- Battery chargers can jumpstart your car in an emergency.
- Car chargers can also be used to charge other 12-volt batteries like those in lawnmowers and generators.
- Trickle charging rarely used batteries can maintain their charge and prolong their life.
Car chargers are one of those things that you probably never thought of buying until you really needed one. Having a car charger is not only handy in an emergency but can provide peace of mind. Thanks to it, if your battery dies, you can recharge it.
But there are a number of other reasons why you should buy a battery charger to keep around the house. You may be surprised to find out that you can charge much more than cars with it. Some chargers even work with 6-volt systems that are used in some toys.
Then, there are really large battery chargers that can jumpstart your car in an emergency. Now, let’s take an in-depth look at the top six reasons why you should buy a car charger today!
1. Maintain a Charge in Cold Climates
If you live in a very cold climate, then you’ve undoubtedly heard of — or experienced — a dead battery in cold weather. Even in the South, drivers may wake up one chilly morning to find that their vehicle won’t start.
When it gets cold, your battery’s charge drops significantly. Inside your battery is a rather complex chemical reaction between lead plates and acid.
The cold reduces the battery’s ability to store an electric charge, which means it may not be able to start your car. But the problems get significantly worse the colder it gets, and the longer it stays cold.
In areas where it stays freezing all day long, the battery continues to lose its charge throughout the day. The solution is to keep a charger on the battery for as long as possible to maintain the charge.
A float charger is a good option here since it will automatically turn itself off and on to maintain the charge. Some float chargers can even screw onto your battery’s terminals and include a quick connection so you can easily disconnect and reconnect.
By keeping your battery fully charged, you will not only ensure that your car starts every time, but also prolong its life
2. Restore a Drained Battery
The next, and arguably the most important, reason to buy a battery charger is to recharge a dead battery. Nothing is worse than getting in your car, and finding that it won’t start.
You are then left trying to find a set of jumper cables and someone to give you a jump. This happens far more often than you might think, especially with cars having so many electronics.
- An all-in-one solution: battery charger, battery maintainer, trickle charger, and a battery desulfator
- LCD screen displaying the charging status and battery status
- Built-in advanced battery REPAIR mode to help recover old and idle batteries
All it takes is leaving your lights on for a couple of hours, and your battery will not be able to start the car. You can avoid this by purchasing a battery charger.
The amount of time it will take to recharge your car depends on how big the battery and charger are. However, you can usually recharge a drained battery in a couple of hours.
It is important to remember that batteries eventually expire, so you won’t be able to save every battery. This is especially true if you notice that your battery suddenly doesn’t work when it’s cold outside. If you aren’t sure if your battery is good or not, then you need to have it load tested.
3. Trickle Charge Rarely Used Batteries
Rarely used batteries will actually drain down over time. This shouldn’t happen over a few days or weeks, as this would indicate a parasitic draw.
Even a good battery will slowly deplete its stored energy after months of not using it. The solution is to use a trickle or float charger to maintain the battery and keep it fully charged.
Using a float charger will actually do two things. Firstly, it will keep the battery charged so it is ready for you to use. This way, all you have to do is disconnect the charger, and you are ready to go.
But the other benefit is that it will actually keep the battery in good condition. With the exception of deep cycle batteries, you should never allow a battery to drain down.
Draining and then recharging a battery has a negative impact on its useful life expectancy. It also lowers the amount of charge that it can receive.
It is a good idea to trickle-charge batteries in snowmobiles, ATVs, and dirtbikes during the off-season. The same goes for rarely used cars, since doing so will keep you from having to purchase a new battery as often.
4. Use With Other Rechargeable Batteries
You may be surprised to learn that you can actually charge more than car batteries with a battery charger. You can also use it for other 12-volt batteries like the ones found in lawnmowers and generators.
In addition, power sport and boat batteries can be charged with a standard car battery charger. Besides standard 12-volt batteries, some chargers work with 6-volt ones, too.
Although rarely used today, 6-volt batteries were the standard in the early automotive industry. Even though they are no longer used in cars, many other rechargeable batteries, like ones found in R/C cars and ride-on toys, use this lower voltage. Not all car chargers support 6 volts, so be sure to look for one that does if you need this voltage.
5. Jumpstart Your Car
When you think about a battery charger, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a small box. While those are the most common, there are also larger models that can actually jumpstart your car.
There is a big difference between jumpstarting a car and simply charging a battery, even though both consist of adding power to it.
Batteries need to not only have a high enough voltage to turn the starter, but also be strong enough to keep it turning. The load is essentially how long the battery can hold power while in use.
This is why your car gets sluggish when the battery starts going bad. The problem is that a small battery charger cannot put out enough amperage to help start a car with a dead battery.
However, there are some car battery chargers with high amperage jumpstart features. This means they can slowly charge the battery and also provide an extra boost of power to overcome a dead battery. Keep in mind that these chargers are larger than conventional battery chargers, and they also cost significantly more.
6. Recharge Deep-Cycle Batteries
The battery in your car is designed to stay completely charged, which it does thanks to the alternator. But there are certain instances where it is impossible to keep the battery charged.
This is where deep-cycle batteries come into play. Most commonly found on boats, deep-cycle batteries are designed to last a long time without charging.
Because they are not connected to an alternator, you will need to recharge them, and the best way to do that is with a car charger. Many car chargers have a setting for deep-cycle batteries, but you can use any car charger at its lowest setting.
You may even have deep-cycle batteries and not realize it. Besides boats, campers and golf carts often use these large batteries.
The Best Car Chargers
As you’ve seen, car chargers can be a very important tool to keep around the house. From maintaining batteries to charging dead ones, a cheap battery charger will definitely save some major headaches.
But not all battery chargers are made the same. As we’ve noted above, there are trickle chargers, compact ones for everyday use, and large ones for jumpstarting a car. Let’s take a quick look at some of the best ones.
Best Compact Battery Charger: Schumacher SC1280
- Automatically detects 6V and 12 V batteries
- Self-adjusts voltage and charge
- Multi-stage charging, float mode
- Can charge 6V-12V standard batteries
- Advanced reverse hookup protection
Schumacher’s SC1280 is a great choice for an affordable battery charger. It provides more features than the average driver really needs. The charger supports conventional, AGM, and gel batteries.
It can even charge 6-volt batteries. The charging amp options are limited to 3 and 15, which lets it act as a trickle charger for deep-cycle batteries or a rapid charger for car batteries.
Best Trickle Charger: Battery Tender Junior
- Compatible with all 12V lead-acid, flooded, AGM, and gel cell batteries
- 750mA battery charger and battery maintainer
- Two-color charge status LED light
There are countless options for trickle chargers, but the Battery Tender Junior is one of the best. The company makes a number of different trickle chargers, but this one is a simple and cheap option to keep your battery charged. It also has a connector to easily detach and reconnect as you come and go.
Best Car Charger with Engine Boost: Schumacher SC1364
- 20-amp quick boost mode and 150-amp engine start
- Built-in wheels and a retractable handle
- Reverse hook-up and temperature overload protection
Finally, the last option is designed for large vehicles and mechanic shops that need a lot of charging power. The Schumacher SC1364 is a beast with large clamps and heavy-duty leads.
It even has a handle and wheels, so you can easily move it around. However, it is overkill for the average car owner since you would rarely need this much power. You’d be stuck trying to store it.
But if you are in need of charging very large batteries, then it is a great choice. Best of all, it has a 150-amp engine starter.
This will quickly charge your battery and even provide a boost of power to jumpstart your car. The downside is that it isn’t very versatile. For example, you can’t use it for 6-volt or deep-cycle charging.
Car Battery Charger Alternative
- 1000 peak amps and 500 instant starting amps
- Reverse polarity alarm alerts
- Features a 120 PSI air compressor
- Built-in 12V DC outlet and USB port
Although car chargers are great to have, they still have limitations. We previously mentioned that some chargers have a jumpstart function.
That can come in handy if you are at home, but it also means you would need to carry around the charger and have an outlet if your car battery died while you were away from home.
The solution is to carry a jump pack. This compact box serves the same purpose as a set of jumper cables, but without the need for a second car. Simply connect the box to a dead battery and power it on to give your battery a boost.
Some jump packs even have extra features, like a tire inflator or USB charger. Just remember that a jump pack is not a replacement for a charger since it will not charge your car’s battery.
As you’ve seen, car chargers can come in really handy and save the day if you end up with a dead battery. Don’t forget that if you do have a dead battery, get it checked to ensure that it isn’t going bad.
Simply charging an expired battery will not prolong its life. Instead, you will need to replace it before it leaves you stranded.
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