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Your car battery can be a temperamental creature. It needs to remain at peak performance, all year long and in all kinds of conditions. The best way to keep your battery primed and ready for action anytime, anywhere is with a trickle charger.
A trickle charger slowly feeds energy into your battery, topping it up at the same rate as a self-discharge. They're ideal for vehicles that are stored for long periods of time, like show cars, boats, motorcycles, and UTVs. There are dozens on the market, but which one should you buy?
Things to Consider When Buying a Trickle Charger
During normal, frequent driving conditions, your alternator keeps your battery in a good mood by providing optimal recharging voltage and amperage. Together, they're a dream team. But as soon as you park your vehicle, the battery rests at an idle voltage that, over time, discharges. The discharge rate varies a bit, depending on the battery's age, quality, temperature, and level of sulfation in the cells.
Trickle chargers are essential for folks who store their vehicles during winter or decide to leave their car behind during a long vacation. Hooking up a trickle charger is much cheaper than paying for a new battery. Now, if you're using one on a car in storage, we recommend to get a high-quality one that's meant for long-term use. Aside from normal cars and trucks, you'll definitely want to run trickle chargers on your other toys, like boats, motorcycles, and other powersports vehicles that don't stretch their legs regularly. If your battery is planning to sit for longer than a month, we recommend the trickle charger route.
Trickle chargers keep a battery at its optimal charge automatically. Just clip the claws on the terminals, set the battery type and desired charging input, plug it in, and walk away. To prevent overcharging your battery and damaging it, trickle chargers feature a regulator that provides an auto-shut-off function that also allows them to kick back on once discharge is detected.
Snag one of these top-rated trickle chargers to prevent having to replace a battery too soon and ensure no surprises when you get home and try and fire up your ride. For the infrequent driver, they are a great investment.
The Best Trickle Chargers
Genius1 1-Amp Fully Automatic Smart Charger
If your battery needs to be charged up before reaching the voltage ideal for trickle charging, this charger is low on power to do so. But if you're looking to keep a charged battery charged, that's where this charger from NOCO shines—featuring a gentle 1-amp charging current. It can also handle a wide range of battery types, including conventional 12-volt, deep-cycle, 12-volt lithium, and more. With an integrated thermal sensor, the NOCO Genius1 adapts to changing temperatures to provide the optimum charging cycle.
1-Amp Fully Automatic Trickle Battery Charger
For a more budget-friendly option, this fully automatic trickle charger from Mroinge fits the bill. Simply plug into the wall, clip onto the terminals, set the battery type to either 6 or 12 volts, and let it do its thing. This also provides a 1-amp charging current and is suitable for lawnmowers, ATVs, cars, and more.
Genius5 5-Amp Fully Automatic Smart Charger
The Genius5 from NOCO is a more powerful option if you need to recharge a battery more quickly than typical trickle chargers can. This one produces a 5-amp charging current, which is faster but a bit harsher on the battery itself. With functions like automatic temperature regulation and an informative display, it's a good, if not pricey, trickle charger.
10-Amp Car Battery Charger
For an even bigger boost in charging power, this trickle charger from NEXPEAK boasts a 10-amp charging current. This amperage will charge your battery much faster than a 1-amp charger, but you risk reducing the longevity. Along with eight smart protections including temperature compensation and a cooling system, it's a great choice for batteries that need a faster charge to be ready.
Battery Charger and Maintainer
Battery Tender has been around since the 1960s, and its chargers can be found in professional shops around the country. And with over 11,500 5-star ratings on Amazon, it has the accolades to back it up. Utilizing a 1.25-amp charging current, it's perfect for slow-charging your battery, which is recommended over a fast charge. If you need to charge the battery, the Tender utilizes a four-step process to prevent overcharging. It's a fantastic trickle charger for all of your toys, if you're willing to pay the higher price.
What does trickle charger do?
A trickle charger's primary function is to slowly charge a battery and prevent overcharging. If storing your vehicles batteries for a period of time is common, a trickle charger may be a good investment.
Can I leave a trickle charger on all the time?
Most modern trickle chargers will have auto shut-off features that keep them from overcharging a battery, so in general it's fine to leave them plugged in and turned on—but we highly recommend checking the charger and battery regularly, to ensure the auto shut-off functions on the device are working properly and that your battery remains in good health.
What is the difference between a trickle charger and a battery maintainer?
A battery maintainer works like a trickle charger, but it's not quite the same. A maintainer usually outputs one amp or less to keep a battery charged, but it can't recharge a dead battery. It works by automatically adjusting its output to match the battery's needs.
A trickle charger slowly charges a battery over an extended period of time. They're often used to resuscitate seldom-used batteries, such as in show cars, boats, and or RVs.
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