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Best Trickle Chargers: Keep Your Batteries Always Ready

Make dead batteries a thing of the past with these reliable and durable trickle chargers.

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BYNoelle Talmon/ LAST UPDATED ON August 9, 2022

There are few things that are more frustrating than coming out to your garage to take your ATV, snowmobile, dirt bike, or car out for a spin only to find out you’ve got a dead battery. This is when you wish you had just bit the bullet and bought that trickle charger you’ve been eyeing. A trickle charger hooks up to your idle battery and keeps it properly juiced up even sitting for a long time. To help you find the trickle charger to suit your needs, I sorted through the plethora of options.

Best Overall

Deltran 12-Volt Junior Automatic Battery Charger

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
  • Reverse-polarity protected
  • Can be used on any automobile
  • Backed by a five-year warranty
Cons
  • Not suitable for AWG batteries
  • Not wear resistant
  • Not for fast charging
Best Value

Beikalone Sealed Lead Acid Battery Charger

Summary
A 1.3-amp car trickle charger with a built-in processor that monitors the charging process of the battery and prevents overcharging.
Pros
  • Short-circuit protection
  • Overcharge protection
  • Super affordable
Cons
  • Takes too long to charge larger batteries
  • Not as durably constructed as some other options
  • No warranty
Best Premium

Noco Genius10 10-Amp Fully Automatic Smart Charger

Summary
A 12-volt battery trickle charger with an onboard mini-computer that monitors the condition of the battery and an integrated thermal sensor.
Pros
  • Can detect and repair battery damage
  • Extends battery life
  • Can recharge batteries from as low as one volt
Cons
  • Lengthy warranty process
  • Expensive
  • Not for use on lithium-ion batteries
Best Trickle Chargers: Keep Your Batteries Always Ready

Summary List

Methodology

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.

Learn more

When it comes to choosing a reliable and high-quality trickle charger, the options are vast and varied. In order to narrow the playing field, I look at name brands that most people are already familiar with. These companies have a solid track record of providing reliable, comfortable, and high-quality products. I wanted to provide a variety of prices so that there would be a good option to suit any budget. I also tried to include only those options that are super straightforward and easy to use, thus minimizing your chance for error and damage to your battery or yourself. For more about our selection criteria and methodology, check out The Drive’s Gear About page.

Best Trickle Charger Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Brand: Battery Tender
  • Model: 22-0351
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds

Pros

  • Reversed polarity protection
  • Can be used on almost any vehicle
  • Backed by a five-year warranty

Cons

  • Not suitable for AWG batteries
  • Not wear-resistant
  • Not for fast charging

The Deltran Battery Tender Junior 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 has a microcontroller that 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, meaning that 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 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 12-volt AGM batteries, but it doesn’t work on AWG batteries.

Specs

  • Brand: Beikalone
  • Model: QC18070501
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces

Pros

  • Short-circuit protection
  • Overcharge protection
  • Super affordable

Cons

  • May interfere with your radio
  • Made from cheap material
  • Takes too long to charge large batteries

The Beikalone Sealed Lead Acid Battery Charger is an affordable car battery charger and maintainer with a simple design. It’s fully automatic and suitable for 12-volt lead-acid batteries, 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 and 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. The charger is suitable for cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs, boats, and lawnmowers, and the manufacturer offers a five-year warranty on the product and a full money-back guarantee. One disadvantage of the product is that it may interfere with your stereo frequency and wipe out some AM/FM station presets, and the interference may extend to some of your wirelessly connected devices. The unit is also designed from cheap material and takes too long to reach the fully charged state in a large battery.

Specs

  • Brand: Noco
  • Model: Genius10
  • Weight: 3.99 pounds

Pros

  • Can detect and repair battery damage
  • Extends battery life
  • Can recharge batteries from as low as one volt

Cons

  • Lengthy warranty process
  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t work on a fully discharged battery

The Noco Genius is a premium smart battery charger with the most advanced safety features. You can leave it unsupervised for extended periods and never have to worry about a damaged or discharged battery. It also repairs battery damages, if any, and automatically switches from a full to a trickle charge when the battery is full. The charger can be used on 6- and 12-volt lead-acid battery, marine, and deep-cycle battery systems. It features spark-proof technology, reverse polarity, and overcharge protection. It’s known for extending the battery life and can recharge dead batteries from as low as one volt. It also charges batteries two times faster than a conventional battery charger. These top-level features don’t come cheap; the product is more expensive than most trickle chargers. Another drawback is that it doesn’t work on lithium-ion batteries. You may also have a hard time getting Noco to deliver on the five-year warranty of the product.

Specs

  • Brand: Battery Tender
  • Model: ‎Plus
  • Weight: 2.29 pounds

Pros

  • Four charging modes keep your battery at peak power
  • Automatic float mode prevents overcharging
  • 10-year warranty

Cons

  • Won’t charge batteries below three volts
  • Not suitable for all vehicles
  • Can take a long time to charge

The Battery Tender Plus Charger and Maintainer is a 1.25-amp device that fully charges and maintains drained and stored batteries on ATVs, motorcycles, UTVs, and more. It features four charging modes for keeping batteries at peak power all the time and the charger even automatically switches to float mode, so it maintains the proper voltage levels on the battery without overcharging it. 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. 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 three 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.

Specs

  • Brand: LeicesterCN
  • Model: ‎EPA1020-0612
  • Weight: 8.8 ounces

Pros

  • Five modes for efficient charging
  • Suitable for a variety of 6- and 12-volt batteries
  • Safe for indoor or outdoor use

Cons

  • Slower charging times than some other options
  • Alligator clips could be more ruggedly constructed
  • Questionable customer service response times

This is a versatile device suitable for 6-volt and 12-volt gel, AGM, PB, lead-acid, and other batteries. It's an automatic charger you can use on cars, motorcycles, lawnmowers, ATVs, RVs, boats, and more. It features five charging modes and is able to automatically switch between charging and floating modes to provide your battery with optimum power at all times. Thus, the device doesn't only charge, but also maintains and extends the life of batteries. The unit is protected against reverse-polarity issues, short circuits, overvoltage, and much 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.

Specs

  • Brand: Sunway
  • Model: ‎SWS-C3W001
  • Weight: 1.39 pounds

Pros

  • Requires no electricity to work
  • Easy and straightforward to use
  • Available in different wattage capacities

Cons

  • Requires sun to work
  • Only suitable for 12-volt batteries
  • Short cables

If you're looking for an environmentally friendly option, the Sunway Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger and Maintainer deserves your attention. 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 20 Ah 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 truck, motorcycle, tractor, ATV, UTV, snowmobile, boat, and personal watercraft 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 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.

Specs

  • Brand: Noco
  • Model: ‎GEN5X2
  • Weight: 5.26 pounds

Pros

  • IP68 Waterproof
  • Easy and straightforward to use
  • Use for lead-acid, gel, AGM, and deep-cycle batteries

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Requires hard-wire
  • Short cables

The Noco Genius GenM2 Battery Charger is an ideal option if you want to diagnose, charge, and maintain two 12-volt batteries at the same time. 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 and it features protection against reverse polarity, overcharge, short circuits, and more. This charger can even recover worn-out batteries and it also 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 in all conditions. What may bother you the most with this unit is the mount as this charger is bulky, heavy, and 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.

Specs

  • Brand: CTek
  • Model: 56-958
  • Weight: 2 pounds

Pros

  • Heavy-duty waterproof housing
  • Can function in extreme temperatures
  • Backed by a five-year warranty

Cons

  • Somewhat pricey
  • Known to overheat occasionally
  • Can’t charge batteries that are fully drained

The CTek Battery Charger is one of the most durable trickle chargers on the market, specially designed for 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. 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, too. One downside of the CTek Battery Charger 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 covered under warranty.

Specs

  • Brand: Black and Decker
  • Model: ‎BM3B
  • Weight: 1.25 pounds

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Fully automatic and ETL certified for safety
  • Easily switch between 6- or 12-volt mode

Cons

  • Not as durable as some other options
  • Not suitable for lithium-ion batteries

The Black and Decker 6- and 12-Volt Battery Charger is another budget-friendly option that is easy to operate. This trickle charger efficiently charges and maintains 12-volt and 6-volt AGM, gel, and wet batteries, and it can easily be connected to your vehicle's battery using battery clips and O-ring terminals. It stops charging automatically when your battery is fully charged or topped off, switching to float mode monitoring. And built-in circuit protection guards against overcharging, reverse polarity, or short circuiting. This charger is ETL certified for maximum performance and safety, and 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 and Decker Charger is its durability. Some customers have reported issues with their chargers after extensive use. If you have any immediate issues with your product, reach out to the company regarding a possible replacement charger.

Specs

  • Brand: Foval
  • Model: ‎BC01B-1
  • Weight: 10.6 ounces

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Highly affordable
  • Includes two-year warranty

Cons

  • Not the most durably constructed unit on the market
  • Suitable for indoor use only
  • Concern over long-term reliability

The Foval Automatic Trickle Battery Charger is a high-quality, reliable, and super affordable option. It’s even ETL safety rated for added peace of mind. 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 viable option to safely charge and maintain any 12-volt battery for your vehicle, motorcycle, ATV, boat, motor scooter, golf cart, and more. It features four charging modes for intuitive and reliable function. There are several safety features and overheating protection to prevent any damage or problems with your battery while it is charging. One issue with this charger is with overall long-term reliability. While it comes backed by a two-year warranty, there have been reports of the unit ceasing to function before then.

Our Verdict

If you’re looking for the ideal combination between reliability, durability, and price, consider the Battery Tender 12-Volt Junior Automatic Battery Charger. For a great budget-friendly pick, check out the Beikalone 12V Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) Battery Charger.

What to Consider When Buying a Trickle Charger

Not all trickle chargers are created equally as they come in a wide variety of sizes, capacities, and price points. The best one for you will have several key features that ensure proper function, reliability, and limited safety issues. The following buying guide will have you making your choice with confidence.

Types of Trickle Chargers

Traditional 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 these 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.

Trickle Charger 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.

Pricing

Many good-quality trickle chargers will be offered for sale at or less than $50. At this price point, you should be able to find reliable options that feature smart auto charging technology that can safely charge your battery for prolonged periods with minimal supervision. Once you get above $50, that’s where warranties and safety ratings are more common. You’ll also find chargers suitable for charging larger batteries in this price range as well. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

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

A: 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 connected for days as they deliver power safely at low amps. 

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

A: 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?

A: 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.

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