Best Car Battery Chargers: Keep Your Car Battery Lasting Longer
A good car battery charger can save you time and money on expensive replacements.
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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON June 16, 2021
Trying to start your car only to discover your battery is dead is frustrating, and it’s especially annoying if you think you’re going to have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a brand-new battery. However, in many cases, you can revive your vehicle’s battery with nothing more than a car battery charger. Whether your battery died from being parked for an extended time or it’s simply become depleted unexpectedly, a charger is your best ally.
Designed to recharge car batteries, these chargers take nothing more than the right equipment and a little time. A car battery charger and a pair of jumper cables can get you back on the road without costing you a ton of money. Convenient, easy to use, and available for every budget, a car battery charger can be a lifesaver. Check out which car battery chargers are our top picks.
Small in price and form, this charger is one of the few options that are actually portable in design. For use around the garage or house, this is a top contender to consider.
- Good charging and maintaining capabilities
- Body features a very sleek design that's portable enough to be used around the garage or house with ease
- Limited battery compatibility with certain voltages
- This one doesn't pack the same kind of punch as more expensive options
This smart charger hides some decent power in a basic design and body. Offering up to 12 volts of charge, this charger is a smart option with a few intelligent features built into the design.
- Easy to use right out of the body
- Included instructions are surprisingly easy to follow
- Lacks decent and quick charging capabilities with standard car batteries
- Not really suitable for larger vehicles
True charging, especially for larger vehicles, gets done with chargers like this beefy option. Coming with smart battery charger features and a powerful battery, this is the charger for the big vehicles.
- Main body is beefy and well-constructed
- Charging capabilities do a good job of getting most batteries up to a usable level in a shorter amount of time than other options
- Lack of quality construction with some units
- Accessories like the clamps could be beefier for heavy-duty or constant use
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.
Why Buy a Car Battery Charger
- Avoid battery replacements. Replacing a lead-acid battery isn't rocket science, but it can be quite the process depending on the type of vehicle you own. In some vehicles, battery replacement is a simple operation: disconnect the clamps, remove the old battery, insert the new one, reconnect everything. In other cars, like some hybrids for examples, the process is much more complicated, requiring access to special compartments, tools, and batteries. With a simple charger, on the other hand, you can remove a lot of the complication. An automatic battery charger also tends to come with important features like fast charging, float mode, stage charging, alternator check, overcharge protection, and more.
- Save money. Beyond the challenging replacement process, a good car battery charger also allows you to save money. First, no replacement means no money spend on a new battery. Second, you can save money on having a professional replace the battery for you. In both case, investing in a quality car battery charger upfront will be rewarding in the long run.
- Charge other devices. Some car battery chargers come with additional charging modes and ports for other smaller accessories and different battery types. USB ports, for example, are common and perfect for keeping devices charged on the go.
- Multitask with a multifunctional device. Need to listen to a radio in the garage? With the right car battery charger, that's more than possible. Many options come with other features and capabilities built right into the device. Explore your options ahead of time to see what features are important to you and which ones you can live without.
Types of Car Battery Chargers
As the name suggests, this type is a basic battery charger that can restore the juice in a car battery, often even if it has been completely discharged. Basic chargers are plentiful, and it's usually possible to find the right charger that's the perfect size, shape, and amperage that you need for your vehicle.
Less common than regular chargers, battery maintainers are meant to keep car batteries from completely discharging. They are good for a quick "fill-up" and for maintaining the overall health of a battery if you can remember to use it every now and then.
The least common version of a battery charger, restorers breathe new life into old batteries. As various contaminants build up in a battery's cells, the battery loses effectiveness. Restorers can break down these contaminants so it can hold a charge once again. These are the most expensive type of charger and are more common in professional garages than for home use.
Top Brands of Car Battery Chargers
When it comes to automotive products and battery chargers, NOCO is a well-known brand that offers several products in a different league of their own. Since 1914, the company has been a trusted name in many mechanic garages thanks to the product line's durability and resilience. One such charger is the NOCO Genius G7200.
Long known as premium hardware and power tool manufacturer, Black+Decker has a pretty good presence in many professional and home garages as well. Its line of car battery chargers leans on the smaller side, but high-quality options like the BC15BD Charger are plentiful.
Car Battery Charger Pricing
- Under $50: For a decent battery charger that doesn't offer too much in terms of thrills, this is the range to consider. Most chargers in this range have low voltage outputs, so they might not be the best for larger vehicles.
- $50 to $100: This standard range of car battery chargers has almost anything and everything you might consider for any vehicle. Larger voltages are commonplace here, along with a few options with extra features and accessories.
- $100 and up: Higher-end car battery chargers tend to be larger in form, more powerful in voltage, and more convenient in terms of extra accessories. It's easy to find a model that can tackle nearly any vehicle, including a few restorer options for professional use.
A car battery charger’s voltage is one of the most important features. It’s the measure of the electric strength of the charger—the voltage determines whether or not a particular charger will be able to fully and safely recharge your vehicle’s battery. Fortunately, finding just the right voltage is pretty straightforward: most vehicles use a 12-volt electrical system, so you’ll want a 12-volt charger (an easy variety to find). However, if you’re hoping to find a more versatile charger that can be used for several different types of batteries or one that’ll work for your car and your utility vehicles, you may need a different voltage.
Amperage is just as crucial as a charger’s voltage. A car battery charger’s amperage is the amount of current that the charger can handle — or, more simply put, the amount of current that flows through it while it’s working. A higher amperage equals faster charging; a lower amperage means slower charging. However, you’ll also want to consider which is ideal for your car’s battery. Some may be better off with a slower charging rate. Additionally, the best car battery chargers are smart and can automatically detect what amperage and charging mode is the best to use for a particular battery. This ensures you’re always getting the correct charging rate.
Automatic or Manual
There are two ways a car battery charger works: automatically or manually. You can opt for either, but it’s always a key feature to consider. With a manual charger, you have to monitor the charging process. You’ll have to shut off or unplug the charger to prevent overcharging, and they generally deliver a lower battery charge overall. With an automatic charger, your battery charger will handle the entire process for you. These chargers shut themselves off or turn on maintenance mode automatically when your battery reaches full. Often, it’s easier to use an automatic charger if you plan to do other things while your battery charges.
You can’t overlook safety when you’re picking out the best car battery charger. Typically, these chargers come with a wealth of safety features to keep you, your car, and your battery protected from dangerous accidents. Your basic charger can prevent overcharging, which can degrade your battery quickly. Most chargers can also offer auto-voltage and auto-amperage detection to prevent overheating, as well as reverse polarity, spark-resistant clamps, and easy-to-use cables, so you’re always charging safely and without worry.
Since most car battery chargers see use outside or in garages, a basic level of exterior protection can keep the charger in a good condition for a long period of time. Protection from water and dust is an important feature, often denoted by the IP rating system that measures how resistant something is to these elements. Basic heat protection also goes a long way towards protecting the interior components of a charger.
If you want to get more out of a car battery charger, extra features and accessories are a must. Things like small device charging ports, built-in radios, and rapid-charging functionality all allow you to get more use out of the charger and more value for your dollar. Even basic add-ons like an LCD screen led indicators or a waterproof or spark-proof exterior help with usability and durability.
- Charge Time. The average charge time of a car battery charger will vary, depending on the charger itself and the car battery. On average, most chargers take between two and ten hours to charge a battery completely. Small, portable chargers tend to take longer so larger garage-only models may be a better purchase if you want the fastest charge times.
- Ease of Use. It shouldn't be difficult to hook up a charger to a car battery and get it going. Most tend to be fairly straightforward, but there can be some settings that make it difficult to use if you have to set them manually. This is why automatic car chargers that can read the battery's state and just accordingly will save you some time and effort with each charge.
- Charger Output. It’s critical that you consider a battery charger’s output before hooking one up to your vehicle’s battery. You’ll want to pick a charger that offers at least 10 percent of your battery’s amp-hour (Ah) rating. So, if you have a 100Ah car battery, you’ll need to make sure you choose a charger with at least a 10 amp minimum. Upgrade to a larger charger with more amps, and you’ll be able to recharge your battery even faster.
- Lifespan. Every battery and every battery charger degrade over time with use. To keep your charger working properly as long as possible, you’ll want to think about lifespan when you’re picking one out. You’ll want to consider details like the proper storage temperature, the total battery charge time, and whether or not automatic charging is regulated or unregulated.
Best Car Battery Chargers Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Clean the battery terminals before use. Dirt and debris can make the energy transfer take more time. Use a sanding pad to remove loose debris.
- Don't touch the battery terminals if there is a white powder on them. Known as dried sulfuric acid, this powder can burn skin.
- Read the instructions to the battery charger before use. These will help you connect the cables to the right terminal.
- Don't confuse the positive and negative clamps when attaching the cables.
- Double check to make sure you don't have any electrical circuits switched on in your vehicle. This can cause a spark or gas ignition in the battery.
Q: What is the difference between a jump starter and a battery charger?
In short, jump starters deliver a lot of energy at once to get the engine running. Battery chargers have a trickle charge that delivers a little juice over a long period of time.
Q: Doesn't the battery charge during a jump start?
Technically, a bit, especially if you leave the jump starter or jumping car running for a little while after the engine is running. Battery chargers, however, can charge the battery more completely.
Q: How do I know which terminals to connect the clamps to?
Most car batteries are labeled with a plus and minus sign for the positive and negative terminals.
Q: How do I know when a car battery is charged?
Most car battery chargers come with handy indicator lights built in: you can check these indicator lights to see where the battery’s level is at. Or, if your charger features a screen that displays charging information, you can also find the charge level shown right on that screen.
Q: Can you leave a car battery charger on all the time?
You’ll only want to leave your car’s battery attached to the charger if you’re using a charger with automatic functionality or if you’re using a charger and maintainer. Manual car battery chargers will not shut off once your battery is fully charged, so leaving it on can degrade your battery. However, with an automatic charger or a battery maintainer, the charger will stop once the battery is full and begin using maintenance mode to keep your battery in tip-top shape.
Convenient, well-sized, and seriously well-built, the NOCO Genius G1100 is our top choice. This quality car battery charger has everything you need in one great device. If you're looking to spend less, you can't go wrong with the money- and space-saving MOTOPOWER MP00205A, a value-filled product that'll charge nicely.