Reviews

Best Car Battery Chargers: Keep Your Car Battery Lasting Longer

A good car battery charger can save you time and money on expensive replacements.

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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON September 28, 2021

Trying to start your car only to discover your battery is dead is frustrating, and it’s especially annoying if you think you’re going to have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a brand-new battery. However, in many cases, you can revive your vehicle’s battery with nothing more than a car battery charger. Whether your battery died from being parked for an extended time or it’s simply become depleted unexpectedly, a charger is your best ally.

 

Designed to recharge car batteries, these chargers take nothing more than the right equipment and a little time. A car battery charger and a pair of jumper cables can get you back on the road without costing you a ton of money. Convenient, easy to use, and available for every budget, a car battery charger can be a lifesaver. Check out which car battery chargers are our top picks.

Best Overall
NOCO Genius G1100
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Summary
Summary

Small in price and form, this charger is one of the few options that are actually portable in design. For use around the garage or house, this is a top contender to consider.

Pros
Pros
  • Good charging and maintaining capabilities
  • Body features a very sleek design that's portable enough to be used around the garage or house with ease
Cons
Cons
  • Limited battery compatibility with certain voltages
  • This one doesn't pack the same kind of punch as more expensive options
Best Overall
NOCO Genius G1100
Best Value
MotoPower MP00205A
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Summary
Summary

This smart charger hides some decent power in a basic design and body. Offering up to 12 volts of charge, this charger is a smart option with a few intelligent features built into the design.

Pros
Pros
  • Easy to use right out of the body
  • Included instructions are surprisingly easy to follow
Cons
Cons
  • Lacks decent and quick charging capabilities with standard car batteries
  • Not really suitable for larger vehicles
Best Value
MotoPower MP00205A
Honorable Mention
Schumacher SC1281
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Summary
Summary

True charging, especially for larger vehicles, gets done with chargers like this beefy option. Coming with smart battery charger features and a powerful battery, this is the charger for the big vehicles.

Pros
Pros
  • Main body is beefy and well-constructed
  • Charging capabilities do a good job of getting most batteries up to a usable level in a shorter amount of time than other options
Cons
Cons
  • Lack of quality construction with some units
  • Accessories like the clamps could be beefier for heavy-duty or constant use
Honorable Mention
Schumacher SC1281

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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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

Charger

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.

Maintainer

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.

Restorer

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

NOCO

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.

Black+Decker

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

  • Under $50: 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 to $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 up: 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. 

Key Features

Voltage

A car battery charger’s voltage is one of the most important features. It’s the measure of the electric strength of the charger—the voltage determines whether or not a particular charger will be able to fully and safely recharge your vehicle’s battery. Fortunately, finding just the right voltage is pretty straightforward: most vehicles use a 12-volt electrical system, so you’ll want a 12-volt charger (an easy variety to find). However, if you’re hoping to find a more versatile charger that can be used for several different types of batteries or one that’ll work for your car and your utility vehicles, you may need a different voltage.

Amperage

Amperage is just as crucial as a charger’s voltage. A car battery charger’s amperage is the amount of current that the charger can handle — or, more simply put, the amount of current that flows through it while it’s working. A higher amperage equals faster charging; a lower amperage means slower charging. However, you’ll also want to consider which is ideal for your car’s battery. Some may be better off with a slower charging rate. Additionally, the best car battery chargers are smart and can automatically detect what amperage and charging mode is the best to use for a particular battery. This ensures you’re always getting the correct charging rate.

Automatic or Manual 

There are two ways a car battery charger works: automatically or manually. You can opt for either, but it’s always a key feature to consider. With a manual charger, you have to monitor the charging process. You’ll have to shut off or unplug the charger to prevent overcharging, and they generally deliver a lower battery charge overall. With an automatic charger, your battery charger will handle the entire process for you. These chargers shut themselves off or turn on maintenance mode automatically when your battery reaches full. Often, it’s easier to use an automatic charger if you plan to do other things while your battery charges.

Safety Features

You can’t overlook safety when you’re picking out the best car battery charger. Typically, these chargers come with a wealth of safety features to keep you, your car, and your battery protected from dangerous accidents. Your basic charger can prevent overcharging, which can degrade your battery quickly. Most chargers can also offer auto-voltage and auto-amperage detection to prevent overheating, as well as reverse polarity, spark-resistant clamps, and easy-to-use cables, so you’re always charging safely and without worry.

Weatherproofing

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. 

Extra Features

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.

Other Considerations

  • 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. 
  • Charger Output. It’s critical that you consider a battery charger’s output before hooking one up to your vehicle’s battery. You’ll want to pick a charger that offers at least 10 percent of your battery’s amp-hour (Ah) rating. So, if you have a 100Ah car battery, you’ll need to make sure you choose a charger with at least a 10 amp minimum. Upgrade to a larger charger with more amps, and you’ll be able to recharge your battery even faster.
  • Lifespan. Every battery and every battery charger degrade over time with use. To keep your charger working properly as long as possible, you’ll want to think about lifespan when you’re picking one out. You’ll want to consider details like the proper storage temperature, the total battery charge time, and whether or not automatic charging is regulated or unregulated.

Best Car Battery Chargers Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
NOCO Genius G1100

The NOCO Genius G1100 is one well-rounded car battery charger, and it’s one that makes recharging exceptionally easy. 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. 

Best Value
MotoPower MP00205A

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 small. 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.

Premium Pick
Schumacher SC1281 Fully Automatic Smart Battery Charger

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. 

Most Versatile
DieHard 6/12V Battery Charger and Maintainer

The DieHard 6/12V Battery Charger and Maintainer is two products in one: it’ll recharge and keep your car’s battery in its best possible shape. This 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. 

Honorable Mention
Battery Tender Junior Charger and Maintainer

Maintain and charge your car battery with the Battery Tender Junior Charger and Maintainer. Its name might imply a small size, but this device is more than capable. It’s a 12V and 750mA unit, and it’ll 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 chargers have.

Honorable Mention
Ampeak Smart Battery Charger

You’re going to want to maintain and charge your car battery with the Ampeak Smart Battery Charger. 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. The unit also runs hot, which may not be good in warmer climates.

Honorable Mention
Nexpow Car Battery Starter

The Nexpow Car Battery Starter is a battery pack that can charge and jump start your car battery. It packs a capacity of 2000 amps 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, the instruction manual is not very clear. Also, while this charger is larger is most, the light is small. 

Honorable Mention
DBPower Portable Car Battery Booster

The DBPower Portable Car Battery Booster is one powerful car charger — but that’s not all it is. This slim device 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 some users complain its performance is unreliable. You may struggle to get enough power to charge and jump your car battery. The user manual isn’t very clear, which can make troubleshooting frustrating. 

Honorable Mention
Everstart Maxx 50 Amp Automotive Battery Charger

The Everstart Maxx 50 Amp Automotive Battery Charger is one seriously well-equipped product. You’ll get impressive charging power from this device, all packed inside a relatively compact housing. With an advanced microprocessor, this charger can automatically detect battery voltage and deliver the right charging amps. You can even leave this charger connected to your battery all season long; it doubles as a maintainer, meaning it turns on maintenance mode once your car’s battery reaches a full charge. It can also be used to charge vehicles like jet skis, RVs, trucks, and others.


Additionally, this charger comes with a patented engine start feature designed to help you get back on the road faster. There’s even a battery reconditioning mode, which optimizes your battery’s performance — even if your car’s battery is an old one. This single charger will optimize everything from charging to battery performance.

Honorable Mention
YONHAN Automotive Battery Charger

The Yonhan Automotive Smart Battery Charger is a charger and maintainer in one, giving you an intelligent product that 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.

Tips

  • 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.

FAQ

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

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?

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?

Most car batteries are labeled with a plus and minus sign for the positive and negative terminals. 

Q: How do I know when a car battery is charged?

Most car battery chargers come with handy indicator lights built in: you can check these indicator lights to see where the battery’s level is at. Or, if your charger features a screen that displays charging information, you can also find the charge level shown right on that screen. 

Q: Can you leave a car battery charger on all the time?

You’ll only want to leave your car’s battery attached to the charger if you’re using a charger with automatic functionality or if you’re using a charger and maintainer. Manual car battery chargers will not shut off once your battery is fully charged, so leaving it on can degrade your battery. However, with an automatic charger or a battery maintainer, the charger will stop once the battery is full and begin using maintenance mode to keep your battery in tip-top shape.

Final Thoughts

Convenient, well-sized, and seriously well-built, the NOCO Genius G1100 is our top choice. This quality car battery charger has everything you need in one great device. If you're looking to spend less, you can't go wrong with the money- and space-saving MOTOPOWER MP00205A, a value-filled product that'll charge nicely.