How to Choose your Car Battery Charger

Careful when connecting battery cables

A car battery charger, in colder climates, is something no one should go without, inside their car. Not only can they help to restart your vehicle, but they can also charge your mobile phone, in case of an emergency, for most models. If you are looking to buy one, you will find below all the information you need, to bring the right one home. Just don’t forget to keep it in the car, even if you normally use it inside your garage. That way, you’ll have it with you, if a problem should happen.

Why buy a Car Battery Charger?

There are many reasons why a car battery will need recharging. For those who keep their cars stored away, during winter time, chances are you will need to re-energize the battery before you can start the car. Also, sometimes, with an older battery, you may need to give it a little extra energy for it to start, as well. All you’ll need to do is attach it to the terminals of your car battery. Depending on the model and its strength, you’ll either have to wait a few minutes, or you will be able to start the car right away.

How does a Car Battery Charger work?

There are three main functions that a car battery charger can handle. It is important to know this, as it will affect your choice, according to what you need it to do. That’s because not all car battery chargers can perform the three different functions below.

Battery Maintenance

If you store your car for long periods of time (like winter), then you should get a battery car charger that will keep the battery healthy, throughout the period when you don’t use it. It basically sends small amounts of electricity to the battery, on a regular basis. This is also called: “trickle charging.”

Conventional Charging

If the battery gets low, you will need to recharge it. This operation can take up to 24 hours to be completed, but the average time is about 10 hours. You just need to keep the charger attached to the car battery until the operation is done.

Restart Function

If the car battery is dead and you need to jump-start it, it is possible to do so. However, it is not the case with all car battery chargers, as it needs to be quite powerful to send sufficient energy to restart the car. Look for a heavy-duty charger if this is the function you need.

Smart Chargers

The smart chargers combine both battery maintenance and conventional charging functions, into one. They were manufactured to be able to switch from charging mode to maintenance, when the battery they are attached to is sufficiently charged. It may seem obvious, but not all car battery chargers can do so, and if you don’t remain attentive, you can actually over-charge your battery with a conventional charger, which could cause it great damage.

How should I choose my Car Battery Charger?

Once you have decided which function you need, from the list we previously presented, then there are only a few things to keep in mind when you will be choosing your car battery charger. Here they are:

Size of the Engine on Your Car

If you drive a truck or a small car, you will need a different car battery charger, since the bigger the engine, the more powerful the charger will need to be. Make sure that the one you are looking to buy is strong enough for your car/truck model.

Battery Type

Lead-acid batteries will connect with any car battery chargers, but that is not true of gel or calcium batteries. Look inside the hood or on the car’s manual to know which one you have, before heading to the store, or buying it online.

What are the Options to look for?

Although the main function of a car battery charger is to re-energize your car battery, there are a few other functions, found on some batteries, that can be quite useful. Therefore, you should also take this into account when you make your decision on which model to buy. Here are a few you should look for.

USB Ports

Some car battery charger will come with USB ports. The more there are, the better it is (there are rarely more than two.) That way, you can actually charge your electronic equipment as you drive. This is especially useful in case of emergency, if your phone has run out of energy, which can happen quite often.


If you find yourself stuck on a road at night, and you actually have to use your car battery charger, you will find that having a flashlight will come as a relief, so you will actually be able to see what you are doing. Not all flashlights are the same, so look for the ones that have the largest variety of modes.

Safety Features

As we mentioned previously, when we discussed the variety of car battery chargers available, it is possible to overcharge your battery and cause damage to it. That is why safety features are really important on such products. They can offer polarity, overheating, overcharging and short-circuit protections, which can save your battery and keep you safe as well.


Depending on the size of the car battery charger you will buy (physically speaking, but also in terms of power), you may find other options that are less standard. For example, on a professional car battery charger, it is possible to verify the pressure on your tires, but also to use the charger as a pump.

Another element that is popular with car battery chargers’ users is a LED panel to indicate how much charge is left inside it. Since it is easy to forget to recharge them, this panel acts as a great reminder. It can also indicate the charge left inside your car battery.

You are now ready to choose the right car battery charger, that will respond to your need. Just keep in mind that they are not all made equal, and you may need a more powerful one, according to the vehicle you drive.


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