If you are a car user, you'd understand the frustration that comes with a dead battery, especially when you need to use your car urgently. Even more, it can be annoying when your car asks for a new battery, and you are on a tight budget. However, there is the alternative of a battery charger. Therefore, with the input of the best car battery charger, worry no more about your battery running out of juice.
In this article, we have put together a detailed buying guide for a quality car battery charger. Even so, we will start by understanding why you need a battery charger for your car.
Why Buy a Car Battery Charger?
The tag 'car battery charger' already sells the meaning of this important accessory. Nonetheless, we will highlight some of the benefits that justify the need for having a car battery charger.
- Avoid battery replacement hassles. Buying a new battery for any automotive you own is ideal. However, what if the battery replacement is tedious and complicated? Worry no more. A car battery charger is easy to connect with convenient features of reviving or maintaining your battery. Moreover, a single battery charger can be applied across different battery types.
- Lifesaver in the middle of nowhere! A battery charger as a jump starter ensures that you don't get stranded anywhere anytime. You can conveniently jump-start your vehicle even in remote areas with minimal car users.
- Saves money. Having your own best car battery charger saves the costs of acquiring a brand new battery and hiring a professional to revive or replace your car battery. In addition, some chargers come with multimeter functions saving the cost of buying a separate one.
- Extra charging capabilities. Besides charging your lead acid battery, some contemporary chargers have extra user features, including charging your phone. Therefore, if you run out of fuel in the middle of nowhere, you can easily have reliable phone battery life for an SOS.
In light of these benefits, let's look at the best five products in this category.
What is the Best Car Battery Charger?
Buy On Amazon
1. NOCO GENIUS 1 Fully-Automatic Smart Charger
- Meet the GENIUS1 - Similar to our G750, just better. It's 35% smaller and delivers 35% more power. It's the all-in-one solution - battery charger, battery maintainer, trickle charger, plus battery desulfator.
- Do more with Genius - Designed for 6-volt and 12-volt lead-acid automotive, marine, and deep-cycle batteries, including flooded, gel, AGM, and maintenance-free, plus lithium-ion batteries.
- Enjoy precision charging - An integrated thermal sensor detects the ambient temperature and alters the charge to eliminate over-charging in hot climates and under-charging in cold climates.
- Charge dead batteries - Charges batteries as low as 1-volt. Or use the all-new force mode that allows you to take control and manually begin charging dead batteries down to zero volts.
- Restore your battery - Automatically detects battery sulfation and acid stratification to restore lost battery performance for stronger engine starts and extended battery life.
Our first choice for the best car battery charger is the NOCO Genius 1 smart battery charger and maintainer. Additionally, this incredible charging unit also serves as a trickle charger and a battery desulfator. As a desulfator, the NOCO genius charger can also serve as a restorer. Moreover, this charge is designed for a 6-volt and a 12-volt battery, including marine, lead-acid, AGM, deep-cycle, and lithium-ion batteries.
As a charger, the NOCO unit can revive a dead battery with even 1-volt. Even better, you can charge dead batteries without any voltage using its manual force charging mode. Understandably, you can apply this charger on all automotive types, including ATVs, trucks, cars, lawnmowers, lawn tractors, boats, motorcycles, PWCs, and SUVs.
On the part of being smart, you can charge your battery with optimal charging precision. Accordingly, this NOCO charger has a thermal sensor for detecting and controlling ambient temperatures depending on the prevailing climatic conditions. Furthermore, this charger is fully automated for worry-free daily charging with zero overcharging risks. Eventually, you can enjoy optimal safety with this charger, including a spark-proof build and reverse polarity protection.
2. BLACK+DECKER BM3B Fully Automatic Charger/Maintainer
- Charges and maintains 12 volt and 6 volt AGM, GEL and WET batteries
- Easy connection to vehicle battery using battery clips and O-ring terminals
- Stops charging automatically when battery is fully charged or topped off, switching to float mode monitoring
- Built-in circuit protection guards against overcharging, reverse polarity, or short circuit; ETL certified for performance and safety
- Mounting bracket built-in to charger for convenient placement
Another excellent choice for a car battery charger is the BLACK+DECKER BM3B charging unit. This charger and maintainer can keep 6 and 12-volt batteries optimally charged through its automated and high-frequency charging function. With this charging accessory, you can maintain and revive different batteries, including AGM, WET, and GEL batteries. Moreover, its low compensation for AC voltage ensures optimal charging even with a long power cord.
When it comes to safety, this BM3B model is made with a protection system resistant to reverse polarity, overcharging, and short circuits. You will also enjoy a durable utility life from this model because its body is sealed against dust, moisture, and oil for perfect adaptability under a shade or harsh weather. Moreover, you can use this charger/maintainer on seasonal vehicles such as ATVs, specialty vehicles, motorcycles, and snowmobiles, among others.
3. Schumacher SC1281 Battery Charger
- VERSATILE COMPATIBILITY: Charges compatible battery types, including standard, AGM, gel, and deep-cycle batteries
- MULTIPLE MODES: Features 30 Amp quick boost and 100 Amp jumpstart, powerful enough to start SUVs, trucks, and large batteries
- FULLY AUTOMATIC: Microprocessor-controlled system automatically adjusts amperage; includes LED indicator lights
- EASE OF USE: Battery and alternator tester provides charge level and helps diagnose electrical problems automatically; multi-stage charging and auto-voltage detection. Battery Type: Standard, AGM, Gel, Deep-Cycle
- SAFE AND RELIABLE: Reverse hook-up protection ensures charger will not operate if clamps are reversed
Thirdly, we have the Schumacher SC1281 battery charger, which packs an incredible punch with some edge. Matching the iconic stature of the motorsport champion, Schumacher, this charger is portable, automated, and convenient. Specifically, it is made with dual amp settings, 30 amps for topping up a battery, and 100 amps to jump-start an engine instantly. Moreover, it guarantees users of safety through its zero overcharging risks and prevention of reverse polarity.
Furthermore, its ease of use is definitely a must-have aspect, considering you only push a button to start and stop charging. The rest is carried out by the automated function of this charger. Some of the extra features that will please you about this Schumacher model included LED multi-stage charging indicators. Subsequently, even though it is automatic, it still allows you the control of preventing any chance of overcharging.
Another incredible plus about this charger is that you can also use it as a diagnostic kit for any electrical faults on your alternator or battery. Consequently, you will be able to hulky repair costs that emanate from undetected electrical faults. Finally, having understood why it ranks among the best car battery chargers, you can apply the Schumacher SC1281 widely in small cars and large SUVs.
4. Battery Tender Junior Charger and Maintainer
- EXTEND BATTERY LIFE: Compatible with all 12V lead-acid, flooded, AGM, and gel cell batteries. Complete 4-step charging program (Initialization, Bulk Charge, Float Mode) allows for optimization of battery power, without overcharging
- INCLUDES: 12V, 750mA battery charger, fused ring terminal and alligator clip accessory cables, 5-year warranty, and lifetime customer support
- EASY TO USE: Low maintenance design is quick and easy to use, this universal powersport vehicle charger and maintainer is 3.3 x 1.3 x 2.4 inches, 1 lb (charger only)
- MONITOR POWER LEVELS: Solid-state two-color LED light indicates the state of the charge and if the battery voltage drops too far under load, adaptive charging will resume full charger output power. Automatic charge cycle functionality switches to float mode after fully charging the battery
You can also optimally charge and maintain your car battery with this Battery Tender Junior charger. It is built with a dual-functionality of a maintainer and charger. Despite its name suggesting a small size, this car accessory is fully capable of charging a 12-volt lead-acid battery. In addition, you can enjoy its full automation that ensures your battery doesn't overcharge through float mode.
Besides extending your vehicle's battery life, this charging unit is built with simplicity without unnecessary features and technology that might risk malfunctions. Its convenience is also boosted by a 12-foot cord that lets you reliably charge your car battery from a safe distance. Accordingly, the Tender brand name is trusted across vehicle manufacturers for effective performance and reliability.
5. Battery Tender Plus Battery Charger and Maintainer
- EXTEND BATTERY LIFE: Compatible with all 12V lead-acid, flooded, AGM, and gel cell batteries. Complete 4-step charging program (Initialization, Bulk Charge, Float Mode) allows for optimization of battery power, without overcharging
- INCLUDES: 12V, 1.25 AMP battery charger, fused ring terminal and alligator clip accessory cables, 10-year warranty, and lifetime customer support
- EASY TO USE: Low maintenance design is quick and easy to use, this universal powersport vehicle charger and maintainer is 4.87 x 3.25 x 2.93 inches, 1.45 lbs (charger only)
- MONITOR POWER LEVELS: Solid state two-color LED light indicates the state of the charge and if the battery voltage drops too far under load, charging will resume full charger output power
Last on our list is another revolutionary Tender accessory. Specifically, the Battery Tender Plus battery maintainer and charger is built to charge 12-volt batteries, including AGM, gel cell, flooded, and lead-acid batteries. With an amperage of 1.25 amps, this magnificent charger punches like a 3 amp unit. It also guarantees full charging without the risk of overcharging.
Its prevention from overcharging works through initialization, bulk charge, absorption, and float mode charging. These steps enable full battery charging without overcharging. Aside from the automated safety mode, this unit is also built with LED stage charging indicators for low or high battery voltage. Overall, this battery tender maintainer and charger is easy to use with low maintenance requirements.
Types of Car Battery Chargers
The first type is a charger which is used in restoring power in your car battery. Normally, a charger is capable of reviving a completely discharged or dead battery. In most cases, it is easy buying a charger because they are plentiful in the market. All you will need to look out for is the size, voltage, and amperage compatibility with your vehicle.
This type of car battery charger is straightforward and affordable for the basic revival of a dead battery. Different chargers in the market feature different charging rates, with some being trickle chargers that can take up to a whole day to charge a car battery fully. However, chargers require regular monitoring to avoid overcharging, which can damage your car battery. Despite the risks of overcharging, chargers are compatible with most car batteries, making them the best emergency counterparts.
Secondly, there is the type of a maintainer meant to keep vehicle batteries from complete power draining. Despite these models being less common than the chargers, they are ideal for overall battery health maintenance. In addition, you can use a maintainer regularly for a quick charge for precautionary charging.
An interesting feature about a maintainer is that it can automatically monitor a battery's charge level and stop when full. The primary role of a maintainer is to prevent overcharging and complete draining of a battery. You can achieve continuous power maintenance with a lower amp mode for consistent power.
Thirdly, there is a restorer which, simply put, revives old batteries. Naturally, an unused battery accumulates contaminants that render it chargeless. However, you can break down contaminants in the cells with a restorer to allow for charging once again. Unfortunately, restorers are expensive in their rareness and are used more in professional garages than by DIY users.
Some of the contaminants that may accumulate around battery cells include lead sulfate crystals. Essentially, a restorer can detect sulfation and apply a desulfator to clear up the foreign material build-up. Resultantly, different batteries regain their former state but with different outcomes. Therefore, the more restoration features a battery restorer has, the higher its price tag.
How To Use A Car Battery Charger
Before we dive into considerations to make before buying the best car battery charger, let's go over how to charge a battery. More so, using a car battery charger can be scary due to the electricity aspect, even with conspicuous safety features. Consequently, let's understand how to apply a car battery for effective outcomes for starters and professionals.
At the basic level, chargers work by transferring electrical currents to a car battery for reviving charges within the cells. Below are the steps to follow in using a charger.
- Connect your charger to your battery before turning it on. The reason for this is to avoid sparks emanating from the cables due to a current flowing in them. Therefore, this prevents shock and fire accidents.
- While connecting your charging device, always remember to match positive with a positive terminal and negative with a negative terminal.
- After ensuring the battery and charger terminals match, you can now switch on your charger to charge your battery. These first three steps are applicable for an automatic battery charger.
- In the case of a manual charging unit, ensure you follow the stipulated user manuals to match the voltage charger setting to the voltage requirement of your battery.
- After your vehicle's battery is fully charged, turn off the charger, and your car battery charger will be good to go. In the case of a smart battery charger, you won't have to keep monitoring for a full charge, but it will turn off automatically.
IMPORTANT SAFETY ADVICE: Always remember not to touch cables during charging. In case of any cable adjustments, always ensure you switch your charger off.
Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best Car Battery Charger
1. Voltage and Amperage
The first thing you will consider for this electrical appliance is the amperage and voltage. These measurements serve as indicators of a battery charger's effectiveness. To begin with, the respective measurement units for voltage and amperage are volts and amps (A).
On the one hand, battery voltage is the electric strength in the form of current or pressure that propels charged electrons via a conducting loop. In light of an automotive battery charger, voltage determines the capacity and safety of charging a car's battery, as well as the battery type that can be charged. Luckily, obtaining a charger with the correct voltage is easy because most vehicles are suited by a 12-volt charger, which is available in the market. Nonetheless, you can still choose to buy a more diverse charger with more voltage, but always ensure the charger's voltage is compatible with your car battery.
On the other hand, amperage refers to the current amount that flows through a battery charger. In simple terms, the higher the charger's amperage, the faster it can charge and vice versa. However, a fast-charging speed might not be ideal for all vehicle batteries. Therefore, it is important to understand your car's battery charging needs.
Accordingly, the best car battery chargers come with a smart auto function to detect the ideal charging mode and amperage across different battery types. Subsequently, such chargers work to ensure you achieve the correct charging rate. Most car battery chargers have ratings between 2 and 15 amps, but solar-powered chargers have lower amperage ratings.
2. Automatic vs. Manual
To achieve convenience while charging your car battery, it is also important to consider if a battery charger is automated or manual. Primarily, this consideration determines the amount of time spent monitoring a charging process. Nevertheless, let's understand the basic functionality of either of these charger types.
For a manual charging device, it is a cheap option because you will also have the input of monitoring the charging process to prevent overcharging. Ideally, you should turn off this type of device when your battery is almost full to prevent accidental surpassing. However, the manual automotive battery tends to provide a lower battery charge.
Conversely, there is the more advanced option of an automatic car battery charger. These models automatically turn off when the battery is fully charged. Subsequently, you can fully charge the battery without the risk of overcharging or even guesswork.
Fortunately, most modern car battery chargers are automatic with the advantage of much power for a battery charge. You can, therefore, charge your car battery overnight with optimal care to your battery. Eventually, the best battery charger for your car should make the charging process a breeze, along with other important factors in this buying guide.
Considering a car battery charger's exterior and garage applications, you need to consider the weatherproofing capacity for increased durability. At the basic level, any quality battery charger should be made with protection from dust and water. Most commonly, battery chargers are denoted with an IP rating system to measure harsh exterior elements' resistance. Also, in light of heat probability, while charging, chargers components should be heat resistant for increased durability.
Besides the water and dust resistance aspects, you should also consider a battery charger that is impact-resistant in case of drops or collisions with other items in a repair shop. Moreover, you can find chargers with protective cases for ensuring enhanced device safety. Overall, the best car battery chargers should be safe in storage and use under shelter or pouring rain or snow without compromising durability.
4. Electric vs. Solar
Additionally, you should consider if a battery charger is electric or solar. In the scope of how chargers work, they draw their power from somewhere before transferring it during an overnight charge or an emergency jump start.
The first type under this aspect is the electric-powered charger that draws power directly from a power outlet via a power cable or has stored power. For stored power, an electric-charged battery charger can be used while on the move without the need for cable connections. This power option for charging is convenient without depending on the sun availability, which varies.
When it comes to solar-powered chargers, they rely on solar energy to build up and store power for charging. Solar battery chargers have the benefit of free energy and are great counterparts for camping and road trips. In addition, you can enjoy music or charge without wasting your battery juice or fuel with an enhanced charging device. However, they are not reliable due to the fluctuations in the sun availability.
5. Safety Features
Another important factor you can't overlook is the safety of your select car battery charger. Typically, contemporary vehicle battery chargers are built with numerous safety features for protecting the battery, car, and user. For example, your vehicle's battery charging unit should prevent overcharging at the basic level, which might degrade or damage your battery. Also, you should consider getting a device with auto amperage and auto-voltage detection to prevent overheating.
Specifically, a smart battery charger or multi-step battery applies microprocessing power to assess battery power and automatically decide on the charge required. Additionally, smart chargers also detect accidental cable connections on wrong terminals through reverse polarity protection. For instance, a trickle unit will ruin your car battery if connected wrongly, unlike a smart charger that won't charge if not connected properly.
Other safety features you might look out for in a car battery charger include clamps with spark resistance and long enough cables for a safe charging distance. Understandably, the smart options are more expensive but are the safest.
In most cases, car battery charging can be regarded as an emergency activity. Considerably, when a battery is still functioning optimally, it automatically charges as the car charges. Therefore, you would never know when and where a battery will start failing. You will consequently need a charging appliance that is portable for easy storage in your car compartments.
Some aspects to consider under portability include weight, size, carrying handle, and power storage capacity. You can find small chargers you can store in a glove compartment or large (heavy-duty) chargers that you can store in your trunk. Ultimately, a portable unit should be built with an adequate charge reserve to jump-start your car reliably. On the flip side, always ensure your portable battery charger is fully charged for reliable use.
7. Additional Features
Besides charging a car battery, automotive users are continually demanding versatile accessories that offer broader conveniences. Accordingly, more car battery chargers are being equipped with extras such as an LCD screen for easy readability, in-built radios, and extra charging ports for small devices like phones. Reasonably, these extras aim to cater to other user needs, such as enjoying music and charging your smartphone for making battery charging pleasant. Moreover, in light of car battery charging, you can also buy a unit with the extra feature of rapid charging for a jump starter.
In addition, you should also consider features that enable easy utility. For example, a charging unit should be straightforward, with the automatic models being the best candidates. It might also help buy an engine start feature for functionality like jump starter cables without stopping a passing stranger. With an effective automatic charging unit, you will get back on the road with your battery charged adequately to get you to your destination.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Car Battery Charger
1. Can you charge a dead battery?
Yes, you can. A dead battery, in actual sense, lacks charge in its cells. So, essentially, you should first consider the type and model that you choose to charge your dead battery. Therefore, you don't have to worry about leaving your headlights on by mistake or wanting to use an old battery.
2. Do car battery chargers really work?
Indeed, car battery chargers offer effective solutions for both reviving and maintaining a battery's charge. In a short time, you can fully charge your battery at your own convenience or jump-start your car on your own. Subsequently, you should buy a reliable model that is compatible with your vehicle for optimal benefits. Feel free to read through our buying guide alongside recommended product reviews for easier shopping.
Image source: mechanicbase.com