While a portable jump starter is worth buying, you also want to get a portable car battery charger. A jump starter provides instant power (CCA) to turn over an engine. Once the car starts running, its alternator begins to charge the battery. A car battery charger or plug-in unit, on the other hand, charges car batteries using AC from a wall outlet.
What to Look For in a Car Battery Charger
Car battery chargers do a lot more than just charge car batteries. They can also double as battery maintainers (trickle chargers), float chargers, and battery desulfators, among others. We’ve compiled the best smart car battery trickle chargers. Here’s what we looked at (and so should you):
- Battery Type: Popular car battery types include Lithium, AGM, GEL, flooded or wet batteries, maintenance-free Calcium batteries, EFB (Enhanced Flooded Battery), and Automotive AGM. Ensure that your preferred car battery charger supports your car battery type.
- Use Case: Car battery chargers can either be used to charge (from flat to full) or maintain (top up/trickle charge) car batteries. Some car battery chargers are best for charging, others for maintenance, and some can both charge and maintain your car batteries.
- Ampere Hour (Ah) Rating: Ah rating shows how many Amperes of current your battery dispenses per hour or how many Amperes of current your charger delivers per hour. This information can be found on your car battery and car battery charger. Ensure that the charger is at least 10 percent of your car battery’s stated Ah rating, e.g five Amperes for a 50Ah car battery.
- Supported Voltage: Automotive batteries typically range from 6 to 24 Volts with 12 Volts being the industry standard. While some chargers are uni-voltage chargers, multi-voltage chargers often support more than one output voltage. Similarly, some chargers support 110 to 240 VAC input.
Let’s now meet the best car battery chargers to buy right now.
Best Overall: NOCO Genius1 Car Smart Battery Charger
- ✓ Very affordable and supports a wide variety of battery types
- ✓ Smart microprocessor-powered charging with multi-voltage selection
- ✓ Lightweight, compact, and portable; also compatible with all gas and diesel vehicles
- ✗ Rated just one Ampere, it takes quite a while to fully charge batteries.
The NOCO Genius1 Car Smart Battery Charger is our top pick for the overall best car battery charger. This smart one-Ampere multi-voltage car battery charger is ideal for 6-Volt and 12-Volt sealed lead-acid automotive, marine, RV, powersport, and deep-cycle batteries, including flooded, gel, AGM, SLA, VRLA, and lithium-ion (LiFePO4) batteries up to 38Ah. It works for lawnmowers, motorbikes, cars, tractors, trucks, RVs, boats, PWCs, jet skis, etc.
The NOCO Genius1 is also a battery maintainer, trickle charger, float charger, and battery desulfator making it an all-in-one car battery charging solution. Whether your battery is down to one Volt or zero, you can count on the NOCO 1’s Force Mode to save the day. It also protects your battery against over-charging, under-charging, and overheating. Weighing only 12.23 ounces and measuring just 4.02 x 3.43 x 6.73 inches, it is lightweight compact, portable, and can easily fit in your car trunk.
NOCO Genius1 Car Smart Battery Charger
The NOCO Genius1 is a powerful and portable all-in-one battery charging solution for all kinds of gas and diesel vehicles.
Best Budget: BUDDYGO 12V 5A Car Battery Charger
- ✓ Even more affordable while still supporting different battery types
- ✓ Rated Five-Amperes, it can charge 4Ah to 100Ah car batteries faster than the NOCO Genius1 and has an LCD display
- ✓ Lightweight, compact, and portable, it is also compatible with a wide range of machines
- ✗ Only supports 12-Volt and non-Lithium batteries
Although the powerful and popular NOCO Genius1 Smart Car Battery Charger is already well-priced and affordable, the BUDDYGO 12V 5A Car Battery Charger takes it even further at less than $20. This five-Ampere smart car charger can charge, maintain (trickle charge), and repair 4Ah to 100Ah Calcium, AGM, gel, Wet, and VRLA lead-acid batteries, among others. However, it only supports 12-Volt non-Lithium batteries.
On the plus side, it does come with advanced built-in safety features such as over-voltage protection, reverse polarity protection, short circuit protection, over-current, over-temperature, and low-voltage protection. It also features an LCD display with a backlit screen for night use and a powerful cooling fan. It measures 8.7 x 4.53 x 2.64 inches and weighs 14.1 ounces but works with motorcycles, cars, small trucks, SUVs, ATVs, and yachts, among others.
BUDDYGO 12V 5A Smart Car Battery Charger
The BUDDYGO Smart Car Battery Charger is so affordable yet efficient with fast-charging capabilities
Best Premium: NOCO GeniusPRO 50 Smart Car Battery Charger
- ✓ Powerful 50-Ampere multi-voltage (6-Volt, 12-Volt, 24-Volt) car battery charger
- ✓ Downgradeable to 10 Amperes with support for dozens of engines
- ✓ Wide range of supported battery types with advanced performance and safety features
- ✗ Pretty expensive
While the BUDDYGO 12V 5A Smart Car Battery Charger is budget-friendly, the NOCO GeniusPRO 50 Smart Car Battery Charger isn’t. This premium 50-Ampere multi-voltage (6-Volt, 12-Volt, and 24-Volt) charger will set you back by several hundred dollars, but it’s well worth every cent. It supports lead-acid automotive, marine, RV, powersport, and deep-cycle batteries, including flooded, gel, AGM, SLA, VRLA, maintenance-free, and lithium-ion (LiFePO4) batteries.
It supports universal input of 100 to 240 VAC at 50 to 60 Hertz for 1,000 to 2,000Ah batteries and can be downgraded to 10 Amperes. It also offers precise charging between -4 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit during cold and hot weather with under-charging and over-charging protection respectively. The NOCO GeniusPRO 50 can easily charge, repair, and desulfate your flat or dead car battery. It measures 11.4 x 18.2 x 9.8 inches and weighs 12.1 pounds.
NOCO GeniusPRO 50 Smart Car Battery Charger
The NOCO GeniusPRO 50 is one of the best premium smart car chargers available. It packs a ton of features and is ideal for advanced and commercial uses.
Best Multipurpose: Schumacher SC1308 Battery Charger With Advanced Diagnostics
- ✓ 30-Ampere multi-voltage (6-Volt, 12-Volt) car battery charger
- ✓ 100-Ampere jump starter plus advanced diagnostics and LCD display
- ✓ Doubles as a battery tester and alternator tester
- ✗ Doesn’t support 240VAC
We have already established that smart car battery chargers do much more than just charge batteries; they can also maintain, repair, and desulfate them, among others. If you want even more from your car battery charger, then get the Schumacher SC1308 Battery Charger With Advanced Diagnostics. This 30-Ampere multi-voltage (6-Volt, 12-Volt) charger also doubles as a powerful 100-Ampere jump starter for SUVs, trucks, and large batteries. See our tips for jump-starting an EV.
Measuring 7.1 x 10.4 x 10.9 inches and weighing 12.63 pounds it comes with a carry handle. This versatile and fully automatic device is compatible with standard, AGM, gel, and deep cycle batteries and comes with advanced safety features. Just like the best OBD2 car scanners, it also features advanced diagnostics and a large LCD display to monitor performance. Not to be outdone, this Schumacher Battery Charger also functions as a battery tester and alternator tester.
Schumacher Battery Charger With Advanced Diagnostics
The Schumacher SC1308 is a versatile multipurpose car battery charger that doubles as a jump starter, battery tester, and alternator tester.
Best Multi-Bank: Clore Automotive PL4050 Pro Logix Car Battery Charger
- ✓ 20-Ampere multi-voltage (6-Volt, 12-Volt) multi-phase (4 channels) car battery charger
- ✓ Dedicated LCD display and diagnostics per channel
- ✓ Fully automatic function with advanced safety features including temperature compensation
- ✗ No support for Lithium batteries
- ✗ Tends to get hot sometimes
While the Schumacher SC1281 is a versatile multipurpose and multi-voltage battery charger, it can only charge one battery at a time. The Clore Automotive PL4050 Pro Logix Car Battery Charger, on the other hand, can charge up to four different car batteries at once. This 20-Ampere multi-bank (4 channel) multi-voltage (6-Volt, 12-Volt) charger also doubles as a battery maintainer (trickle charger) and desulfator.
Compatible with most battery types including AGM, flooded, marine, and deep cycle, among others, the Clore Automotive PL4050 features advanced Soft Start mode, Battery Repair, and Force Charge modes. Each channel also comes with its own LCD diagnostic screen as well as advanced safety features. Measuring 15.3 x 4 x 11.3 inches and weighing 8.97 pounds, it is ideal for mechanical repair shops, collision repair facilities, fleet operations, marinas, and so on.
Clore Automotive PL4050 Pro Logix Car Battery Charger
Charge up to four car batteries at once with the powerful 20-Ampere Clore PL4050 Multi-Bank Car Battery Charger.