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.
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 Picks||Brand||Rating||Charging Current||Output Voltage||Desulfation||Water/Weather Resistant|
|Best Overall||NOCO GENIUS10||10 Amp||6V, 12V|
|Best Budget Buy||MOTOPOWER MP00205A||800 mAmp||6V, 12V|
|Best for Pros||NOCO GENIUSPRO25||25 Amp||6V, 12V, 24V|
|Best High Amp||Schumacher SC1308||30 Amp||6V, 12V|
|Best for Cold Weather||CTEK MUS 4.3 POLAR||15 Amp||12V|
*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers
In This Article
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
- Works well with a variety of battery types
- Repairs and bring dead batteries back to functionality
- Automatically changes to trickle charging and desulfation
- Instruction manual is confusing and hard to follow
- No digital screen to give information
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.
- Automatically switches between modes
- Compact and portable for easy transport
- Competitively priced compared to similar models
- Confusing indicators for power on and fully charged
- Low charging current means a slow charge
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.
- Comes with a case and power supply cables
- Can detect battery life down to a single volt
- High performance in all climates
- Almost too many features and functions
- Requires careful reading of the manual
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.
- Doubles as an engine starter, capable of 100 Amp
- Simple and easy to use
- Automatic voltage detection for 6V and 12V batteries
- Front panel display feels outdated
- Power leads and connectors could be more heavy duty
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.
- 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
- 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?
How do I buy a battery charger for my car?
Do I need a battery charger for my car?
Should I charge my car battery at 2 amps, 6 amps, or 10 amps?
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.
- 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.
- Firestone Complete Auto Care. Top 3 things that can drain car batteries in winter. Firestonecompleteautocare.com. Published November 19, 2018. Accessed June 18, 2021.
- 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.
- Alex Muir. Using a car battery charger. Howacarworks.com. Accessed June 18, 2021.