Best Car Battery Chargers – Buyer’s Guide
Of all the things to worry about regarding your motor vehicle, the battery is one of the last things you want to have to go out. Aside from the fact that it is often fairly inconvenient to replace them, it is also fairly expensive to do so as well. That is why manufacturers have developed different types of products designed to charge and maintain your batteries.
With a battery charger, you do not have to worry about changing out your vehicle’s battery every time it begins to run low. Even better, if your battery dies and leaves you stranded, many of the best car battery chargers provide a jumper function. Of course, the type of vehicle you drive and how often you intend to use your battery charger are also important.
Still, figuring out which battery charger is the best car battery charger for you can be a difficult and confusing task. That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best car battery chargers, highlighting what each one does best. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide so you can find the best car battery charger to suit your needs.
Best Car Battery Chargers of 2020
|CTEK MULTI US 7002 (Editor's Choice)||12V||+||Maintainer, Water and dust resistant||5 years, limited|
|Schumacher SE-4020-CA||6V, 12V||Heavy duty, Jump starter||3 years|
|NOCO Genius G7200||12V, 24V||+||Maintainer, Trickle charger, For dead battery, AGM||5 years, limited|
|BLACK+DECKER BC25BD||12V||+||Maintainer, Trickle charger, AGM||1 year, limited|
|Schumacher SEM-1562A-CA||6V, 12V||+||Maintainer||1 year, limited|
1. CTEK MULTI US 7002 – Best 12 Volt Car Battery Charger and Maintainer
CTEK is another brand on our list that has actually earned a near sterling reputation in the world of battery chargers. That said, this specific brand even has some other inherent built-in benefits in that not only does this brand focuses on power transferal products, it actually specializes in battery charges as well. In fact, it is worth noting that the CTEK car battery charger is a slightly modified version of OEM car battery chargers that are included with the purchase of high-end luxury cars. That said, this is a bit more narrow than some of the other car battery chargers on our list.
When it comes to car battery chargers, too many people pay far more attention to the numbers on the charger than how the charger provides energy. This usually is not much of an issue, but it can actually make a big difference depending on the battery. Some batteries are more sensitive than others and require the energy itself to be of a “higher quality” or else it could damage the battery cells. As a workaround, the CTEK MULTI US 7002 makes it a point to provide the cleanest energy possible, so you do not have to worry about whether or not the energy charging the battery.
While the CTEK MULTI US 7002 provides some of the cleanest energy out of all the car battery chargers on our list, it also has a number of failsafes to ensure that even if the energy itself is clean, no other malfunctions can damage your car battery. For instance, this car battery charger comes with reverse polarity protection, which actually protects both the car battery in question as well as the CTEK MULTI US 7002. In fact, this feature along with others, allows the CTEK MULTI US 7002 to be left in indefinitely, which is perfect for DC battery-powered electronics arrays.
- Brand: CTEK
- Model: 56-353
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 3.5 x 1.9 inches
- Item Weight: 1.76 pounds
- Voltage: 12 volts
- Is the smallest car battery charger reviewed
- Is a less expensive battery charger
- Has reverse polarity protection
- Has 8-step charging system
- Safe to leave connected
- Has 2 different connectors
- Has different modes
- Provides indicator lights
- Produces clean electricity
- Only charges single voltage
- Only charges lead acid batteries
2. Schumacher SE-4020-CA – Best Heavy Duty Car Battery Charger and Jump Starter
Schumacher is a fairly well-established company in the car battery charger market that has earned one of the better reputations. Part of the reason for this reputation comes from the fact that the company not only makes a solid product, but they do so at different levels of the market. For instance, there is a fairly big difference between what someone who needs a car battery charger for their own personal car and someone who needs a car battery charger for larger vehicles, numerous different types of vehicles, or simply a large number of batteries for whatever person. This is where the Schumacher SE-4020-CA comes into play and is why it is rated as the best industrial car battery charger on our list.
One thing that most people forget about when they consider industrial car battery chargers is the fact that there are a multitude of different types of batteries out there. While industrial car battery chargers may have been made to handle serious levels of amperes and voltages, they are also often designed to simply handle virtually every vehicular battery you might run across. That is why the Schumacher SE-4020-CA can actually charge batters that feature 2 different voltages and can do charging at an astounding 4 different amperages. This means that regardless the battery output or its input limitations, the Schumacher SE-4020-CA should be able to charge nearly any and every large voltage battery that you come across.
While the sheer number of options with the Schumacher SE-4020-CA is impressive, just as impressive with this car battery charger is its build quality. Many of the other car battery chargers we reviewed have opted for a smaller, more portable profile to make them more attractive to the average consumer. Of course, someone who needs an industrial car battery charger is likely not the average consumer. That is why the size and weight of this car battery charger is actually a benefit to its intended market as opposed to inconvenient to the average consumer. On top of that, this car battery charger also has a built-in, included dolly to make moving the Schumacher SE-4020-CA from one place to another much easier.
- Brand: Schumacher
- Model: SE-4020-CA
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 13.6 x 19.7 inches
- Item Weight: 31.4 pounds
- Charges 2 different voltages
- Charges 4 different amperages
- Has its own dolly
- Has a cooling fan
- Comes with numerous charge settings
- Easy to use
- More durable than most
- Has an amperage gauge
- Has a timer
- Is the most expensive car battery charger reviewed
- Is the largest car battery charger reviewed
3. NOCO Genius G7200 – Best Smart Trickle Car Battery Charger for 12V Dead Batteries
NOCO may not be the most well-known brand on our list, but it does offer some legitimate benefits that you just will not find on every product. Even better, this is a brand that at least specializes in battery chargers and their accessories. That said, the quality of this brand should not surprise anyone since they have been in existence, creating similar products along this technology track for over a century. Still, the NOCO ends up making our list for their car battery charger that is best used in the water.
While there are specifically marine battery chargers out there, they are often significantly more expensive than car battery chargers due to the smaller, niche market. If you would like to save some cash while still getting a stellar product, NOCO Genius G7200 was designed to serve double duty as both a land and sea battery charger and even makes it a point to advertise this. The reason that the NOCO Genius G7200 is so well-suited to this task is because it features an IP65 rating. What this means is that the NOCO Genius G7200 can withstand jets of water splashed on it. While this is not a submersion level of protection, it should be plenty for most water activities.
Another benefit of the NOCO Genius G7200 is the fact they make one for pretty much every battery used for a commercial vehicle. While you may not be able to recharge an industrial vehicle with the NOCO Genius G7200, there are 2 different voltages and 7 different amperages to choose from–though you will need to purchase a separate car battery charger for each rating. Beyond the electrical states it can handle, the NOCO Genius G7200 is also compatible with numerous charging systems that extend well beyond simply the vehicular setting. It also does not hurt that the compact design of this car battery charger makes it easy to take on the go.
- Brand: NOCO
- Model: G7200
- Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 5 inches
- Item Weight: 3.5 pounds
- Batteries: 1 Lithium Metal batteries
- Folding: No
- Cover Included: G7200 UltraSafe Battery Charger, Battery Clamps, Eyelet Terminals, User Guide, 5-Year Limited Warranty
- Amperage: 7.2 A
- Voltage: 12 volts
- Can charge 2 different voltages
- Comes in 7 amperages
- Compatible with numerous charging systems
- Charges quicker than most
- Has an incredibly compact design
- Features numerous indicators
- Has 2 different connectors
- Is IP65 water resistant
- Has reverse polarity protection
- Is a more expensive car battery charger
- Does not charge drained battery
4. BLACK+DECKER BC25BD – Best Portable Car Battery Charger for AGM Batteries
When it comes to car battery chargers, BLACK+DECKER is likely not the first name that you think of. Though the brand has a bit of a mixed reputation, it is still one of the most popular brands available – usually in part due to their ability to provide products at a significantly lower cost than most of their competitors, though that does not necessarily apply to this situation. To make matters trickier, BLACK+DECKER does not specialize in either car battery chargers or power management products.
Arguably, the best reason to choose the BLACK+DECKER BC25BD is the fact that over the course of time and through repeated uses, it can actually improve the efficiency and lifespan of your battery. Basically, the BLACK+DECKER BC25BD can alter how it distributes the power to your battery such that the cells which were otherwise depleted will shake off some of the contaminants and be usable once again. That said, this will not take a completely depleted battery and restore it life once again, but it will still be able to help usable batteries keep their life a little bit longer than they otherwise would have and is not a feature found on even some of the more renowned products we reviewed.
Considering that BLACK+DECKER is a brand that is designed for consumers and not professionals, it only makes sense that they would spend a bit more time providing a number of features that can make their product stand out from the pack – even if those features do not actually improve the product at a fundamental level. That said, these features are legitimately useful for consumers who might not want to fool with the issues. For instance, the BLACK+DECKER BC25BD comes with both a jump start feature to jump start your vehicle when the battery is dead and an alternator checking feature to make sure that the battery is the problem in the first place.
- Brand: BLACK+DECKER
- Model: BC25BD
- Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 14.8 x 5.8 inches
- Item Weight: 8.25 pounds
- Amperage: 25 A
- Voltage: 12 volts
- Is fairly compact
- Is a less expensive car battery charger
- Comes in 2 amperages
- Reconditions old batteries
- Has 3 separate charge settings
- Has reverse polarity protection
- Comes with an LCD display
- Provides alternator check
- Has jump start feature
- Can only charge 12V batteries
- Battery reader is finicky
5. Schumacher SEM-1562A-CA – Best Cheap Car Battery Charger for Home
When it comes to power management, there are few companies that saw which are able to compete with the sheer gravitas of Schumacher. That said, it should be noted that Schumacher does not actually specialize in car battery chargers, though they do specialize in different power management products like power converters and testing products. Still, Schumacher is definitely a cut above most and is able to not only provide some of the best car battery chargers but do so at significantly lower costs than many of their competitors.
Even though the Schumacher SEM-1562A-CA is by far the least expensive product that we reviewed, it actually offers some legitimately impressive control features. That said, it is not the control settings that are impressive but the mechanism which allows them. Specifically, the Schumacher SEM-1562A-CA comes with a microprocessor that can keep track of the different energy readings within the battery to make sure that the car battery charger does not supply electricity with readings that could potentially damage the battery. Thankfully, the microprocessor also has the advantage of allowing the Schumacher SEM-1562A-CA to charge at different levels.
This microprocessor in the Schumacher SEM-1562A-CA actually does more than simply track the energy readings–it also has one of the more rare types of protection that we saw. Basically, this car battery charger is able to withstand higher temperatures than most of the others on our list–which is a big deal as that is arguably the most common type danger facing a car battery charger. On top of that, the microprocessor is also able to make sure that the Schumacher SEM-1562A-CA does not run the risk of overcharging the battery, so you can leave connected the whole time. The microprocessor essentially gives the Schumacher SEM-1562A-CA car battery charger the ability to have multiple charge settings.
- Brand: Schumacher
- Model: SEM-1562A
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 7.5 x 11 inches
- Item Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Amperage: 1.5 A
- Voltage: 6, 12 volts
- Folding: No
- Vehicle Service Type: Motorcycle, snowmobiles, all-terrain-vehicles
- Is the least expensive battery charger reviewed
- Can charge 2 different voltages
- Has different charge settings
- Has 2 different connectors
- Is a more compact car battery charger
- Has a microprocessor
- Charges quicker than some
- Safe to leave connected
- Has temperature protection
- Only provides a single amperage
- Designed to mostly maintain
While all of the products that we reviewed are ostensibly car battery chargers, some of them may actually be a bit more specialized in its function and, though it can certainly charge a car battery, is actually intended to be used for other tasks. Quite often, this has more to do with how the car battery charger interacts with the battery when it is at different levels of being charged. The important thing to remember is that not all types of battery chargers are intended to charge a battery that is completely drained. Similarly, some battery chargers are meant to be used on older batteries that might otherwise be on their last leg.
Maintainer – This is the “middle ground” when it comes to the different types of battery chargers. It will not recharge a completely drained battery like a standard battery charger will, nor will it focus on heavily at restoring the batteries cells to their former state. Instead, this type of battery charger is meant to keep a battery that still has some juice left in it from completely running out as well a providing some cell maintenance while it does. Keep in mind, this type of battery charger cannot usually handle some of the more extreme types of battery issues. On top of that, individual models are often limited in the type of batteries they can charge.
Charger – This is the standard type of battery charger and the one that most people should look for unless you have a fairly particular circumstance. This type of charger comes in the most varied permutations, including the most different types of batteries, the most voltages, and the most amperages. Ultimately, if you have any kind of car battery, then there is a standard charger out there that can handle it. One of the great things about a standard car battery charger is that they are designed to be able to charge a battery that has been completely changed. On top of that, standard car battery chargers are often less expensive than some of their counterparts, and they are also made for a wider range of vehicles than some of the other types of car battery chargers.
Restorer – This is the least common type of battery charger, and, in truth, the charging function is simply a necessity of this product’s actual function. Essentially, a restorer is able to break down the various contaminant build-ups in the battery’s cells so that they can once again consistently hold an electric charge. This is usually accomplished through various manipulations of the charging energy, which then either realigns the cell’s constituents or breaks down the byproducts. This is generally the most expensive type of car battery charger and is truly only necessary if you have a large number of vehicles and batteries that will regularly need to be restored and charged. If you do not own a fleet of vehicles or have other uses for that many batteries, then this is not a worthwhile purchase.
The different voltages that a car battery charger can put out will have a big impact on whether or not it is appropriate to use with your vehicle. For instance, car battery chargers are used to charge the batteries for more than just cars. Trucks and even marine crafts all use car battery chargers–though many of them may actually use a battery that is not the standard 12V that a car will generally use.
Thankfully, there are plenty of car battery chargers on the market that provide a wide range of different battery voltages that it can distribute. In fact, there are plenty of battery chargers can charge voltages as low as 6V and as high as 48V. This means that car battery chargers can conceivable service vehicles ranging from as big as industrial vehicles to smaller vehicles like go-karts or other smaller vehicles.
Much like with voltages, there is a wide range of amperages that different batteries required. That said, much like the wide range of voltages that a car battery charger can provide, so too do many car battery chargers have the option of distributing the electricity with different amperages. Sometimes the car battery charger will be able to differentiate this on its own, whereas other times, you might need to know what amperage the battery requires and set the car battery charger to that amperage.
It is worth noting that the different amperages will also affect how quickly the car battery charger will charge the battery. That said, you must still be careful because there are plenty of batteries out there with a maximum amperage rating, at which point it can be dangerous to charge the battery beyond. In this instance, you can risk damaging the battery or the charger, and it is not at all unheard of that the car battery charger even begins to smoke when pushing too high of amperages.
This is a feature that can greatly improve the car battery charger performance, but it is not, strictly speaking, necessary. Essentially, a car battery charger with different charge phases is able to first read the electrical signals from the battery and decode that information to determine what kind of state the battery is in. The car battery charger will then adjust its charge setting to best accommodate the state of the battery so that it responds to any potential issues.
The most common type of phase beyond simply charging that comes with car battery chargers that have multiple charging phases is the maintenance phase, which, despite its name, does not always actually provides the battery with any restorative benefits. Instead, a maintenance charging stage identifies what the idle amperage of the battery is – the amount of energy the battery inherently releases when plugged up but not powering – and keeps providing that amount to top it off without ever overcharging it.
Back in the day, if you wanted to charge a battery, there was a pretty good chance that the battery charger was nearly as large as the battery itself. This made it fairly difficult to keep a battery charger on hand with you. Thankfully, with today’s progression of technology, car battery chargers have been miniaturized to the point that they can often fit in the palm of your hand. However, this compact size actually presents more benefits than simple convenience.
For instance, many situations where you may need to charge a car battery do not even involve vehicles. There are numerous circumstances where a car battery may power an unrelated electronics array. In this situation, you may want to keep a maintenance car battery charger connected to it at all times. With a smaller car battery charger, this is much easier to do and makes moving the arry easier as well.
Unlike the batteries that they charge, car battery chargers are not always the most protected against intrusion by the outside elements. Considering the bulk of a car battery charger is simply wires and circuit board as well as the power transformer, which actually changes the AC input electricity into DC output electricity for the battery. As such, if a car battery charger is not properly protected, it can become damaged and fail when exposed to the elements.
In this instance, your 2 biggest concerns are water and dust. Keep in mind, heat can also be a problem, but it is easily rectified by simply putting the car battery charger in a shaded area. For the water and dust, there is an IP rating system that determines how resistant to these contaminants the car battery charger is. This quality is far more important for a car battery charger that will be used to charge a battery used for a non-vehicle array of electronics.
1. How Long Does it Take to Charge a Car Battery With a Charger?
The time it takes to charge your car’s battery with a charger depends on how powerful of a charger you use. High amp chargers can charge a car’s battery relatively quickly, while low amp chargers, often called trickle chargers, will charge it slowly over a long period of time.
At the high end, a 40 amp charger can have your car battery up and running only minutes after hooking it up. At the low end, a 2 amp charger can take as much as 24 hours to charge your battery.
2. What is the Best Way to Charge a Car Battery?
When charging your car’s battery, you may need to remove it from its housing in the car. If so, you might need special tools to remove it. Otherwise, make sure all accessories and lights are off in the car before you charge it.
Make sure the charger is off, then hook the charger up to the battery with its cables. Make sure that the positive and negative cables are properly hooked to the right terminals in the battery. Now, you can turn on the charger and begin to charge the battery. Make sure to monitor the progress of the charging, and stop once your battery is charged up.
3. Can a Dead Battery Be Charged?
In most cases, a dead battery can be recharged. You may be able to get a battery running again by using jumper cables and another car’s working battery. In many cases, you’ll need a charger to get the battery running again.
Sometimes, a battery will have a dead cell. In that case, it won’t take charge even from a charger. You’ll need to replace or repair your battery if a cell is dead.
4. Can I Leave my Car Battery Charging Overnight?
You can leave your car battery charging overnight with no problems. However, make sure that the amperage you’ve set it to is low. If you’re charging at 2 amps, it may take 24 hours to charge a battery, and at 5 amps it will take around 12 hours.
In those cases, it’s fine to leave the charger on all night. But if you set the amperage too high, you risk overcharging the battery.
5. How Can I Charge my Car Battery at Home?
If you have multiple vehicles at home, you can charge your battery with jumper cables and a working car battery. This type of charging method should only be used in emergencies.
The better method for charging a battery is to use a battery charger. These devices will recharge a car battery at a variety of speeds. Owning a car battery charger can be a solid investment if it keeps you from having to buy a new battery after it loses its charge.
6. What Happens if You Leave a Car Battery Charger On Too Long?
If you leave a car battery charger on for too long, you will eventually kill the battery. This is true even if you’re using a trickle charger running on 2 amps. Of course, if you use a higher amperage, you’re at risk of overcharging your battery even quicker.
A substance called electrolyte is what allows your battery to be conductive. An electrolyte usually is in liquid form, but overcharging the battery causes hydrogen and oxygen to become gasses. If the battery overcharges for too long, these gasses build up within the battery and eventually cause the battery to burst.
7. How Often Should You Charge Your Car Battery?
If you drive your car regularly, there’s usually no need to charge it additionally. When the car is running, the alternator is charging the battery. Even driving your car once a week should mean you don’t need to charge it.
If the car sits for weeks or more without being driven, you may have to charge it to get it back to a proper voltage. If a car is going to sit undriven for a long period of time, charging it every month or so is a good idea.
8. How Long Does it Take a Car Battery to Recharge Itself?
It will depend on the amperage of the charger you use. You can charge a battery anywhere from minutes to over 24 hours, depending on the amperage of your charge.
Another factor is how dead or drained the battery is. If the battery is only slightly below the recommended voltage, it will charge up more quickly than a battery, which is completely dead.
9. Can You Overcharge a Car Battery With a Charger?
You absolutely can overcharge a battery while using a car charger. It’s important to set the proper amperage on your charger and know how much time it will take to charge the battery.
If you leave the charger running indefinitely, you will eventually destroy the battery. Over time, a chemical reaction causes gasses to expand in the battery, and these gasses both damage the battery’s interior and can eventually cause it to burst.
10. Is It OK to Leave a Car Battery Charger Plugged In?
It’s perfectly fine to leave a battery charger plugged in. In fact, if you’re using a relatively low amperage charge, it’s going to take 12 to 24 hours to charge your battery. You’re probably not going to want to sit around waiting for it to charge up.
While it’s okay to leave the car battery charger plugged in, you need to be mindful of not overcharging your car’s battery. Overcharging too much will blow the battery out and render it permanently dead. Consult a guide to see how much time you need to charge at your preferred level of amperage.
11. What Percent Should a Car Battery Be At?
A car battery at 100% charge should be in the range of 13.7 to 13.8 volts. The exact voltage can vary depending on the model of battery, but this is a safe estimate in most cases.
When a battery has dropped to around 12.4 volts, that’s about 75% capacity. At 12 volts, a battery is running at 25% capacity, and by the time it hits around 11.9 volts, it is completely discharged.
You can take a voltage reading in order to gauge your battery’s voltage level and recharge it if it’s dropped below 12.4 volts.
12. How Do You Know When Your Car Battery is About to Die?
There are a number of symptoms that can warn you that your battery is about to die. One common symptom is dim headlights, running lights, or any other lights in your car. Another is observing a clicking noise when you try to start your car.
If your battery needs to be jumped or recharged after sitting overnight, that’s another sign you might need a replacement battery in the near future. Needing to give your car gas while starting it, or a slow crank at ignition are both signs that your battery might be nearing the end of its shelf life.
13. How Can I Charge my Car Battery While Driving?
If you’re out on the road or parked remotely and have battery trouble, jumping your battery is usually your best option. If you have a pair of jumper cables and can enlist the help of another motorist, you can quickly jump your battery back to life.
For this reason, it’s always wise to carry jumper cables in your trunk. It’s easy to leave your lights on, or the car door cracked when parking somewhere, especially if you’re in a hurry. If your battery dies, it’s far better to jump it with cables than have to call an auto professional to come out and jump the battery for you.
14. How Long Should I Drive to Charge my Car Battery?
The amount of time you need to drive to charge your car’s battery depends on how long you plan to let it sit. If you’re driving at regular intervals, even driving for a couple of minutes is enough to keep your battery running just fine.
If you’re going to let the car sit for a week or more, it’s best to drive it for around 20 minutes. Driving for at least 15 minutes will give the car’s alternator time to get the battery back to a good level of charge. This should last you for at least a week, if not longer.
15. Does Charging a Car Battery Damage It?
Properly charging a car’s battery will put some minimal wear on the battery, but nothing significant. Using jumper cables and another working battery can put wear on your alternator, but that’s a separate issue. Because of the risk of alternator damage, you’re better off using a car battery charger than jumper cables to recharge a battery.
Overcharging a car battery will do damage to the battery. Leaving a charger hooked up for too long will eventually blow out the battery, leaving you needing to replace it.
16. Can Trickle Chargers Damage Battery?
There’s a misconception out there that trickle chargers can’t overcharge or damage a battery. The thinking is that the amperage is low enough that you can run it indefinitely with no problems. This is false. A trickle charger can damage a battery if it runs too long.
Any car battery charger will eventually damage a battery if it’s left on past the optimum charging point. There’s a separate type of charger called a float charger or a maintainer. This device charges your battery up to a certain point and then switches off, preventing overcharging.
17. How Many Years Does a Car Battery Last?
The standard battery has an expected lifespan of around 5 to 7 years. Keep in mind that this is only an average – Some batteries end up lasting ten years or more. Others will fail and need replacement in fewer than five years.
The way you treat your battery can have a big impact on its shelf life. If you leave your car idle and undriven for long periods of time, this can lessen a battery’s lifespan.
18. Should I Charge a New Car Battery?
There’s no need to charge brand-new car batteries. Car batteries are sold with the charge fairly close to 100% and are ready to drive with as-is.
If you’re especially worried, there’s nothing wrong with taking a voltage reading on a new battery you buy. It’s possible, though unlikely that it somehow lost charge between manufacture and sale. But this is a fairly unlikely scenario.
19. What Voltage Is Low For a Car Battery?
The point at which you can consider your car’s battery voltage as low is under 12.4 volts. 12.4 volts usually is the point where a battery is around 75% charged. You want to keep it at or above 12.4 volts if possible.
That’s not to say a car won’t run if the battery is below 12.4 volts. While you may see some signs that the battery is on the verge of going dead, your battery will work below that threshold. By the time it hits 11.9 volts, your battery’s charge is dead, and it will need to be recharged before you can drive it.
20. Can You Drive a Car With a Dead Battery?
You may be able to drive a car with a dead battery for a little while, but it’s not a good idea. If your battery is dead, it’s possible that you’ll be able to start your car by jumping it off another working battery and even drive it.
But in doing so, you’re going to be putting a strain on your alternator. Eventually, you could damage the alternator and will have to pay more to get an alternator replaced than you would buy a new battery. Not to mention, you will be stranded at whatever point you turn off the engine unless you can get another jump.
21. How Do I Keep My Car Battery Charged?
The best and easiest way to keep your car battery charged is to drive your car regularly. When you drive your car, the alternator charges up the battery, unless there’s something wrong with the battery that keeps it from holding a charge.
If you can’t drive your car regularly, you can use a car battery charger to bring your charge back to ideal levels. You can also use a device like a battery maintainer to keep your charge level at 100% levels.
22. Will Car Battery Die if Not Used?
Over time, your car’s battery will die if the car isn’t used. The reason this happens is that the chemical reactions by which batteries give power continue to happen even if the battery isn’t actively being used. It happens far more slowly, but the battery continues to give out power and will eventually drain.
When you drive your car, the alternator recharges the battery, recharging any lost power over time. Keep in mind that in order to keep your battery charged, you need to drive the car. Simply leaving it to idle won’t engage the alternator and recharge the battery.
23. How Often Does a Car Battery Need to Be Replaced?
There isn’t necessarily a set time period for replacing a battery. The short answer is that you’ll need to replace the battery when it dies and can’t be recharged. But you can’t necessarily know when that’s going to happen.
As a rule of thumb, most batteries last in the five to seven-year range. If you’re planning for your budget or routine maintenance, any time after five years is a reasonable time to expect to have to replace your battery. But this isn’t set in stone. You might find that your current battery will last for years past that date.
24. How Do You Know if Your Car Needs a New Battery?
If you have a battery charger and are comfortable using it, you can recharge a battery that has lost its charge. The point at which you’ll need to replace the battery is when the battery is no longer able to hold a charge even when you recharge it using the charger.
This can often be the result of a dead cell within the battery. When this happens, unless you’ve got the expertise to open up a battery and fix it, the battery is dead. We don’t recommend trying to fix a battery in this way unless you have lots of previous experience working with batteries in this way.
25. Can You Overcharge a Car Battery?
It’s possible to overcharge a battery. Once the battery reaches its maximum recommended voltage, any additional charging will begin to wear out and damage the battery. For most batteries, 13.7 volts to 13.8 volts is 100% charged.
If you charge beyond that point, you will start to create excess gasses within the battery, which causes some problems. If you keep charging, you’ll blow the battery out and render it permanently ruined.
26. What is the Maximum Charging Voltage for a 12 Volt Battery?
While you’re charging your battery, the voltage can reach levels as high as 15 or 16 volts in the short term. This is okay, and won’t harm your battery as long as you don’t maintain those levels for more than a brief period of time.
When charging your battery, you don’t want the voltage to exceed 14.4 volts for more than 8 hours. And you don’t want the voltage to be above 13.8 volts for more than a 24 hour period. As long as you keep the voltage under those levels and time thresholds, you won’t do any damage to your battery while charging it.
As we can see, there is no product that will satisfy everyone as the best car battery charger due to the different types of chargers as well as the different needs of potential consumers. The charger that someone needs to charge large industrial vehicles is not at all the same kind of car battery charger someone would look for if they simply needed to recharge the battery in their own car.
For the former, we recommend the Schumacher SE-3000 with its sheer range of options. With the various voltages and amperages, there is a good chance that even though this was designed to be used as an industrial car battery charger, it can actually charge much smaller batteries. On top of that, it is by far the most durable product we reviewed.
Of course, for the average consumer, the Schumacher SE-3000 is simply more than they need and actually quite inconvenient for their purposes. In this case, we recommend the CTEK MULTI US 7002, which though it has a narrow range of use, is ideal for most consumer purposes. The various options and precautions make this a great car battery charger for your everyday vehicle.