What Are The Best Car Battery Chargers? – 2020 Reviews

Best Car Battery Charger

You need your vehicles to be charged up whether it’s the dead of winter or the heat of summer, you’ll need a powerful car battery charger as your backup plan. If you’re like most people, however, you don’t know what makes for a good battery charger.

In this article, we’ll explain what you should care about when you’re shopping for a battery charger. We’ll also review a handful of the best battery chargers on the market and let you know what makes each great.

Quick Picks: Compare Our Top 3 Favorite Car Battery Chargers 2020

Best Overall
Ampeak 2/8/15A 12V Smart Battery Charger/Maintainer Automatic with Winter Mode
Best Cheap Option
Foval Automatic Trickle Battery Charger 12V 1000mA Smart Battery Charger
Best Value for the Money
Schumacher SC1281 6/12V Fully Automatic Battery Charger and 30/100A Engine Starter with Advanced...
Ampeak 2/8/15A 12V Smart Battery Charger/Maintainer Automatic with Winter Mode
Foval Automatic Trickle Battery Charger 12V 1000mA Smart Battery Charger
Schumacher SC1281 6/12V Fully Automatic Battery Charger and 30/100A Engine Starter with Advanced...
$61.99
$18.98
$79.94
Best Overall
Ampeak 2/8/15A 12V Smart Battery Charger/Maintainer Automatic with Winter Mode
Ampeak 2/8/15A 12V Smart Battery Charger/Maintainer Automatic with Winter Mode
$61.99
Best Cheap Option
Foval Automatic Trickle Battery Charger 12V 1000mA Smart Battery Charger
Foval Automatic Trickle Battery Charger 12V 1000mA Smart Battery Charger
$18.98
Best Value for the Money
Schumacher SC1281 6/12V Fully Automatic Battery Charger and 30/100A Engine Starter with Advanced...
Schumacher SC1281 6/12V Fully Automatic Battery Charger and 30/100A Engine Starter with Advanced...
$79.94

Factors to Consider when Choosing the Best Car Battery Charger

Now that you know about several of the best car battery chargers on the market, it’s time to learn about the factors to consider when you’re trying to find a battery charger to purchase.

Charging Capacity

Chargers have a finite charging capacity because they only hold a limited amount of electricity.

Furthermore, car battery chargers need to reserve some of their charging capacity to make sure that the vehicle continues to charge even when the proportional charge remaining in the charger is lower than the charge in the charging battery.

More charging capacity means that your car battery will charge faster, too. You shouldn’t optimize for charging capacity as the only feature to look for, however. If your vehicles do not have large car batteries, they don’t need a massive car charger to charge them.

You can carry around a larger charger than your vehicle needs, but there is a consequence. In other words, there is a tradeoff between charging speed and charge capacity with regard to weight.

The more potent the charger’s maximum capacity and charging rate, the bulkier and heavier the charger will be.

Safety Features

Safety features are critical for car chargers because if you misuse them, car chargers can cause you serious harm. There are several safety features which you should look for when you’re shopping for a car battery charger, including:

  • Reverse charge protection
  • Overheating protection
  • Overcharging protection
  • Over discharging protection

Safety features include features which protect your car’s battery, too. Each of these features serves a different purpose. Reverse charge protection ensures that you have placed the charging clamps properly, preventing you from getting a nasty shock.

Overheating protection ensures that the charger itself will not explode or catch on fire during rapid charging.

Similarly, overcharging protection protects the battery from overheating and exploding if it is being charged beyond its maximum capacity by the charger.

In contrast, over-discharging protection rate-limits the charger so that it doesn’t fry the wiring during rapid charging — or do anything worse than give you a nasty shock if you accidentally touch a contact.

As always, you shouldn’t rely on these safety features, but they can protect you if you make a mistake or if there is a fault with the charger.

Ease of Use

The ease of use is a critical feature of a car battery charger. Chargers that are easy to use are safer to use because there is a much lower chance of you making a mistake as a result of being confused.

You will also appreciate chargers that are easy to use because they don’t require practice before putting them into action. When your vehicle’s battery is dead, and you’re in a rush out the door, an easy to use car battery charger will work with you rather than against you.

Ease of use has several constituent factors. These factors include the quality of the instruction set, the clarity of the user interface, and the audio and visual cues which the charger uses to help you through the charging process.

The best chargers have unambiguous and comprehensive instruction sets as well as clear and easy to understand user interfaces.

They also provide you with an abundance of signals which help you understand how far along the charging process is and whether you’re charging at maximum efficiency.

Car Battery Charger Reviews

In this section, we’ll describe several chargers to you while highlighting the things that make them worthwhile. We’ll start the section with our pick for the best overall car battery charger on the basis of the features without regard for the price.

Best Overall – Ampeak 2/8/15A 12 Volt Smart Battery Charger/Maintainer Automatic with Winter Mode

The Ampeak battery charger is exceptionally capable because it’s easy to use and extremely reliable.

Pros

  • Good interface
  • Optimized for winter conditions
  • Configurable charging rate
  • Rapid charge mode

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Minimal instruction set

When you use the Ampeak battery charger, you don’t need to worry about struggling with an inscrutable interface or a lackluster charging rate. The Ampeak charger will help you to know when a car battery is ready for repair work.

Furthermore, with the Ampeak charger, you’ll have a set of intelligent cues which help you to avoid mishaps like an overheated battery. When the charger itself is low on power, the capacity meter will let you know how much the voltage inflows are flagging.

The only notable downside to the Ampeak unit is that it is very heavy. If you’re going to leave your charger in the back of the truck, however, the weight won’t be a problem.

Best Cheap Option – Foval Automatic Trickle Battery Charger 12 Volt 1000mA Smart Battery Charger

If you want a battery charger that won’t break the bank, the Foval Automatic Trickle charger is a great choice that won’t feel like a compromise.

Pros

  • Charges vehicles as well as other batteries
  • Lightweight
  • 2-year warranty
  • Automatically provides maintenance voltage to full car batteries

Cons

  • Small maximum capacity
  • Difficult to use
  • Weak interface

The Foval Automatic Trickle charger is notable because you can use it to charge things other than your car. You can charge your ATV, lawnmower, backup generator, and other equipment.

The main issue with this charger is that it is difficult to use on account of its poor interface. If you don’t know what you need to do and roughly how to do it before picking up the charger, you will struggle to get the charger to do what you want.

You won’t struggle with this charger if you read the instructions before trying to charge your vehicle or devices, however. The interface of the unit is not informative, and the charger’s automated features do not completely remove the burden from the operator.

Best Value – Schumacher SC1281 6/12V Fully Automatic Battery Charger and 30/100A Engine Starter with Advanced Diagnostic Testing

The Schumacher battery charger is a powerful tool for professional mechanics thanks to its extensive feature set and durability.

Pros

  • Includes jump start capability
  • Meets highest safety standards
  • Compatible with most kinds of car batteries
  • Includes alternator check features

Cons

  • Awkward shape
  • Not powerful enough to start some very large trucks
  • Not for amateurs

The bells and whistles on the Schumacher battery charger makes it one of the safest and most comprehensive chargers around. The Schumacher can jump start most small vehicles easily.

The Schumacher charger has multi-stage charging velocities, automatic voltage detection, and reverse hookup protection. The reverse hookup protection is exceptionally valuable for professionals because it will protect them from making silly mistakes at the end of a long day.

The Schumacher may struggle to jump-start larger vehicles like trucks, however. For everything up to large SUVs, the Schumacher is more than sufficient — but the maximum capacity won’t be enough to fully charge your battery in trucks or other large vehicles, either.

Honorable Mention – GOOLOO 800A Peak 18000mAh SuperSafe Car Jump Starter with USB Quick Charge

The GOOLOO car starter and battery charger is a compact and eye-pleasing unit which is our first honorable mention for our favorite car battery charger.

Pros

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • USB-capable
  • Also charges your phone
  • Compatible with most vehicles
  • Includes flashlight

Cons

  • Probably not powerful enough to charge a yacht as claimed
  • Fragile
  • Inscrutable interface

The GOOLOO is notable for its plethora of handy everyday features. These features include an LED flashlight, a phone charger, and a quick battery charging capability.

While you can’t charge your battery and your iPhone at the same time due to the rate-limited battery discharge, you can still charge both items rapidly when the time is right. Compact cars, motorcycles, and light watercraft are the ideal vehicles to charge with this unit.

Some of the marketing claims on this battery charger are not accurate, however. You probably can’t charge the battery on your yacht or flatbed truck using this battery charger. For your phone, iPad, and a car battery, the GOOLOO will do the trick.

Second Honorable Mention – 2/10/25A 12 Volt Smart Battery Charger/Maintainer

Our second honorable mention for the best car charger is the TowerTop Smart Battery Charger and Maintainer. The TowerTop is exceptional because it protects you from short circuits, overheating, and reverse current accidents.

Pros

  • Over-current protection
  • Reverse-current protection
  • Overheating protection
  • Over-discharge protection

Cons

  • Weak 7-stage charging feature
  • The adjustable handle is uncomfortable to move

The main appeal of the TowerTop charger is that it will protect amateur users from causing harm to themselves or their car batteries. The TowerTop charger is fully capable of charging any consumer-grade vehicle, and it will help you through the process at every step of the way.

The throughput of this battery charger is sufficient to charge your vehicle rapidly and safely. Each of the features on the interface helps you to use the charger correctly.

Whenever you are at risk for overcharging or overheating your battery, the unit will help you with audio and visual cues.

The problem with this unit is that the cooling fan breaks after a relatively small number of cycles. You can purchase a replacement fan and replace the fan yourself with little difficulty, but it may be more trouble than a professional user is willing to tolerate.

Third Honorable Mention – BLACK + DECKER BC6BDW Fully Automatic 6 Amp Battery Charger

Overall, based on the experiences we’ve noticed and from those of other customers, we’re pleased with this portable battery charger and highly recommend it.

Pros

  • Comes with both cables and DC outlet
  • Works in freezing temperatures
  • Waterproof, dustproof, and well-sealed
  • Works on marine batteries

Cons

  • Concerns over the short life span

This portable car battery charger comes with a six or two amp option. It’s compatible with all AGM, GEL, or WET auto or marine batteries. The battery this hooks up to must have a 12 volt battery voltage.

It’s a fully automatic charging battery charger with high-frequency charging, and low AC voltage offers the maximum performance even when using it with extension cords.

The battery charger has an IP67 rating, which means it’s certified as sealed, waterproof, and dustproof so it can handle itself regardless of the conditions or elements. It comes with built-in circuit protection to prevent overcharging and for reverse polarity protection, so there is no short-circuiting or any severe problems.

This BLACK + DECKER battery charger comes with two different ways for you to connect. You get a 12 volt DC accessory plug that you can plug into your car’s cigarette lighter or DC port. It also comes with battery clamps and a hanging hook with magnetic backing to make the entire process easier and hands-free.

We’re firm believers in trusting specific jobs to companies that you know and respect. BLACK + DECKER has our respect, and we know that every product BLACK + DECKER put out does it’s job and does it well. The company understands how troubling a dead battery is and what a damper it can put on your life.

For that reason, they created the waterproof and easy to use BLACK + DECKER BC6BDW battery charger and maintainer. This fully automatic charger makes it easy for you to charge and maintain a full charge on your automotive and marine batteries.

Due to its high-frequency charging technology, it’s as simple as plugging it in and walking away. When you come back, you’ll find a fully charged battery that is ready to go.

Since this has waterproof charging, you can charge your car batteries no matter where you are. This factor is especially crucial for those looking to charge a marine battery. If you’re stuck out on the water in the rain, the last thing you want to do is send for help.

The same goes for automotive situations as well. If you’re stuck on the side of the road, you can hook up your BLACK + DECKER charger and get yourself out of a bad situation quickly.

It’s essential to also keep in mind the power of the charger. One customer stated that his battery died during minus 20-degree temperatures. This person plugged their battery charger into the cigarette lighter, and in no time, he had his vehicle back on the road.

You never know when you’ll need something like this, so it never hurts to keep one in your vehicle for emergencies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

In this section, we’ll answer a handful of the most frequently asked questions regarding car chargers so that you will feel prepared when you use your charger for the first time.

How safe are car chargers?

When used correctly, car chargers are safe. When misused, however, they are not safe for you or your car’s battery. Similarly, low-quality car chargers can catch fire or damage your battery when they malfunction.

Using a car battery charger safely is a matter of being careful and following the instructions of the manufacturer. You should also monitor the car battery and the car battery charger.

When the battery or the charger heats up, you should stop charging immediately if the heat appears to be causing smoking or warping of the charger or the battery.

If there is a mishap with your car battery charger, you can get a nasty shock. Keep your hands off of unprotected wires and contacts during the charging process. Pay attention to the safety features on your charger, and be careful to follow the instructions of your charger.

Especially when you are inexperienced with battery charging, you should take care to only touch the battery charger and the battery of your vehicle with one hand.

If you use both hands, there is a chance that you will touch a negative contact and a positive contact, making a completed circuit using your body. When the current passes through your body, it can kill you by stopping your heart.

If you only use one hand to operate the charger, however, the worst you will get is a painful shock. You will only be harmed by your battery charger if you make a series of mistakes and ignore the instructions of your charger.

Likewise, you will only harm your battery if your battery charger has a severe defect or you misuse it.

How long should a battery charger take to charge an average car with an empty battery?

The answer to this question depends on the size of the car’s battery as well as the battery charger being used.

Assuming that the charger is at full capacity and the car’s battery is completely empty, a standard sedan will take about an hour to charge with a standard battery charger. Many factors can make the required time significantly longer or shorter, however.

Chargers with rapid charging capability can sometimes charge the battery to the point where a car will start in as few as 20 minutes. On the other hand, a worn battery charger can take as long as 90 minutes to charge a normal car battery fully.

If you try to charge more than one battery at the same time with a battery charger — which you probably shouldn’t be doing — the charge time is likely to be significantly longer.

The charging phase features in a battery charger also make a large impact on the speed of charging. The charging phases ensure that the battery is charging at a high rate even when the amount of charge in the battery is higher than the amount of charge in the charger.

You should also be aware that most battery chargers are much faster at charging the first half of a car battery’s charge capacity than the second half.

The reason for this property is that charge cannot diffuse from the charger to the battery without active effort on the part of the charger once the battery’s charge level is higher than the amount remaining in the charger.

Do cold temperatures impact the speed of my car battery charging up?

The ambient temperature also has an impact on the rate that the car battery charges. In the freezing cold weather, the battery will charge more slowly than in warm weather. You will find that this property remains constant across all battery chargers.

Don’t try anything crazy to heat your battery charger to make it charge faster, however. There is a much higher chance of causing a problem than fixing one when you apply an outside heating source.

In summary, the impact of ambient temperature on charging speed is not something that you can control, but it can lead to your charging times being longer.

On the bright side, cooler temperatures reduce the chance of your charger or battery overheating, which is beneficial for the battery chargers which get hot during operation.

Are there any brands of car chargers which are better than others?

No, there are not any specific brands of car battery chargers which are problematic from a quality perspective. You may want to avoid battery chargers with smaller form factors, however, as they may have more difficulties with maintaining quality as a result of their miniaturization.

Charging Up

Now that you’re up to speed on the world of car battery chargers, you’re ready to purchase a battery charger for your garage or home. Remember to read the manual before doing any charging and to stay safe by using your charger correctly.

Finally, don’t take any risks when you pick a battery charger. The best battery chargers will keep you safe and your car batteries fully charged, but the worst battery chargers might leave you injured or with a damaged battery.

Brett Gordon
 

The engine behind editing at Dig My Ride and the brains behind its build. During the day, Brett is a thirty-something dude from SoCal climbing the corporate ladder, but by night, he spends his time contributing to the online world of automotive tech & trends.