If you drive your car at least once every three or four days, you likely won’t need to manually charge its battery. If you take a break from driving or are dealing with extreme temperatures, however, you may need to give your battery a boost before you can hit the road again.
Let’s look at the types of car battery chargers you can choose from.
Electrical chargers are the fastest and most common type of car battery charger. They’re ideal if you need to give your battery a quick power-up to use your vehicle on short notice. Electrical chargers will put out anywhere from 1 to 50 amps of electricity.
To pick an electrical charger, you need to know the Ah (ampere or amp hours) rating of your car battery. Look for a charger that’s between 10% and 25% of this rating.
Carlyle Battery Charger 6/12V, 2/6/10A
135.99 $ 119.99 $
Carlyle Battery Charger 6/12V, 2/10/20A
158.99 $ 139.99 $
Particularly appealing to those concerned about the environment, solar-powered chargers are another option for powering your car battery. They’re often much less powerful, however, so they’re best for maintaining a battery as opposed to fully charging it. Solar-powered chargers are also typically more expensive, but they can help you save money on your electricity bill.
Give a solar charger panel 4 to 12 hours to power up before using it. This warm-up period will vary depending on the amount of sunlight available and the charger model you have.
Trickle chargers supply a constant stream of charge when connected to your battery. Most people use a trickle charger when they don’t plan to drive for an extended period (eight weeks or more). They usually put out between 1 and 3 amps of electricity.
Trickle chargers are available in both electrical and solar-powered models.
Clore Automotive 12 Volt 0.8A Smart Charger
NAPA Solar Trickle Charger
Battery maintainers, also known as battery tenders, are like trickle chargers in that they keep a battery alive when it’s left unused for a long time. The main difference is that most trickle chargers need to be unplugged once they’re done charging. A maintainer, however, will stop charging once it senses the battery is full, so you can leave it connected if you like without harming the battery.
Battery maintainers can put out as little as 0.75 amps and rarely go above 3 amps. They’re available in electrical and solar-powered models.
Carlyle Battery Maintainer 6/12V, 4A
73.99 $ 65.99 $
NAPA Solar Power Battery Maintainer
Electric Vehicle Chargers
Electric vehicles (EVs) typically use electrical chargers, but they charge up differently from gas-powered cars. With an EV, you don’t need to physically access the battery. Instead, you connect a cable from a charging port to the side of the vehicle, similar to how you fill up the tank of a gas-powered vehicle.
There are three levels of EV charging:
- Level 1: done from home with a 120V outlet
- Level 2: available at home with a 240V outlet, using a professionally installed charger, or at most public charging stations
- Level 3/DC Fast Charging: available at select public charging stations
The higher the charging level, the quicker your battery will replenish. Not all batteries will charge in the same amount of time, however. The type of EV you have will also influence how long it takes to charge.
Like many parts of your car, your battery will last longer if you take care of it. By following a regular battery maintenance routine, you can get the most out of every charge. You can keep track of your battery’s health with a diagnostic tool, like a multimeter or OBD scanner. If you inspect your battery and realize it’s in poor condition, you can replace it yourself by following this guide.
Battery maintenance is essentially the same for EVs, excluding the need for cleaning. If you have a concern about your EV battery, have it assessed by a professional.
For more advice on charging and maintaining your car battery, stop by your local NAPA Auto Parts store to speak with an expert.