Finding yourself in the middle of nowhere with your kids behind you in the backseat of your car and a dead battery in front of you can be a tough prospect.
The thing is while taking proper care of your car can dramatically reduce the chances of you ever having to go through such a terrible ordeal as being stuck on the side of the road with a dead car battery, this can nevertheless happen even to the most responsible motorists out there.
Now, if you do end up on the side of the road with a battery that’s gone kaput out of the blue, you have several options to resolve the situation and jump start your car:
- Setting up jumper cables to add some electricity to your battery (this requires the help of someone else with a car), or
- Pushing your car, so that the engine starts working without the help of the starter motor (only works on manual transmission vehicles), or
- Recharging your car battery yourself with a battery charger (the best option – requires zero help from anyone on the road).
In this article, we’re going to talk about this third option in more detail.
The thing is, having a secondary source of electricity in your car trunk may seem like a redundant waste of money, but it can be a lifesaver in case you need an emergency battery refill in the middle of nowhere.
So, in the passages below, you will find a list of the best car battery chargers currently on the market, so you can have a better idea of what products you can choose from. Also, we’ve made sure to answer some of the most frequently asked questions in this category and added a brief section explaining how to use one of these battery-charging contraptions.
Without further ado, here’s the deal.
Our Favorite Car Battery Chargers
Best Car Battery Chargers – A List of Products
1) STANLEY – J5C09 JUMPiT Portable Power Station Jump Starter
Small in size, but packing a powerful charging punch, so to speak, this STANLEY portable power station can be an excellent choice for a person in need of a reliable power station.
The great thing about this model is that its scope of functionality does not end with just jump-starting a dead battery. On the contrary, other than your car’s battery, you can use this contraption to power a wide array of devices and electric tools. For example, if your phone battery is low, you can simply attach your phone’s charger to this machine’s 12V USB port and refill your phone in no time.
In case your tire pressure is low, there’s a compressor built in this model, so you can reinflate the tires quite easily, too. What’s more, there’s also a pressure gauge inbuilt next to the cable, so you can always inflate your tires to precisely the value you want.
- Heavy-duty metal clamps for a secure fit
- Comes with an air compressor for inflating tires
- 1,000 peak Amps
- Comes with an ergonomic handle for easy carrying
- A USB port allows you to charge your phone or any other device that can be charged this way
- Some users reported that the compressor tire inflator is poorly made
- Some users complained that this power station doesn’t hold a charge that well
2) Clore Automotive – Jump-n-Carry 1,700 Peak Amp Jump Starter
Featuring a sturdy and durable build complete with a high-visibility finish, this jump-starting contraption from Clore Automotive packs a powerful jump-starting punch that not many competitors on the market can match.
As the number in the name of this product suggests itself, this thing can give you some 1,700 peak Amps, which is more than enough to jump-start most vehicles that use conventional 12-Volt batteries.
When it comes to recharging a battery that’s either near empty or empty, it’s important to know what sort of voltage you’re dealing with. So, the folks at Clore Automotive built in a voltmeter, so you can know exactly what the state of the battery is at the moment of refilling.
Other than using this thing for jump-starting your car, you can also use it for powering up any electrical appliance that requires a 12-Volt DC outlet. For the protection of the appliances that you may want to plug into this thing, and this power station itself, there is also an automatic circuit protection feature.
- A sturdy, heavy-duty case
- Comes with a built-in charger you can use to power up different appliances
- Features a voltmeter
- Robust and sturdy industrial-grade clamps
- Two light indicators telling you if the charging is in progress or complete
- 1,700 peak Amps
- Fairly heavy
- Some users reported problems with this unit rapidly losing charge after it’s been charged
3) DBPOWER – Portable Car Jump Starter
Featuring a build that looks like your internet router, this DBPOWER portable car jump nevertheless offers a lot of jump-starting power that can get your vehicle back on the road in no time.
In case something goes wrong with your car battery, you would want to know how much power you have left in your power station. With this model, this is easy to do, because there is an LCD screen inbuilt to the side of this contraption where you can read the level of remaining charge written clearly in numbers.
Since this is a device that deals with electricity, so to speak, the folks at DBPOWER deemed it important to add several layers of security against malfunction. Namely, you can at all times count on the overcharge and over-current protection, as well as on protection against short circuits. On top of that, there is also a protective feature that shields this portable car charger against reverse charging.
- Probably the best portable car battery charger with a compact design
- Allows you to charge laptops and other devices
- Comes with an LED light for easier use in low-light conditions
- LCD screen where you can read the charge percentage
- Inbuilt compass
- 3-year warranty
- Fairly low 800-Amp peak current
- Some users complained about the quality of the instruction sheet
4) TACKLIFE – T8 800-Amp Peak Lithium Car Jump Starter
Whether you’re going back and fro work on a day-to-day basis, or you fancy going camping now and again, owning a contraption such as this TACKLIFE car jump starter can be just what you’ve been looking for.
The thing that makes this small yet powerful device so attractive would certainly be its multifunctionality. Other than using this thing to jump-start your vehicle, you can also use it as a lamp, for example. So, in case your car battery (or SUV battery, or boat battery) dies on you in the middle of nowhere and it’s dark outside, you can light the way with the inbuilt lamp stuck to the front of this TACKLIFE T8 jump starter.
Another useful doo-hickey that the folks at TACKLIFE decided this thing needs to have would certainly be the compass. Thanks to this thing, you can always know where you are relative to the magnetic north and you can always find your way home in case you get lost in nature, for example.
- One of the best portable battery charger options on the market
- Comes with a compass
- The inbuilt lamp serves as a flashlight
- Can be used to jump-start cars, SUVs, boats, motorcycles, and other vehicles
- The LCD screen shows the remaining power in this starter
- 2-year warranty
- Low peak Amps at around 800 (but this is still more than enough for most vehicle batteries)
- Some users complained about the quality of the instruction manual
5) NOCO – Genius 10
Representing one of the best car battery chargers that’s also so small that it can fit in a pocket (the pocket would have to be a bit deeper, though), this NOCO Genius 10 model can be a great option for people who need a battery jump-starter, but don’t have too much room in their car to spare for it.
As far as the types of batteries you can revive with this little apparatus, you can count in both 6V and 12V ones, as well as the models featuring lithium-ion, gel-based, as well as AGM batteries.
In the department of extra small battery chargers, this may well be the best car battery charger for a dead battery, in this price range. So, if you have a dead battery you want to revive, this little thing might just do the trick.
With this little contraption in your automotive arsenal, so to speak, you can recharge and revive batteries of such vehicles as cars, trucks, SUV’s, lawnmowers, and even boats. As long as the battery is either 6 or 12 Volts, you can rest assured that this thing can bring it to life.
- Works on all 6 and 12-Volt batteries
- Can charge a battery that’s as low as one Volt
- Low maintenance
- Integrated thermal sensor
- Possibly the best car battery charger for dead battery (in the affordable price range, of course)
- Can be used on all sorts of vehicles including SUV’s, lawnmowers, trucks, cars, and even boats
- 3-year limited warranty
- Some users may not like the compact design of this unit
- Some users complained about overheating
6) Battery Tender – Charger and Maintainer
In case you need a battery-charging contraption that will take good care of your battery and maintain its charge levels once the refilling process has been completed, this Battery Tender charger can be just the thing you’ve been looking for.
As its name suggests, this thing will not only refill your battery but once it gets charged it will also ‘tend’ to it in the sense that it will maintain the same optimal level of charge. This means that you won’t have to worry about the battery getting discharged in case you can’t use the battery immediately after you’ve recharged it.
When it comes to the battery-charging process itself, you can see the state of it by looking at the two light indicators that are inbuilt on this device. The first one is red and it indicates that the battery is in the process of charging. The second one is green and it will only light up when the battery has been fully charged.
- Compatible with flooded, lead-acid, as well as sealed type batteries
- Two LED light indicators (red and green)
- Spark-proof connection
- Features protection against reverse hookup
- Can be used with cars, motorbikes, SUV’s, ATV’s, as well as boats, and other vehicles
- There is a maintenance mode that keeps the charge level still after the battery’s been fully charged
- Some users reported certain issues with the warranty (you have to pay the shipping costs yourself)
- Some users complained about poor customer support
7) Schumacher – Fully Automatic Smart Battery Charger
This smart and easy-to-use battery charger comes in the shape of a small purse or briefcase that you can carry everywhere with you. It could be said that this Schumacher battery charger is one of the best car battery chargers of small-to-medium size.
When it comes to the type of battery this thing can charge up, you can count in AGM, standard, as well as gel-type batteries. This also means that this charger can be used for a wide variety of vehicles including cars, motorcycles, boats, lawnmowers, you name it.
Similar to the product above, you can use this Schumacher battery charger to not only charge up the battery in question but also to maintain the level of its size, which is fairly important for situations where you can’t place the battery inside the vehicle in question straight away.
- Can muster 1,600 Amps for jump-starting
- Can charge different types of batteries including standard, AGM, gel, and deep-cycle batteries
- Features a separate battery and alternator tester
- Automatic voltage detection
- Comes with a reverse hook-up protection
- Some users might not like the design of this unit
- The clamp cables could be a bit thicker
8) TowerTop – 12V Smart Battery Charger
Belonging to the category of one of the best car battery chargers currently on the market, this TowerTop 12-Volt smart battery charger represents possibly the best heavy-duty battery charger options you can get your hands on – for a reasonable amount of money, of course. (There are always models that can outperform this one in this regard, but their price will be much higher, too.)
With the help of this tool, you can power-up batteries of motorcycles, lawnmowers, cars, and SUVs, as well as of some boats and other marine vehicles, so to speak. As long as the vehicle in question runs on a 12V battery, you can rest assured that this TowerTop battery charger will do the trick.
- A comprehensive, 7-step charging program
- Overcharge, overheating protection
- Reverse polarity protection
- LCD screen displays the progress of the charging process
- Autodetection for battery voltage levels
- Features an inbuilt cooking fan that will kick in to prevent overheating
- Comes with a user manual
- This model is fairly bulky, which some potential buyers might dislike (although it’s still easy to carry – it just can’t fit in your pocket)
- Cannot bring dead batteries (below 3-Volts) back to life
9) Ampeak – Smart Battery Charger
As far as heavy-duty car battery chargers go, this Ampeak model would fall into the category of medium-sized contraptions. While it would be debatable if the spot for the best heavy-duty battery charger belongs to this model in particular, what is certain is that you can get some pretty decent features if you decide to go for this Ampeak contraption.
Again, although this model, if we consider its build, couldn’t be put in the category of heavy-duty car battery chargers, compared to some of the compact models we’ve described above, this thing is as ‘heavy-duty’, as commercial battery chargers go.
Now, as far as its features are concerned, you can count in an automatic charging process, compatibility with different battery types, as well as an array of protective features that are there to ensure that both this tool or the battery it chargers doesn’t get overheated, overcharged, or that the connection doesn’t short circuit during the charging process.
- Three modes of charging when it comes to the speed of the process (trickle – 2 Amp, quick 8 Amp, and rapid – 15 Amp)
- Works with different types of battery (acid-based, GEL, AGM, and STD)
- Microprocessor-controlled protection against overvoltage, overtime charging, overheating, reverse polarity, and short circuit
- LCD screen
- Detailed, 6-step charging program
- Cannot charge frozen or dead batteries
- Fairly bulky compared to some of the smaller models (still fairly easy to carry though, the size of an average doctor’s bag)
10) STANLEY – Fully Automatic 12V Bench Battery Charger
If you want a battery charger that will not waste any more energy than it requires to fill it, this model from STANLEY can be just the thing for you. The reason this thing can save energy is that it comes with an automatic charge rate setting, so the tempo of charging won’t be either faster or slower than it needs to be, thus saving you precious electric energy.
Built-in this model is a small LCD screen on which you can monitor the charging progress. The progress is displayed on a scale that starts with 0 percent and ends at 100 percent when the battery is fully charged.
- Fully-automatic, three-stage charging
- Built-in cord and cord wrap for easy storage
- Powder-coated clamps
- LCD screen for monitoring the charging process
- A small, 4-button control panel for mode selection
- Some users may not like the design of this unit
- This charger cannot ‘resurrect’ a completely dead battery (below 3V)
Peak Amps vs. Cranking Amps
If you read the product description of pretty much any jump-starting contraption, you will surely see some section talking about peak Amps and starting Amps.
The difference between these two is that the peak Amps represent the amperage that the contraption in question can achieve in a very short burst (a couple of seconds), while the cranking Amps refer to the amperage a starter can sustain over a slightly longer period (for example, some 30 seconds).
For reference’s sake, some of the best car battery chargers (in the mid-price range) can muster around 1,000 to 1,200 peak Amps, while some of the more expensive ones can go up to 4,000 Amps.
As for the cranking Amps, they are, as a rule, much lower than the peak Amps, so if a model has, say, 1,700 peak Amps, it can deliver about 500 cranking Amps. Of course, this is just an example, as there are many different models both above and below this amperage range.
Auto-Voltage Detection System
One of the features that can make a lot of difference when it comes to the battery life of your vehicle would certainly be the automatic voltage detection system.
What this thing does is that it automatically measures the voltage in the battery you attach to the start that has this feature. Then, the microprocessor inside it will automatically adjust the necessary charge rate, so that the battery can be recharged safely and precisely.
This both prevents overcharging and extends battery life.
Interestingly, almost all the best car battery charger models according to consumer reports possess this feature.
One thing that you do not want when it comes to charging a car battery is a severe case of overvoltage.
This thing can damage the battery itself as well as the charger and in some extreme cases – it can even cause a fire.
So, jump starters with over-voltage protection will have a special circuit that will automatically shut down the flow of current when the voltage reaches a certain limit. This simple but important addition to a jump starter’s circuit can extend its lifecycle, so to speak, and also prevent disasters with your car battery, too.
This safety feature is also possessed by most commercial jump starter models that would fall into the category of the best car battery charger models according to consumer reports. (When it comes to the low-to-medium price range, of course.)
Whenever there’s high voltage involved and an ongoing flow of electrical current, you can rest assured that the temperature will rise slowly but surely, too.
Take a light bulb as an example – as the current goes through the tungsten wire, it not only gives you light, but the entire bulb starts heating up.
The same story goes for battery chargers as well as batteries themselves. As the charger refills the battery with electricity, the battery itself as well as the charger will start accumulating heat.
This is where overheating protection comes in. The inbuilt thermostat is connected to the main microprocessor, so if the temperature inside the battery charger surpasses a certain limit, the microprocessor will stop the circuit to prevent damage to the charger.
… or any type of screen, for that matter, is a massive addition to a battery charger’s arsenal of features.
The thing is, if you buy a contraption that comes with one of these screens, you can easily tell the battery level in your car battery, the state of the charging process, as well as some other parameters – depending on what features the manufacturer decided to add.
While LCD screens can be quite useful in this regard, on models that don’t come with these screens there are usually two light indicators – one for letting you know the charging process is underway, and the other which turns on when the process is complete.
How to Charge a Car Battery
While modern-day battery chargers will let you choose different parameters of the charging process itself, here we will explain how to charge a car battery with one of these contraptions in the most basic terms, so to speak.
1) Hook the Cables
To start the charging process, you first need to hook the cables from the charger to the car battery itself.
The proper way to do this would be to first connect the positive charge clamp from the charger and onto the positive battery terminal. After you’ve done this, clamp the negatively-charged clamp to the negative battery terminal.
Make sure that both of these fit well because the contact surface needs to be well established for the charging process to go smoothly.
2) Set the Charging Rate and Other Parameters
Once the cables are securely clamped to the terminals, you can set the charge rate as well as any other parameters that the contraption you’re working with allows you.
For example, if you have an available type of charging such as ‘fast’, ‘rapid’, or ‘trickle’ charging, before you hit the ‘START’ button, setting these parameters would be a good idea.
3) Set the Timer and Hit the ‘START’ Button
When it comes to starting the recharging process in a car battery, in case you have a timer on board, you may want to set that up, too.
Once everything is ready, you can start the charging process.
If you’ve set the timer beforehand, it will immediately turn the circuit off after the timer has reached its limit. If this is not the case, you may need to detach the clamps yourself.
Although timers are typically present in all modern-day battery chargers, so if you’re planning on buying a brand-new car battery charger, chances are – it will have a timer built-in on it.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1) What is the best portable car battery charger?
This depends on what sort of battery charger you need.
If we’re talking about a small, pocket-size charger, models such as NOCO Genius 10 can be an excellent choice.
On the other hand, if you need something larger and more powerful, you can go for a Schumacher model, such as the 1,600 peak Amp one that we’ve featured on our list.
2) Do car battery chargers use much electricity?
Typically, charging up a battery charger doesn’t take long and these small contraptions aren’t the biggest energy hogs out there, either. So, no need to worry about spending an arm and a leg to charge your car up.
3) How many Amps do I charge my car battery?
This depends on how fast you want to recharge your battery.
For example, most commercial battery chargers will have a standard 2-Amps per hour charge rate, which you can use for the most common charging purposes.
On the other hand, there are also chargers out there that allow you to recharge your battery at any value from 2 to 10 Amps. At 2 Amps/hour, your battery will be full in 24 hours if it’s completely flat. At 4 Amps, it will take 12 hours, and so on.
4) Can a trickle charger ruin a battery?
As their name suggests, trickle chargers are used to refill a battery at a slow rate. Typically, this is something like 1 Amp per hour, which is fairly slow.
Trickle chargers are used for smaller batteries used in motorcycles, golf carts, and similar vehicles.
As far as the safety of using trickle chargers on car batteries goes, these low-Amp chargers are perfectly safe to use, as long as you don’t leave them on for too long.
Although some trickle chargers can be left on a single battery for months, this depends from model to model, so be sure to check the instructions for the trickle charger you have to see for how long you can leave it recharging a battery.
5) Is it better to charge a battery at 2 Amps or 10 Amps?
It’s safer to charge a battery at a lower amperage, but if you need to charge a battery fast, then switching to 10 Amps will do the job sooner.
Of course, you have to make sure that you don’t overcharge the battery or that it doesn’t get overheated during the charging process.
6) What happens if the Amps are too high?
If you’ve set your charger to a high level of Amps per hour, you risk damaging the battery because the liquid inside it will start boiling.
The problem with this is that this will let out a lot of gasses into the air and potentially decrease the amount of water in the battery, which means you will need to refill it.
To prevent this, it’s better to use lower Amps when charging a battery and wait for a couple of more hours than use high Amps and charge the battery quickly, but risk overheating or overcharging it.
7) How many Amps do I need to charge a 12-Volt battery?
For regular 12V car batteries, the optimal charge rate should be around 10 Amps per hour.
You can go slower than this, but going faster than 10 is not recommended, as you may end up overcharging the battery, which will bring down its potential life cycle, so to speak.
All in all, if you own a car or a boat or a motorcycle, or any sort of vehicle that’s got a battery in it that can run out of electricity, so to speak, obtaining one of these battery chargers can be a great way to ensure that you will always be able to recharge your car quickly and easily. We hope you found this article helpful and wish you a hassle-free purchase and plenty of successful battery revivals.