Best Car Battery Chargers: Keep Your Car Battery Lasting Longer

Get long-lasting, reliable starting power with these high-quality car battery chargers.

byLisa Conant| UPDATED Sep 15, 2022 5:24 AM
Best Car Battery Chargers: Keep Your Car Battery Lasting Longer
A good car battery charger can save you time and money on expensive replacements. Deposit Photos

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Best Overall

NOCO Genius5 Fully-Automatic Smart Charger

Summary
This unit combines power, reliability, longevity, cutting-edge technology, and price point to outshine most other battery chargers on the market.
Pros
  • Backed by a three-year warranty
  • Versatile, multifunctional use
  • Can recharge dead batteries as low as zero volts
Cons
  • Instruction manual is somewhat vague
  • May automatically fall out of Force Mode when unattended
Best Value

Battery Tender Junior 12V Charger and Maintainer

Summary
An excellent choice if you want a super budget-friendly and reliable charger for your favorite toys and comes backed by an impressive five-year warranty.
Pros
  • Super affordable
  • Easy and straightforward to use
  • Backed by a five-year warranty
Cons
  • Not as strong or versatile as many other options
  • Can only maintain the charge on a car battery, not charge it from dead
Honorable Mention

Ampeak 2/10/25A Smart Battery Charger/Maintainer

Summary
This is a compact, UL-certified unit that offers plenty in the way of foolproof protections, such as overheat protection, reverse polarity, over-charging, over voltage and more.
Pros
  • Plenty of built-in protective features
  • Easy-to-read LCD display
  • Includes reconditioning mode
Cons
  • Alligator clamps could be more heavy-duty
  • Won’t work with lithium-ion or 6-volt batteries

Our Methodology

When it comes to choosing the best car battery chargers, I wanted to provide you with a well-rounded list that features a good variety of reputable manufacturers with solid track records of providing high-quality, reliable products. I included a wide range of price points to suit any budget. I focused on battery chargers that use the latest technology and that feature innovative, high-tech designs suitable for a wide variety of vehicles. I also narrowed the list by leaving off anything that’s more suited for professional commercial use. This list focuses more on everyday personal-use chargers that are great for keeping in your home garage. For more information on the selection criteria, click this link to The Drive’s Gear About page, which explains our methodology further.

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Best Car Battery Chargers Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Model: Genius5
  • Power: 5 amps
  • Battery Voltage: 6 and 12 volts

Pros

  • Backed by a three-year warranty
  • Versatile, multifunctional use
  • Can recharge dead batteries as low as zero volts

Cons

  • Instruction manual is somewhat vague
  • May automatically fall out of Force Mode when unattended

The NOCO Genius5 Fully-Automatic Smart Charger combines power, reliability, longevity, cutting-edge technology, and price point to outshine most other battery chargers on the market. Time and again, the NOCO family of battery chargers, jump starters, and maintainers makes it into one of the top positions on my list of best products, and the NOCO Genius5 Fully-Automatic Smart Charger is the ideal item to make my top overall pick. Not to mention, the company is continually improving and updating its designs in order to deliver the best results consistently. For example, the Genius5 is 34 percent smaller and delivers 65 percent more power than its predecessor, the G3500. This model is designed for use with 6- or 12-volt batteries. It can be safely used on marine, powersport, RV, and deep-cycle batteries, making it a versatile choice. Use it on gel, flooded, AGM, lithium-ion batteries, and more, safely and effectively. It can charge batteries as low as one volt. There’s also a handy “Force mode” that lets you manually begin charging a dead battery down to zero volts. An advanced battery repair mode can also help you recondition your battery to extend its life. This charger does lose some love for not having the clearest and most concise instruction manual. Force mode can occasionally kick off when unattended, so be sure to check your charger regularly during the first few hours of use.

Specs

  • Model: ‎021-0123
  • Power: 0.75 amps
  • Battery Voltage: 12 volts

Pros

  • Super affordable
  • Easy and straightforward to use
  • Backed by a five-year warranty

Cons

  • Not as strong or versatile as many other options
  • Can only maintain the charge on a car battery, not charge it from dead

The Battery Tender Junior 12V Charger and Maintainer is an excellent choice if you want a super budget-friendly and reliable charger for your favorite toys. It comes backed by an impressive five-year warranty and is super straightforward and simple to use. While the beauty of this unit lies in its simplicity, it does offer a complete four-step charging program that optimizes battery power without damaging it. Initialization stage checks the battery connection and charge level. Bulk charge, absorption mode, and float mode ensure that the battery reaches a full charger without damage. This compact and affordable model does have some limitations. For starters, it only offers 750 mA of charging capacity, making it capable of charging and maintaining dirt bikes, lawnmowers, ATVs, jetskis, and the like. It can maintain a charge on a car battery, but it isn’t strong enough to charge it from dead. It’s also not suitable for boats. It can be hooked up wrong, but does offer reverse polarity protection for added safety.

Specs

  • Model: 13
  • Power: 2/10/25 amps
  • Battery Voltage: 12 volts

Pros

  • Plenty of built-in protective features
  • Easy-to-read LCD display
  • Includes reconditioning mode

Cons

  • Alligator clamps could be more heavy-duty
  • Won’t work with lithium-ion or 6-volt batteries

The Ampeak 2/10/25A Smart Battery Charger/Maintainer is a compact unit that offers plenty in the way of foolproof protections, such as overheat protection, reverse polarity, over-charging, over-voltage and more. It’s also UL certified for extra peace of mind. This model is capable of effectively charging all types of 12-volt batteries, including AGM, STD, and gel. Unfortunately, it’s not able to handle 6-volt batteries or lithium-ion. The Ampeak battery charger features an advanced reconditioning mode that can help improve batteries that have been left uncharged and sitting for extended periods. The automatic charge feature will switch into float mode as soon as the battery has reached a proper level of charge. One thing I don’t love about this battery charger is that alligator clamps seem a little flimsy and it’s only backed by an 18-month warranty.

Specs

  • Model: SC1281
  • Power: 30 amps
  • Battery Voltage: 6 and 12 volts

Pros

  • Rugged and heavy-duty clamps and cables
  • Can also act as a jump starter and desulfator
  • Helps diagnose battery issues

Cons

  • Heavier and bulkier than some others
  • Frequent quality control concerns

The Schumacher Electric Charger easily earns the right to be in any car owner’s garage. Not only is it a powerful battery charger and maintainer, but it can also jump start a dead battery and perform diagnostic tests to help you figure out why your battery died in the first place. With 100-amp jump start and 30-amp boost mode, this charger gets the job done quickly and efficiently. It can even start SUVs and trucks, which a lot of the smaller chargers cannot do. This unit works on all 12-volt AGM, STD, deep-cycle, and gel batteries, as well as 6-volt batteries. Another great feature of this rugged charger is the long leads that give you plenty of room. The alligator clamps are also strong and will hold onto battery terminals with confidence. The drawback to this rugged charger is that it’s less compact and lightweight than many others. There are also several quality control concerns from various sources.

Specs

  • Model: MXS 5.0
  • Power: 5 amps
  • Battery Voltage: 12 volts

Pros

  • Complete kit ideal for most garages
  • Backed by a five-year warranty
  • Some of the most advanced technology on the market

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Not suitable for lithium-ion or 6-volt applications

The CTek MXS 5.0 Kit gives you everything you need, including a precision-engineered 12-volt battery charger, extension cable accessory, wall mount for out-of-the-way storage, cigarette plug accessory, and an indicator eyelet accessory. CTek is devoted solely to producing top-quality battery chargers and the company is well-known for its commitment to quality. The MXS 5.0 is the latest in advanced technology. The charger uses an advanced microprocessor to not only automatically control charging, but to also automatically compensate for temperature differences. This ensures that your battery charges at an optimal level, regardless of the surrounding ambient temperature. It’s capable of charging batteries up to 110Ah and maintaining batteries up to 160Ah, making it a powerful choice. This unit also offers a reconditioning mode to help improve and extend the life of your battery. The drawback is that this is a somewhat pricey unit compared to many others, although it does come backed by an impressive five-year warranty. It’s also not suited for lithium-ion or 6-volt batteries.

Specs

  • Model: NC301
  • Power: 20 amps
  • Battery Voltage: 12 and 24 volts

Pros

  • Versatile charging options can also work with electric vehicles
  • Super lightweight and compact
  • Also works as a trickle charger and desulfator

Cons

  • Owners manual is pretty vague
  • Alligator clamps are somewhat flimsy and the cables are quite short

The Nexpeak 20-Amp Car Battery Charger gets a lot of attention for being one of the most versatile chargers on the market. It’s capable of charging either 12- or 24-volt batteries, including lead-acid, LiFePO4, lithium-ion, marine, and deep-cycle batteries, including AGM, SLA, gel, and flooded. It’s a great option for your electric vehicle, car, truck, SUV, lawnmower, powersports equipment, boats, and much more. It features a lightning-fast 20-amp charging speed, while most others use only 5- or 8-amp charging power. This unit features a seven-stage charging mode, as well as a trickle charging mode. It offers smart control, which compensates for overcharging in hot climates and undercharging in cold climates. Multiple layers of protection ensure safe and easy operation. The large LCD display makes it easy to see what charging stage you’re in. It offers a repair function, but the manual is vague about what exactly occurs during this operation. The clamps could definitely be larger and their cables are quite short.

Our Verdict on Car Battery Chargers

If you want the best overall car battery charger in terms of power, dependability, ease of use, versatility, and price point, my top pick is the NOCO Genius5 Fully-Automatic Smart Charger. This model is designed for use with 6- or 12-volt batteries and can be safely used on marine, powersport, RV, and deep-cycle batteries, making it a versatile choice. For a high-quality, budget-conscious choice, consider the Battery Tender Junior 12V Charger and Maintainer. It’s an excellent choice if you want a super budget-friendly and reliable charger for your favorite toys.

What to Consider When Buying a Car Battery Charger

While there are many similarities between most of the best car battery chargers on the market, it’s not a one-size-fits-all consideration. There are several important key factors to familiarize yourself with to ensure you’re getting the best choice to suit your needs and that will hold up to the serious wear and tear over time and continue to deliver reliable power when you need it most.

Car Battery Charger Key Features

Voltage

A battery charger’s rated voltage is the measure of its strength, essentially. The voltage determines if a particular charger is strong enough to fully recharge your particular vehicle’s battery. Since most cars run on a 12-volt system, this is pretty straightforward. However, if you’re looking for a charger that will do double-duty and charge your electric vehicles, powersports equipment, golf carts, etc., consider getting a charger that offers 6- or 24-volt options as well.

Amperage 

Amperage is the measure of current the charger will put through it while it’s working. Generally, a higher amperage equals faster charging times. Most car battery chargers fall in the range of 5-8 amps. If you want super fast charging times, consider going for 10-30 amps. If you’re looking to leave something plugged in all winter or during an off-season, lower amperage is likely fine.

Automatic Function

In today’s busy and fast-paced society, you probably don’t have a ton of extra time to sit around checking and rechecking your battery charger. Look for a charger that offers automatic sensors and functionality that will monitor all stages of charging and switch into float mode once your battery is sufficiently charged to prevent overcharging and damage to your battery.

Safety Features

A high-quality car battery charger will have a bunch of extra safety features built-in to prevent accidental damage to the battery or fire. Functions that prevent overcharging, short-circuiting, reversed polarity, over-temperature, and over-voltage are very important when it comes to safe use and user-friendliness.

Car Battery Charger Pricing 

You can find a basic, straightforward car battery charger that is reliable and will deliver dependable results for quite some time for between $35 and $65. $75 and up will get you a heavy-duty, higher amperage, more technologically advanced car battery charger that can also act as a maintainer or desulfator, and in many cases, even a jump starter. These will also be backed by longer warranties and may come with accessory options, such as extension cables and wall mounts.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: How long should you leave a battery charger in a car?

A: While newer, more technologically advanced car battery chargers offer plenty of built-in safety features designed to prevent overcharging, it’s not a good idea to leave the charger on your car all the time. Most batteries will be able to achieve a full recharge in under 24 hours, so you should ideally disconnect from the charger as soon as this happens. Even with built-in precautions, leaving a charger unchecked for extended periods could result in an accidental fire.

Q: What is the difference between a jump starter and a battery charger?

A: Jump starters are made to deliver a large burst of power all at once to cause the battery to be powerful enough to turn the car’s engine over. A battery charger requires far less power and is meant to deliver a continuous amount of power over time to more slowly charge a battery to full power so that it can start your car without the aid of a jump starter.

Q: Which terminal do I connect each battery charger clamp to?

A: Hooking up your battery charger to your car battery is pretty straightforward. Each charger has a positive and a negative clamp. On most chargers, the positive is red and the negative is black, but always be sure to double-check before attaching. Hook the positive clamp to the positive terminal on your battery first. Next, affix the negative clamp to the negative terminal. Set the charger to the lowest charging rate and turn on the charger. Make sure all connections are secure and monitor the charger to make sure it’s working properly before leaving it unattended.

Q: Doesn't the battery charge during a jump start?

A: The car’s battery will charge a little during a jump start. To charge the battery fully, you’ll need to leave your car running for an extended time. A battery charger will help remove the need for a jump starter and ensure your car is fully charged and ready to go whenever you are.

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