Did you forget to turn the headlights off or leave the door ajar? Such a minor bout of forgetfulness can quickly drain your battery. When you discover the error, it’s too late! You try to turn over the car’s engine, and you hear nothing but a click – your battery is dead.
Your options are limited when you have a drained battery. You can either rush out to purchase a new replacement (that won’t be cheap) or hook your old battery up to a charger to rejuvenate the cells. In this article, we’ll examine the best car battery charger.
Using a car battery charger combined with a pair of jumper cables will get your car up and running so you can hit the road again. The best car battery chargers are affordable and easy to use. A functioning charger can quickly become a lifesaver and keep you from getting stranded.
Below are our top choices for car battery chargers. Each one has its pros and cons.
View the Best Car Battery Charger, Below.
- NOCO GENIUS1 Fully-Automatic Smart Charger
- Schumacher DSR131 DSR ProSeries Charger
- Battery Tender Junior 12V Charger and Maintainer
- Schumacher SC1281 Automatic Smart Battery Charger
- NOCO GENIUS5 Battery Maintainer With Temperature Compensation
- Optima 150-40000 Maintainer and Battery Charger
- BLACK+DECKER BC15BD Battery Charger/Maintainer
- Schumacher SP1297 Fully Automatic Smart Battery Charger Maintainer
- NOCO GENIUS10 Fully-Automatic Smart Charger
- Battery Tender Plus 021-0128 Charger and Maintainer
1. NOCO GENIUS1 Fully-Automatic Smart Charger
Compact Sized Battery Charger
The GENIUS1 is a powerful charger built to perform while being energy efficient. It's fairly compact, which makes it easy to handle. The charger functions on 6-volt and 12-volt batteries. It has a rating of one amp for lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. It will also charge AGM, flooded, gel, deep cycle, and marine batteries.
What We Liked About It: We liked the compact, lightweight size, and its energy efficiency.Check Price on Amazon ➞
2. Schumacher DSR131 DSR ProSeries Charger
The Schumacher DSR ProSeries DSR131 is a fully automatic battery charger that features an engine starter, boost, and maintainer. It can charge AGM, deep-cycle, and gel batteries. It offers multi-stage charging. Float mode lets you monitor the charge.
This car battery charger has a digital display, button controls, and LED indicators. It features a microprocessor that controls and adjusts the amperage rate to help maintain the charge. When you purchase this battery charger, it comes with a set of 3-amp clamps that are color-coordinated for ease of use.
What We Liked About It: We liked the automatic rate adjustment and the power, which makes it capable of charging even large batteries with ease.Check Price on Amazon ➞
3. Battery Tender Junior 12V Charger and Maintainer
With smart charger technology, you don't have to worry about the needed power level. This small battery charger lets you easily charge all of your 12-volt batteries without worry. The system's unique four-step charging mode offers initialization, bulk charge, and float mode, so you never have to worry about overcharging.
It will easily charge a 12 volt lead-acid, sealed, or flooded battery (gel and AGM). There's also an 80 safety timer.
We Liked About It: We appreciated that the battery charger had a four-step charging mode and an 80-hour timer.Check Price on Amazon ➞
4. Schumacher SC1281 Automatic Smart Battery Charger
Designed for Large-Sized Batteries
The Schumacher SC1281 meets the charging needs of the largest batteries, such as those found in trucks and SUVs. It has a 100 amp engine start and a 30 amp boost mode to help the battery charge fully. This charger also has a microprocessor that automatically adjusts to control the amperage rate - plus, you can use it to diagnose problems.
The multi-stage charging safely increases the life of your battery, offering maximum precision control.
The charger's auto voltage detection and hookup protection feature an LED light indicator that tells you immediately if you have reversed the clamps. An easy-to-operate stop/start button fires up the charger.
What We Liked About It: The Schumacher SC1281 can easily meet the changing needs of a large-sized truck or SUV.Check Price on Amazon ➞
5. NOCO GENIUS5 Battery Maintainer With Temperature Compensation
Small but Powerful Charger
The GENIUS5 charges both 6 and 12-volt batteries. It works as a battery maintainer, charger, trick charger, and battery desulfator. It has a 5 amp rating for lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries.
The unit features thermal sensors that automatically adjust the charging cycle based on ambient temperature. This process helps to limit the occurrence of undercharging or overcharging your car battery.
We Liked About It: We appreciated this charger's small size, making it easy to handle, carry, and store.Check Price on Amazon ➞
6. Optima 150-40000 Maintainer and Battery Charger
Built-In Battery Health Mode
It's hard to know if your battery is healthy or not. However, the Optima has a built-in battery health mode that gives you insight into your car battery's health. It also boasts a hybrid LED battery charging gauge that has an easy-to-see LCD screen. You can quickly pick your battery type. This maintainer will also help recover discharged batteries which is a huge perk.
What We Liked About It: Undoubtedly, the battery health check is a huge perk with this model. It's also very fast to charge and will shut off when your battery is full.Check Price on Amazon ➞
7. BLACK+DECKER BC15BD Battery Charger/Maintainer
Bench Battery Charger
This heavy-duty 15 amp bench battery charger can maintain and charge GEL, AGM, or marine 12-volt batteries. It's fully automatic and offers three charging modes. Choose from fast charge to top-off, and trickle charge. You can use the 40 amp to start your vehicle in 90 seconds which is better and safer than jumpstarting to get you back on the road quickly.
This charger features battery reconditioning that extends the battery life. The charger is fully equipped with reverse polarity protection. There's a large LCD screen display to see your charging status when you start to charge the battery. It has very easy-to-understand icons, so there's no reading required.
This unit not only charges all battery types but also has a patented alternator check that tells you if the alternator is maintaining a battery-level charge. You'll always know if you need to replace the unit.
What We Liked About It: We liked the 40 amp start that gets your vehicle back out on the road without delay. This charger is a great jump-starter when you need to jump-start your car.Check Price on Amazon ➞
8. Schumacher SP1297 Fully Automatic Smart Battery Charger Maintainer
A Top Smart Battery Charger
This 3-amp charger offers reliable power and charges or maintains the battery in your car, boat, or sports vehicle. The charger is compatible with AGM, deep-cycle, lithium-ion, and standard batteries. It offers microprocessor-controlled automatic amperage rate adjustment for smart charging and multiple-stage charging to help safely extend your battery's life.
The digital display offers easy-to-read, step-by-step instructions to properly charge your battery if you're unsure about the steps you need to take to hook up the charger until it reaches full charge. This charger features reverse protection, so you don't have to worry about hooking the chargers to the wrong terminals. It also has automatic charging.
What We Liked About It: This handy battery charger is designed to provide battery maintenance. The digital display offers easy-to-read instructions, and it does have overcharge protection.Check Price on Amazon ➞
9. NOCO GENIUS10 Fully-Automatic Smart Charger
Offers a 12 V Power Supply
With a charging current of 10 amps, this battery charger will charge a 12-volt battery with ease. You can also use it to charge 6 volts. It's fully automatic with safety features such as an automatic shut-off. Use this battery charger to repair old, stratified, damaged, or sulfated batteries. The battery charger converts to a DC power supply to supply 12-volt power when needed.
What We Liked About It: We liked the fact it offers a 12-volt power supply. The safety feature of the automatic shut-off is also a bonus.Check Price on Amazon ➞
10. Battery Tender Plus 021-0128 Charger and Maintainer
Great Battery for Safety
The Tender 1.25 battery charger and maintainer provide a quick disconnect harness. You don't have to worry about hooking it up to charge your battery and forgetting about it because this charger features an automatic shut-off and will turn off when the charging process ends.
One of the safety features it includes is reverse hookup protection. This battery charger also features spark-proof technology. There is a fused ring terminal for hard-to-reach places. The fused alligator clips let you grab on with ease to the battery's terminals, and you don't have to worry about it slipping off.
It features four-step charging: initialization, bulk charge, absorption charge, and the float/maintenance mode.
What We Liked About It: We liked the ease of use that this battery charger provides. Although it does not boast a fancy LED screen, it returns to basics that many users appreciate.Check Price on Amazon ➞
Best Car Battery Charger Buyer’s Guide
Nothing is more frustrating than a dead battery. You might be tempted to jumpstart your car, but maybe you have enough time to hook a battery charger to it. Depending on the model, charging time varies. No matter what, car battery chargers are must-have devices for anyone who owns a vehicle.
Reason to Buy a Car Battery Charger
Let’s explore why you need to invest in a car battery charger for your home or shop. There is a wide range of reasons to purchase, but we will focus on the main perks.
Avoid Costly Battery Replacements
Yes, a better charger will help you avoid having to replace your battery. You might think that battery replacement is simple, and with some vehicles, it is. You simply disconnect the clamps that hold the battery in place, remove the old or used battery and replace it with a new one. Then reconnect everything.
Modern autos, such as hybrids, are not so simple. In fact, battery replacement is a time-consuming headache that requires special tools. Owning a simple battery charger with features like fast charge, float mode, alternator check, stage charging, overcharge protection, and more gives you a huge advantage.
Honestly, once you own a battery charger, it’s hard to imagine life without one.
A good car battery charger will save you money. You don’t have to buy a new battery if you can use a battery charger to recharge your existing battery. Also, you won’t have to pay a professional to replace your battery.
Charges Additional Devices
Yes, many car battery chargers can charge additional devices. They feature modes and ports that let you hook up small accessories or other battery types like USB ports.
Nowadays, many battery chargers are multi-task devices. Some even have built-in radios. You’ll want to read about each charger to determine which ones have the must-have features you know you’ll regularly use.
Types of Battery Chargers
If you’re thinking about investing in a battery charger, you’ll want to learn the various types before rushing right out and buying one for a car or boat.
A basic battery charger is designed to restore the battery’s depleted power. You’ll need to pay attention to size, amperage, and shape when choosing to ensure that it will sufficiently charge whatever battery requires charging.
Some chargers are also maintainers, or you can purchase just a battery maintainer. The point of a maintainer is to prevent a car’s battery from discharging. Basically, they are a way to fill up a battery when it starts to deplete. The device is used to maintain the health of the battery.
A restorer is not very common, but it restores an old battery. Depending on the type of battery, contaminants can build up within the battery’s cells, which causes it to lose its effectiveness. A restorer actively breaks down the contaminants so the battery can once again successfully hold a charge. A restorer is a costly machine and usually only found in professional garages. However, some people who enjoy automobiles as a hobby will invest in a restorer for their home garage or shop.
How Long do Car Batteries Last?
One thing to remember is that nothing lasts forever, and this is true of a car battery. Typically, the standard car battery will last four years and, in some cases, up to six years. However, the lifespan of each battery depends on a variety of things, such as the following:
- Climate: Do you live in a harsh climate like Canada or Alaska? The colder the winters, the faster the battery’s life span depletes. This situation is also true if you live where there are hot and humid summers which can also cause a battery’s capacity to take a nosedive.
- Excessive vibration: Car batteries don’t like too much movement – even heavy-duty ones. If your auto’s battery is not sufficiently fashioned under the hood, it can easily start to vibrate and lose its juice. Make sure the battery is held in place with the necessary bolts and brackets to ensure it has a long and healthy lifespan.
- Electronics: The ongoing use of a car’s electronics can deplete a battery. It’s constantly faced with providing more power to different things, exhausting your car battery charger. Nowadays, so many features require the car’s battery, such as headlights, windshield wipers, car exterior, auto’s heating and cooling, backup cameras, GPS navigation, and any assisted driving functions.
- Voltage Recharge: It takes time for a car’s battery to hit 100 percent. In some cases, it takes up to seven hours to reach an 80 to 90 percent charge. Reaching 100 percent can take several hours of additional charge time.
Main Features of a Car Battery Charger
All car battery chargers share a few main features that vary between units. What’s important to you in a charger might not be a top priority for someone else. However, you should familiarize yourself with all the different features to make sure you’re buying the best car battery charger to fit your needs.
Voltage is the main component of any car battery charger. It measures the unit’s electric strength. The voltage is how you determine if the charger will have sufficient power to fully and safely recharge your battery. Typically, most autos require a 12-volt battery charger because they have a 12-volt electrical system. You’ll also encounter 6-volt chargers that work for scooters, jet skis, and other smaller devices.
Another consideration is amperage. Basically, amperage is the current that flows through the charger while it’s operating. The higher the amperage, the faster it can charge. Low amperage units charge much slower. You need to evaluate your needs. Some people prefer a slower charge. The best car battery charger will automatically detect the amperage needed for each battery when in charging mode. This way, you don’t have to mess with the settings. You get the correct charge rate every time.
Automatic or Manual?
Car battery chargers work automatically or manually. You can choose either. With a manual charger, you have to keep an eye on the charging process and then shut off the charger when the battery is fully charged. Usually, a manual charger delivers a lower charge and takes longer than an automatic charger.
Automatic chargers handle everything from start to finish. You simply hook it to the battery you want charging, and then the device will shut itself off when it’s fully charged. Without a doubt, an automatic charger is an easier to use and more convenient way to charge your battery.
Safety Feature Considerations
Safety is important. You don’t want to start a fire. Most chargers have a host of safety features that protect you, the car, and the charger from potential accidents. A basic car battery charger is designed to prevent overcharging, which can degrade your battery. Other chargers have auto voltage and auto amperage to protect them from overheating and reverse polarity. Most have spark-resistant clamps and cables that are easy to use.
You’ll probably be operating your battery charger outdoors or in a garage, so it must have some form of exterior protection from the elements. You want a charger that’s water-resistant and safe from dust invasion. You can check the device’s IP rating, which denotes its resistance to mother nature.
Another consideration that’s every bit as important is heat protection. You want to make sure that the interior components of the charger are heat resistant.
Everyone likes the latest and most innovative perks when they make a purchase. The battery charger market is inundated with chargers featuring lots of benefits, such as reverse polarity protection, fancy LED indicators, ways to prevent overcharging, ring terminals, and more. Battery chargers come with a host of add-ons that give you more value for your money and make the device user-friendly.
Additional Battery Charger Considerations
When picking the best car battery charger, you have a lot to consider:
- Charge Time: People are notoriously impatient. Charge time varies between chargers. Most chargers will take from two to ten hours to sufficiently charge a car battery. However, some small or portable chargers can take longer. If a fast charge is important, please take the time to look over charge times before making a purchase.
- Charger Output: Things get confusing for many people when it comes to charger output. You want to pick a charger that provides at least 10 percent of your battery’s Ah rating. If you have an a100Ah battery, make sure the charger delivers at least 10 amps. Anything less won’t be powerful enough to charge the battery fully and might even harm it. The more amps you have, the faster you can charge your car battery.
- Ease of Use: Battery chargers are very basic and shouldn’t be hard to hook up. Luckily, most are straightforward to understand. However, some have confusing settings. If you get one that requires manual setup, then it might prove challenging. If you want a car battery charger that’s easy to use, go with an automatic charger. This type makes all the difficult decisions, saving you time.
- Lifespan: Nothing lasts forever, and this is very true of batteries. In time, battery chargers start to degrade. If you want your charger to work properly, then always consider lifespan. Look at storage requirements, such as temperature. Pay close attention to the battery charge time and familiarize yourself with whether the charger is regulated or unregulated.
Tips on Using a Battery Charger
Let’s look at a few tips on properly using a car battery charger to recharge your dead battery. (click here to read the study, and what happens when you charge!)
- Always clean the battery terminals before use. Remember that a buildup of dirt and debris can easily hinder the energy transfer, causing the charging process to slow down. You can use a simple sanding pad to remove stubborn debris.
- Never touch the battery terminal if you see any sign of white powder. The white powder is a buildup of dried sulfuric acid, which can irritate or burn your skin.
- Take time to read the instructions that came with the battery charger before use. The directions will tell you exactly how to connect the cables to the terminals of the battery.
- When attaching the clamps, be careful not to become confused between negative and positive.
- Double-check to ensure all the electrical circuits in your car are switched off – you don’t want a spark to occur within the battery.
Car Battery Charger FAQ
Below, you’ll find a few of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to battery chargers.
Is there a difference between a jump starter and a battery charger?
A jump starter provides a great deal of energy to quickly jump-start your car. Battery chargers don’t jump start. Instead, they create a trickle of charge over a period of time to slowly charge your dead battery.
Does the car’s battery charge after a jump start?
If you decide to use jumper cables and jump-start your car, then it will charge the battery. However, when you opt to jump-start an engine, you’ll need to leave it running for a while after it fires up so that the battery has the chance to charge. If you shut off the car too soon after the jump start, then the battery might be too weak or quickly deplete, and you’ll be unable to restart the car. Even though a jump start might seem effective, a battery charger charges more completely, even if it takes longer.
Which clamps do I connect the terminals to?
Luckily, most car batteries are labeled with a minus or plus symbol to tell you whether it’s negative or positive. You simply match them with the cables that come with the car battery. It is also worth reading this study on the possibility of universal car batteries of this nature, by clicking here.
When is a car battery fully charged?
Virtually all car battery chargers come with an indicator light that tells you if the battery is fully charged. You don’t have to guess how much power it has. If your charger has a screen that displays additional information, then you’ll be able to monitor the charging level directly from the screen. Chargers with an automatic shut-off will shut down once the battery attains a full charge.
Can you leave the car battery charger on all the time?
If you’re using your charger as a maintainer, then you’ll want to leave it attached all the time. Remember, a manual car battery charger will not shut off when the battery is fully charged. You must shut it off and disconnect it. If you leave the battery car charger attached to the battery after it reaches full charging capacity, then you’ll cause the battery to degrade. An automatic charger will shut down once the battery has reached full charge, so you don’t have to watch it.
When do you need to replace the car battery?
Sadly, at some point, you can no longer charge the battery. You’ll need to evaluate its health and then possibly replace it. If the battery has a slow crank, then it’s probably shot. If the car wheezes during ignition when the weather is cold, this indicates that something is amiss. Remember, it might seem like you need to replace the battery in some cases, but the alternator might actually be the culprit.
Will charging make my battery last longer?
Batteries do not last forever. At some point, they will always need replacement. If your battery starts to fail, then you’ll need to replace it with an up-to-date version. Charging your battery is a quick fix if it’s discharged, but eventually, you’ll need to replace the device.
All batteries have a life expectancy. When they reach the end, there is no salvation – even car battery chargers can’t help.
How can I make my battery last longer?
Don’t let your battery become completely discharged before you use a battery charger, or it might shorten your battery’s life expectancy. If you don’t plan to drive your auto, you should remove the charger to help extend the battery’s lifespan. Always service your battery yearly and use a corrosion cleaning fluid on the terminals.
Investing in a good battery charger will guarantee that your car always starts and the battery always has enough power to operate your vehicle. Yes, batteries often need replacement, but a battery charger is a perk in the home garage or shop. You won’t be stranded if your battery runs out of juice.