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Best car battery chargers 2022: Prevent a dead battery and time-consuming car breakdown

Best car battery chargers 2022: Prevent a dead battery and time-consuming car breakdown

That sinking feeling when your engine won’t start is one of the most unwelcome emotions, but almost every driver has been there at one time or another. While a phone call to your breakdown service will solve the problem, the best car battery chargers can help you reduce the disruption to your day as you see fit.

But buying a car battery charger is not the simplest task. First, there are different types of car battery chargers to choose from. There is also a choice of connectors, depending on whether you maintain your car battery regularly or only charge it once.

From traditional car battery chargers to portable and solar powered chargers, there are options available to suit different budgets. However, buying the cheapest doesn’t always mean hitting a bargain. If you get caught with a dead battery, the last thing you want to find out is that the tool you invested in to fix the problem is a dud.

That said, read on for our buying guide on how to get the right car battery charger for you, alongside our roundup of some of the best options available.

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How to choose the best car battery charger for you?

How do car batteries work?

The electronics in our vehicles are very cleverly configured in the sense that they are almost always powered by the engine. As the crankshaft rotates, it not only forces the pistons to propel the vehicle, but also spins a dynamo at the other end. This generates electricity to power the lights and computer units and to recharge the car battery.

When a car is not being driven, energy-saving devices, such as an immobilizer or alarm, continue to use the battery, as no power is generated by the alternator. At the end of the lockdown restrictions, many drivers found that their car batteries were dead because their vehicles had not been driven for several weeks.

Car batteries are not power banks, so they do not store electricity. Without going into the science of it all, they generate the necessary energy through chemical reactions with lead acid. When a car is started, a very high current is sent to the crankshaft in a very short pulse to get it moving. The alternator then does all the work on the electricity front.

It is important to note that car battery chargers are not jump starters. A jump starter provides the motor with the short burst it needs to get it going, but from then on it’s the alternator that charges the battery. This is why, if you ever start your car, you’ll be asked to run it for a while to replace enough of the battery so that you don’t have to start right away when you start driving again immediately after.

Which car battery charger is best?

The first question to ask yourself is what do you want to use a car charger for. If you have a motorcycle or classic vehicle, you may want to buy one with eye connectors. These hook permanently to the positive and negative terminals of the battery and are secured with nuts. The battery is then connected via a cable and disconnected from the charger for easy access.

If you only need to charge once, easy-click alligator clips may be better. If you’re an apartment dweller or your parking spot isn’t connected to the mains on the street, you may need to consider a portable charger or solar charger.

For more information, see our comprehensive buyer’s guide below our mini review collection.

The best car battery chargers you can buy in 2022

1. NOCO Genius10 Smart Charger: Best Portable Car Battery Charger

Price: £130 | Buy now from Amazon

NOCO, one of the best names in the industry, is known for delivering innovative features with its battery powered devices. The compact NOCO Genius10 offers great value for money and is smart enough to monitor the ambient temperature and adjust the charging speed to prevent battery degradation.

With a vast array of modes, great build quality, and intuitive functionality, the Genius10 is a bit of a, er, genius. If the price is a little above your budget, or you have a smaller vehicle, there are other NOCO Geniuses (Genii?) with lower amperage that will provide enough for your needs.

Key specs – Size 18.3cm x 9.4cm x 6cm (LWH); Weight: 1.5kg; Tension 6V, 12V; Maximum current: 10A; IP value: IP65 Alligator Clips: Yes; Eyelet connectors: Yes; Flashlight function: No; Mains or portable: Portable; Battery Compatible: Lead Acid/AGM/Lithium+; Stop/Start Compatible: Yes; To maintain: Yes; jump start: No; Operating Temperature: 20-40 °C

2. AA 12V solar trickle charger: The best budget solar panel manager

Price: £43 | Buy now from Amazon

Do you have a vehicle that is in the sun between uses? This is a brilliant battery charger that uses solar energy so it will pay off in the end. While it won’t save you from an instant low battery situation, the solar panel sits on the dash and collects enough energy to charge the battery drop by drop.

Now low-power functions, such as the immobilizer, don’t have such a frustrating effect when you want to start the car (after unplugging it first). In addition, it switches to maintenance mode to protect the battery once it is fully charged.

Key specs – Size 44cm x 34.5cm x 6.2cm (LWH); Weight: 2.2kg; Tension 12V; Maximum current: <1A; IP value: N/A; Alligator Clips: Yes; Eyelet connectors: No; Flashlight function: No; Mains or portable: Portable; Battery Compatible: Lead Acid/AGM/Lithium+; Stop/Start Compatible: Yes; To maintain: Yes; jump start: No; Operating Temperature: Not specified

3. Ring Automotive RSC806 Smart Battery Charger: Best Cheap Battery Charger

Price: £31 | Buy now from Amazon

Ring, alongside NOCO and CTEK, has a good reputation for combining advanced technology with affordability. With a clear display, the RSC806 is lightweight and fairly intuitive to use (even if the instructions aren’t the best). Configured with ‘smart’ technology, the RSC806 not only reconditions the battery, but also features a ‘cold weather mode’ for drivers in cooler climates. Depending on your patience, budget and vehicle type, the Ring smart charger is also available in 8A and 4A versions, which are better suited for vans and city cars respectively.

Key specs – Size 18.3cm x 10.1cm x 6.3cm (LWH); Weight: 1.13kg; Tension 6V, 12V; Maximum current: 6A; IP value: IP65; Alligator Clips: Yes; Eyelet connectors: No; Mains or portable: main dishes; Battery Compatible: Lead Acid/AGM/Lithium+; Stop/Start Compatible: Yes; To maintain: Yes; jump start: No; Operating Temperature: 20-50 °C

4. CTEK (CS FREE) 12V Portable Charger: The best battery charger for versatility

Price: £286 | Buy now from Amazon

When you spend this kind of money, you want something that gets results. The CTEK (CS Free) is a portable charger and power bank. A hugely versatile device, the internal power bank that supports laptops and mobile devices as well as your car’s battery, it can deliver an ‘Adaptive Boost’ jump in up to 15 minutes and stays charged for up to a year: perfect for glove box storage.

There is an optional solar panel accessory (albeit a not so budget friendly £320 add-on) but CTEK’s reputation does not waver. The build quality of this 4-in-1 charger is brilliant and easily justifies the higher price tag.

Key specs – Size 24.8cm x 9.8cm x 7.8cm (LWH); Weight: 1.4kg; Tension 20V; Maximum current: 130A; IP value: IP65; Alligator Clips: Yes; Eyelet connectors: Yes (additional ££); Mains or portable: Portable; Battery Compatible: Lead Acid/AGM/Lithium/LFP/EFb+; Stop/Start Compatible: Yes; To maintain: Yes; jump start: Yes; Operating Temperature: -20-50 °C

5. Halfords Advanced Smart Battery Charger Plus: The best charger for easy use

Price: £45 | Buy now at Halfords

Supporting a wide range of battery types and start/stop technology, this Halfords charger makes up for what it lacks in clear instructions with its intuitive functionality, decent performance and lower price. The interface doesn’t have a fancy LED screen, just simple lights and buttons that do exactly what they say on the can.

A nice sized device that is powered by the mains, you can indicate when it is cold and the device will handle the power supply more intelligently to protect the battery. In addition, there is a choice of eyelets or crocodile connectors.

Key specs – Size 16.8cm x 6.5cm x 3.8cm (LWH); Weight: 0.6kg; Tension 12V; Maximum current: 5A; IP value: IP65; Alligator Clips: Yes; Eyelet connectors: Yes; Mains or portable: main dishes; Battery Compatible: Lead acid/gel/Lithium+; Stop/Start Compatible: Yes; To maintain: Yes; jump start: No; Operating Temperature: 10-40°C

Buy now at Halfords


Best Car Battery Chargers: Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide

What else should I think about?

You should also consider what type of battery you have: lead-acid, AGM (an advanced version of lead-acid), or lithium-ion. Some batteries are versatile enough to support multiple technologies, others less so. You often find that versatility has a direct correlation with price.

Finally, you need to consider the maximum current that the charger can support (the higher the current, the faster the charge) and what IP (Ingress Protection) rating it has. This basically tells you how dust and water resistant the device and the housing of the device are. For example, IP68 is a great rating: it’s a fully sealed unit that can be submerged in up to one meter of water. IP44 can protect against dust particles larger than 1 mm and a light splash of water.

Can’t I just replace my car battery?

The materials used in a battery are subject to degradation and user behavior (including factors such as weather and age) can affect the life of the battery’s materials.

Charging and discharging rates of cell phones, electric vehicles, and regular 12V car batteries are under intense research by manufacturers to best understand what kind of life expectancy consumers can expect from their devices. Age can give you an indication of whether the battery is completely empty, or just empty, but trying to overhaul an existing battery with a smart charger is ultimately cheaper than replacing it.