The Best Battery Maintainers: Stay Charged and Ready to Roll

Save yourself time and frustration by keeping your batteries in tip-top shape with these reliable battery maintainers.

byLisa Conant| UPDATED Jun 8, 2022 11:43 AM
The Best Battery Maintainers: Stay Charged and Ready to Roll
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You wake up pumped and ready to play on your favorite vehicular toy and rock out to the garage all suited up only to be greeted by the mother of all mood killers: a dead battery. Or worse, you’re already running 15 minutes late for work and hear the dreaded hollow whirring of a dead car battery. It never seems to fail. 

I’m here to tell you that all this hassle can be easily avoided simply by investing in an affordable and compact battery maintainer. These clever devices keep your batteries charged and healthy so that you don’t ever have to worry about your plans being stymied by a dead battery again. My comprehensive list of top-quality battery maintainers, along with an informative buying guide, will have you fully charged and ready to go in no time.

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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Summary List 

Our Methodology

When it comes to choosing the best battery maintainers, 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 maintainers that use the latest technology and that feature innovative, compact designs suitable for a wide variety of uses. For more information on the selection criteria, click this link to The Drive’s Gear About page, which explains our methodology further.

Best Battery Maintainer Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Brand: Deltran
  • Model: 022-148-DL-WH
  • Amperage: 1.25

Pros

  • Works on all AGM batteries
  • Protected against reverse polarity
  • Microprocessor optimizes electrical flow

Cons

  • Comes at a fairly high price point
  • Better if you’re working with multiple batteries

For those looking to improve the health of multiple batteries, the Deltran Battery Tender Four-Bank Battery Management System is a fantastic candidate. It’s able to accommodate four batteries at any given time, with each port independent. Lightweight and compact, this three-pound battery tender provides a steady 1.25 amps to efficiently yet safely restore charge. The high-tech system is built to automatically adjust the output to a float setting once it hits the ideal charger. Since it has thorough safeguards against overcharging, it takes all the guesswork out of restoring your battery.

Well-suited to sealed batteries, you can use it on most automobiles. Equipped with a reverse polarity safety, there is no risk of damage. It’s capable of charging and maintaining motorcycles, ATVs, jet skis, riding mowers, and dirt bikes, or maintaining a charge on your car, truck, SUV, or power boat. It’s worth a note that, since this unit is so powerful, it does come with a proportionately higher price tag. That said, if you have more than one vehicle, it is a perfect garage companion.

Specs

  • Brand: Everstart
  • Model: BM1E
  • Amperage: 1

Pros

  • Affordably priced
  • Includes long cabling for easier connections
  • Encased in a durable polymer exterior

Cons

  • Cord connections can get strained easily
  • Vulnerable to extremely cold situations

Keeping your car battery working shouldn’t drain your bank account. That’s what makes the Everstart 12-Volt Battery Charger and Maintainer such a popular option. It is priced affordably and is extremely compact. Though it has a straightforward design, it can perform all the necessary functions. Equipped with durable clamps and O-rings, this automatic one-amp battery maintainer works in any situation. It’s compatible with any standard lead-acid battery, meaning you can use it on both land and water vessels.

Since this model includes a lengthy cable, you can connect it from just about anywhere. At the center of the device is a simple piece, highlighting battery charging status with light indicators. Easy to use and extremely affordable, this charger and maintainer is a worthy value pick. One drawback, however, the cord attachments to the charger are a bit flimsy. Easy to bend, you can damage the circuitry easily if you tug on the cord. As long as you’re able to handle it with care, though, it is built to work for long periods.

Specs

  • Brand: Noco
  • Model: Genius1
  • Amperage: 1

Pros

  • Backed by a three-year warranty
  • 35 percent more powerful than competing battery maintainers
  • Can desulfate and manually recharge dead batteries

Cons

  • Not powerful enough for use on cars, trucks, or SUVs
  • Has a tendency to automatically shut off after several days

This streamlined battery maintainer will charge and maintain six- and 12-volt batteries. It works best with flooded, gel, AGM, deep cycle, and even lithium batteries. This battery maintainer is 35 percent smaller and more powerful than many of its competitors. And, as an added bonus, it’s offered at a refreshingly affordable price point. Looking for a battery charger, maintainer, desulfator, and trickle charger? This one product delivers all four. This tender will actively charge your battery until it’s fully charged. It will then automatically switch to maintenance or float mode to maintain your battery.

This tiny, but tough battery tender is even capable of recharging batteries as low as one volt. The new “force mode” lets you manually begin charging batteries that measure as low as zero volts. The rub? This battery maintainer isn’t suitable for use on full-size car batteries. It’s designed to charge your ATV, small camper, golf cart, scooter, etc. This unit also loses some love for occasionally glitching out and automatically timing out after three days. Backed by a three-year warranty, though, rectifying any issues should be simple and straightforward.

Specs

  • Brand: Schumacher
  • Model: SP1297
  • Amperage: 3

Pros

  • Works on a wide variety of battery types
  • Large, easy to read display
  • Substantial and strong alligator clamps

Cons

  • Not suitable for six-volt batteries
  • Doesn’t automatically detect the type of battery you have

This battery charger will effectively charge and maintain your ATV, lawn tractor, jet ski, 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. The clamps on this charger are substantial and will connect securely to your battery during use. 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 tender.

It also 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 six-volt batteries, as claimed.

Specs

  • Brand: CTek
  • Model: MXS 5.0
  • Amperage: 4.3

Pros

  • Capable of reconditioning, charging, and maintaining batteries
  • Fully automatic for ease of use
  • Backed by a five-year warranty

Cons

  • Unit tends to get warm to the touch
  • Instructions are vague

The CTek MXS 5.0 Battery Charger and Maintainer is designed for automotive and motorcycle use. This advanced microprocessor-controlled charger includes a reconditioning mode and is ideal for use with lead-acid batteries. Other features include battery diagnosis, automatic desulphation, and a float/pulse system that efficiently maintains the battery when it's connected for long periods of time.

The device has a built-in automatic temperature sensor and comes with alligator clamps and eyelets. It's splash and dust-resistant and protects against sparking, reverse polarity, and short circuiting. It has an easy-to-read LED display, is perfect for start-stop systems, and comes with a five-year warranty. Considering its capacity, this unit is super small, light, and easy to use. There have been some complaints that it can get warm to the touch. Also, the instructions aren't very detailed, and the electrical cord isn't very long.

Specs

  • Brand: Schumacher
  • Model: SP-200
  • Amperage: 2.4

Pros

  • Solar-powered unit doesn’t require electricity
  • Great choice for smaller applications
  • Super affordable

Cons

  • Not very powerful
  • No display to indicate if the unit is working properly

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.

Our Verdict

If you want the ideal combination of a multifunctional, user-friendly, reliable, and powerful battery maintainer, my top pick to click is the Deltran Battery Tender Four-Bank Battery Management System. Able to maintain four batteries at the same time, this precisely machined device automatically controls output voltage. Each port offers 12 volts at 1.25 amps. 

For a more budget-conscious option that delivers respectable and reliable charging power, check out the Everstart 12-Volt Battery Charger and Maintainer. Cost-effective and user-friendly, this battery maintainer works on any type of car or water vessel. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Battery Maintainer

When it comes to battery maintainers, many people think it’s a one-size-fits-all thing and that there’s really not much to consider. While that may have been the case decades ago, it’s certainly not the lay of the land in today’s market. Today’s maintainers come in a wide variety of sizes and functions suitable for different uses. Be sure to get the one that most suits your specific needs. 

Key Features

Charging Ports

All battery maintainers will have at least a single port; however, if you are looking to tend more than one battery, you’ll need a maintainer with more capacity. First, check the quantity and ensure that there is enough room to handle your needs. Next, look at the circuitry to ensure that the stations are wired independently from one another. This feature serves to prevent electrical overlap and stop batteries, being charged simultaneously, from pulling power from each other. 

Amperage Supply

Amperage is a measure of current, meaning it tells you how strongly the electricity is flowing into your battery. Most ring in at around two amps. Now, higher might sound better, but with a maintainer, it’s better to stick in the mid-range. Too high, you get an overcharge. Too low, there’s no result. Maintainers are designed to fall right in the middle, providing the ‘just right’ amount of electricity to the battery. If you plan to get a hybrid for use as a charger, make sure that there are ample safeguards and a well-structured charging approach. 

Charging Approach

The vast majority of battery maintainers on the market use the four-step charging approach. The first is initialization, basically when the unit starts up and connects with the battery. The microprocessor detects the necessary charge and it moves to step two: bulk charge. This is when a heavy, steady flow of electricity goes into the battery. Once the battery hits 80 percent full, it moves to tier three: absorption. Now, a steady voltage flows in, but the system titrates down the amperage. The final state is float mode. Basically, the float mode sets it so that a current only applies when the battery needs it, thus preventing overcharging. 

Safeguards

Another important feature is the safeguards in place. Modern versions tend to incorporate the most safety features, having learned the pitfalls along the way. Keep your eye out for overcharge and short-circuit protection, features built into the microprocessor. Additional safeties include voltage and amperage limits, as well as protection against reverse polarity. Provided these safeguards are in place, and the attachment hardware is in good condition, it should be a safe maintainer to use on your car battery. 

Battery Maintainer Pricing 

You can get a decent mid-range battery maintainer that is suitable for six- or 12-volt batteries and capable of maintaining a variety of car, truck, and sporting equipment vehicles for between $25 to $75. If you’re looking for maximum charging capacity, including being able to recharge and desulfate dead batteries or charge multiple batteries at once, plan to spend closer to $100 to $200. The heavier-duty battery maintainers are also usually backed by solid manufacturer’s warranties for added protection of your investment.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

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

A: Ideally, yes. Unlike a battery charger, most well-made battery maintainers will stop pushing a charge once the battery is full. While a charger will overcharge it, the microprocessor technology in a battery tender ensures that there is no circuitry damage. It can actually improve the health of your battery if left on consistently. 

Q: Is a battery maintainer the same as a trickle charger? 

A: While they are similar, a battery maintainer is more advanced than a trickle charger. Maintainers adjust the flow of electricity based on the battery’s state and are able to shut down or return to float settings. Trickle chargers simply push a small current through the battery at a steady rate. They can help, but can’t quite live up to the standards of a battery maintainer. 

Q: Will a battery maintainer charge a dead battery? 

A: No, a battery maintainer does not carry the power necessary to charge a dead battery. It can keep a live battery from dying, even if it has a low charge. However, if the battery is completely drained, you would need a boost. From there, you can apply the battery maintainer to prevent it from losing power in the future.

Q: Will a car maintainer make car batteries last longer?

A: Battery maintainers can help extend the life of your battery by keeping the battery at a consistent level of charge and preventing the damaging drain/recharge/drain cycle that infrequently used batteries are subjected to. 

Q: Can I start my car with a car maintainer connected?

A: Yes, you can start your car with a battery maintainer attached. Just be sure not to leave the car running for too long and make sure that the cables are clear of all moving parts under the hood before doing so.

Q: Can a battery maintainer drain my car’s battery?

A: Because a battery maintainer is designed for constant and continuous use on your car’s battery, theoretically, it should not drain the battery at all. However, as with all electrical devices, there is always the possibility of malfunction or short-circuiting. It’s a good idea to check your battery maintainer periodically to ensure proper function.