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10 Best Car Battery Chargers [Buying Guide]

Keep Your Battery Charged With These Top Battery Chargers

Best Overall Choice

NOCO Genius1 Battery Charger

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Best Premium Choice

Schumacher DSR131 ProSeries

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Best Budget Choice

MOTOPOWER MP00205A

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best car battery chargers

If you’ve ever walked out to your car in the morning and found a dead battery, you likely know how important it is to have one of the best car battery chargers on hand. Nobody has time to wait around for a jump start, which is why most people invest in a battery charger for additional peace of mind.

Having a good battery charger is a wise decision for any household, but you need to make sure it’s a reliable product. Otherwise, you could end up in the same boat with your engine not starting. We’ve compiled a full list of things to look for as well as our top 10 car battery charger choices.

If you’re looking for a jump starter or jumper cables, we’ve got you covered too. Check out our buying guide for more info on your options.

Choosing The Best Car Battery Charger

When you select an automotive battery charger, there are several factors you’ll want to consider. You want to have access to all the features you need to get your car running quickly, so here’s what we recommend keeping an eye on.

Voltage

Many modern chargers come compatible with all car batteries, no matter what size they are. Top car battery chargers handle both 6V and 12V with ease.

Amperage

An entry-level battery charger comes with either 10 or 20 amps. If you want something mid-range, you’ll opt for a 20-amp charger with a 55 to 100-amp boost mode. If you’re a professional who routinely works on vehicles, it will make the most sense to invest in something up to 60 amps for the standard charge mode and 275-amps jump start mode.

Safety Features

You want to make sure that the battery charger has short circuit, overload, over-current, overcharge, and overvoltage protection so you stay safe at all times.

Maintenance Mode

The maintenance mode exists to maintain a fully charged cell without using a lot of power. This is used when the car sits for long periods or goes into long-term storage.

Trickle Charge

This is called a float mode. Some chargers start this at 85% of the full charge, while others wait until 95%. Whenever it kicks in, the trickle charge helps to maintain a 100% full charge with a small charge rate, while keeping the battery safe from overcharge.

Battery Diagnostics

Some of the best car battery chargers can tell users when the battery isn’t connected correctly. There are also some models that feature internal testing mechanisms to detect sulfated, discharged, or bad cells.

Best Car Battery Charger Top Picks

Here are the top ten car battery chargers we could find on the market. They make up a wide range of chargers from heavy-duty industrial models to units that just produce a trickle charge. Read through our buying guide carefully to determine which one is best for you.

Best Overall Choice

1. NOCO Genius1 Battery Charger

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The NOCO Genius1 is a great all-in-one solution at an affordable price. This battery charger can also be used as a battery maintainer, trickle charger, and battery desulfator. It works on both 6V and 12V batteries.

This 1 amp smart charger is fully-automatic and great for everyday use. It’s also lightweight and compact. Designed to give you stronger engine starts and extended battery life, this compact charger packs a lot of great features into its small package.

Designed for everyday use or to take with you on the road, you’ll have added peace of mind knowing you’ve got this battery charger on hand.

Best Premium Choice

2. Schumacher DSR131 ProSeries

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If you need something to work on fleets and a wide range of cars, this might be your best option. It’s good for both 6V or 12V batteries and offers many features that the budget-friendly choices don’t have.

There are also options for multi-stage charging and float mode monitoring. It can charge standard, AGM, and deep-cycle batteries. The digital display, LED indicators, and push-button controls make it a breeze to use.

At over 30 pounds though, this isn’t good for general home use, plus it’s slightly bulky. In addition, most average users won’t want to pay the higher price tag for this beast although Schumacher Electric is a brand name you can really depend on.

Best Budget Choice

3. MOTOPOWER MP00205A

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Don’t let the small size of this unit fool you; it works great. Many people won’t choose this over the well-known brands, but it’s worth a second look. The low price makes it appealing to anyone on a budget; plus it’s simple to use.

All of its functions operate through the onboard microprocessor which communicates directly to your battery. It starts with high amperage to get the battery charged up fast, then slows down automatically to a lower amperage as it reaches capacity.

Considering it weighs just 12 ounces, this compact battery charger is highly portable. Plus, the easy-to-read LED display is helpful. Keep in mind that this smaller size means it isn’t great for quick jumping, but better for slow charges.

4. Battery Tender Plus 021-0128

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This affordable battery charger doesn’t just come with amazing features but it also has a reputation for excellence. While most car battery chargers are easy to use, this one is probably the simplest of them all.

While it’s not designed for jump-starts necessarily, it is ideal for hooking up to a car battery that isn’t used often. If you have a car that sits in storage for long periods of time, this is a good option to make sure your battery still works the next time you turn the car on.

Because of the lower current, you have more protection than with many other models. The surprising aspect of this charger would have to be the ten-year warranty it comes with. This is far greater than most competitors in the industry and not what one would expect considering the low price.

5. Ampeak 12V Smart Battery Charger

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The Ampeak smart battery charger is designed with fully automatic, high frequency charging for all types of 12V lead-acid batteries. It comes with a 2 amp trickle charge, 8 amp quick charge, and 15 amp rapid charge modes that you can manually choose between based on your needs.

The unit has a large, easy-to-read LCD display the keeps track of charging status, charging current, voltage, battery type, and error information. The charger is controlled by a microprocessor with multi-stage charging for added precision, safety, and battery life.

And as a bonus, this particular charger has a smart winter charging mode that is specifically designed to charge your battery in winter weather conditions, making this a great option if you have a vehicle that sits for long periods of time during the winter.

6. Sunway Solar 12V Battery Charger

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If you want the best solar car battery charger, this 12V battery trickle charger from Sunway Solar has got you covered. This top-of-the-line battery charger offers enough features at a reasonable price. And you can use it for your car, boat, trailer, tractor, snowmobile, or motorcycle.

You can install the charger directly onto your windshield or dash using the included suction cup mounts. It comes with a long 8-foot quick connect extension cable for ease of use. The unit is constructed of durable ABS plastic housing and a PV glass cover. Note that if you have tinted windows, this might affect the performance of this charger.

7. STANLEY BC25BS Smart 12V Battery Charger

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This three-stage high-frequency unit offers a patented alternator check and engine start. Of course, it also starts and charges your battery. There’s even a 3-amp trickle charger for maintenance. The easy-to-see digital LCD shows your battery status. For safety purposes, there’s even reverse polarity protection which lets you know if the machine is hooked up improperly.

This system provides a storage spot for its power cord instead of wrapping it around the machine like some others. Overall, it comes with a 75-amp engine start, 25-amp rapid charge, and 3-amp battery maintainer.

Another thing about this system is that it’s rugged thanks to the metal casing. It’s also fairly small and portable, weighing in at about 8.5 pounds.

8. BLACK+DECKER BC15BD 15 Amp Bench Battery Charger

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One wouldn’t expect this household tool giant to do well in the automotive field, but this Black & Decker battery charger is well-made and capable. The heavy-duty construction helps it hold up well to wear and tear.

This machine doesn’t use different modes like some other models. Instead, it reads the battery and selects the best option between 0 and 15 amps to charge the battery. There are three stages included. The first is its high-amperage charge which works fast to get your battery to 80%. The next is the modulated charge to steadily increase the battery to 98%. Then, there’s the float charge which operates at low amperage to finish the charge and maintain it while preventing overcharging.

Some people might not be fond of the lack of user control, but the charger works great with no issues. It’s nice not to have to think about it, and just let the machine do its job. There’s even a repair mode on the BC15BD. This mode reduces the buildup of any solids found in the battery to increase capacity.

There are even some diagnostics on the unit which evaluate the alternator. If you are stuck with a dead battery, you’ll find the 40-amp jump-start feature gets you back and running in no time. If you don’t mind investing another $25, there’s also a 25-amp version of this car battery charger as well.

9. Schumacher SC1304 Smart Battery Charger

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This smaller model from Schumacher comes complete with fully automatic battery charging, digital display, automatic voltage detection, plus a condition setting to run battery maintenance. This charger automatically detects if you need 6 or 12-volt charging.

It also makes it simple to see what stage of charging the battery is currently at. Because it only weighs three pounds, it is portable. The retractable handle on this machine also doubles as a power cord wrap. It also comes with a two-year warranty which isn’t too shabby considering the low price.

10. Optima 150 Digital 400 Battery Charger

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This easy-to-use automatic car battery is chock full of great features. Designed to automatically maximize battery life, this is a great option if you are looking for a battery tender to leave on without worry. The charger has a built-in battery health monitor that allows it to charge the battery to its max without the worry of overcharging.

The LCD display and easy-to-read battery charging gauge make it easy for you to know the exact status of your battery. The fully automatic, multi-stage performance charging, conditioning, maintaining, and storage reconditioning mode means you’ll always have a healthy battery that is ready to go.



Get Peace of Mind With The Best Car Battery Chargers

Owning a decent battery charger is something you want before you need it. You might not appreciate the benefit of having one of these at your house until your car battery is dead. Then, you’ll realize their worth and be glad you made the investment.



Frequently Asked Questions

Can you leave a car battery charger overnight?

You always want to be sure you are charging your car battery the correct way. The wrong volts or high amperage settings can lead to overheating it or charging it too fast. Leaving the charger on unattended or not using it correctly is another mistake that people often make.

Luckily, in today’s market, you can find high-quality chargers that protect the battery from getting overcharged. These “smart” chargers automatically switch off when the charge is full. Charging your battery overnight with the help of a smart charger usually achieves a complete charge. For proper use, always check the operating guidelines of your battery charger.

What is a car battery trickle charger?

If you have vehicles in storage or you often forget to turn your lights off, a trickle charger can come in very handy for preventing a battery drain.

A car battery trickle charger is a charger that helps maintain the power of your battery and prevent self-discharge so you never end up with a battery that is flat. It charges slowly at a very low amp.

Be aware that this type of device can also lead to overcharging your battery if it is left on for longer than necessary. Thus, it is recommended that you choose a trickle charger that automatically shuts off when the battery reaches a full charge. Otherwise, you will need to monitor the battery and disconnect the charger yourself.

Since trickle chargers are not generally equipped with this automatic feature, you may want to consider going for a float charger (also called a “smart charger”). Float chargers always turn off when the charge is complete and start again when the charge goes down.

How long should I leave the charger attached to the battery?

This depends on the type of charger and the amount of power your battery needs to be fully charged. Generally, manual chargers need to be closely monitored since they will not shut down on their own when the charge is full and will need to be disconnected once your battery is fully charged. Refer to your battery charger owner’s manual for information on how to tell when your battery is fully charged.

Can I use a battery charger for cars as a power supply?

Using a battery charger for supplying power was a common function in older models. Most newer models are equipped with a safety feature that stops them from providing voltage to anything other than a battery so you will not be able to use them as a power supply.

What is the difference between a battery charger and a battery tender?

The main difference is that a battery charger is designed to charge a battery to full charge and then be disconnected once the battery is fully charged.

A battery tender, or battery maintainer, on the other hand, can be left hooked up to a battery for longer periods of time. These devices detect a drop in voltage and automatically recharge then shut off once the battery is fully charged.

Battery tenders are ideal for storing parked vehicles for long periods of time.





About Brian Jones

Brian Jones spent over 30-years at various dealerships as an ASE Certified Master Tech. These days he works with those dealerships to create quality automotive content while spending more time with his family near Dallas, TX. In his spare time, you'll still find him playing with tools, cars, and many other "manly" gadgets. Brian's passions include traveling, pickup trucks, and anything related to motorsports.

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