A car battery charger can restore a depleted battery or maintain a battery you don’t frequently use. We’ve studied and tested several of the best car battery chargers so we could suggest the fastest, most reliable models.

A quality charger can extend car battery life if used properly. Keeping your battery regularly charged prevents sulfation – a process where lead sulfate crystals build up on the surface of a battery, rendering it inoperable. If you need something to jumpstart a dead battery, look for one of the best jump starters.

5 Best Car Battery Chargers

Best Car Battery Chargers

  1. Best Overall: Schumacher SC1280
  2. Best Trickle Charger: CTEK MXS 5.0
  3. Fastest Charging: Schumacher SC1309
  4. Best Portable Charger: NOCO GENIUS10
  5. Best Portable Charger Runner-Up: NOCO GENIUS1

#1 Best Overall: Schumacher SC1280

Schumacher SC1280

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The Schumacher SC1280 is a quick battery charger putting out 13 volts at a 15 amp current. It can fully charge a 105Ah battery in 16 hours (this is relatively fast). The SC1280 is lightweight, portable, and easy to set up and use. It can automatically detect the battery voltage and adjust between 6-volt and 12-volt modes. While most cars use a 12-volt battery, 6-volt batteries are common in motorcycles.

This charger includes a two-year warranty, trickle charging, and desulfation mode. It also has an automatic shutoff feature to help prevent overcharging. However, several reports say this automatic charging feature can malfunction.

Key Features

  • Cost: About $55
  • Weight: 3.0 pounds
  • Amperage: 15 and 3 amp modes
  • Voltage: 13 volts
  • Battery type(s): Standard (wet cell), absorbed glass mat (AGM), and gel
  • Warranty: Two years

What’s In The Box?

There’s nothing included with the Schumacher SC1280 other than an instruction manual. The clamps are permanently attached to the device, which is designed such that the clamps are easily wrapped and stored.

Our Experience

Schumacher SC1280

The alligator clamps are a good size with long cables and therefore easy to use. The power cord is also fairly long, making it easy to set up to SC1280. The device’s computer automatically detects the proper voltage, so all you need to do is attach the SC1280 and press the start button.

The voltage tested at 13 amps while the battery charger was in use, which is in the ideal range for a 12-volt car battery. This voltage stayed consistent throughout. Perhaps our favorite feature is the LCD screen, which can even provide an estimate of your vehicle’s battery charge.

Overall Rating4.6 out of 5
Charging Speed4.5 out of 5
Versatility4 out of 5
Ease of Use5 out of 5
Value5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

The Schumacher SC1280 has an average Amazon review score of 4.6 out of 5 based on more than 9,400 ratings. About 90 percent of reviews rate this car battery charger 4 or more stars.

Many users are impressed with the charging speed of the SC1280 and appreciate that it can automatically detect battery voltage and adjust accordingly. Several reviewers note that this battery charger restored otherwise dead batteries after other chargers failed to do the same.

The most concerning negative reviews are from customers who say the automatic shutoff feature failed to work. This can result in overcharging, which can permanently damage your car battery. While this doesn’t appear to be a common issue, it’s a concerning malfunction. Make sure the automatic shutoff works properly before leaving any charger on your battery unattended.

#2 Best Trickle Charger: CTEK MXS 5.0

CTEK MXS 5.0

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This small battery charger has an extremely long five-year warranty. It features built-in temperature sensors that adjust the voltage output based on temperature conditions. This automatic battery charger is programmed to tend batteries once they’ve reached full charge.

The CTEK MXS 5.0 can charge batteries up to 110 amps and takes about 35 hours to charge a 110ah battery. Because of its automatic voltage detector, you can use this product to charge not just car batteries but any battery under 110 amps.

Key Features

  • Cost: About $80
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Amperage: 4.3 amps
  • Voltage: 14 volts
  • Battery type(s): Standard (wet), calcium (Ca), AGM, and gel
  • Warranty: Five years

What’s In The Box?

In addition to the charger, the CTEK includes:

  • Soft vinyl carrying case
  • Comfort-connect eyelet
  • Clamps

The carrying case fits everything nicely, but it could be more robust. It’s soft and won’t offer much protection.

Our Experience

CTEK MXS 5.0

The CTEK is easy to start and features the most straightforward, easy-to-understand manual of the car battery chargers we tested. However, the CTEK loses some points because of the lackluster alligator clamps. They are rather small, and while we didn’t have problems getting them onto our test car battery, they are of noticeably lower quality than other car battery chargers.

This charger put out a consistent 14 volts when we attached it to our test battery. This is within the ideal range for a 12-volt car battery.

We like the preprogrammed multi-stage charge cycle, and the only settings you must choose are a 12-volt versus 8-volt battery as well as standard, AGM, or reconditioning mode.

Overall Rating4.1 out of 5
Charging Speed4 out of 5
Versatility4.5 out of 5
Ease of Use4 out of 5
Value4 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

The CTEK MXS 5.0 has an Amazon review score of 4.7 based on more than 3,700 customer reviews. About 94 percent of reviewers award the charger no fewer than 4 stars.

Reviewers are impressed by the charging speed of the CTEK, especially since most purchase this battery for tending and trickle charging. Customers appreciate the tending safety features, and several people point out that they prefer this battery charger for their AGM batteries.

A couple of reviews mention that the CTEK is prone to overheating. However, proper positioning (ensuring the bottom vents are open) seems to help.

#3 Fastest Charging: Schumacher SC1309

Schumacher SC1309

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Unlike the other battery chargers on this list, the Schumacher SC1309 is capable not only of charging a vehicle but also providing a jump start. The built-in tester can detect battery charge level and even has some diagnostics features.

While a bit heavier than our other recommended best car battery chargers, the Schumacher SC1309 is versatile and fast-charging. It’s easy to operate and includes desulfation and float modes. The SC1309 can fully charge a 105Ah battery in about 16 hours.

Key Features

  • Cost: About $170
  • Weight: 30.0 pounds
  • Amperage: 40 and 400 amp modes
  • Voltage: 15 volts
  • Battery type(s): Standard (wet), AGM, and deep cycle
  • Warranty: One year

What’s In The Box?

The necessary alligator clamps are the only item that comes with the Schumacher SC1309.

Our Experience

Schumacher SC1309

This battery charger is simple to use and has large, strong alligator clamps. We found it one of the easier chargers to operate. It’s size and long clamp cables allow you to rest the charger on the ground (other smaller chargers with short clamps can’t reach the battery from the ground).

The voltage output is consistent at 15 amps, which is a little high for a 12-volt battery but not high enough to endanger battery health. This voltage also means a fast charge rate.

Overall Rating4.5 out of 5
Charging Speed5 out of 5
Versatility4.5 out of 5
Ease of Use4.5 out of 5
Value4 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

The SC1309 has an Amazon review score of 4.5 based on more than 1,500 ratings. About 88 percent of reviewers give the charger 4 or more stars.

Satisfied customers express surprise with the SC1309’s charging speed. Many say they used this battery charger to rejuvenate long-dead batteries with little difficulty.

One recurring negative comment comes from customers who report that the SC1309 stopped working properly after a couple of months. While this doesn’t seem typical, it’s not uncommon either. This charger comes with a one-year warranty, and one reviewer says they received a replacement from the company.

Several users also mention receiving faulty products with scratches and other damages. The company appears to have a good record of refunding these mistakes, but it’s a pain not to get a functioning product from the start.

#4 Best Portable Charger: NOCO GENIUS10

NOCO GENIUS10

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The NOCO GENIUS10 is a battery charger, maintainer, and desulfator. It can work on 6- or 12-volt batteries and includes thermal sensors to help prevent overcharging. The GENIUS10 can charge nearly every type of car battery, including lithium-ion batteries.

This small yet versatile car battery charger is energy-efficient and includes a three-year warranty. It can fully charge a 100Ah battery in about 14 hours.

Key Features

  • Cost: About $100
  • Weight: 4.0 pounds
  • Amperage: 10 amps
  • Voltage: 13 volts
  • Battery type(s): Standard (wet), Gel, Ca, enhanced flooded battery (EFB), AGM, and lithium-ion
  • Warranty: Three years

What’s In The Box?

Included with the NOCO GENIUS10 are the battery clamps and a mounting bracket with self-threading screws.

Our Experience

NOCO GENIUS10

The NOCO is easy to set up, and while the alligator clamps are small, they open wide and are a breeze to attach. The NOCO display shows battery charge, and the one-button interface allows you to switch between modes.

One nice feature of the NOCO GENIUS10 is the overcharge mode. Most battery chargers, including the NOCO, automatically detect the battery and adjust voltage accordingly. When attempting to charge a completely dead battery, automatic detection won’t work. This is when overcharge mode comes in handy.

The NOCO put out a consistent 13 volts, according to our multimeter.

Overall Rating4.3 out of 5
Charging Speed4.5 out of 5
Versatility5 out of 5
Ease of Use4 out of 5
Value3.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

The NOCO GENIUS10 has an average Amazon review score of 4.6 based on more than 11,000 ratings. About 91 percent of reviews give the GENIUS10 at least 4 stars.

Reviewers say this battery works well with deep-cycle batteries, and users appreciate its ability to revive completely dead batteries using the overcharge mode. Several customers also praise the high quality of the included alligator clips.

Even positive reviews often mention that the instructions can be difficult to follow. While we didn’t have any issues with the GENIUS10, we also didn’t attempt to use all the advanced features.

Some reviews note that the desulfation mode doesn’t work as anticipated.

#5 Best Portable Charger Runner-Up: NOCO GENIUS1

NOCO GENIUS1

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This low-cost entry in the NOCO GENIUS series offers an alternative to the GENIUS10. It has many of the same features, including the ability to charge lithium-ion batteries. The GENIUS1 does lack some of the battery repair features of the GENIUS10.

This car battery charger is very small, simple to use, and energy-efficient. It can act as a desulfator, trickle charger, or battery maintainer for 6- and 12-volt batteries.

Key Features

  • Cost: About $30
  • Weight: 6.3 ounces
  • Amperage: 1 amp
  • Voltage: 15 volts
  • Battery type(s): Standard (wet), Gel, Ca, EFB, AGM, and lithium-ion batteries
  • Warranty: Three years

What’s In The Box?

The alligator clips are the only item included with the GENIUS1.

Our Experience

NOCO GENIUS1

Using the GENIUS1 is nearly identical to using the GENIUS10. It has excellent quality alligator clamps and a single button for switching to the desired mode.

When tested with our multimeter, the GENIUS1 showed a reading of 15 volts, which was more than the GENIUS10 supplied. The lower amperage of the GENIUS1 means it must supply slightly higher voltage to increase the charging speed. Fifteen amps are within the tolerable limits for a 12-volt battery.

While designed more for smaller batteries you would use in ATVs and lawnmowers, this smart battery charger is capable of topping off 12-volt car batteries.

Overall Rating3.9 out of 5
Charging Speed3 out of 5
Versatility4 out of 5
Ease of Use4.5 out of 5
Value4 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

With over 33,000 ratings, the GENIUS1 has an average Amazon review score of 4.6. About 90 percent of reviewers rate the GENIUS1 at least 4 stars.

Praise and complaints for the GENIUS1 are similar to the GENIUS10. Many users say the review manual is difficult to decipher. However, using the GENIUS1 is mostly self-explanatory, especially for the most common tasks of charging and maintaining a standard 12-volt car battery.

Satisfied customers are pleased with the power in this tiny package. The overcharge mode to juice up dead batteries is a helpful feature, as is the temperature sensor.

A few comments claim the overcharge detection failed to work, and a couple of customers almost ruined their batteries. This doesn’t appear to be a common issue, but make sure overcharge protection is working before leaving the GENIUS1 attached to a battery unattended.

How Do Car Battery Chargers Work?

Car battery chargers utilize a process called induction charging to restore a car battery to working order. This is done by creating an electromagnetic field between two points, moving energy from a power source into the battery.  

Buyers Guide: Best Car Battery Chargers

Not all automotive batteries are the same. While most modern cars use 12-volt wet cell batteries, this isn’t the case with every vehicle. When selecting a battery charger, first determine your car’s battery type. You’ll need to purchase a compatible battery charger. Common car battery types include:

  • Wet cell
  • Absorbed glass mat (AGM)
  • Gel cell
  • Lithium-ion

Many car battery chargers are compatible with wet cell, AGM, and gel cell batteries, but not all are rated for use with lithium-ion batteries.

Amperage And Voltage

Amperage is a measure of electrical current. A battery charger’s amperage can affect how quickly it charges a battery. Generally, the higher the amperage, the better. You can use a charger with a higher amperage than your battery.

Voltage is also a measure of electrical current. Simply put, amperage describes the volume of electrons flowing through a circuit, and voltage refers to the force with which those electrons are moving. You want a battery charger with a voltage slightly higher than the voltage in your battery. However, if the voltage is too high, it can damage your car battery. You shouldn’t charge a 12-volt battery with much more than a 16-volt charger.

Trickle Charging And Desulfation

The best car battery chargers typically have several modes serving different purposes. The most basic use of a charger is to top off a battery’s charge or bring a dying battery back to health. But you can also use chargers for trickle charging and desulfation.

Trickle charging, or battery tending, is when a charger detects that a battery needs charging and automatically supplies power until the battery is topped off, then shuts down. Trickle charging is necessary to prevent seldom-used batteries from becoming depleted.

Old lead-acid batteries are prone to sulfation when completely discharged. Sulfation is a buildup of lead sulfate on a battery’s surface. Once sulfated, a battery can be difficult to charge. Some car battery chargers have a desulfation mode, which applies a higher voltage to recharge the battery. Once charged, the normal charging process breaks down lead sulfate buildup.

Battery Charger Vs. Battery Jump Starter

Keep in mind that a car battery charger is different from a jump starter. A battery charger provides a lower current to steadily replenish your battery’s power. A jump starter provides a strong current to reset a dead battery. Some battery chargers (such as the Schumacher SC1309) can act as a charger and a jump starter.

Our Review Standards

The car battery chargers in this article underwent two rounds of reviews. We started by searching Amazon for top products, looking at customer ratings, Amazon superlatives, and cost.

We selected several car battery chargers for testing. Evaluation across our review categories is based on our in-person experience and online customer reviews.

Charging Speed

By considering a battery charger’s voltage and amp hours, you can determine the approximate charging speed. Batteries that charge a car faster received a higher rating in this category.

Most car batteries are 12-volt. A higher voltage will charge a battery more quickly, but too many volts can damage your battery. A few volts above a battery’s rating are acceptable and even desirable, but a car battery charger must produce at least 12 volts to charge a 12-volt battery. Maintaining a consistent voltage is also important for charging speed and battery protection.

Versatility

Not all car battery chargers will work with every type of battery. While most cars use a wet cell battery, some may use an AGM, gel, or lithium-ion battery. Chargers compatible with the most types of batteries scored best in this category.

Additionally, some car battery chargers have features such as overcharge protection and trickle charging options. Such features also contribute to a battery’s versatility rating.

Ease Of Use

An easy-to-use automotive battery charger has long clamp cables and durable alligator clamps. Battery chargers are also easy to use if they have long outlet cords and straightforward interfaces and instructions.

Value

Our value score is based on the relationship between a battery’s rating in all other categories compared to the price.

Best Car Battery Chargers Testing Process

Car Battery Chargers Testing Process

To test each car battery, we unpackaged it and attached it to a 12V wet cell battery. We started the battery charger according to the instructions and measured the voltage using a multimeter.

During testing, our review team recorded careful notes about each feature of every battery. We also factor verified customer reviews on Amazon to determine if our experience is typical and to assess the longevity of these products.

Why You Can Trust Us

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more.

Frequently Asked Questions

*Data accurate at time of publication.