Misplaced your DualShock controller charging cable? Don’t want to leave the PS4 on for hours just to charge your controllers? Maybe you want to free up that USB port on your PS4? Or maybe you’re just reading up on the various features that modern consoles can offer? Either way, it may come in handy to know how DualShock controller charging works and how to improvise when need be.
Short answer – charge it like a phone
You’ve probably noticed that the PS4’s controllers have the basic Micro-B connector port on it for charging and that its default charging cable is really just a USB charging cable. As you might imagine or already know, any USB Micro-B to USB 2.0/3.0 cable will be able to charge your DualShock 4 controller. Since wireless charging isn’t exactly a viable technology yet, using other cables and other basic charging methods will have to do. The only thing to note here is that longer cables will take a longer time to charge your controller.
But what about the power source itself? Similar to most other devices that charge via USB cables, almost all USB power sources (wall chargers, laptop ports) will charge your PS4 controller just fine. Just make sure you don’t use super-old wall chargers (<800mA output) and super-new quick charge chargers (9V output). We discuss why these are bad and the science behind it below.
Charging stations and battery packs
Another way to charge your DS4 controllers is to get yourself a DualShock controller charging station, which connects to your controller directly, without a cable. These are separate, stationary devices that are usually capable of charging at least two controllers at a time. This solution also removes issues concerning wall charger compatibility as any decent controller charging station will be built specifically for controllers.
Another handy technology worth noting is battery packs. DualShock 4 controller battery packs can be attached to the back of the controller, adding much more battery power to the system. They can be charged separately and used when needed. Battery packs don’t directly affect controller charging but are a handy way of reducing how much the controller itself needs to be charged and wired.
The science behind charging
Charging your controller might be a bit more complicated than you might think because it involves many variables and laws of physics. At the same time, it’s not too complicated, especially the part you need to know to safely charge your device.
Amperage (measured in amps [A], or milliamps [mA]) represents how many charged particles are being moved in an electrical system. It goes hand in hand with power and, in a way, shows the amount of energy transferred over a period of time. When it comes to batteries, amp-hours (amperage multiplied by time) are often used to express how much energy the battery can store but this is less important for the charging process itself.
The most prominent cause of battery failure is heat and chemical damage, both of which are caused by delivering too much energy at a time for the battery parts to handle. This forces the electrical energy to be transferred into heat. To avoid this, protective power distribution circuits are used and both chargers and batteries are marked with the amperage they can deliver or intake, respectively.
The DualShock 4 controller battery is marked to take in an 800mA or 0.8A current at 5 volts to charge correctly and efficiently. If a wall charger is marked with higher current (2A, 2000mA, for example), the controller’s internal circuitry will “tell” the charger to only deliver the necessary 800mA and nothing more, so chargers with higher amp rating will work just fine.
Older, less powerful chargers might cause problems though, if you decide to use the controller while it’s being charged. If a wall charger is marked with 550mA, for example, the energy delivered by it might not be enough to compensate for the energy used up while playing games with the controller. This may simply result in the battery getting drained while it’s being charged but more serious battery durability issues may arise over time. Such weak chargers will otherwise just take a longer time to charge your controller.
Voltage (measured in volts [V]) represents how much a power source wants to “push” charged particles through a certain, electrically resistant material, be it electrical parts, wires, or your fingers. Voltage and current are directly linked to one another and if one increases, the other does so as well. All USB devices have a charging voltage of 5V.
Lately, quick charge technology has become quite popular as it can drastically decrease charging times of some select smartphones that support this feature by increasing the supported charging voltage (from regular 5V up to 9V) and the resulting current. However, the charger itself has to support this functionality as well.
Although quick charge chargers should switch to the standard 5V voltage for non-quick charge devices, this system often fails with DualShock 4 controllers. This results in a higher current being pushed into the system, which creates heat and damages the battery to the point of complete failure. This is why you should completely avoid using quick charge chargers to charge your DualShock 4 controller.