A car battery charger is the right tool for maintaining an automotive battery or avoiding getting stranded. There are several types of chargers available for sale with different features. You should make sure that the amp, volt and battery type specifications of any charger you are considering correspond to the battery in your car or truck and other batteries you need to charge.
Automated or Manual
Automated battery chargers can be operated when you are not near a battery and charging equipment. Manual chargers call for closer attention and tend to work more quickly. Some unique options may be available, such as a portable solar-charging system rated up to .2 amps for battery maintenance on-the-go.
Chargers are aftermarket, universal devices, and so the choice is not as clear as the answer to the question “what windshield wipers do I need?” The deciding factors are the amp, voltage and battery type ratings, the time necessary to charge while attended or unattended and whether you want a battery charger capable of jumpstarting a dead battery.
Voltage and Amp Ratings
Some chargers are rated for six and 12 volt batteries as well as an assortment of battery types. Most car battery chargers range from 700 milliamps to 20 amps, though you can find jump starters rated up to 600 amps. Chargers with low amp ratings are intended for maintaining charge or batteries that have recently held some charge. For batteries that are completely dead, a higher-amperage charger with engine start capabilities may be helpful. You should also confirm the charging method for the charger itself and the amount of time it will take to fully recharge the device.
Some charging systems detect alternator or battery problems and take measures to limit discharge damage and sulfur buildup while optimizing performance. The right charger is as helpful for maintaining conditions under the hood as the best scratch repair kits are for the body of a car or truck.
Many chargers have built-in protection from overcharging, reverse polarity, short-circuiting or sparking. Find the right charger for you by shopping at an online auto parts retailer that has advanced search functions including oil filter lookup by vehicle and options for in-store pickup or delivery.
Engine Start Capability
A charger capable of delivering several amps and rated for engine starting may jump start a dead battery. It is a good idea to check the size of a portable battery charger that you intend to take on the go. You will also need to plan ahead and make sure that a charger or jump starter is itself charged and ready to be used.
When you compare car battery chargers, you should weigh the features of each design against models at a similar price point. Depending on how and where you drive, a particular charger or jump start feature may be the best choice for you. Most car battery chargers come with relatively long manufacturers’ warranties. Make sure that you register the product or fulfill any conditions necessary to get the most out of any charger.