We’re all familiar with the dreaded tchk-tchk-tchk of a dead battery. How the heart sinks when you turn the key, and that familiar, reassuring rumble of the engine starting fails to appear.
What now? You’re going to be late for work. Or worse, you’re stranded somewhere without a cell single, facing a long walk down the highway with your thumb sticking out.
The simple fact is that car batteries do die. Maybe you’ve just left the headlights on overnight or your old battery has given up the ghost. Whether you like it or not, we’ll all be faced with a dead battery at some point in our driving lives.
And when it happens, who you gonna call?
The mechanic, with a couple hundred dollar call-out fee?
What if there’s a cheaper option – a Plan B for dead batteries.
Car battery chargers can fit in your trunk or your glove box, stowed for those moments when you need them most.
They can zap enough life through your battery, letting you get the engine started.
And they can recharge batteries from flat, extending the life of old batteries and saving you splashing out on replacements.
Powerful models can even bring batteries back from the dead! Don’t worry, these zombie batteries don’t crave brains. They’ll just get you from A to B.
Let’s hit the road and check out the best car battery chargers of 2022 on the market.
The Best Car Battery Chargers in 2022
Car battery chargers aren’t something you can pop out and buy when your battery dies. Do your research and pick up the perfect car battery charger before it’s too late!
1. NOCO GENIUS10, 10-Amp Fully-Automatic Smart Charger – Best Versatile Smart Charger
The GENIUS10 from NOCO is an exceptionally compact little charger that packs a punch. The latest model from NOCO is 17% smaller with 15% added power.
That means you can stow this baby in your glovebox and forget about it. Backup power without sacrificing space.
It’s also an exceptionally versatile battery. Built for both 6-volt batteries as well as standard 12-v vehicle batteries, you can use this charger on anything from your truck to your ATV. It’s compatible with acid-lead batteries, contemporary AGM batteries and lithium-ion batteries. Whatever’s under your hood, NOCO have you covered.
When recharging batteries, the GENIUS10 will automatically detect charge down to 1V and begin recharging – but the added “force mode” gives you even more control, enabling recharge of fully dead batteries with a charge below 1V. And automatic thermal sensing will adapt the charge to the climate, preventing overcharging or undercharging in hot and cold weather.
This isn’t the fastest charger, and it might actually underperform for its 10A power. Pencil in around 16 hours to take a battery to fully charge. This is where the automatic charge detection comes in handy, as the charger will end charging when the battery is full.
With so many settings, it’ll take time to get the best out of your device. This isn’t the most intuitive device, so get ready to take a deep dive into the instruction manual before use.
2. DBPOWER 800A 18000mAh – Best Lightweight
As a backup jump starter, this car battery charger is good to have. But with so many extra features for daily functionality, this isn’t something to stash in the trunks and forget about!
Before we get to the added features, however, let’s see how this performs in a pinch. With 800 amps of peak power, this unit can offer around 20 jump-starts to vehicles with up to 7.2L gas/5.5L diesel engines.
And honestly, if you’ve come back to a flat battery twenty times, it’s beyond past time to take a trip to the garage!At just under 3lbs, that’s a lot of peak power for a portable unit. There’s no reason not to take the DBPOWER everywhere – just in case.
As well as offering a jump start, with 18000mAh of power and two USB outputs you can charge phones, laptops and other electrical equipment on the go. And an added LCD screen tells you exactly how much power the pack has remaining – that means you can preserve the jump-start capacity while you charge your devices.
As well as all this, DBPOWER has equipped the charger with a compass and powerful torch. I don’t know how often you’ll be lost in the woods with only your portable car jump starter for company, but if you’re ever in this situation you won’t be lost for long!
3. NEXPOW 2000A Peak 18000mAh – Best For Biggest Engines
This exceptionally powerful jump starter is lightweight, portable and multifunctional making it a great all-round option for those with big engines.
In terms of peak output, 2000A is serious business. NEXPOW’s jump starter can get anything up to 7.5L gas or 6.5L diesel going in a snap. With excess power, anything from motorcycles to bigger trucks and even yachts can be started, and the jump starter will function in temperatures down to sub-zero Fahrenheit.
NEXPOW has gone all out on safety features for this powerful jump starter. Spark proof connectors and reverse polarity, as well as high-temperature and overload protection, are all standard giving you complete security when you’re getting the engine going.
18,000mAh of power is also on hand to charge your devices – with two USB outputs, you can keep phones and tablets on charge. The absence of an LCD screen limits how you can power your devices whilst preserving jump-start capacity though – four LED lights on the front of the unit bluntly indicate the remaining charge.
4. CTEK – 40-206 MXS 5.0 Fully Automatic 4.3 amp Battery Charger – Best For Rarely Used Batteries
This small and portable battery charger is a great option not only for recharging batteries but also for general battery care and maintenance.
With eight-step recharging, this little unit takes good care of your battery, undoing damage built up from years of use. Initial stages remove sulphate from your battery and test the battery’s capacity for charge before smart charging reduces the rate of charge as the battery capacity fills.
With spark-proofing and reversed polarity, it’s safe to use. Whilst it lacks an LCD screen to give detailed information about charging, the manual is clear and the LED lighting system informs the user.
It’s completely automatic, meaning you can set and forget without worrying about overcharging your battery. The 5A output isn’t going to offer the fastest charging, but it’ll get the job done.
However, the charger only works with batteries maintaining a minimum 2V charge. This unit is great for restoring charge and maintaining batteries in cars left to sit for a while, but once a battery is drained beyond 2V, you’re toast.
5. CTEK (56-353) MULTI US 7002 12-Volt Battery Charger – Best Premium Charger For Fast Recharging
CTEK is a dominant brand in the battery recharger business and this premium car battery charger will restore charge faster than some alternatives.
With 7A output, this offers faster charging than others in CTEK’s wide range. It will also function with dead batteries, bringing them back to life.
The eight-step recharging process is designed to optimize battery care, making this charger not only a last-gasp measure but something that can help to maintain your batteries, extending their lifespan and saving you a fortune in replaced battery costs.
Before recharging, the CTEK 7002 removes sulphate and tests the battery. Automatic smart recharging then takes place, recharging your battery at a variable rate depending on its capacity.
The charger comes with two sets of clamps, designed for maximum compatibility between batteries. And despite the power contained within this battery, it’s still lightweight and compact, making it easy to use without working up a sweat.
6. Schumacher SC1281 100 Amp 30 Amp 6V/12V Fully Automatic Smart Battery Charger – Best For Workshops And Garages
This fantastic all-rounder car battery charger and jump starter can keep your batteries in good health, recharge them when they’re flat as well as give you the jump-start when it all goes wrong!
It’s a versatile unit – with 6V and 12V options and compatibility with a wide range of batteries including lead-acid and AGM. It’s also fully automatic, meaning you can hook it up and leave it to charge your battery without worrying about overcharging. The unit detects the battery type and adapts accordingly.
As well as charging flat batteries, it can also extend the life of batteries with equalization, desulfation and maintenance features. This car battery charger does pretty much everything you could ask for!
It’s a heavy unit, but the carry handle assists in portability. It’s great for garages and workshops, and added diagnosis features such as the alternator tester are useful in these scenarios.
7. Battery Tender Plus 2/10/25A 12V Smart Battery Charger – Best Budget Charger/Starter Combo
This battery charger from TowerTop features three amperage options for fast or optimized charging and has a range of bonus features we like to see.
2A trickle charge will recharge your battery without any risk of damage, while 10A and 25A options are included for faster charges. It’s an excellent maintenance charger too, with a smart seven-stage recharging process including bulking and desulfation.
And with added engine starter boost, this is a good all-rounder that can help you care for your batteries over their lifespan, or just get your car going in an emergency situation.
This car battery charger also stands out as durable and well-built with multiple safety features, from the corrosion-resistant chassis to short circuit protection.
The LCD makes it intuitive to use, helping users manage battery care and protect themselves whilst recharging batteries. The carry handle and multi-functionality make this a good option for professional mechanics, but it hasn’t been designed to exclude the layman from using it.
8. Ampeak 2/8/15A 12V Smart Battery Charger – Best For Winter Weather
This compact, yet powerful battery charger is great for battery care and maintenance.
With three output options, ranging from 2 – 15A, you can choose trickle charging or a fast charge boost if you’re short on time and know what your battery can handle. Although the smart charger can automatically detect the optimal charge rate for your battery, manual mode allows you to override this when you know better.
Although it lacks an emergency engine start capacity, it’s a great choice for looking after your batteries. Six-stage charging includes multiple levels of battery care.
For powerful maintenance chargers you often end up with a heavy unit, but this is surprisingly small and light, making working on your car even easier. It’s a well-built unit with a carry handle for transport and an in-built fan for cooling.An LCD screen gives you intuitive control over its many features, and the added winter mode makes this a great choice for colder climates.
The absence of an engine starter function does make this more of a workshop option than something to keep in your trunk, and Ampeak recommends not using this unit to recharge dead or frozen batteries. Although it could be possible to bring batteries back to life, you’ll likely void your warranty if you try and risk fire or explosion in the process!
9. MOTOPOWER MP00205A 12V 800mA Automatic Battery Charger – Best Value Battery Charger
When it comes to price, MOTOPOWER’s 800mA battery charger is hard to beat. You can fork out for one of these without even noticing.
Built for a wide variety of 12V batteries, this impressively small unit (it can squeeze into your back pocket) is ideal for taking care of your automobile batteries. Size and price entail a tradeoff in power though – at just 800mA – less than 1 amp total – this is going to be a slow charge, so buckle up for a long ride.
The automatic functioning does mean you can set it up and leave it to charge. Battery performance can be optimized automatically whilst you tackle other jobs around the garage.
This little device excels at battery maintenance and care – issues with sulfation in your battery can be identified and resolved, lengthening battery life, and as it’s fitted with measures such as reverse polarity and automatic detection to prevent overcharging, you know you’re in safe hands.
With 0.8A output, it could take days for this bijou battery charger to rejuice your car batteries – it’s obviously not suited to full recharges. But for battery care and maintenance, it’s an affordable option.
Before You Buy: The Buyer’s Guide To Car Battery Chargers
Car batteries are as diverse as the range of cars on the market today, and car battery chargers come with many added features. Here’s everything you need to know to pick the right car battery charger for your needs.
Why Do I Need A Car Battery Charger?
Car batteries die. Even the most astute drivers occasionally leave their headlights on, and sometimes an old battery will lose charge over time until it struggles to get your engine going.
If you want to keep your car battery in optimal condition to keep you on the road, you need a car battery charger.
1. Save Money
What do you do when your battery dies? Calling out the mechanic costs money, and replacement batteries don’t come cheap.
With so many car battery chargers available for under $100, it doesn’t take long before you’ve saved money. In the past, forgetting to turn off your car electronics was a costly business – but with a car battery charger in your trunk, you’ll never have to make that shamefaced call to the mechanic again.
Car battery chargers can also maintain the health of your car battery, ensuring you’re not replacing it more often than you need to. “Maintainer” chargers prevent your battery from damaging its capacity by fully discharging, thereby increasing the lifespan of your battery, and saving you from shelling out when it’s time to service your motor.
2. Peace of Mind
A car battery charger with engine starter function is your insurance policy against a dead battery. These powerful and petite units can zap enough electronic charge back into your battery to get your car going. And if you’re having alternator trouble and your car won’t recharge your battery, they can even take your battery back to fully charged.
3. Keep Your Devices Charged
Many car battery chargers are multifunctional devices that can power all your electronics in the car. These handy tools are not only geared towards issuing the surge of power your car battery needs to start the engine, but they can also charge phones, laptops and mini-fridges!
If you thought a car battery charger was going to languish in your trunk until the day your battery died – wrong! They’re perfect for camping trips and day-to-day use, keeping your electronic devices charged.
Four Functions In Car Battery Chargers
Car battery chargers come with a range of functions. Let’s take a closer look at what a car battery charger can do.
Naturally, you’ll expect a car battery charger to, well… charge. The cheapest and most basic car battery chargers are designed to recharge flat car batteries – and can also restart your engine with the powerful surge of energy your car starter needs.
Car battery chargers can also be used for maintenance and upkeep on your car battery, ensuring that it’s kept in tip-top condition for a long lifespan. Maintenance chargers can charge your battery and start your car, but can also be used occasionally to keep your battery in good health by preventing it from completely discharging when not in use.
Restorer car battery chargers are less common and mainly found in professional garages because of their expense and top-end function. Restorers are capable of breaking down the contaminants that build up in old batteries, damaging functionality and occasionally killing them altogether. These models can boost your battery life, but they’re expensive and relatively rare.
As well as powerful car battery rechargers, you can also purchase jump starters for your car battery. These units won’t fully recharge your battery but equipped with a powerful peak amperage they can zap enough charge into your battery to get your car started.
Once you’re on the road, the alternator can get to work and recharge your car’s battery while you’re driving. Jump-starters are often cheaper and can also charge your other electrical devices – but if you’re alternator’s acting up you’ll only have around 20 minutes to make it to the garage.
How to Choose The Perfect Car Battery Charger
Although there are many car battery chargers on the market, there’s only one that’s perfectly suited for your car and unique battery charging needs. Here are the essential features you need to look out for when picking a car battery charger.
Choosing the right voltage charger is vital to ensure compatibility with your car battery. Using a charger with the wrong voltage can damage your battery, preventing it from fully charging or overloading altogether.
In the automotive industry, however, car batteries have been standardized at 12v – making it easy to choose a charger that fits your battery.
Unlike voltage, amperage can vary widely across different chargers. Amperage determines the strength of the current flowing out of your charger, and a higher amperage will lead to faster charging for your battery.
Chargers start out around 2A and peak at 25A, but for older batteries slower charging might actually be beneficial. Smart chargers will have a range of amperage available and can automatically determine the right current for your battery – these smart chargers are great options if you’re going to use your charger on a range of vehicles.
Manual Or Automatic Charging
Today’s car battery chargers can be manual or automatic. Manual chargers are at the cheaper end of the spectrum but don’t contain all the frills of automatic charging. These chargers will pump current into your battery until you turn them off, meaning you need to stay alert or risk damage to your battery – and although they’re increasingly rare in the modern world of car battery chargers, you need to be aware that they’re out there.
Automatic chargers will turn off or switch to a mode of maintenance when the battery gets full. These modern chargers are great for taking premium care of your car battery and letting you get other jobs done while your car battery charges.
Car battery chargers need to stand up to the elements – if you’re stranded with your car, you need your charger to operate, whatever the weather throws at you. Chargers will come with an IP rating system to classify the protection the casing offers the charger from dust and rain, and a higher IP rating will indicate a more durable charger.
These chargers pack a serious punch and you have to take safety seriously when working with electricity.
Overheating is a real risk, so picking a charger that can detect fluctuations in voltage and amperage will protect you and your battery, whilst safety features from spark resistant clamps to easy-use cables that prevent mixing up your inputs are prominent across car battery charger brands.
With limited space in your car, it’s great to have a device that does everything. Often, car battery chargers have multi-functionality, with USB or even electrical socket outputs that can charge everything from phones to in-dash DVD players.
Some chargers have built-in radios, great for would-be mechanics who’ll need some entertainment while they work. And extra features such as LCD screens or indicator lights can boost the usability of your charger, helping you take better care of your car.
If you’re planning on recharging dead batteries, then you’ll be interested in charging time. With a wide range of amperages from under 1A to 25A and beyond, the time it takes to recharge a battery can vary widely.
Whilst ten to fifteen hours can be considered standard, the smallest battery chargers might take days – these are better suited to occasional care and maintenance rather than bringing batteries back from the dead.
When we’re turning the key in the ignition, we’re taking a lot for granted. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the humble car battery.
Car battery chargers do a lot more than restore power. They perform essential maintenance on your batteries, extending their lifespan and optimizing performance. It’s the care your car battery deserves.
And when you factor in emergency engine starting functions, they might just be a lifesaver. When you’re stranded with a dead battery, you’ll wish you had one of these babies in the glove box.
Whether you’re building the dream workshop for automobile care or you just want an insurance policy when you’re on the road, a car battery charger is an essential piece of kit. Batter up!