The Best USB-C Chargers: What’s Safe and What’s Dangerous?
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Updated in August of 2017

Looking for a USB-C What Is USB Type-C? What Is USB Type-C? Ah, the USB plug. It is as ubiquitous now as it is notorious for never being able to be plugged in right the first time. Read More charger? Beware! Most USB-C chargers sold on Amazon can damage your devices!

Fortunately, experts like Benson Leung and Nathan-K, and websites like GTrusted, put all the safest USB-C chargers and cables in one location. Leung and Nathan-K collaborated on a spreadsheet containing a detailed analysis of a tremendous number of chargers and cables. The spreadsheet can be difficult to read, so I’ve put together a list of their top recommendations along with some buying tips.

First, though, we need to explain why USB-C chargers can damage your gadgets.

Why USB-C Can Damage Your Devices

The biggest problem with USB-C chargers: manufacturers don’t perform proper testing and validation. It’s the same problem we saw back when dangerous USB-C cables How to Buy a USB-C Cable That Won't Destroy Your Devices How to Buy a USB-C Cable That Won't Destroy Your Devices A few months ago, Amazon banned USB-C cables that did not meet the standards set forth by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), and for good reason: such cables are prone to failure, can damage connected... Read More  set devices on fire.

Here’s the reason why: Unlike 10-watt USB ports on older devices, USB-C can push 100-watts. A 10-fold increase in power dramatically ratchets up the potential for explosion and fire.

Lumsing Best USB-C Chargers Tested

If you just want a list of safe USB-C chargers, skip to the section “What Are the Best USB-C Chargers?” below. If you want an explanation of the spreadsheet, and some of the flaws that can damage your devices, continue reading.

USB-C Charger Problems

Before reading further, you need to understand the reasons why Leung and Nathan-K rated some chargers poorly:

  • Shady cables — While some chargers won’t start fires or damage devices, they often ship with cables that can. You’re better off buying vetted USB-C cables How to Buy a USB-C Cable That Won't Destroy Your Devices How to Buy a USB-C Cable That Won't Destroy Your Devices A few months ago, Amazon banned USB-C cables that did not meet the standards set forth by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), and for good reason: such cables are prone to failure, can damage connected... Read More separate from the adapter.
  • Quick Charge 3.0 — If a USB-C port can output Quick Charge, it’s out of specification (we refer to this as “out of spec”) and potentially dangerous. However, Leung and Nathan-K don’t regard this as a deal-breaking shortcoming.
  • Legacy D+/D- Encoding — If a charger lacks legacy encoding, it means it can’t use old cables (such as Micro-USB) even when fitted with adapters.
  • Split PDO or Bad PDO — This means the charger outputs an out-of-specification Power Data Object (PDO); it may not charge it its rated speed. It’s been reported that Split PDO causes a delay in when chargers output optimal power delivery.
  • IR drop compensation — A lack of an IR drop compensation means the charger doesn’t output a flat voltage at all loads. Excessive voltage drop-offs are known to cause damage to electrical equipment.

In addition to the above points, there are a few other important charger features that you should be aware of.

Quick Charge 3.0, Turbo, and Auto

Quick Charge 3.0, Turbo, Rapid: Modern battery manufacturers throw additional features onto chargers, such as “Rapid Charging” or “Turbo Charging” (such as Motorola’s USB-C Turbo Charger). Don’t be fooled. The majority of second party charging technologies aren’t proprietary. Both Turbo and Rapid charging are versions of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge specification What's a Quick Charger? Here's Why You Need One Now What's a Quick Charger? Here's Why You Need One Now Smartphones take less time to charge up these days and it's all thanks to a new technology called Quick Charge. If you don't have it yet, you'll want it soon. Read More , which comes built into newer Snapdragon processors. Phones manufactured in 2014 or later likely offer Quick Charge. The standard is reverse-compatible, meaning a Quick Charge 1.0 charger will work with a 3.0 phone and vice-versa. The slowest link in the chain bottlenecks power transfer speeds.
Motorola TurboPower 30 USB-C / Type C Fast Charger - SPN5912A (Retail Packaging) for Moto Z Force Motorola TurboPower 30 USB-C / Type C Fast Charger - SPN5912A (Retail Packaging) for Moto Z Force Motorola Original- Turbo Power 30 Charger SPN5912A with USB-C (Type C) connector. Brand new in retail box with warranty card Buy Now At Amazon $19.36

Motorola Turbo Power Charger USB-C

Auto: USB-A ports (the rectangular plugs) on most chargers deliver an “optimized” combination of voltage and amperage. A USB-A port (with auto) automatically senses how fast a device can charge and supplies an optimized amount of power. There’s nothing special about this feature, and despite branding attempts, most implementations function identically to one another. More or less, you can ignore the marketing gimmicks as they relate to USB-A ports.

USB Type-C Power Delivery

USB-C (revision 2) transfers power using a standard called Power Delivery. When you connect a charger to a smartphone, both devices negotiate a power transfer which varies in amperage and voltage. Most chargers can deliver one to six different combinations — multiplying the two together equals wattage. For example, if a charger uses 5 V at 3 amps, it’s pushing 15 watts. If it’s using 15 V at 3 amps, that’s 45 watts to your device.

When picking a charger for a device, you just need to know the maximum voltage and amperage it can use. Pictured below, you’ll see an adapter for an Acer Switch Alpha 12 Acer Switch Alpha 12 Hybrid Tablet Review Acer Switch Alpha 12 Hybrid Tablet Review Looking for a better priced Surface Pro 4? The $600 Acer Switch Alpha 12 offers 90% of a Surface Pro, at almost half the cost. Read More that outputs 19 V at 2.37 amps. That equals 45 watts. If you grab a charger from Amazon that maxes out at 5 V and 3 amps, it may not even charge your device. If it does work, it will deliver power at below the maximum wattage, meaning more slowly.

AC Adapter Amperage Voltage Wattage

For those curious, you can perform the same calculations at RapidTables.com.

Out-of-Spec Power Delivery

Unfortunately, some of the chargers output out-of-spec (dangerous) Power Data Objects. On the spreadsheet, if a specific voltage/amperage combination doesn’t meet the USB-C specification, Leung and Nathan-K mark it as bad (=BAD!). For example, in the below image, a charger outputs 15 volts at 3 amps, for a total of 45 watts — but that particular PDO isn’t part of the specification. And that’s possibly dangerous.

USB-C Charging Over PDO

The problems arise when chargers do not comply with the USB-C Power Delivery specification. Shockingly, most chargers on Amazon do not fully comply with the USB-C specification. Here’s a list of the mediocre, bad, and potentially dangerous chargers tested by Leung and Nathan-K:

Bad USB-C Chargers

Out of the 30 devices tested, 16 are poorly designed pieces of junk (a zero means “decline to comment”). Five of these could potentially burn your house down. And while you’d expect similarly poor reviews on Amazon, the opposite is true. Even highly reviewed chargers pose a potential threat to your devices. For example, Aukey’s 60-watt 6-port charger scored a -3 from Leung. Yet its Amazon score strikes gold with a solid 4/5 stars. The reason should terrify buyers: many companies employ fake reviewers to fraudulently boost scores.
AUKEY Amp USB Charger with 60W Dual USB C & 4 USB Ports for LG G5, HTC 10, Nexus 5X / 6P and More AUKEY Amp USB Charger with 60W Dual USB C & 4 USB Ports for LG G5, HTC 10, Nexus 5X / 6P and More Charge compatible devices up to 4 times faster with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 Technology Buy Now At Amazon $31.99

FakeSpot, a website specializing in detecting fake Amazon review scores, rates Aukey a D in overall honesty. The actual review score of the charger is around 1.5/5 stars.

FakeSpot USB-C

So with the dangers highlighted, what USB-C charger should you buy?

What Are the Best USB-C Chargers?

When looking for the best USB-C chargers, there’s one important question: Will the charger work without wrecking your gear? No one should play Russian roulette with their expensive electronics. And with the amount of fragmentation in the USB-C market, even the best chargers may not work properly with all your devices. With that in mind, here are the best USB-C chargers, as reviewed by Leung and Nathan-K.

Google 18W USB-C Power Adapter ($35)

The Google 18W USB-C charger outputs the lowest wattage of the three best-rated chargers. That means it can’t negotiate a high enough output to charge powerful tablets or laptops at max speeds. Overall, it’s a good fit for charging smartphones. Even so, there’s an off-chance that it may trickle-charge a few tablets or laptops. Keep in mind that even Google’s 18W charger won’t charge the Pixel Phone at its advertised 18 watts.

Google 18W USB-C Charger

Verizon USB Type-C Wall Charger ($40)

Verizon’s USB Type-C charger is the best option for those with Quick Charge 3.0 devices. It also includes the latest (and potentially out-of-spec) Quick Charge 3.0 rapid charging capability. What makes this unique among charging solutions is that it’s the only Quick Charge capable adapter to receive praise from Leung and Nathan-K. It also sells in packs of two, so you get double your money’s worth.

Verizon USB-C Wall Charger

Update: Benson Leung and Nathan-K recently downgraded the Verizon USB-C charger by a point. It’s still among the best USB-C chargers on the market — however, it violates the USB-C specification by combining Quick Charge and USB-C PDO into the same package.

Google Universal 22.5W Dual Port Charger ($40)

Regarded by Leung — and many others — as the best travel charger out of the bunch, the “Universal” (it’s not really universal) Google Dual Port charger offers a combination of decent wattage output, two steps of power delivery, and two modular, replaceable USB-C cables. For the price, it’s probably the best charger on the list, although it doesn’t charge a Google Pixel phone at its maximum wattage.

Google Dual Port USB-C Charger

What Are the Second Best USB-C Chargers?

Leung and company ranked a handful of chargers from Anker and dodocool slightly less highly than those from Google.

Anker 6-Port USB-C Charger

USB Type-C, Anker Premium 5-Port 60W USB Wall Charger PowerPort+ 5 USB-C with Power Delivery for Apple MacBook, Nexus 5X / 6P and PowerIQ for iPhone, iPad, Samsung & More USB Type-C, Anker Premium 5-Port 60W USB Wall Charger PowerPort+ 5 USB-C with Power Delivery for Apple MacBook, Nexus 5X / 6P and PowerIQ for iPhone, iPad, Samsung & More The Anker Advantage: Join the 10 million+ powered by America's leading USB charging brand. Buy Now At Amazon $49.99

For the money, the best charger is probably the Anker 60-watt USB-C charger — if you don’t need Quick Charge. Not only does the Anker output the correct voltage to power most USB-C laptops, but it also includes a large number of modular ports. You’ll need to, of course, purchase USB-C charging cables (which can cost quite a bit more than USB-A cables).

Anker’s 60-watt charger offers five modular USB-A ports, a single USB-C port, and the full range of voltages necessary to charge most USB-C devices — at their maximum rated charging speed. Unfortunately, despite appearances on paper as a truly universal charging solution, Anker’s charger suffers from a lack of D-/D+ encoding. Without legacy encoding, it can’t use Micro-USB or Lightning cables with an adapter for USB-C devices.

According to Leung, the 60-watt Anker suffers from a split PDO, meaning its power delivery isn’t within spec. A split PDO isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker — but it does result in quirky, sometimes unreliable, power delivery. Some users report that the Anker doesn’t quickly detect the optimal charge speed of a USB-C device.

dodocool 30-Watt USB-C Charger

dodocool USB C Charger 30W USB Type-C Wall Charger with Power Delivery Foldable Plug for Apple New MacBook, Chromebook Pixel, Nexus Pixel/5X and More dodocool USB C Charger 30W USB Type-C Wall Charger with Power Delivery Foldable Plug for Apple New MacBook, Chromebook Pixel, Nexus Pixel/5X and More [Power Delivery Function] With the reversible USB-C port and Power Delivery function, this charger can easily charge your new MacBook at full speed via the attached 3.3ft USB-C to USB-C cable. Buy Now At Amazon

The dodocool 30-watt USB-C charger offers a no-frill 30-watt charging experience for USB-C devices. It features four different power delivery profiles, going all the way up to 20 V and 1.5 amps (which may work for some laptops). Nathan-K believes it to offer great per-dollar value.

On the downside, the dodocool only provides a single USB-C port and its included cable isn’t worth using. On top of that, it lacks legacy encoding, so it doesn’t work with older cables.

What’s the Best USB-C Power Bank?

The Kanex USB-C Power Bank

Without question, the best USB-C power bank is the Kanex USB-C power bank. Unfortunately, it runs for almost $100 on Amazon. While it does justify its pricing by offering both USB-A and USB-C charging ports, along with a whopping 15,000mAh capacity (which should charge most smartphones at least three or four times). It suffers from a maximum output of 15 watts, which makes it unsuitable for many laptops or higher powered devices.

I should also mention that if you’re a Pokemon Go player Best Pokemon Go Power Bank Best Pokemon Go Power Bank Pokemon Go beats the heck out of a phone's battery. Squeezing a bit more Pokemon-catching juice out of your phone requires a power bank. But what's the best battery out there? Read More , the Kanex ranks toward the top.

Update July 2017: The spreadsheet received an update. Now, two other USB-C power banks are featured, both with scores of 2/3: the $120 Nomad and $50 RavPower.

What are Best USB-C Chargers for Cars?

Verizon TYPECPDVPC Car Charger

Verizon USB-C (Type C) Car Charger with 3 Amp Fast Charge Technology & LED Indicator for Samsung Galaxy S8/S8 Plus, LG G6/G5/V20, Google Pixel/Pixel XL, Motorola Droid/Play Droid/Force Droid Verizon USB-C (Type C) Car Charger with 3 Amp Fast Charge Technology & LED Indicator for Samsung Galaxy S8/S8 Plus, LG G6/G5/V20, Google Pixel/Pixel XL, Motorola Droid/Play Droid/Force Droid Standard output: 5V/3A Buy Now At Amazon

Verizon’s car charger received a score of 2/3 on account of questionable overload behavior. Most USB devices (usually hubs) automatically shut down when too many devices are connected. It’s not completely clear what Nathan-K meant — but one thing is certain: he only took off a point.

Otherwise, this is one of the two best USB-C chargers available for automobiles.

Nomad Car Charger and Power Bank for USB-C

Nomad Car Charger with Battery, 3000 mAh portable battery and USB A + C charger for your car Nomad Car Charger with Battery, 3000 mAh portable battery and USB A + C charger for your car Cellphone charger with built-in battery for extra charging Buy Now At Amazon

Rated a 2 by Nathan-K, this charger isn’t the fastest. However, I prefer it over the Verizon TYPECPDVPC charger because it’s more fully featured. In addition to providing two USB-C charging ports, Nomad’s hybrid charger also includes a 3,000mAh power bank battery.

Unfortunately, it’s completely out of stock online. I can’t even find it on eBay.

What are the Best USB-C Chargers?

If you’re looking for one of the best USB-C chargers, any one of the top three should meet your needs. Unfortunately, right now there’s a big issue with USB-C chargers. Third party devices are dangerous. On top of that, they’re not guaranteed to even work with your device. And if they do, they rarely charge a smartphone at its maximum charging speed.

That said, if you need the king of all chargers — a feature-rich, universal charger for handling all smartphones, tablets, and laptops, you may need to wait.

As of 2016, few USB-C chargers offer modular cables, Quick Charge, and for all devices on the market. However, if you’re willing to compromise, thanks to Leung and Nathan-K, you now have a few safe options.

Image Credit: Lumsing 48-Watt USB-C charger via Amazon

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  1. Ray
    September 26, 2017 at 4:28 am

    I wanted a charger that I could use to power both my 15" Macbook Pro and Nintendo Switch at the same time. The macbook is about 87W and the Switch about 39W. Am I dreaming that there may one day be a charger that can handle that?

    Also, if two devices are plugged in and exceed the maximum wattage, how does it negotiate what wattage to use for each?

  2. Miguel Gandara
    June 23, 2017 at 10:26 am

    The spreadsheet is updated?

    • Kannon Yamada
      June 23, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      Yes, the spreadsheet is semi-updated. Whenever new chargers are tested, they update it.

      • Miguel Gandara
        June 23, 2017 at 6:03 pm

        They update where? They publish somewhere?

        • Kannon Y
          June 23, 2017 at 6:19 pm

          The best place to find stuff online is Gtrusted.com. Otherwise, you will want to follow Nathan-K and Benson Leung on their Google+ profiles. They have a lot of content there.

  3. Miguel Gandara
    June 23, 2017 at 10:25 am

    The spreadsheet from Leung and Nathan is updated? JUNE 2017

  4. snakeoil salesperson
    March 1, 2017 at 2:54 am

    I was actually at CES this year in Vegas and had the chance to check out a ton of awesome producs, I'm super excited about Samsung new 2017 tablets I'm always up on all the newest hottest tech stuff that is coming out! Thanks for the read and the comment! I look forward to your next article.

    {Samsung

  5. Adam
    February 2, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    "I believe this may be a typo. Otherwise, it should receive a much lower rating."

    You've achieved a high google ranking with this article -- would be worth getting the complete information. Can you please confirm this with the authors?

    • Kannon Yamada
      February 2, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks for the comment Adam. I'll update the article shortly.

      Split PDO is not a part of the USB-C specification. It's basically a minor fault that causes a delay from when you begin charging and when your device receives its rated charge. The typo turned out to be the Verizon charger, which was downgraded to a rating of 2 (and that's because Qualcomm's Quick Charge isn't compatible with the USB-C specification. Basically, PDO and QC are two different specs and a single port can't do both unless it violates the USB-C specification.

      • Adam
        February 2, 2017 at 10:42 pm

        Thanks, Kannon! Congrats on the successful article.

  6. JM
    January 21, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Will any car charger power the new 13 inch Macbook pro? Thanks!

    • Kannon
      January 26, 2017 at 10:04 am

      To my knowledge, the only car charger within the USB-C spec is listed on the spreadsheet toward the bottom. It received a 3 from Nathan-K and Leung, so it's top-tier. Whether or not it works with the MacBook is entirely unknown though. I've lately been ordering items from Amazon and returning them if they don't work. Sadly, I've found that most chargers don't work properly.

    • Nikolay F
      June 14, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      Hi JM,
      You can find a nice USB PD car charger on the US Amazon.
      Just search for "car charger power delivery". I would recommend the LinkOn one. It will charge the new MacBook 13" - this is verified.
      Regards...

      • Kannon Yamada
        June 14, 2017 at 2:38 pm

        This charger appears to output PD and Quick Charge over the same USB-C port, which makes it out of spec and potentially dangerous.

        • Nikolay F
          June 14, 2017 at 3:22 pm

          The charger has two separate ports for both standards.
          I agree that there are chargers delivering both standards through the same ports which is not compliant.

  7. Shaul
    November 30, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    how i find which chargers can function with 220volt 50hz ?
    It does not appear in the spec

    • Kannon Y
      November 30, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      I might be misunderstanding the question. European sockets are 220 volts, IIRC. That's what the draw from the wall, not what they output to devices.

      The output is standardized across devices, so you should be able to use a EU-to-US adapter or vice-versa if traveling without blowing a breaker or frying your device.