ZMI QB820 with Nintendo Switch

Charging the Nintendo Switch


  • The Nintendo Switch’s AC Adapter works in all modes, even on the Pro Controller. But it is a hassle to pull out from behind the TV. And it doesn’t play well with other devices. Third party chargers are a great option for the bedroom, office, or travel bag.

  • Power banks are a must to play more than 3 hours of Mario on the go.





The Nintendo Switch’s portability makes charging it a hot topic among its fans. Its own battery can last for 2.5 to 7 hours, depending on the game. The more popular games average 3 hours. Nintendo provides a USB-C Power Delivery wall charger with the Switch. And they have licensed two Anker USB-C PD power banks for use with the Switch. While all quality products, they are on the more expensive side. And unplugging the wall charger from behind the TV every time you go somewhere isn’t convenient.

To complicate matters the Switch has different power requirements for different modes. It limits its draw at 5V and 12V, and it doesn’t support 20V. Better understanding how the Switch draws power will help you spot a great charger from a meh one.


These are the chargers I recommend for the Switch. Keep your other USB-C devices in mind, as another charger might work better for all your devices.

Will charge Switch in handheld or tabletop mode while you play.

Anker PowerPort PD 1

AUKEY PA-Y18 18W PD with Nintendo Switch. Cable not included.

AUKEY PA-Y18 18W PD with Nintendo Switch.

AUKEY PA-Y18 18W PD Wall Charger | Review

  • 18W USB-C PD
  • 12V power profile means Switch will draw less power, but still enough to charge while you play
  • 30% smaller and lighter than the Anker PowerPort PD 1
  • Requires a separate USB-C to USB-C cable

ZMI PowerPlug Turbo | Review

  • 45W USB-C PD
  • Larger and more output than needed, but cheaper than smaller 18W options
  • Includes a USB-C to USB-C cable

These are the power banks I recommend for the Switch. Keep your other USB-C devices in mind, as another power bank might work better for all your devices. Most of these only work in handheld mode. A 45W power bank could power a docked Switch.

Lower cost models, but still enough performance to charge while you play. Budget for an extra $7-10 for a USB-C cable.

AUKEY PB-Y13 10000 USB-C | Review

  • 18W USB-C PD
  • 10,000mAh (4.5+ hours playtime)
  • 12V power profile means Switch will draw less power, but still enough to charge while you play
  • Wide, thin design
  • Requires a separate USB-C to USB-C cable
AUKEY PB-Y14 20000 USB-C with Nintendo Switch. Cable not included.

AUKEY PB-Y14 20000 USB-C with Nintendo Switch. Cable not included.

NOVOO PowerCube Mini 10000 | Review

  • 18W USB-C PD
  • 10,000mAh (4.5+ hours playtime)
  • 12V power profile means Switch will draw less power, but still enough to charge while you play
  • Vertical design, lighter
  • Requires a separate USB-C to USB-C cable

AUKEY PB-Y14 20000 USB-C | Review

  • 15W USB-C
  • 20,000mAh (9+ hours playtime)
  • Slow charge while you play
  • Good capacity per dollar value
  • Requires a separate USB-C to USB-C cable

Are Third Party Chargers Safe?

In a word: yes!

There have been no confirmed reports of any charger or power bank damaging a Switch. There have been problems with third party docks. But those issues involve the power transfer within the dock, not the charger’s output. Some instances of a Switch being damaged occurred even while using the official AC adapter.

You can read more about safely charging the Switch at SwitchChargers.com.


Charging Nintendo Switch Controllers

Almost any USB charger can charge the Pro Controller and Poké Ball Plus. And the Joy-Cons if you have a Joy-Con Charging Grip.

Nintendo’s controllers only draw up to 5V/0.5A. That’s half the output most cheap phone chargers are capable of. All Nintendo’s controllers include a USB-C to USB-A cable. That cable has the needed 56k Ohm resistor and is safe to use with any USB-A charger. It’ll charge as well as it does connected to the Switch’s dock.

You can also use any USB-C charger, provided you have a USB-C to USB-C cable. The Nintendo Switch AC Adapter is designed for directly charging the Pro Controller. But any other USB-C charger will recharge the Pro Controller, and other controllers, at the same rate.

The Pro Controller takes 2.5-3 hours to charge to 80%, then another 3 hours to reach 100%. The 6 hour charge time isn’t so bad once you consider the Pro Controller will play for 40 hours on a full charge. And will last much longer in standby.


Nintendo Switch AC Adapter

Left: ZMI PowerPlug Turbo. Right: Nintendo Switch AC Adapter.

Left: ZMI PowerPlug Turbo. Right: Nintendo Switch AC Adapter.

The included Nintendo Switch AC Adapter is not a typical USB-C PD charger. It’s designed for the Switch and goes against USB-C PD standards. It only supports two power profiles:

  • 5V/1.5A
  • 15V/2.6A

Under USB-C standards it should also provide 9V/3A, but doesn’t. To be fair Nintendo isn’t the first to skip a power profile. Apple’s USB-C chargers skipped power profiles and under powered the 5V profile until 2018.

The 15V output is enough to maximize power draw of the Switch in handheld or TV mode. It can also charge 15V USB-C PD power banks without issue. It does not work well with many USB-C laptops.

The 5V output is more than enough to charge a Pro Controller or any other Switch accessory directly. But at 1.5A rather than the more usual 3A it doesn’t work well with many USB-C phones and similar sized devices. At best is undercharges them, which isn’t great for battery lifespan. At worst it doesn’t charge at all.

I recommend keeping the Switch’s AC adapter with the Switch’s dock at all times. If you want a single USB-C PD charger for all your devices buy a charger that’ll work well with everything.


Best Charger Specs for the Switch

To identify a great USB-C charger for the Switch you need to know the power draw limits of the Switch. As with any device, the Switch limits what voltages it’ll connect with and how much current (amps) it’ll draw. Here are the max draw rates of the Switch in handheld mode. Keep in mind the Switch may draw less depending on its state.

  • 5V/2A (10W)
  • 9V/2A (18W)
  • 12V/1A (12W)
  • 15V/1.2A (18W)
Nintendo Switch Charge Times

Nintendo Switch charge times.

The Switch will use the highest available voltage. So an 18W charger offering 5V, 9V, and 12V will only output 12W to the Switch. While an 18W charger offering 5V and 9V only will output 18W. Keep in mind a charger can safely offer more amps than the device will draw.

Testing has shown the Switch can use up to 8.75W or 8.9W while handheld. So while a 5V or 12V charger are less effective, they are still enough to charge the Switch while you play. A sleeping Switch limits its draw to 11W. So any of the above power profiles will work well overnight.

A docked Switch requires 15V/2.6A, period. It doesn’t draw that much, but Nintendo makes it a requirement for video output to function. You can use a charger offering up to 15V/3A.

You can read more about how charging the Switch works at SwitchChargers.com.


Power Bank Capacity

Most power banks list their capacity (milliamp hours or mAh) as a sum of the lithium cells inside. Based on their nominal voltage: 3.6V or 3.7V. But that doesn’t reflect how much energy the Switch will actually get out of the power bank. For that we have to find “actual capacity.”

Actual capacity is calculated using listed capacity, nominal voltage, output voltage, and efficiency. Divide that by the capacity of the Switch’s battery and you get an accurate number of chargers. From there we can extrapolate how many hours of playtime a power bank will provide. To save you the math here is how most power bank capacity break down for the Switch.

How much play time does a power bank offer?

These are estimates for the most common power banks good for the Switch. They are based on both calculation and real world testing I’ve conducted.

Hours assume 3 hours per full charge of the Switch (most high demand games). Playing a less demanding game will result in more hours. Keep in mind the Switch’s own battery is good for another 3+ hours.

  • 10,000mAh (5V) = 1.5 Switch charges = 4.5+ hours
  • 10,000mAh (12V) = 1.4 Switch charges = 4.2+ hours
  • 13,400mAh (15V) = 1.9 Switch charges = 5.7+ hours
  • 20,100mAh (5V) = 3.1 Switch charges = 9.3+ hours
  • 20,100mAh (15V) = 2.9 Switch charges = 8.7+ hours
  • 26,800mAh (5V) = 4 Switch charges = 12+ hours
  • 26,800mAh (15V) = 3.3 Switch charges = 9.9+ hours
Maximizing your power bank’s capacity

Get more playtime out of your power bank:

  • Turn off Wi-Fi on the Switch.
  • Turn off Bluetooth if Joy-Cons are connected.
  • Reduce screen brightness.
  • Use good quality power banks. Check reviews for complaints about duration.
  • Use good quality, short USB cables. The longer the cable the more inefficient.
  • Charge the Switch up to 80%, then stop. Charging from 80-100% is less efficient.
  • With USB-C PD power banks use the USB-A port when time allows. The conversion to 5V is more efficient. This requires a separate USB-C to USB-A cable.
  • If using USB-A connect it to the Switch while at 100%. This will keep the Switch’s battery near 100% in most conditions.
  • Always leave home with your Switch, Joy-Cons, and power bank charged to 100%.