Reviews

Best Trickle Chargers: Maintain the Power and Health of Your Battery

Slow charge your battery safely and prolong its life with our top picks for the best battery charger.

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BY Zach Faulds / LAST UPDATED ON April 23, 2021

Trickle chargers are low-amp chargers, whose primary purpose is to charge a drained battery to keep it at its maximum capacity. A trickle charger is typically hooked to an idle battery and slow charges it to prevent depletion. It then automatically stops when the battery is full. The best trickle chargers are reliable, durable, and versatile products that can be used with different types of batteries and vehicles.

 

If you are someone who stores your vehicle or batteries for an extended period of time, then a trickle charger can be a smart investment. Whether you are looking for reliability, durability, versatility, or a user-friendly option, we took a look at the best trickle chargers currently available. Read on to see which charger is the best fit to charge and maintain your battery.

Best Overall
Battery Tender 12-Volt Junior Automatic Battery Charger
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Summary
Summary

An automatic cycle charger for 12-volt flooded, lead-acid, and sealed maintenance-free batteries, with an LED indicator for the charging status of the battery.

Pros
Pros
  • Reverse polarity protected
  • Can be used on any automobile
  • Spark-proof, lightweight design
  • Easy to use
  • Includes alligator clips
  • Backed by a five-year warranty
Cons
Cons
  • Not suitable for AWG batteries
  • Not wear-resistant
  • Not for fast charging
Best Overall
Battery Tender 12-Volt Junior Automatic Battery Charger
Best Value
OrionMotorTech Automatic Battery Charge
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Summary
Summary

A 1.2-amp car trickle charger with a built-in processor that monitors the charging process of the battery and prevents overcharging.

Pros
Pros
  • Low price tag
  • Anti-spark technology
  • Short-circuit protection
  • Overcharge protection
  • Easy to use
  • Can charge and maintain smaller batteries
Cons
Cons
  • May interfere with your radio
  • Made from cheap material
  • Takes too long to charge large batteries
Best Value
OrionMotorTech Automatic Battery Charge
Honorable Mention
NOCO Genius G15000 Pro-Series Battery Charger
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Summary
Summary

A 12-volt battery trickle charger with an onboard mini-computer that monitors the condition of the battery.

Pros
Pros
  • Reverse polarity protection and overcharge prevention
  • Can detect and repair battery damage
  • Extends battery life
  • Non-slip outer surface
Cons
Cons
  • Lengthy warranty process
  • Expensive
  • Reviewers claim it doesn’t work on a fully discharged battery
Honorable Mention
NOCO Genius G15000 Pro-Series Battery Charger

Why Trust Us


All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Benefits of a Trickle Charger

  • Enjoy prolonged charge. A major advantage of trickle chargers is that they can safely charge a battery long term without damaging it. Most units feature automatic cycles that turn off the charger when the battery is at its optimum capacity and back on when the battery level drops.
  • Top up your battery. Idle batteries discharge when left unused for a long time. Trickle chargers ensure that the battery of a car, truck, RV, motorbike, or ATV works even after being left idle for a long time. The charger can be left connected to an idle battery, and it will transfer power in a steady trickle to prolong its life.
  • Prevent a battery malfunction. A trickle charger prevents your battery from becoming sulfated, which often happens when a battery is discharging for a long time. Sulfide damages a battery and renders it useless if too much of it forms inside the battery.

Types of Trickle Chargers

Traditional ‘Dumb’ Charger

Dumb chargers are traditional chargers that come with more cables that are plugged into a wall socket. They are powerful, cheap, and can charge any battery size. "Dumb" refers to the fact that this chargers can’t monitor the charging status and often lead to overcharging of the battery if left unsupervised. 

Smart Charger

Smart battery chargers sport a modern design and can track the progress of the charging system to prevent overcharging. They are priced high due to their advanced safety features that prevent any battery damage. The chargers can be left unsupervised and can automatically adjust the settings to suit the charging needs of the battery. However, they can’t charge all battery sizes like a traditional charger. 

Top Brands

Battery Tender

Battery Tender is a family-owned company that was started in 1965. The company uses the most advanced technologies to create products that meet the end user's needs. It specializes in making batteries, jump starters, power inverters, trickle chargers, and battery charging accessories. The Battery Tender 12-Volt Junior Automatic Battery Charger and the Battery Tender Plus Smart Charger are some of the best battery chargers for car storage.

NOCO

NOCO is a multinational corporation based in Glenwillow, Ohio. The company was founded in 1914 and specializes in designing, manufacturing, and distributing consumer electronics. A few products you can find under the NOCO umbrella include automotive chemicals, plastics, battery chargers, and industrial battery management systems. One of its bestselling trickle chargers is the NOCO Genius G15000 Pro-Series Battery Charger.  

DeWalt  

DeWalt was founded in 1924 and is currently a subsidiary company of Stanley Black & Decker. It’s headquartered in Towson, Md. and specializes in manufacturing high-quality power tools, hand tools, and automotive electrical systems. One of its top-rated battery chargers and maintainers is the DEWALT DXAEWPC4 Fully Automatic 4 Amp 12V Waterproof Battery Charger.

Shumacher 

Shumacher is a German-based company that has been making high-end precision tools for more than 90 years. The company invests in research and development activities to design and manufacture some of the best precision tools that meet the demands of the international market. One of its famous battery maintenance systems is the Schumacher 12V Fully Automatic Battery Maintainer.

Best Trickle Charger Pricing

  • Under $100: You will find some of the best trickle chargers and battery maintainers that are priced way under $100. Most chargers here feature smart technology and can safely charge a battery left idle for months with minimal supervision. They can trickle charge cars, motorbikes, boats, and trucks.
  • $200 and up: You should be ready to spend more on heavy-duty chargers with advanced safety features and onboard mini-computer systems that constantly monitor the charge status of the battery. Most are suitable for charging larger batteries, and the price of the chargers increases depending on the brand.  

Key Features

Capacity

The capacity of the battery and chargers is marked in amp-hours. You need to ensure that your trickle charger has a higher amp-hour value than your vehicle’s battery. Most chargers have adjustable ampere rates, but ideally, a maintenance charger needs to be under 5 amps while a fast charger should be at least 10.

Charging Monitoring

If you are going to maintain your battery throughout the winter season, go for a charger with an automatic battery-charge monitoring feature. This will ensure that your battery isn’t overcharged and that it’s topped off every time the battery level goes down. It will buy you time by keeping your battery in good condition before you get to use your car.

Safety

The trickle charger needs to have some safety features that prevent damage to the battery. That might include reverse polarity connection safety, which ensures that you don’t damage your car’s electrical system in case you connect the charger to the wrong terminals. Other safety features include spark-proof technology, short-circuit protection, overload, and overheating protection.

Other Considerations

  • Battery Type. If you have a deep-cycle battery, you should go for a charger with a deep-cycle program. For gel or lead-acid batteries, you need a charger that includes a three-stage charging procedure. Any battery charger can work with a liquid battery.
  • Wall-Socket Connector. Manufacturers make different wall-socket connectors for different countries. Ensure that the charger has a wall-socket connector that’s appropriate for your country before you purchase the product.
  • Maintenance vs. Fast Charging. Do you only need a battery maintenance charger for your car in storage or a fast charger for the vehicle you use most of the time? For maintenance charging, go for a low-amp charger with an active charge-monitoring feature. For fast charging, go for a high-amp charger that includes a jump-start function.

Best Trickle Chargers Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Battery Tender Junior 12V Charger and Maintainer

The Battery Tender is a 0.75-amp car charger that maintains the health of the battery in your motorcycle, car, or any other off-road vehicle. The charger maintains the correct level of power, and its ISM-adaptive charging system quickly adapts to the needs of your battery. In addition, it has reverse polarity protection, so it won’t charge your battery unless it’s connected correctly.


The charger has a four-step charging program that entails initialization, bulk charging mode, absorption mode, and float (trickle) mode. Once it fully charges the battery, it automatically switches to float mode to top off the electrical charge that’s naturally lost with time. The LED indicator lets you know the status of the charger, and it’s designed to be spark-proof when connected to the lead terminals. The charger is lightweight, easy to use, and backed by a five-year warranty. 

 

However, it has been noted that this charger isn’t intended for fast charging, and it’s not wear-resistant. It only has a 12-foot long connection cable, which is short in comparison to other trickle chargers. The charger is suitable for all gel, lead-acid, and 12V AGM batteries, but it doesn’t work on AWG batteries.

Best Value
Orion Motor Tech Automatic Lead Acid Battery Charger

The Orion Motor Tech option is an affordable car battery charger and maintainer with a simple design. It’s fully automatic and suitable for 12-volt lead acid, AGM, and gel-cell batteries. The unit has a microprocessor-controlled program that monitors the charging process of the battery and maintains the battery at its optimum capacity. It automatically stops charging the battery when it’s full.


The charger is safe for float charging, as it features spark-free technology and is protected from short-circuits, overcharging, and reverse polarity. It charges the battery at a maximum voltage of 14.8 volts and features an LED indicator that displays the charging status. The charger is suitable for cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs, boats, and lawnmowers.


One disadvantage of the product is that it may interfere with your stereo frequency. It may wipe out some AM/FM stations, and the interference may extend to some of your wireless devices. The unit is also designed from cheap material and takes too long to reach the fully charged state in a large battery.

Premium Pick
NOCO Genius G15000 Pro-Series Battery Charger

The NOCO Genius is a premium smart battery charger with advanced safety features. You can leave it unsupervised for extended periods, and you don't have to worry about a damaged or discharged battery because it constantly monitors the condition of the battery. It also repairs battery damage, if any, and automatically switches from a full to a trickle charge when the battery is full. 


The charger can be used on lithium-ion and 12- and 24-volt lead-acid battery systems, and it features spark-proof technology, reverse polarity, and overcharge protection. Its rubberized outer housing prevents the unit from slipping off surfaces. Moreover, it charges batteries two times faster than a conventional battery charger. It’s designed for all types of batteries, including CANbus systems.


However, all these top-level features don’t come cheap, as the product is more expensive than most trickle chargers. Another drawback of the product is that it doesn’t work on a fully discharged battery. You may also have a hard time getting NOCO to deliver on the warranty of the product.

Easiest To Use
Battery Tender Plus 12V Battery Charger and Maintainer

Here we have another high-quality battery charger from Battery Tender. It's a 1.25-amp device that fully charges and maintains drained and stored batteries on cars, ATVs, boats, trucks, motorcycles, and more. In fact, it features four charging modes for keeping batteries at peak power all the time. The charger even automatically switches to float mode, so it maintains the proper voltage levels on the battery without overcharging it. Overall, the device offers reliable, easy, and fast charging wherever you are.


The charger is compatible with lead-acid, flooded, and sealed batteries. It features a two-color LED light that indicates the charging status and allows you to keep track of voltage changes. All in all, it's an intuitive and easy-to-use device with spark-proof and reverse-polarity protection. You'll even get a 10-year warranty.


However, keep in mind that this charger won't work if you have a dead battery or if it's drained below a certain amount of voltage. The charger requires your battery to have at about 3 volts to be able to charge it. Also, it might take quite some time for it to fully recharge large batteries, so if you need something for quick recharges, this is not the best option.

Honorable Mention
LST Trickle Battery Charger Automatic Maintainer

This is a versatile device suitable for 6V and 12V gel, AGM, lead-acid, and other batteries. It's an automatic charger you can use on cars, motorcycles, lawn mowers, ATVs, RVs, boats, and more. Therefore, you'll find it quite handy around the house for powering up and maintaining your vehicles, tools, and equipment.


The charger is made of quality materials and proves to be reliable and durable. It features five charging modes for more efficiency and is able to automatically switch between charging and floating mode. Thus, the device doesn't only charge, but also maintains and extends the life of batteries. There's also a convenient LED indicator that will keep you informed about the charging status.


The unit is protected against reverse-polarity issues, short circuits, overvoltage, and more. It's also spark-proof and protected against dust and water. Therefore, you can use it both indoors and outdoors.


What might bother you with this unit is the charging time. The device is a little slow and might take quite some time to fully charge the battery. Also, the alligator clips are not the best quality, so you might want to handle them carefully.

Honorable Mention
Sunway Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger and Maintainer

If you're looking for an environmentally friendly option, the Sunway Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger and Maintainer may be the best choice to fit your needs. This trickle charger will not result in any overcharging of your battery or cause any damage to your battery as long as it has a capacity of 20Ah or greater. The solar trickle charger is extremely easy to use and operate, and it can easily be mounted to your vehicle's windshield or dashboard with suction cups. It can help to maintain the charge of any vehicle, trucks, motorcycles, tractors, ATVs, UTVs, snowmobiles, boats, and personal water crafts that feature a 12-volt battery. A cigarette lighter adapter, battery terminal clamps, and a limited 12-month warranty are included with each purchase of this trickle charger.


One issue with the Sunway Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger and Maintainer is with its reliability. Because this charger relies on solar power, it will not always be able to charge your battery, particularly in cloudy weather or during the evening hours.

Honorable Mention
NOCO Genius GENM2 Battery Charger

The Noco Genius charger is one of the most popular devices within the category. It's highly praised for its overall efficiency and ability to diagnose, charge, and maintain two 12-volt batteries at the same time. With the sturdy construction and high protection, this 8-amp charger is ideal for all kinds of vehicles, tools, and machinery. 


You can use the charger on all lead-acid batteries, including wet, gel, AGM, and deep-cycle ones. The unit is safe and stable, with excellent protection against reverse polarity, overcharge, short circuits, and more. It will charge and maintain your batteries everywhere and any time, and last for a while. The charger can even recover worn-out batteries. 


There's one more benefit with this product. It features rugged and waterproof construction, so you get to use the charger both indoors and outdoors. With the IP68 rating and multi-level safety barrier, the unit ensures a safe charge at all conditions. 


What may bother you the most with this unit is the mount. The charger is bulky and heavy, and it won't fit in tight spaces. The screws that come with the unit might be of low quality and the battery cables are a bit short. Overall, these are minor issues, but they might bother you in some situations. 

Honorable Mention
PeleusTech Portable Battery Smart Charger

The PeleusTech Portable Battery Smart Charger is a high-quality, reliable product available at an excellent value. This trickle charger is extremely accurate, featuring a positive voltage protection function that will shut off automatically when the battery is fully charged. It includes user-friendly LED indicator lights, which flash green when powered on, red while charging the battery, and green again when the battery has finished charging. This is a perfect budget-friendly and reliable option to safely charge and maintain any 12-volt battery for your vehicle, motorcycle, ATV, boat, motor scooter, and more. It is an extremely safe option that can just be plugged in and left overnight to charge your battery. There are several safety features and overheating protection to prevent any damage or problems with your battery while it is charging.


One issue with the PeleusTech Portable Battery Smart Charger is with the battery clips. The clips are not as stable as some other options, and some customers have had problems with the clips breaking and not being able to safely hook onto your vehicle batteries.

Honorable Mention
CTEK Battery Charger MUS 4.3 Polar

The CTEK Battery Charger MUS 4.3 Polar is one of the most durable trickle chargers on the market, specially designed in extreme weather and cold climates. It has AC and DC cables that are specially adapted to handle severely cold temperatures. This fully automatic eight-step charger checks your battery condition and revives, charges, and maintains it to ensure maximum battery life and maximum performance. This charger is completely short-circuit proof and protected from reverse polarity, making it a safe option that will not damage any of your vehicle's electronics. The charger is also completely waterproof and dust-resistant in case you need to use the tool outside in inclement weather. A five-year warranty is included with each purchase of this charger to cover any manufacturing defects. This trickle charger makes an ideal option for your vehicle, motorcycle, lawn mower, snowmobile, sump pump, tractor, and more.


One downside of the CTEK Battery Charger MUS 4.3 Polar is that some customers have had problems with overheating. Make sure to test out your charger once receiving it. If you do encounter any overheating issues, reach out to the company about a potential replacement product that is covered under warranty.

Honorable Mention
Black+Decker BM3B 6V and 12V Battery Charger/Maintainer

The Black+Decker BM3B 6V and 12V Battery Charger/Maintainer is another budget-friendly option that is extremely easy to operate. This trickle charger efficiently charges and maintains 12-volt and 6-volt AGM, GEL, and WET batteries. It can easily be connected to your vehicle's battery using battery clips and O-ring terminals. It will stop charging automatically when your battery is fully charged or topped off, switching to float mode monitoring to prevent additional energy usage. Built-in circuit protection guards against overcharging, reverse polarity, or short circuiting. This charger is ETL certified for maximum performance and safety. A convenient mounting bracket is built-in for excellent placement and stability while charging your battery. An AC low voltage compensation ensures maximum performance when you need to use this charger with an extension cord.


One issue with the Black+Decker BM3B 6V and 12V Charger/Maintainer is with its durability. Some customers have reported issues with their charger after extensive use. If you have any immediate issues with your product, reach out to the company regarding a possible replacement charger.

Tips

  • Always use safety goggles when working on a car battery. That’s to protect your eyes from corrosive lead acid in case the battery leaks and an explosion occurs. However, you should always go for spark-proof chargers to prevent the explosion from occurring in the first place.
  • If you are charging an older battery, you should fill it with distilled water before charging it if the water level is too low. Newer batteries (AGM batteries) are often sealed, and you can’t fill them with water.  
  • Your car will show signs that the battery is about to die, which include headlights that won’t work, an engine that won’t crank, or a battery that dies 30 minutes after running the radio. You can jumpstart the battery and then use a trickle charger to top off the battery for the day.
  • Make sure that your vehicle is parked in a covered, well-ventilated area before attempting to use your trickle charger. This will help to prevent any explosions or fires. Also make sure to turn off your vehicle and remove the key from the ignition before using your trickle charger.
  • Never use the negative terminal of your vehicle's battery for the ground. Look for a large bolt connected to the engine block or chassis to use as the negative terminal. As an alternative option, you can also use a section of the frame that is cleaned of any excess grime, dirt, and oil. 

FAQs

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

No, they are different. A battery charger delivers a high-amp electrical current to the battery by converting AC power to DC at a low voltage. Also, battery chargers can neither be left connected for a long time nor left unsupervised. Trickle chargers, on the other hand, can be left unsupervised and can be left connected for days as they deliver power safely at low-amp. 

Q: After how long should I hook up the trickle charger?

Generally, a car’s battery discharges 20 hours after a full charge. It can take longer if you have a larger battery. You should hook up the trickle charger 10 to 15 hours after a full charge. However, if you plan to leave your car idle for weeks or months unsupervised, you can leave the trickle charger on. It will safely charge the battery whenever the battery level drops.

Q: Could I damage my battery if I leave the trickle charger on for too long?

It depends on the type of charger you have. Some trickle chargers have an automatic control system that stops charging the battery when it’s at capacity. Others might not have that feature and might end up overcharging and damaging your battery. The trickle charger may take half a day to a full day to fully charge a dead battery.

Q: How do I connect the trickle charger to the car battery?

A: Trickle chargers typically come with red and black clamps. Locate the positive terminal of the battery (often red) and connect the red clamp on the terminal. Then connect the black clamp to the negative terminal (often black) of the battery. Then adjust the setting of the charger to your liking: charging or maintenance mode.

Final Thoughts

For a high-quality, reliable trickle charger, consider the Battery Tender 12-Volt Junior Automatic Battery Charger, an automatic charger and battery maintainer that’s suitable for almost all vehicles and prolongs the life of your vehicle’s battery. For a more budget-friendly option, consider the OrionMotorTech Automatic Battery Charger, which does a great job at slow-charging smaller batteries.