Itâ€™s hard to think of a scenario where youâ€™re not going to want to get your gadgets charged up as quickly as possibleâ€”whether youâ€™re heading to the office or off on an evening out, you want that battery level as high as possible when you leave. But getting your gadgets charged up is about more than how long theyâ€™re plugged in for. There are tips and tricks that can get it charging faster.

The Fundamentals of Charging

On a basic level, the amount of power going into your device and recharging its battery is measured in watts. To calculate watts you take the voltage of the device in volts, which is the energy potential, and multiply it by current (in amps or milliamps), which is the energy flow rate. Think of volts like the water pressure in a hose and milliamps as the hoseâ€™s water flow. Combine them and you have to output for your hose over all. Watts are similar, and all three are closely linked. You might see one, two, or all three of these terms mentioned when youâ€™re looking at chargers.

So, for example, the iPhone XS comes with a 5W chargerâ€”youâ€™re getting 5 watts of power with a wall socket and your bundled charger. However, the phone can charge at up to 18W, which means if you use a more powerful chargerâ€”a water hose with more pressure and a faster flowâ€”your iPhone is going to juice up faster.

Various different factors influence how many watts are charging up your devices when you plug them in, and here weâ€™ll lay out the main ones: They should help you get as much battery charge as possible, no matter what device youâ€™re charging or how big the battery packed inside is.

To get your gadgets charging as quickly as possible then, you need the highest wattage charging experience that your devices can safely take. One example: Switching your 2017-or-later iPhone from the bundled 5W charger to the 18W charger included with the latest iPad Pros provides a big boost (recent testing from MacRumors showed an 18W charger giving twice as much charge over an hour).

Another example: The latest MacBook Pro can output 10W of power from its USB-C slots, so youâ€™re going to get better results from your MacBook Pro charging your iPhone than you will the 5W charger that came with the phone itself. On an older laptop with lower power USB ports, you wonâ€™t get the same power output.

Meanwhile, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones come with an 18W fast charging charger included in the box. Nothing else will charge them faster, because 18W is the max they can handle..

Weâ€™re mentioning specific devices here to give you an idea of what to weigh up. Broadly speaking though, whether youâ€™re juicing up a phone, a tablet, or a laptop, find the highest voltage power source you can (usually a wall socket) and the charger with the highest supported wattage.

Chargers made for bigger devices will offer high wattage ratings, which is why you shouldnâ€™t plug your phone charger into your laptop and expect anything to happen, but you could possibly plug your laptop charger into your phone and juice it up more quickly. The latest USB standards, including USB-C, are getting us closer to a one-size-fits-all solution, but weâ€™re not there yet.

As for wireless charging, In most cases it wonâ€™t charge up your device as quickly as a cable doesâ€”not unless your phone has a puny low-wattage wired charger and youâ€™ve splurged on an expensive high-wattage wireless pad (like the 10W stand that Google ships for the Pixel 3 phones). USB chargers in cars are typically low power as well.

You can research your own devices and your own chargers yourself, and you might even want to buy a high wattage charger to keep near the door. Generally speaking though, if youâ€™re in a rush and need a quick battery boost, plug your device into the wall using the charger with the highest volts, current and watts rating you have access to.

Does that mean you can just use any charger you like? Well, yes and no. As weâ€™ve mentioned, sometimes itâ€™s fineâ€”as when you use your iPad or even your MacBook charger with your iPhoneâ€”but be wary of swapping between different chargers from different manufacturers for different devices, as problems can happen, especially when youâ€™re dealing with older hardware. Earlier and crummy chargers could brick devices or even cause small fires.

For newer gear, itâ€™s not so much of a worry: USB-C and USB 3.x have made interoperability easier and safer than ever before, with built-in failsafes to stop destructive overcharging. So assuming youâ€™re dealing with chargers and cables from recognized brands, you shouldnâ€™t run into serious problems.

Pay attention to any fast charging tech on your device too. These standards require specific chargers, so a OnePlus phone (for example) needs a OnePlus charger to take advantage of the fastest charging speedâ€”other chargers wonâ€™t blow up your phone in a ball of flames, but also wonâ€™t give you charging thatâ€™s as speedy.

Meanwhile, new iPhones and Pixels need chargers that offer USB PD (Power Delivery) for the best charging speeds. These fast charging standards and others like them (like the Qualcomm QuickCharge standard found in many Android phones) need both the phone and the charger to support them to get the full benefit, so youâ€™ll have to check to see if your phone supports the PD or QuickCharge standard and then find a good brick that also supports it.

You might feel a little overwhelmed with the number of specs and standards you need to think about, but you only need to concern yourself with your own devices: You should be able to find out the maximum level of power they can take, and any quick charging standards supported, in a few minutes of web searching. After that, itâ€™s just a question of identifying the best charger for the job.

Turn it off

What your phone or laptop or tablet is doing while youâ€™re charging it makes a difference too: If your gadget is pumping out tunes or streaming video while itâ€™s playing, itâ€™s going to be drawing significantly more power than it will be when itâ€™s switched off. That, in turn, affects how much battery life youâ€™re going to end up with when you unplug.

A lot of the time you might have to use your device while itâ€™s charging, but if you can switch it off for a few minutes, youâ€™re probably going to get a few more percentage pointsâ€™ worth of charge, and that could make all the difference later on.