Can You Charge MacBook With a Phone Charger? (Tested!)

A charger is essential to any battery-powered device, be it a phone or a laptop. You might sometimes accidentally misplace your laptop charger or forget to bring it along with you while in a hurry and will have to resort to other methods to charge your laptop.

And since we all carry around a spare phone charger, you may be wondering whether or not it will be able to safely charge your MacBook. Let’s find out.

Can You Charge MacBook With a Phone Charger?

A MacBook can be charged with a phone charger as long as the phone charger provides at least the minimum wattage of the adapter included in your device.

Chargers have a list of voltages and currents that they are capable of providing over USB-C. The MacBook 30W adapter, for example, can output 20V at 1.5A, 9.0V at 3A, or 5V at 3A. In this case, 5V at 3A is the lowest output which equates to 15 Watts. (You can calculate the wattage by multiplying the Volts and Amps).

A typical phone charger (not a fast charger) provides a maximum of 5 Watts. This will be insufficient for charging your MacBook as it simply will not meet its voltage requirements. Other fast phone chargers, however, can range from 15 Watts (5V at 3A) to as high as 65 Watts. So in the case of a MacBook that uses a 30 Watt charger, a 15 Watt phone charger will be able to charge your MacBook.

It’s important to note that while a phone charger may meet minimum requirements to charge your MacBook. Because of the low wattage output, it may only charge your device when turned off. This is because, depending on the usage (For example, heavy processing), the MacBook will continue to drain the battery (at a slower rate) even when plugged in. Because of this using a phone charger to charge your device is not recommended for long-term use.

Additionally, you can also safely charge your MacBook with a charger that exceeds the wattage output of the charger that came with your device. This is because your MacBook will only accept a certain amount of power and will not exceed its recommended consumption. Because of this, Apple also states that it’s safe to use chargers with power outputs as high as 140W to charge an iPhone.

You can check the wattage of your charger as well as whether or not the charger is even charging your MacBook by navigating to the power menu. Hold the option key, select the Apple logo on the top left corner, select System Information, and then select Power. You can then find the wattage and other charging information in the AC Charger information section.

If your phone charger doesn’t provide enough wattage, the device will display “No” next to “Charging”.

Another important thing to be aware of is the risk of using a fake or off-brand charger. Fake or off-brand chargers are never recommended to charge your MacBook or any device because they may not follow the same safety standards as official chargers. This can result in the charger trying to output more power to the device than its capable of, thus can result in burning out the power adapter internally or damaging the internal power control circuitry on the logic board.

Here’s How Long it took us to Charge a MacBook with a Phone Charger

For this test, we used a MacBook Pro 14-inch model. The first test was done using an Apple 20W phone charger. When not in use and having the lid closed, the device was able to fully charge in approximately 5 hours and 46 minutes.

Next, we tested using our MacBook while keeping it plugged into the charger to see if it would charge (Light usage, checking emails…etc.). And the results were exactly as expected the battery continued to drain (Although at a slower rate) even when plugged in.

We then tested using a 30W phone charger. With light use, the charger was able to slowly charge the laptop. However, with heavy usage, the battery continued to drain.

So overall, if you’re going to use a phone charger to charge your MacBook, it’s best to let it charge when not in use. Shut off your MacBook or close the lid and give it some time to recharge.

Final Thoughts

A phone charger will be capable of charging certain models. However, it’s not recommended for long-term use since the power output will not be enough to sustain heavy workloads when the device is in use. The charging length is also prolonged even when charging your MacBook with the lid closed. Additionally, you should avoid using brand or fake chargers to charge your MacBook as they may not follow certain safety standards, which can lead to permanent damage.

Steven Carr

Steven is a certified IT professional and gaming enthusiast. He has been working in the tech industry for over 10 years, and specializes in all things Tech-related. When he's not geeking out over the latest hardware or software release, he can be found testing out the latest video game.

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