LAST UPDATED: June 3, 2019
Best Battery Maintainers: Keep Your Car Battery In Prime Condition
Affordable, high-quality battery maintainers to keep your car battery healthy
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON June 3, 2019
If your battery dies, your first reaction is likely to replace it immediately. Unlike modern lithium-ion batteries, a car battery isn't something you can simply plug into the wall to recharge. With the correct battery maintainer, however, it's possible to keep its charge so you don't have to worry about it going dead or to bringing it back to life.
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Why Buy a Battery Maintainer
- Keep car batteries charged. The lifespan of most car batteries is fairly straightforward: The charge slowly decreases until there is no juice left. A battery maintainer makes it easy to keep the battery "topped" every now and then so you can extend the battery life. Some can also tackle other vehicle batteries like a motorcycle battery.
- Store batteries when not in use. All batteries lose their charge over time, even when they aren't in use. A maintainer is a good way to store batteries long term. The maintainer will keep the battery charged without the risk of overcharging or damaging it.
- Restore old batteries. Not all battery maintainers can bring a battery back from the dead, but some maintainer and charger combos can alternate modes to for the type of battery charging required to bring old lead-acid batteries back to a full charge.
Types of Battery Maintainers
This is the most basic and common type of battery maintainer. Meant for a single battery, this type of maintainer tends to be less expensive than other options and can offer some intelligent charging features at the same time.
When you have more than one battery you want to maintain, this is the type of maintainer to choose. Coming in different bank amounts like two, four, or 10 banks, these maintainers can work with multiple batteries at the same time, as long as you have long enough cables.
Some manufacturers like to pack more utility in their battery tending options. As a result, hybrid maintainers tend to offer different charging modes so it can actually charge a dead or near-dead battery and keep it full over a long period of time.
Top Brands of Battery Maintainers
Started in 1914, NOCO is a premium manufacturer of battery accessories like chargers, maintainers, jump starters and solar panels. The company focuses on designing battery products that are small in size but powerful enough to handle larger batteries. For automotive use, the NOCO Genius is a stellar maintainer that makes it easy to bring a dead battery back to life.
There shouldn't be any confusion over what Deltran Battery Tender is all about. Since 1965, the company has offered a large line of batteries and charging accessories for automotive, marine, and other uses. The company's battery maintainers, like the Battery Tender Plus, offer a lot of options for maintaining the different vehicle and battery types and numbers.
Battery Maintainer Pricing
- $100 and under: Budget maintainers tend to be either charging and maintainer combos meant for portable use or single-bank maintainers that pack some useful smart features. Either way, this is a good range to consider if you simply want a basic maintainer.
- $100-$200: This range is full of advanced single-bank maintainers mixed with a few multi-bank options. Most multi-bank maintainers here are generally limited to four or five batteries at a time.
- $200 and above: The upper range of battery maintainers is also fairly limited to professional-grade maintainers with large battery bank capacities. Maintainers up to 10 banks, for example, are common in this range. You'll also find the most user-friendly options here.
Amperage is the amount of current that can flow from the device to a battery. Higher amps tend to mean faster charging times, but this isn't always desirable for a battery maintainer. Since most maintainers are meant for long-term use, low-amp models use less energy to keep batteries full. If you want a quick recharge time, however, high amps are beneficial.
Many high-amp battery maintainers come with different charging modes for different scenarios. Maintainers that can actually charge a dead battery will often have a "fast charge" mode where the full amp limit is used to deliver a lot of juice in a short amount of time. "Maintenance" modes are common for keeping batteries charged over a long period of time.
Charging any kind of battery can be dangerous, especially if the charger or maintainer doesn't have a few safety features to keep the power controlled. Common safety features include spark-proof clamps, reverse polarity protection/warnings, auto volt and amp limits to prevent overcharging, and short circuit protection. Smart battery maintainers tend to make the most use of these features automatically so you don't have to worry about safe charging; it's just plug-and-play operation.
- Smart Features: Charging a battery normally isn't as simple as plugging it in and waiting for it to get full; at least, now without some help. Smart features that monitor the battery's charge are important for preventing overcharging. This is what makes most maintainers different from trickle chargers that deliver a constant charge. Maintainers can shut off the juice when necessary, while trickle chargers keep working no matter what.
- Exterior Protection: A small amount of waterproof protection goes a long way for most battery maintainers. Since you will likely keep the maintainer out in the garage, potentially exposed to moisture and the elements, a rugged exterior is a good investment. This will prevent the maintainer from getting damaged, which increases overall safety as well.
Best Battery Maintainers Reviews & Recommendations 2020
The Battery Tender Management System offers bulk battery maintenance capabilities that are meant for handling several batteries at once. The benefit of this multi-battery approach should be noticeable to multi-vehicle owners or professional mechanics as you can tend to more vehicles at once.
Within the company's battery management system, there are several models that increase the size of the bank from two to 10 batteries at a time. The maintainer offers a lot of high-end features for its high-end price tag. For example, it does a good job of "reading" the battery to determine the right charge to avoid overcharging or damaging the battery. The maintainer is compatible with many different types of 12-volt batteries and makes a great maintaining solution for marine and RV batteries as well.
The larger bank tending options may seem like overkill for the average vehicle owner, but anything above the four-bank batteries will be perfect for professional use or multi-vehicle owners. Unfortunately, these models come with short leads, making it difficult to reach multiple batteries sitting inside multiple vehicles at the same time without parking the vehicles just right so everything fits within reach of the maintainer.
NOCO's Genius battery charger and maintainer combo features a budget price with some advanced, smart features to protect the battery, your vehicle, and, possibly, yourself. As a result, this is a good maintainer option to consider if you want something that takes away the danger and challenge of bringing an automotive battery back from the dead.
Its portable size also makes it a great option to bring on trips. The maintainer series comes with several options ranging from 0.75 to 26 amps, with a four-bank 4.4-amp maintainer thrown into the mix for good measure. Great for beginners, the instructions are easy to follow and accurately reflect the basic charging and tending process of the device. The design of the box is strong, sturdy, and can be mounted permanently to a solid surface. While working, the low-amp models do a good job of staying cool on the surface.
As a budget-focused, hybrid automatic battery charger and maintainer, the device has a few shortcomings compared to dedicated maintainers. Visually, all you get is some indicator lights; its lack of a display means it can't show voltage. The crocodile clips have a slightly awkward shape where the plastic can interfere or hang up on the battery itself.
The Battery Tender Plus, like the Battery Tender Junior, is about as good as it gets when it comes to a single-bank smart battery charger and maintainer. Packing in a lot of smart features into a relatively small, compact body, the Plus is a 1.25-amp battery charger and maintainer that does a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of finding the appropriate charge for a battery based on its type and power level.
The device can also automatically switch between charging and maintenance modes for long-term battery support. Easy operation is this maintainer's biggest highlight, especially for anyone who doesn't have much experience with resurrecting dead batteries. The maintainer comes with simple-to-use cables that clamp on just like jumper cables. Beyond the use, the battery maintainer does a good job of keeping the heat down and charging most batteries within a 24-hour period.
On the negative side, the included alligator clips are on the small side, making it difficult to clamp them onto larger posts. The LED indicators can also be confusing since there is only a red LED for charging and a green LED for the completed status. An actual level indicator would be better to get an accurate sense of where the maintainer is during charging operations.
This battery charging bank comes with four individual ports that will simultaneously charge and maintain four separate batteries. It is a 12V, 1.25 amp battery charger. You can use this battery maintainer with a wide variety of vehicles and all of your powersport vehicles. This includes motorcycles, scooters, ATVs, UTVs, and PWCs. The entire unit is spark-proof and will automatically detect opposite polarity.
It has a set-it-and-forget-it feature to protect your battery. The Battery Management System automates the charge by charging until your battery reaches 100 percent. Then it transitions into “float mode” so that your battery will maintain optimal charge without overcharging. It also has an easy-to-read color-coded light system. This lets you see what state of charge your battery is in and if the voltage drops too low.
One downside to this unit is that it’s only meant for 12V recreational vehicles. It may not hold enough of a charge on your vehicle to be effective. It can also be frustrating if one of the banks stops working. You’ll need to replace the whole unit or send it in for repair. The only other option is to live with reduced functionality.
This streamlined battery maintainer will charge and maintain six and 12 volt batteries. It works best with GEL, AGM, and wet cell batteries. This maintainer will actively charge your battery until it’s fully charged. It will then automatically switch to maintenance or float mode to maintain your battery. There’s a light indicator to tell you the status of your battery. It has a built-in mounting bracket so you can choose a permanent placement for your maintainer.
You can easily connect this to any battery with either the clips or the O-ring terminals. This makes it easy to use this maintainer with several different vehicles. This maintainer also comes with a plethora of safety and battery saving features. These include protections such as reverse polarity, overcharging, and short circuiting.
Unfortunately, the circuit board and screws holding the unit together are prone to corrosion. This will render the unit useless. This unit also has a tendency to randomly fail after a day, a few weeks, or several months of use.
This battery charger will effectively charge and maintain your car, motorcycle, or marine battery. It delivers a 3A charge that’s controlled by a microprocessor. It uses multi-stage charging to protect and extend the life of your battery. You connect it to your battery using the included clamps.
The charger has reverse polarity protection in case you hook it up wrong. This is an important safety feature that will protect you, your battery, and the maintainer. It comes with a hook attachment that lets you hang it outside of your work area. This charger can also effectively charge and maintain Lithium (LiFePO4) batteries.
Unfortunately, this is not a fully automatic charger. You’ll need to tell it what type of battery you’re connecting it to. You’ll also need to reset it if the power goes out while you're charging. It also won’t charge 6V batteries, as claimed.
This battery charger works on motorcycle, car, marine, ATV, and RV batteries. It effectively charges 12V batteries. This small unit is lightweight and compact. It comes with safety protections that include short circuit guard, polarity inversion, and overcharging. There is a two-color status light on the front to indicate the charger’s mode.
This battery charger is efficient and will charge your battery faster than other battery maintainers. You also won’t need to disconnect it after your battery is fully charged. It automatically switches from charging to float mode once your battery is fully charged. The constant voltage meter will keep your battery at a steady 80-95 percent charge.
However, this battery charger is not from a well-known or trustworthy brand. This can make it challenging to depend on its functionality and durability. It’s also harder to get customer service should it fail. You may find that the lights work, but the unit won’t charge. It also may randomly stop working.
This solar-powered battery charger and maintainer uses the power of the sun to charge your vehicle battery. It works in both full sun and cloudy conditions. The unit is water resistant and comes with clamp connections to attach it to your battery. It’s ideal for boats, motorcycles, snowmobiles, cars, trucks, and RVs. It will maintain a 12V lead-acid battery.
This charger and maintainer doesn’t need electricity to work. It’s also rated for indoor and outdoor use. This gives you complete freedom in how and where you use this battery charger.
Unfortunately, this charger and maintainer doesn’t put out enough power to keep the battery charged if you have other components in your vehicle using the power. This means it won’t be effective on modern or higher-end vehicles that have a lot of electricity-demanding features. The fact that this unit is solar also makes its charging ability spotty since you’re dependent on the sun for it to work. While you can use it outside, it isn’t waterproof, so exposing it to rain or snow will ruin the charger. There is also no indication of whether the unit is working or not.
This 15-amp smart charger works to charge a 12-volt battery in a gel, AGM, SLA, or wet battery. The charger’s functions are fully automatic and will charge your battery until full. Then it will switch into float mode to maintain your battery. A microprocessor within the unit will control its functioning.
This seven-stage battery charger will recharge, maintain, and recondition your battery. This improves the functioning of your battery and extends its useful life. This charger is also highly efficient and can charge your battery in four to 15 hours.
Unfortunately, this unit doesn’t come with long cables. This means you’ll need to buy them separately. The clamps also have limited metal contacts, which can make it challenging to connect them to the battery.
- Take some time to consider the output of a potential battery maintainer. Higher amounts of amps are good for fast charging but will use more energy, so low-amp outputs are good to consider for energy saving gains.
- Safety always needs to be paramount when using any kind of charger. Read the instructions ahead of time to know exactly how to use the maintainer before connecting a battery.
- A good battery maintainer should be easy to use. The most simple process is a simple plug-and-play setup: connect the clamps to the terminals, turn on the maintainer, and let it do its work.
- Look for a maintainer with an automatic charging feature if you need one for battery storage. This feature will allow the maintainer to keep the battery periodically charged without requiring intervention from you.
Q. How do I know if my battery is dead?
A. The most obvious sign a lead-acid car battery is dead is when the car's engine fails to start. It may crank up but never reach sustained operation. The car's electronics may also fail to work properly, even when the engine is off. It's helpful to keep the battery charged well before this point, however.
Q. How long does it take to charge a battery?
A. This depends on the battery's capacity (amp hours) and the device's current (amps). You can divide the capacity by the current to get the number of hours it will likely take to charge it to full.
Q. Why is under or overcharging a battery an issue?
A. Unregulated, continuous or trickle charging can eventually deliver more charge than a battery can handle. This presents the possibility of damaging the battery, the charger and maintainer, and anything around them. Smart chargers and maintainers with float modes and automatic charging, on the other hand, can shut off when the battery reaches its maximum capacity so the danger is minimized.
Our top pick for the best battery maintainer is the Battery Tender Battery Management System. When you need multi-battery tending options, this lineup is the one to consider.
If you just want a simple maintainer to consider, look at the NOCO Genius.