Using Third Party Chargers

In computers and electronics a third party accessory is from a company who is independent of the primary device’s producer and customer. In this case an accessory that works with the Nintendo Switch but is not made or licensed by Nintendo.

Third party accessories are common across all electronics. They enhance and fill niches users want. There is the occasional bad apple. They are not inherently unsafe. But they are outside the warranty scope provided by the primary device’s manufacturer. It is standard for a first party manufacturer to not support nor recommend third party accessories. Their warranty only covers their own products. They don’t spend resources testing every “compatible” product on the market. And some of the third party accessories compete against their own products.

Nintendo’s Various Positions On Third Party Chargers

Nintendo is organized into regional divisions. Nintendo Co., Ltd. is the parent company and covers East Asia. Nintendo of America covers North America. Nintendo of Europe covers Europe. And Nintendo Australia covers the Oceania region. With such a company it isn’t hard for mixed messages to customers to occur. We’re seeing that in regards to questions on using third party chargers with the Switch.

Across all Nintendo divisions the Switch’s warranty doesn’t cover damage from unlicensed accessories. This is standard in the electronics industry. It is to protect Nintendo rather than warn against third party products. We’ve seen Nintendo support waive this when dealing with some individual support cases.

Nintendo Co., Ltd. has support Q&As for Japan and Hong Kong which show using a USB-A power bank with the Switch is fine. They do “not guarantee the operation,” but they go over steps to get the best result. They recommend using the proper cable. The cable included with the Pro Controller and Joy-Con Charging Grip is recommend. Or one with a 56k Ohm resistor. Failure to use the proper cable may “not be able to receive sufficient power” or “cause damage.”

Nintendo of America’s Switch support site says to only use the included AC adapter. They have also stated: “Unlicensed products and accessories do not undergo Nintendo’s testing and evaluation process. They might not work at all with our game systems, and they could have compatibility problems with certain games, the Nintendo Switch system itself, and other licensed accessories and peripherals.”

Yet some of NoA’s media mentions using power banks with the Switch for travel. An episode of Nintendo Minute featured travel tips for the Switch. The hosts said having an “external battery” was “important” for long flights. They then showed off their own power banks. They’re unreleased MimoPowerDecks with Nintendo licensed designs.

The Nintendo Switch is Not To USB-C Standards

Anyone who knew USB-C power standards and looked at the Switch’s AC adapter knew they would fall short of USB-C compliance. Nathan K, a known and respected engineer, did testing on a borrowed Switch and dock. He found a number of “issues” with the Switch in regards to the official standards. This was May 2017.

Some of the issues are minor, some serious. The attention grabbing issue of “overdraws some USB-PD power supplies by 300%” can be corrected via firmware update. It may have been already, no follow up testing has occurred. The issue impacts USB-C power sources with “a ‘Split PDO’ or re-advertise their SRC_CAP message.” This more often, but not always applies to:

  • USB-C chargers offering more than 3A
  • Chargers with 2+ USB-C ports
  • Some USB-C power banks

To help address the concern from the community I’ve removed >3A USB-C chargers from my listings. I never had multi-USB-C port chargers listed. USB-C power banks are trickier, no one has a list of models with the particular setup. There haven’t been any reports of the issue occurring. If it were to happen it would result in damage to the charger/power bank. If you want to be extra safe stick to lower current USB-A power banks.

As Nathan also notes, a lot of USB-C products from 2016-2017 are outside of standards. At the time the Switch was being developed standards were volatile and certification testing unfinished. Because of this a lot of USB-C devices on the market are outside USB compliance. This can make it difficult for different devices to interact. This accounts for the Switch not working with any USB-C to HDMI adapter. It may also play a role in the bricking of Switches on third party docks. Future USB-C devices will more often follow the now set standards.

What Is Safe To Use?

That is going to depend on your personal risk tolerance. But let’s review the facts first:

  • Nintendo’s warranty will not cover damage caused by any unlicensed product. The warranty lasts for one year from the sale date.
  • Elements within Nintendo have stated using a USB-A power bank is okay. But don’t ignore using the proper cable and understanding of non-guarentee.
  • The Switch is not to USB-C standards. There is a warning for certain types of USB-C power sources. But no comprehensive list to go off of and no real world examples to date.
  • There are no creditable reports of a third party charger or power bank damaging a Switch. This includes USB-A, USB-C, and USB-C PD products. If you’ve heard of Switches being “bricked” that is being caused by third party docks.

In helping Switch users with charger questions I’ve found most fall into one of three risk tolerances. None of these are wrong or right. It is how you feel.

1. Want to stay 100% within Nintendo’s support umbrella. They have little to no risk tolerance. They are willing to lose cost savings and flexibility to better protect their primary investment.

  • Stick with the official AC adapter only. No power banks.
  • The Switch’s warranty lasts for one year. After that you should re-evaluate your risk tolerance.

2. Want some flexibility, but would rather be safe than sorry. They want to charge away from home, but they still worry about all the broken Switch stories.

  • Use the official AC adapter at home.
  • Use third party USB-A chargers and power banks away from home.
  • Make sure your USB-C to USB-A cable has a 56k Ohm resistor listed in its specs or is USB-IF certified.

3. Want use to third party products to get the most out of their Switch. There are no reports of issues so no need to worry more than normal. They want the best/fastest charger.

  • Use third party USB-A chargers and power banks if you want something small/cheap.
  • Make sure your USB-C to USB-A cable has a 56k Ohm resistor listed in its specs or is USB-IF certified.
  • Use third party USB-C chargers and power banks for a faster charge.
  • Make sure your USB-C to USB-C cable is USB-IF certified. Don’t worry about the resistor, that’s to address a specific USB-C to USB-A issue.
  • Get a USB-C charger with USB-IF certification if you want to be “just in case” safe. Plenty of non-certified chargers work as well. There are no USB-IF certified power banks.

Is Everything Listed On This Site Safe?

I cannot vouch for every product linked on this site, because I haven’t touched every product. Nor is brand consistency 100%. You should always do your own research on any product recommendation. Take your own risk tolerance level into account when using this site or any other resource.

That said, I have created these charger lists with the goal of helping you narrow down your own search. I’ve revamped my listings with the new charger safety concerns of the community in mind. I avoid chargers with questionable specs, known issues, or high bad reviews. I lean toward brands popular with the Switch community and with a good history. I note all chargers with USB-IF certification for your convenience.

All USB-C to USB-A cables listed have the recommended 56k Ohm resistor. All USB-C to USB-C cable listed are USB-IF certified.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. I do not limit my links to Amazon. There are several chargers worth considering not available on Amazon.

If you have any questions you can contact me through this site. You will also find me in the various Nintendo Switch subreddits as /u/queuebitt.

Do NOT Use Third Party Docks!

There have been issues reported with third party docks for the Switch. A third party dock includes any product which connects to the Switch to output video to a TV or display. Several brands have “bricked” (device won’t function and isn’t recoverable) Switches. Nyko is the most infamous, but there are others as well. Even if your Switch gets repaired/replaced under warranty your saved game data is often lost. There is currently no way to backup your data except to transfer it to another Switch. For that your Switch must be functional. You can read more about this issue in my Switch Bricking FAQ.

Stick with Nintendo’s dock and its included power adapter. Reach out to Nintendo and ask them to make external saved game data backups a top priority.