LAST UPDATED: May 6, 2019
Best Car Battery Chargers: Keep Your Car Batteries Around Longer
A good car battery charger can save you time and money on expensive replacements
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON May 6, 2019
A dead battery doesn't always mean a replacement. Just like any other battery, car batteries can be recharged with a small amount of time, effort, and the right equipment. Car battery chargers do the same thing a quick jumpstart with jumper cables accomplishes by delivering juice to the battery, just with longer-lasting results. To save some money and keep your battery running, check out some of the best battery chargers available.
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Why Buy a Car Battery Charger
- Avoid battery replacements. Replacing a lead-acid battery isn't rocket science, but it can be quite the process depending on the type of vehicle you own. In some vehicles, battery replacement is a simple operation: disconnect the clamps, remove the old battery, insert the new one, reconnect everything. In other cars, like some hybrids for examples, the process is much more complicated, requiring access to special compartments, tools, and batteries. With a simple charger, on the other hand, you can remove a lot of the complication. An automatic battery charger also tends to come with important features like fast charging, float mode, stage charging, alternator check, overcharge protection, and more.
- Save money. Beyond the challenging replacement process, a good car battery charger also allows you to save money. First, no replacement means no money spend on a new battery. Second, you can save money on having a professional replace the battery for you. In both case, investing in a quality car battery charger upfront will be rewarding in the long run.
- Charge other devices. Some car battery chargers come with additional charging modes and ports for other smaller accessories and different battery types. USB ports, for example, are common and perfect for keeping devices charged on the go.
- Multitask with a multifunctional device. Need to listen to a radio in the garage? With the right car battery charger, that's more than possible. Many options come with other features and capabilities built right into the device. Explore your options ahead of time to see what features are important to you and which ones you can live without.
Types of Car Battery Chargers
As the name suggests, this type is a basic battery charger that can restore the juice in a car battery, often even if it has been completely discharged. Basic chargers are plentiful, and it's usually possible to find the right charger that's the perfect size, shape, and amperage that you need for your vehicle.
Less common than regular chargers, battery maintainers are meant to keep car batteries from completely discharging. They are good for a quick "fill-up" and for maintaining the overall health of a battery if you can remember to use it every now and then.
The least common version of a battery charger, restorers breathe new life into old batteries. As various contaminants build up in a battery's cells, the battery loses effectiveness. Restorers can break down these contaminants so it can hold a charge once again. These are the most expensive type of charger and are more common in professional garages than for home use.
Top Brands of Car Battery Chargers
When it comes to automotive products and battery chargers, NOCO is a well-known brand that offers several products in a different league of their own. Since 1914, the company has been a trusted name in many mechanic garages thanks to the product line's durability and resilience. One such charger is the NOCO Genius G7200.
Long known as premium hardware and power tool manufacturer, Black+Decker has a pretty good presence in many professional and home garages as well. Its line of car battery chargers leans on the smaller side, but high-quality options like the BC15BD Charger are plentiful.
Car Battery Charger Pricing
- $50 and under: For a decent battery charger that doesn't offer too much in terms of thrills, this is the range to consider. Most chargers in this range have low voltage outputs, so they might not be the best for larger vehicles.
- $50-$100: This standard range of car battery chargers has almost anything and everything you might consider for any vehicle. Larger voltages are commonplace here, along with a few options with extra features and accessories.
- $100 and above: Higher-end car battery chargers tend to be larger in form, more powerful in voltage, and more convenient in terms of extra accessories. It's easy to find a model that can tackle nearly any vehicle, including a few restorer options for professional use.
Car battery chargers need to adapt to the different types of car batteries it may encounter. Generally, different batteries will have different levels of amps they require to effectively work. Chargers with the ability to detect the required amps and distribute the necessary voltage make the charging process safer and easier. Some chargers also have to charge phases that can read and adapt to the battery's state and adjust the charging settings accordingly.
Since most car battery chargers see use outside or in garages, a basic level of exterior protection can keep the charger in a good condition for a long period of time. Protection from water and dust is an important feature, often denoted by the IP rating system that measures how resistant something is to these elements. Basic heat protection also goes a long way towards protecting the interior components of a charger.
If you want to get more out of a car battery charger, extra features and accessories are a must. Things like small device charging ports, built-in radios, and rapid-charging functionality all allow you to get more use out of the charger and more value for your dollar. Even basic add-ons like an LCD screen led indicators or a waterproof or spark-proof exterior help with usability and durability.
- Charge Time: The average charge time of a car battery charger will vary, depending on the charger itself and the car battery. On average, most chargers take between two and ten hours to charge a battery completely. Small, portable chargers tend to take longer so larger garage-only models may be a better purchase if you want the fastest charge times.
- Ease of Use: It shouldn't be difficult to hook up a charger to a car battery and get it going. Most tend to be fairly straightforward, but there can be some settings that make it difficult to use if you have to set them manually. This is why automatic car chargers that can read the battery's state and just accordingly will save you some time and effort with each charge.
Best Car Battery Chargers Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Many car chargers tend to be bulky and difficult to move around, making it even more difficult to use with multiple vehicles. NOCO's Genius G1100 charger, on the other hand, takes a less-is-more approach to design, offering a small body that packs a surprisingly decent punch in the power department.
The charger boasts some surprising abilities to bring near-dead batteries that you'd normally replace back to life again. For standard 12-volt batteries, it does a good job of intelligently reading and assessing the status of the battery to apply the correct settings for the best charge possible.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for some 6-volt batteries since the charger's features aren't compatible with all varieties of this type. Charging also takes a longer time than most other options, so patience will certainly be a virtue with this one if you purchase it for standard use.
It's rare to find a car battery charger that has the intelligence to read a battery without an expensive price tag. The MOTOPOWER MP00205A Charger, however, is one such option that manages to offer intelligent safety features with a basic design. This option gets the job done when it comes to getting a battery working again and can keep the battery healthy as a basic maintainer.
In line with its simple design, the included directions and product information also make it simple to use right out of the box. As a simple trickle charger, it does a good job of getting a car battery charged over several hours.
The downside to this little charger is just that: it's little. Rated at 800 mA, this won't compete with the real multi-stage chargers. The lack of a "power punch" can be problematic for certain batteries, especially in larger vehicles, but the design gets the job done in most cases for a standard size vehicle/battery.
The problem with a lot of common chargers is simple: size. If something is small, it's unlikely to handle bigger vehicles. Schumacher's SC1281 is not in this camp. As a larger battery charger, it packs a powerful electrical punch with a 30-amp quick boost and 100-amp jump starter in addition to its slow charging capabilities.
Despite the larger size of the charger's body, it comes in at a decent weight that makes it surprisingly portable for garage or home use. Better still, charge status readings are fairly accurate, so it's easy to know when the battery is reading for use again after some charging time.
The rest of the charger doesn't quite match the beefy feel/presence of the main body. For example, the clamps could have a bigger, more rugged construction for heavy-duty use. The instructions are also a bit hard to follow since the wording is unnecessarily complicated at times.
This Die Hard battery charger comes in 2, 3, 6, or 10 amps. It comes with clamps, ring connectors, and a cigarette lighter plug. Inside the unit is a microprocessor that makes the unit fully automatic. There’s also an LED indicator light that will flash if you’ve connected the clamps wrong.
You’ll find that this unit is fast and easy to connect with the different options. It also has an overcharging prevention feature. If your battery begins to discharge, the charger will automatically kick in and recharge your battery to full again.
One downside of this charger is that the indicator light can be confusing, which could result in you thinking the battery is fully charged when it isn't. This maintainer cannot repair a fully dead battery.
Maintain and charge your car battery with this 12V and 750mA unit from Battery Tender. It will automatically charge your car, motorcycle, or boat battery until it’s fully charged. Then it will automatically switch to float mode for safe maintenance and prevent overcharging. It comes with a 12-foot cord.
The beauty of this unit is its simplicity. There are no extra unnecessary features and no extra technology to malfunction. You can plug in your 12V lead acid battery and know that it will charge and maintain. This will extend the overall useful life of your battery. The Battery Tender brand is one that’s trusted for its reliability and performance by several vehicle manufacturers.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to hook it up wrong, and it will make a clicking noise until you correct it. This unit also lacks some of the charging versatility features that other charges on this list have.
Maintain and charge your battery with this unit from Ampeak. It comes in size 6V/12V and 8A, 12V and 15A, or 12V and 25A. You can use it with all types of 12V batteries, including gel, AGM, lead acid, and STD. There is a large LCD screen on the front to help you monitor the battery’s state, current, and voltage.
What makes this unit stand out is that it comes with a smart detect system to know exactly what type of battery you’ve hooked it up to. This ensures optimal charging for each type of battery. It also has several advanced safety precautions built in to make using it safer.
Unfortunately, if your battery is fully drained, this unit won’t recognize that a battery is hooked up. This results in dead batteries not getting charged. The unit also runs hot, which may not be good in warmer climates.
This battery pack can charge and jump start your car battery. It packs a capacity of 1500A peak power and 21800mah capacity. It works with any 12V vehicle battery. You can use it on both gas and diesel engines. There are two USB ports for emergency charging of your portable electronics, such as your smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
What’s nice about this unit is that it can perform five unique functions. It can charge your car battery, jump start your vehicle in an emergency, has an LED flashlight, SOS lighting, and dual USB quick charge.
Unfortunately, this unit isn’t very durable. The safety button to prevent incorrect connections doesn’t work. This means you could accidentally reverse the polarity. The clamps also tend to slip off of the terminals, which results in your car battery not charging or your vehicle getting jumped.
This powerful car charger can also function as a jump start. It will work on 7.2L gas or 5.5L diesel engines. You should be able to jump your car up to 20 times with 800A of power. The unit comes with heavy-duty cables and clamps. The LCD screen will show you how much power the unit has left to charge your car battery.
What makes this unit stand out is that you can charge more than car batteries with it. There’s a smart USB charging port that works with laptops, smartphones, tablets, and any other mobile device. The unit also comes with an adapter for different laptop brands.
One downside to this unit is that its performance is unreliable. You may also struggle to get it to output enough power to charge and jump your car battery. The user manual isn’t very clear, which can make troubleshooting frustrating.
Use this car battery charger to maintain and charge all types of lead acid batteries. It’s compatible with all 12V 4Ah to 100Ah capacity batteries on the market. This includes SLA, AGM, gel, VRLA, and deep cycle batteries. It comes with heavy-duty alligator clips and ring terminals. This charger uses a four-stage process that’s fully automatic to charge your battery. This includes initialization, bulk charge, absorption, and float modes.
What’s nice about this car battery charger is that it’s portable and has multiple functions. It can repair, charge, and maintain your batteries. It also has a bright LCD screen that lets you monitor the charging, voltage, current, and battery status. It comes with several built-in features to protect your battery from accidental damage while charging.
One thing to be careful of with this charger is that it can melt. Inspect the box where the wires come out to ensure that it is in a safe condition to use. The unit doesn’t come with a manual or instructions, so it can be challenging to get it working. The automatic functions may not work as intended.
IThis smart battery maintainer can recharge fully drained 12V Pb, SLA, gel, AGM, VRLA, sealed lead acid batteries, and wet flooded batteries. It has an LCD screen for you to monitor the charging progress and mode. It will automatically begin to charge and use a three-stage charging process as it automatically switches between modes to give you a safe and effective charge.
What’s nice about this car battery charger is that it comes with several safety features. This includes protection from reverse polarity, over-charging, over-current, over-power, over-discharge, over-temperature, short circuit, and reverse connection. It’s a versatile charger, as it can both maintain and repair batteries.
Unfortunately, it cannot fully repair damaged batteries, and it cannot repair your battery back to a brand-new condition. While it can charge quickly, the speed is dependent on the damage and discharge of your battery. It could take up to 24 hours of charging before your battery is ready for use. You may also need to remove the battery from your vehicle.
- Clean the battery terminals before use. Dirt and debris can make the energy transfer take more time. Use a sanding pad to remove loose debris.
- Don't touch the battery terminals if there is a white powder on them. Known as dried sulfuric acid, this powder can burn skin.
- Read the instructions to the battery charger before use. These will help you connect the cables to the right terminal.
- Don't confuse the positive and negative clamps when attaching the cables.
- Double check to make sure you don't have any electrical circuits switched on in your vehicle. This can cause a spark or gas ignition in the battery.
Q. What is the difference between a jump starter and a battery charger?
A. In short, jump starters deliver a lot of energy at once to get the engine running. Battery chargers have a trickle charge that delivers a little juice over a long period of time.
Q. Doesn't the battery charge during a jump start?
A. Technically, a bit, especially if you leave the jump starter or jumping car running for a little while after the engine is running. Battery chargers, however, can charge the battery more completely.
Q. How do I know which terminals to connect the clamps to?
A. Most car batteries are labeled with a plus and minus sign for the positive and negative terminals.
For its convenient size and easy use, our top pick is the NOCO Genius G1100.
Save some money and space with the small design of the MOTOPOWER MP00205A.