Nintendo Switch Chargers FAQ
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What’s this Switch charger rating system you use?
Should I only look at Superb rated chargers/power banks?
No. Pick the speed rating that meets your needs, charge habits, and budget.
- Superb supports the dock. Do you need that capability?
- Great is as good as Superb in handheld mode.
- Good charges in handheld mode while playing, but slower. It is general the “best value” level, especially for power banks.
- Good Enough extends play time in handheld mode by ~5 hours and charges while idle. If you only recharge between play sessions it will do. You may already have a charger/power bank of this rating. Is a faster charge worth buying an upgrade?
The safety rating may also be important to your decision, depending on your risk tolerance. See Using Third Party Chargers for more details.
What chargers/power banks are safe to use with the Switch?
Nintendo licensed and USB-IF certified chargers are among the safest options. But lack of USB-IF certification does not mean the product is unsafe. It means it hasn’t been put forward for certification. This is usually because the device also supports popular, third party standards. That inclusion immediately disqualifies it from certification.
USB-IF certification comes from the USB Implementers Forum. They create the official USB standard. Under that a device cannot support third party, proprietary “hacks” of the USB standard. Apple’s fast charging specs (5V/2.1A and 5V/2.4A) and Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0/3.0 are the most common examples. Those standards are safe and can work alongside USB-C. But regardless of whether they impact USB-C specs or not, they are not allowed.
This is why so few wall chargers and no power banks are USB-IF certified. To be so would mean they would only offer USB-C output and they would only slow charge (5V/1A) any iOS or Android device. Buyers prefer an uncertified product which takes advantage of third party fast charging. This is also why so many USB-C cables are USB-IF certified, they don’t have to deal with this issue.
Any charger from a reputable brand that meets USB-C power standards should be safe. If you don’t want to limit yourself to the few USB-IF certified chargers then do your homework when buying. Go over the power output specs, see if they meet the standard. Read reviews. Find recommendations from other Switch owners. Consult review analytic sites.
What’s the best charger/power bank for the Switch?
There is no one best, as it depends on your charge speed needs, safe charging demands, other USB devices, and budget. I do offer some recommendations.
Have you tested all of these chargers/power banks?
I have not. That would be an expensive proposition. I do own and have tested the ZMi products and Anker PowerCore 10000 I frequently recommend, as well as a few other products.
I’ve scoured the online retail market for USB-C chargers and power banks. I’ve also followed up on chargers mentioned by other Switch owners. I go over their specs, reviews, and review analytic scores. Any with bad specs or red flags I dismiss. The rest I list. Their specs determine their Switch rating, and I note anything special or unusual.
As new chargers/power banks come on the market I plan to maintain and expand these lists. If you know of a charger I may have missed you can contact me.
Can I use my phone’s charger?
Maybe. Look at the output specs printed on the charger:
- USB-A with 5V/1A or less – It’ll only charge the Switch while asleep
- USB-A with 5V/1.5A or more – It’ll charge fine while idle, okay to not quite enough while playing
- USB-C with 5v/3A or 9V/2-3A – It’ll charge under most play conditions
Can I use the Switch’s AC adapter on other USB-C devices?
Maybe, but I don’t advise it.
- The Switch’s included AC adapter is not to USB PD standards. It only supports two power profiles.
- 15V/2.6A – When the Switch is docked
- 5V/1.5A – When the Switch is removed but USB devices are charging off of the dock
- Your other device needs to match one of the two power profiles. The voltage has to be exact. The amps can be equal to or less than.
- Failure to match will result in no charge occurring.
- Best to keep the Switch’s charger with the Switch’s dock full time. Plenty of third party USB-C chargers available for ~$20.
How long will it take to recharge my power bank?
It depends on the power bank’s capacity (mAh), the charger’s output (wattage, or volts * amps), and the connection type used (micro-USB or USB-C). Here are general estimates:
- 5W = 920mAh/hour
- 10W = 1830mAh/hour
- 12W = 2440mAh/hour
- 15W = 2750mAh/hour
- 30W = 5500mAh/hour
- 45W = 8250mAh/hour
Can I fly with my power bank?
Under FAA regulations you can fly with a 26,800mAh (technically 27,027) or smaller power bank, but it must be in your carry on bag. Do not bag check any devices with a lithium-ion battery.
You may also be able to bring a power bank up to 43,243mAh, but you need the airline’s approval.
You can bring multiple lithium-ion batteries which total more than these limits.
What’s the best USB-C cable for the Switch?
Power wise all to spec USB-C cables are the same. USB-C to USB-A cables carry less current because the USB-A power source handles less current.
For USB-C to USB-C cables stick with USB-IF certified cables.
For USB-C to USB-A cables get one with a 56k Ohm resistor or USB-IF certification.
What’s with the USB-C to USB-A cable resistor I’ve been reading about?
The 56k Ohm resistor protects from a USB-C device pulling too much current (amps) from a USB-A power source. USB-C devices expect 3A of current, but USB-A chargers usually don’t provide more than 2.4A. Lack of the resistor could cause damage to the USB-A power source and the Switch’s USB-C port.
Why does the dock require so much more power?
- Switch outputs at a larger resolution (1080p vs 720p handheld)
- Dock performs an audio/video conversion (DisplayPort to HDMI)
- Three USB-A ports receive power to run/charge connected accessories (5V/0.5A each)
- Switch’s battery needs to recharge while you play
All told it takes in up to 39W, compared to 18W in handheld mode.
Is that why I can’t just connect to a USB-C to HDMI adapter and get video on my TV?
USB-C is not a video standard, it is a connection standard. The Switch outputs video (and audio) as DisplayPort over the USB-C connection. The dock then converts the DisplayPort channels into HDMI, which is what outputs to your TV.
That conversion isn’t proprietary to Nintendo, but it isn’t common or free either. Some third party docks do a proper conversion while others don’t. Third party docks are also hit and miss on providing enough power. The good ones match the Switch’s AC adapter’s specs. The cheap ones skip including a power adapter. And the bad ones can brick your Switch, so do your homework.
Why did Nintendo do it this way? There is no direct HDMI to USB-C workflow, and they wanted to use USB-C. It provides enough power to run in either handheld or docked mode. As an up and coming connection standard it also helps future proof the Switch. DisplayPort and USB-C have a direct workflow, but DisplayPort isn’t as popular as HDMI. So they built their own DisplayPort to HDMI adapter. This gave them the best of both worlds: a USB-C connector and HDMI video out.
Can I fast charge the Joy-Cons or Pro Controller?
No. My own testing shows they are hardware limited to draw 5V/0.5A (2.5W) of power, regardless of what charger or cable you use.
Nintendo estimates 6 hours to charge the Pro Controller. It should charge to ~80% in 3 hours, then another 3 hours to complete the charge. Given the Pro Controller runs for 40 hours that isn’t so bad.