed to provide fast charging for Android devices as well as your iPad.
To finish things off, here’s a video from our sister site Android Authority, which explains some of the common myths and misconceptions with relation to charging your device.
Now that you know a little more about how the electricity works in your iPad and the chargers that you choose to power it, we hope you find the best charger for your needs. Let us know what you think in the comments section below!