A Guide to the Best Battery Chargers of 2022
Whether you have a car, truck, SUV, or even a boat, you’re dependent on a good battery to get it started. But you might be in situations where the battery has drained to the extent that it won’t start. And usually, that occurs when the weather is the most extreme, and you need your vehicle the most! A versatile battery charger is therefore a must.
Most battery chargers nowadays are smart devices, in that they can diagnose your battery, and supply it with exactly the amount of current that it needs. And these chargers can even recover batteries that are on their last legs (well, at least you thought they couldn’t be salvaged). And a good battery charger will also help maintain your vehicle’s battery, and extend its lifetime. All good reasons to make this small investment and buy a good battery charger!
Types of Battery Chargers
You’ll see that most battery chargers share a number of useful features, such as being able to charge several battery types, reverse hook-up protection, and the ability to revive even near-dead batteries that have dropped below 1 Volt, and more. But we can classify them into two main groups:
Without the engine start feature: There are battery chargers that only can recharge your vehicle’s battery, and maintain its charge. They’re also called “trickle chargers”, or “battery maintainers”. But these chargers aren’t capable of jump-starting your car. The Noco Genius 1 Portable Battery Charger can charge up your car’s battery in about 24 hours. This is because it has a charging current of only 1 Ampere. You can also get the Noco Genius 10, which provides 10 Amperes of current. That’s able to charge a marine battery in around 3 hours.
Noco Genius 1 Smart Charger
With the engine-start feature: When you have a battery charger, you could wait for the battery to be strong enough to start your engine. But typically, an 8 Ampere battery charger will take at least two hours to reach the point that the battery can start your engine! For that reason, some prefer a battery charger that can jump-start your car as well. They can produce enough current to start your engine. The Schumacher SC1281 Smart Battery Charger has a 30 Ampere quick boost feature, and a 100 Ampere jumpstart feature. That’s strong enough to get your car started, even if the battery died. (It still might take around 90 seconds to get your vehicle started.)
Schumacher SC1281 Smart Battery Charger
What reviewers say
Here are some comments from customers, about their impressions of their battery chargers:
Essential for emergencies: Customers who purchased a Noco battery charger said that the battery charger was essential for them, due to their car draining their battery in order to get started. Using a battery charger is a much more reliable solution than using jumper cables (and finding someone who’ll be willing to jump-start your car).
Great to salvage old batteries: People are pleased with the Schumacher battery charger in that it helped them revive sulfated batteries that would otherwise have to be thrown away and replaced. It’s better for you and the environment!
Cigarette lighter charger: Some chargers are capable of charging your car’s battery through the cigarette lighter, with the appropriate adapter. The Black & Decker Battery Charger is one such model. It saves you the effort of having to open up your car’s hood to get to the battery!
Here are some important features that you’ll see in many battery chargers. It’s best to invest in a charger that has all of these features!
Reverse hook-up protection: Reversing the positive and negative alligator clips from your charger can damage your battery. So, many battery chargers will have a reverse hook-up protection feature, preventing the charger from working if you hook up the clamps incorrectly. The Schumacher Smart Battery Charger has this feature.
Smart charging: Older battery chargers would continue to supply current even after your battery is fully charged. That could damage the battery. Many of the battery chargers in the Best Reviews Guide list are smart chargers. They detect the battery voltage and switch from fast charging at first, then to top-off charging towards the end when the battery is fully charged, and finally going to trickle charge, to maintain the car battery’s charge.
Charges many battery types: It’s best to get a battery charger that charges several types of batteries. This way, The Noco Genius 1 can toggle between charging a lead-acid battery, a gel battery, an absorbent glass mat (= AGM) battery, or a lithium battery.
Battery desulfator and reconditioner: A lead-acid battery has lead plates that react with the sulfuric acid solution in the battery. The reaction produces lead sulfate crystals that build up on the lead plates. (This is a problem, particularly in batteries that aren’t used for a long time, such as batteries in a lawn mower or boat that you haven’t used during the winter months. The longer the battery remains unused, the more these lead sulfate crystals grow, impeding the battery’s ability to charge up. It can also happen if a battery uses up too much of its charge.) If your battery doesn’t charge up, or if it doesn’t hold its charge, try a battery charger with a desulfator function. The desulfator starts to run current through the battery, to try to break down the lead sulfate crystals. Just make sure that your battery has enough water. Otherwise, a desulfator can actually finish the battery off that it’s totally unsalvageable!
Alternator checker: The alternator in your car is a generator that converts the mechanical energy of your car’s engine into electrical energy that charges your car’s battery. If your battery is dead and you jump-start your car, your car’s alternator will start charging your car’s battery up again. There are battery chargers that also have an alternator check feature, to see if the alternator is functioning and is able to maintain the battery level. The Black & Decker Battery Charger/Maintainer (Model No. BC25BD) has this feature.
Front Panel of the Black & Decker Battery Charger/Maintainer
We’ve gone through some of the features of the best battery chargers, seeing how they’re able to charge many different battery types, and even able to salvage batteries that are damaged and headed for the junk heap. These battery chargers will also increase the lifespan of a healthy, new battery. Whether you need a battery charger just to save your vehicle’s battery, or to get your car started in the dead of winter, a good battery charger is a worthwhile investment!