Car battery charger

A quality car battery charger is important for the proper maintenance and upkeep of your vehicle. Years ago, these devices weren’t the easiest or most convenient to use, leading many to resort to keeping a pair of jumper cables handy. Things have come a long way since then, however. Modern units are now capable of many functions, including charging batteries, maintaining a charge, and detecting a weak battery. Battery chargers still get hot, though, so always be careful when handling battery chargers.

The car battery chargers on our list are true standouts based on quality, performance, and customer feedback. The best of the best? The NOCO GENIUS10. Key features this product offers include its precision charging, ability to charge dead batteries, and versatility with various battery types.

Best Overall
NOCO GENIUS10
For the best in car battery chargers, look no further than the NOCO GENIUS10.

If you’re purchasing a battery charger to maintain a steady charge during long-term storage, consider purchasing a quality car cover as well. This is another great way to protect your vehicle and ensure its longevity.

Our Automobile Expert’s Top 5 Battery Chargers

We’ve taken a hard look at the variety of chargers on the market to come up with our top five. Some have all the bells and whistles; others are for those who just need something to juice up their battery in a jiff. Consider your own needs and budget and shop these options accordingly.

The Best Car Battery Chargers

Expert's PicksBrandRatingCharging CurrentOutput VoltageDesulfationWater/Weather Resistant
Best OverallNOCO GENIUS104.710 Amp6V, 12V
Best Budget BuyMOTOPOWER MP00205A4.5800 mAmp6V, 12V
Best for ProsNOCO GENIUSPRO254.925 Amp6V, 12V, 24V
Best High AmpSchumacher SC13084.430 Amp6V, 12V
Best for Cold WeatherCTEK MUS 4.3 POLAR4.715 Amp12V

*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers

Who Should Buy a Battery Charger

  • People who drive very infrequently – Car batteries typically drain once they’ve sat for longer than two weeks, something known as residual drain. Using a car battery charger will ensure that your vehicle starts when you need it to, even after long periods of dormancy.
  • People with seasonal vehicles – If you have a vehicle you only drive during one season, keeping it parked with a battery charger means it will be ready to go when you’re ready to pull it out of hibernation.
  • People living in extremely hot or cold climates – Hot climates will drain your battery more quickly, 1 while cold climates will make the battery work harder to start the car.2 In both cases, a quality car battery charger will be an essential item to have on hand.

Who Should Not Buy a Battery Charger

  • People who drive their cars often – Those who drive their cars – all their cars, including fun and pleasure vehicles – at least once a week or a few times every two weeks don’t need to worry about a battery charger, as constant use will ensure a steady state of charge.
  • People who have roadside support service – Folks with memberships to roadside support services may not wish to take the precaution of buying a battery charger. After all, AAA will be happy to jump your battery regardless of whether your car is at the mall, up the trailhead, or in your garage.

Research Tips (from an Expert)

When it comes to car chargers, there are a few important points shoppers should keep in mind before pulling the trigger on any given model. This foundational knowledge shouldn’t be the extent of your pre-purchase research, however. Be sure to analyze the specifications of the battery chargers you’re considering to ensure they are compatible with your car battery. If possible, consult those around you who might have bought one before to see if they have any recommendations.

  1. Know your battery type – Most chargers work with all battery types, but you still need to be sure which type of battery your car has. There are three types of battery construction currently used in automotive applications: maintenance-free, wet cell (flooded), AGM (absorbed glass mat), gel cell, or VRLA (valve-regulated lead acid). If you don’t know what type of battery your car calls for, the owner’s manual will tell you. And if that booklet is MIA? Pop the hood and take a look at the battery itself – there are some distinct visual cues that make it easy enough to determine the battery type.  3
  2. Check your battery size – How many amp hours does your battery store? This will help you understand how long it will take to charge your battery. The trick is to take the amp hour rating of the battery and divide it by the charger rating (amps). Then add about 10% for the extra time to fully top off the battery, as most have a capacity slightly higher than what you’re lead to believe.
  3. Consider your needs – You may need a specific type of charger depending on your situation or location. If you live in a northern clime, for instance, you’ll need to purchase a charger that functions well in cold temperatures. If you’re tight on money or space, you may want your battery charger to be a jack-of-all-trades tool that can charge your phone and light your garage. As you shop, keep in mind what functions seem useful and which come off as gimmicks, and use those observations to whittle your search down appropriately.
  4. Think portability – Some chargers are portable and can be brought with you on the road. Others are bulky and heavy and therefore best left in the garage. Work out if portability is an essential feature for you and buy accordingly.
  5. Jump-start functionality – In addition to providing batteries with a constant trickle of energy to keep them topped up, some battery chargers also have a boost function to jolt dead batteries back to life.

How Much Do They Cost?

Between $20 to $500

For most car battery chargers, you can expect to pay anywhere between $20-$500, with varying levels of functionality as you increase in cost. Keep in mind that while entry-level chargers are more affordable, their charging times tend to be longer due to their lower charging currents. Additionally, some of the additional features found in mid to high-range chargers may be absent. That said, if you’re an average vehicle owner without special requirements, the advances in car battery charger technology over the past decade will ensure you can find some great options without having to spend a fortune.

Our Methodology: Why Trust Ride Digest

The car battery chargers on this list were chosen based on a mix of our own experiences and customer feedback, with product features and performance kept front of mind. We considered each product’s ability to meet consumer needs as well as deliver on all of their features. After thorough analysis, the following five products came out on top.

The Best Battery Chargers: Full Reviews

Best Overall
NOCO GENIUS10
For the best in car battery chargers, look no further than the NOCO GENIUS10.

The NOCO GENIUS10 is an all-in-one solution battery charger, maintainer, trickle charger, and battery desulfator. It is designed to work with multiple battery types including 6-volt and 12-volt lead-acid automotive, marine, and deep-cycle batteries. It covers flooded, gel, AGM, and maintenance-free, plus lithium-ion batteries.

It has integrated thermal detectors to avoid over-charging in hot temperatures and under-charging in cold. Additionally, you can use it to charge dead batteries or restore batteries where sulfation is an issue. All around, it is an excellent performer and is a top choice for anyone looking for a versatile, effective battery charger that doesn’t break the bank.

Pros
  • Works well with a variety of battery types
  • Repairs and bring dead batteries back to functionality
  • Automatically changes to trickle charging and desulfation

Cons

  • Instruction manual is confusing and hard to follow
  • No digital screen to give information

Best Budget Buy
MOTOPOWER MP00205A
An affordable option that has some handy features.

The MOTOPOWER MP00205A is great for charging and maintaining all 12-volt lead-acid, flooded, and sealed maintenance-free batteries (such as AGM and gel cell). Everything is automated and optimized, including the desulfation process, making manual operation a thing of the past.

With multi-level safety protection, you can be sure you’re protected from short circuits, overcharging, and reversing polarity. This is in addition to the energy-saving features that ensure zero output in standby mode and no battery drain when connecting with the battery.

Pros
  • Automatically switches between modes
  • Compact and portable for easy transport
  • Competitively priced compared to similar models

Cons

  • Confusing indicators for power on and fully charged
  • Low charging current means a slow charge

Best for Pros
NOCO GENIUSPRO25
When you need all the features and then some, this is where you turn.

The NOCO GENIUSPRO25 is going to surpass any expectations you may have. It is a true multi-voltage charger at 6-volt (25-amps), 12-volt (25-amps), and 24-volt (12.5-amps). It can be used with lead-acid automotive, marine, and deep-cycle batteries, including flooded, gel, AGM, and maintenance-free, plus lithium-ion battery types.

Designed for pros, the NOCO GENIUSPRO25 will deliver precision charges and revitalize dead batteries. It’s crafted from high quality components that deliver a top notch final product that feels hefty and substantial. Its numerous features can make for tricky initial operation, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a better battery charger.

Pros
  • Comes with a case and power supply cables
  • Can detect battery life down to a single volt
  • High performance in all climates

Cons

  • Almost too many features and functions
  • Requires careful reading of the manual
  • Expensive

Best High Amp
Schumacher SC1308
Whether you need a charge or a boost, you’re covered with the Schumacher SC1308.

The Schumacher SC1308 is a microprocessor-controlled unit that’s built to impress. Its float mode allows for automatic changes from charge to maintain modes. What’s more, its easy-to-read display leaves nothing to guess about, while the auto voltage detection delivers further peace of mind.

Compatible with standard and AGM battery types, this product also features reverse hook-up protection to help protect both the battery and charger from damage. With the ability to charge at 2, 12, or 30V and jump-start an engine at 100 Amps, this unit has you covered from top to bottom, no matter how big your battery is.

Pros
  • Doubles as an engine starter, capable of 100 Amp
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Automatic voltage detection for 6V and 12V batteries

Cons

  • Front panel display feels outdated
  • Power leads and connectors could be more heavy duty

Best for Cold Weather
CTEK MUS 4.3 POLAR
Dealing with the cold requires special tools, and this one is one of the best to have.

The CTEK MUS 4.3 POLAR was designed for use in extremely cold conditions. It features AC and DC cables adapted to handle severe cold temperatures. It is also water and dust resistant, making it ideal for those who need to put it to use outdoors.

It has a fully automatic 8 step patented program that tests, revives, charges, and maintains your battery to ensure maximum battery performance and life. In addition, you can trust that it’s safe thanks to its no-spark, short-circuit proof and reverse-polarity protected design.

Pros
  • Retains full functionality in cold weather
  • Perfect for vehicles that sit unused during winter
  • Multiple ways to hook up to battery
  • Straightforward and easy to use

Cons

  • Supplied clamps may not open wide enough for all uses
  • Batteries can be “too dead” to be charged with this unit

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of charger do I need to charge a car battery?

There are a lot of options available on the market these days. What you want is one that meets the needs of your particular battery in terms of power. Ensuring it is from a reputable, quality manufacturer also goes a long way when it comes to peace of mind. You won’t want to take a risk on a subpar model just to save a few bucks, especially when affordable but well-made options abound.

How do I buy a battery charger for my car?

Before you buy the charger, you’ll need to know some facts about your car battery. The most important thing to know is the kind of battery you have and the Amp-hour (Ah) rating of the battery. You’ll also need to decide if you want the charger to maintain and condition your battery. Don’t forget the general rule of thumb that your charger should be 10 greater than your battery’s Ah rating.

Do I need a battery charger for my car?

Some folks will go through their entire life without owning a car battery charger. However, many of these probably wished at some point or another that they did own one. The more frequently vehicles are sitting unused for long periods of time, the more likely you’ll run into a drained battery – and the more you’ll want to invest in a battery charger. A battery charger promises your car will start when you need it to, leading to heightened peace of mind.

Should I charge my car battery at 2 amps, 6 amps, or 10 amps?

The more amps you charge at, the faster the battery will charge.4 This isn’t always ideal for long-term battery health, however. A good rule of thumb is to charge at 10% of the battery capacity. But keep in mind that if you’re charging too low, the battery may discharge as much or more than you’re putting in, depending on conditions.

Article Sources

Ride Digest uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Bartlett J. How hot weather affects your car battery and what to do about it. Consumerreports.org. Published May 4, 2019. Accessed June 18, 2021.
  2. Firestone Complete Auto Care. Top 3 things that can drain car batteries in winter. Firestonecompleteautocare.com. Published November 19, 2018. Accessed June 18, 2021.
  3. Hunting B. What car battery type to you have? A battery-spotter’s guide. Knowhow.napaonline.com. Published January 3, 2017. Accessed June 18, 2021.
  4. Alex Muir. Using a car battery charger. Howacarworks.com. Accessed June 18, 2021.

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