The car battery plays a crucial role in the running of a motor vehicle. First, it provides the power to start a vehicle. Once the engine is running, the alternator charges the battery, which supplies power for the car electrical systems. The car battery also acts as a surge protector for the vehicle computer system. When the engine is turned off, the battery can only give power for temporary use. At this point, it is advisable to consider switching off systems that consume power such as wipers, GPS, stereo, or lights as these may drain the battery and potentially damage it.
For those who leave their cars in the garage or parking lot for a couple of months, you might encounter challenges when attempting to start the car. It is because all batteries self discharge and, at times, completely drain, which damages the battery. Therefore, it is important to maintain your vehicle’s battery life to prevent those, as mentioned above. One of the ways to achieve this is by keeping your battery fully at all times. This requires a portable car battery charger that makes it is easy to carry around. The most ideal is the car battery trickle charger. A trickle charger replenishes a battery at the rate that equals its self-discharge rate using electricity, thus maintaining your battery on a full charge. The energy is transferred to the battery in “trickle” thus in low amperage as it depletes its power. Using a trickle charger for car helps prevent the battery from damage or explosion due to charging at high amperage. Apart from being safe, trickle charging car batteries also increases their life span.
A solar car battery charger can also act as a trickle. However, leaving them for too long can damage the battery because they have no overcharge protection. At this point, you may be wondering just how much is a battery charger? Well, the cost may differ by going by the model and functionality. Normally, under $50, chargers have a low voltage output and cannot service larger cars. Chargers ranging between $50 to $100 are standard and have high voltage outputs coupled with a few options with extra features plus accessories. Above $100 are high end chargers that are large, more powerful with extra accessories that give convenience. Some models in this category can handle almost any type of vehicle. The battery charger joins the long list of the growing number of maintenance accessories available today such as portable air compressor for car that makes it easy to manage a vehicle without incurring the costs of a technician.
Benefits Of A Trickle Charger
A car battery trickle charger keeps the battery from being depleted when not in use. This makes them ideal for vehicles that are rarely used or stored away during summer or winter duration. The gadget prevents overcharging and regulates the charging rate by recharging at the same rate at which the battery self-discharges. There are other benefits associated, as listed below.
- Helps prolong battery life span by preventing sulfides from forming on the lead plates of the battery
- There is a minimum risk of damage to the battery since energy is transferred in low currents.
- Maintains the optimum temperature of a battery which enhances its performance
- Keeps the battery from losing power during non-use
- Saves time and cost of hiring a technician
- Maintains battery charge by replacing the lost power
- Easy to operate and preserve
Types Of A Trickle Charger
There are various models of car battery trickle chargers that offer different features. Nonetheless, all can be classified along with two broad categories, as discussed below.
1. Traditional Chargers
These are also referred to as “dumb” since they cannot monitor and self regulate a battery charging status. If left unchecked, they can often overcharge a battery, which poses a risk factor. Overcharging leads to damage or explosion of the battery. They have lots of cables that are plugged into a wall socket. All that having been said, the good news is that they are very cheap and quite powerful. Traditional trickle chargers are capable of charging any battery of any size.
2. Smart Chargers
Smart chargers bear modern design with advanced technology. They can monitor progress by automatically switching on and off based on the level of charge. Thus they can prevent overcharging. Smart trickle chargers are highly priced due to the advanced safety features they offer. However, thanks to the rapid technology, the prices are on a sharp decline. A smart car battery trickle charger is normally left unsupervised as it can automatically adjust to fit the needs of a charging system. Even though they sport modern style and technology, they cannot charge batteries of all sizes like traditional chargers.
What Is The Difference Between Trickle Chargers And Normal Car Battery Chargers?
A trickle charger slowly charges a battery by replacing power at the rate that equals its self-discharge rate, thus prevents overheating occasioned by overcharging. On the other hand, a regular car battery charger replenishes a battery lost power fast. However, during a quick charge, caution should be exercised to prevent off gassing due to high amperage. In the event, a battery overcharges and overheats, the gases produced are highly flammable and unsafe to breathe. It is, therefore, advisable that you be in a well ventilated area when charging and pay close attention to prevent overcharging.
Top 10 Best Car Battery Trickle Charger Reviews In 2020
Choosing the best car battery trickle charger may be challenging. There are various designs available to select. Below are the best in the market. Continue reading to find out which serves your needs best.
1. Battery Tender Junior Charger and Maintainer
This product is 0.75-amp. that charges and maintains power in your car battery. It is equipped with a microcontroller and an ISM-adaptive charging system. The former preserves the right power levels while the latter allows the gadget to conform to the requirements of your battery. It also has reverse polarity protection, which implies that it will not charge your battery unless correctly connected. What makes this product stand out lies in its ability to analyze your battery condition and then adjust through its four steps charging sequencer that includes initialization, bulk charging mode, absorption mode, and float (trickle) mode. When the battery appears fully charged, Battery Tender Junior Charger switches to float mode by design to replenish the power lost when the battery is sitting idle. However, this charger does not work on AWG batteries but is compatible with all 12v AGM, gel, and lead-acid batteries.
2. Battery Tender Plus Charger and Maintainer: 12 Volt Automatic Float Chargers
Designed with 50 percent more power than battery tender junior, this model is fully automated and temperature compensated to maintain optimum voltage input. It has four charging modes the same as the junior model and works with a similar mechanism when switching modes. It is user friendly with spark-proof and reverses polarity protection for maximum safety. It requires your battery to have at least 3 volts to be able to replenish it. In case the battery is completely drained, then it will not be able to recharge. It is suitable for sealed, flooded, and lead-acid batteries.
3. BLACK+DECKER BM3B Fully Automatic 6V/12V Battery Charger/Maintainer
BLACK+DECKER BM3B 6V and 12V Automatic Battery Charger / Maintainer stands out among the best trickle chargers in the market. You can choose either 6v or 12v manually, depending on your charging requirements. It has built-in circuit protection that prevents reverse polarity, short circuit or overcharging. When the battery is fully charged or topped off, BLACK+DECKER BM3B 6V and 12V, automatically switches to float mode. It also has three ways to connect i.e.; the connection can occur via battery clips, 12V DC Accessory Plug, or battery ring terminal. Furthermore, its AC low voltage compensation ensures maximum performance when used with extension cords. It is suitable for gel, AGM, and wet batteries.
4. Foval Automatic Trickle Battery Charger 12V 1000mA Smart Battery Charger
The Foval Trickle battery charger features a four-step charging platform i.e., initialization, bulk charge mode, absorption mode, and float mode. The charger can also work on boats, lawnmowers, ATVs, RVs, golf carts, among many others. It has LED indicators that can notify you of the charging progress. It contains spark-proof and reverses polarity protection as part of its safety measures. It comes with an eight foot long output cord that makes it convenient when using. The Foval Trickle battery charger is suitable for charging sealed, flooded, and lead acid batteries.
5. LST Trickle Battery Charger Automatic Maintainer for Car
The LST trickle charger is versatile, light in weight, and easy to use. It has a microprocessor controlled switch mode for 6v and 12v manually selectable output. It is built with dust and water resistant materials making it durable. The charger features five charging modes giving it more efficient and can automatically switch between the modes. It is well protected against overcharging, short circuits, reverse polarity. However, charging time might make you change your mind because the device is a little slow, and it may take quite some time to charge a battery fully.
6. BMK 12V 5A Smart Battery Charger & Maintainer: Waterproof Trickle Charger for Car
BMK 12V 5A Smart Battery Charger has some of the best features you can ever find in a portable charger. What strikes you at first is its faulty battery detector function. Before it commences charging of any sort, it diagnoses a battery to make sure it is not defective. The device comprises four charging modes similar to other car battery trickle chargers. BMK 12V 5A Smart Battery Charger has several safety measures that guard against reverse polarity issues, short circuit, and overload through its constant pulse current maintenance features. It is completely waterproof, which makes it most suitable for marine applications.
7. Schumacher SC1319 1.5A 6/12V Fully Automatic Battery Maintainer
If you are looking for a fully automatic 6/12v car battery trickle charger, you cannot go wrong with Schumacher SC1319. It features an auto voltage detection that automatically detects 6v or 12v battery. The reverse hook up protection ensures that the charger cannot operate when the clamps are not correctly attached. It has multi stage charging that gives precision when charging to prevent any damage on the battery that may arise due to overloading. The device is suitable for charging lead acid batteries.
8. NOCO GENIUS1, 1-Amp Fully-Automatic Smart Battery Charger
This portable battery charger is capable of charging 6v and 12v and can maintain any size battery. Its 6 step charging program offers options for charging AGM, lithium-ion, and lead acid batteries. The charge automatically monitors and regulates charge levels by shutting down to avoid overloading. The charge levels and warnings in reverse polarity, overload, or faulty battery are displayed on the LED indicators. The Genius1 battery clamps and eyelet connectors allow for temporary or permanent connections when hooking the charger. The charger can charge batteries that are drained below 1Volt through its force mode function.
9. Aeiusny 12V Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger & Maintainer 5W Solar Panel Power Kit
Aeiusny 12V Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger & Maintainer is made of monocrystalline silicon solar cells that boost photoelectric conversion rate, thereby converting solar energy into electricity necessary for charging a battery unit. The device comes with an inbuilt reverse diode necessary for preventing the battery currents from flowing back to the panel at night. You can use Aeiusny 12V Solar Car Battery Trickle Charger & Maintainer to charge gel, AGM, SLA, wet, and deep cycle batteries.
10. Mroinge 12V 2A Lead Acid/Lithium(LiFePO4) Automatic Trickle Battery Charger
Mroinge 12V battery charger has a wide range of functionality that makes it stand out among top performers in the industry. Its five-stage smart charging program includes Initialization, Trickle Current, Bulk Charge, Absorption Mode, Float Mode, monitors, and regulates charging, guaranteeing your battery maximum performance and maintenance. The charger is adorned with multi level safety protection features that include reverse polarity, short circuit, overheating, spark proof and damaged battery detection. The automatic charge cycle feature switches to float mode after fully charging a battery, thereby inhibiting the charger from releasing the excess power.
How to Choose the Best Trickle Charger?
The market offers several car battery trickle charger options with different features to suit different needs. However, it is important to note that different chargers are mended for different batteries. Therefore, before starting to shop for a charger, consider the below:
- The size of the battery
By saying battery size, it does not imply the physical size, but rather it means the amount of power the battery can be able to store. This forms the basis when it comes to choosing a charger that can be able to replenish your battery sufficiently. Remember, for a battery to charge faster, it requires a charger with more amps.
- Type of battery
When shopping for a battery charger, look out for the type of battery you want to charge. Some chargers are not compatible with some batteries and vice versa.
- Intended outcome
Some people may need a battery charger to keep their car batteries charged while in storage. In this case, it is advisable to go for a low current charger. On the other hand, those required to charge their car batteries quickly for immediate use can acquire a fast charger.
Once you have keenly weighed the above, now you can commence shopping for a car battery trickle charger. Below are some important features you may want to consider as you make inquiries.
- Multi-stage charging
Multiple stages program or modes gives the charger flexibility, thereby enabling it good control over the charging process. The stages vary from charging to include steps such as diagnostics, recovery, soft start, bulk, absorption, trickle, and maintenance. These are key to monitor and regulate charging in progress. The stages program helps to prevent overcharging, which may cause damage to the battery.
- Reverse polarity protector
A good car battery charger should be able to alert you when you hook up the cables inappropriately. Most chargers that are equipped with this feature will simply refuse to charge. However, suppose your battery charger lacks this function. In that case, there is a considerable chance that reversing polarity will lead to sparking and then gas ignition around the battery, leading to an explosion.
- Battery tending function
It is a common feature in a trickle battery charger. Most chargers provide maintenance for batteries by replenishing it at the rate that equals its self-discharge rate. The function is suitable for vehicles that are rarely used.
- Float mode
This feature is essential during battery maintenance as it automatically detects when the battery is full and then backs off to prevent further charging, which may result in overheating.
How to Use a Trickle Charger for Your Car Battery?
A trickle is necessary for those who do not operate their cars every day. The charger can be connected to a stored vehicle to maintain a steady flow of battery power. Keeping the battery well charged helps prolong battery life and spares one the trouble of dealing with a dead battery at the most unexpected and inconvenient time. Below are the steps to consider when you are using a trickle charger for your battery.
Step 1: Ready the battery for charging
Ensure the vehicle is properly parked in an enclosed, well-ventilated area with the engine off and the key out of the ignition. Air is necessary to dissolve excess hydrogen that is common in enclosed places. High hydrogen concentration may result in an explosion or fire. Therefore, it is necessary to take precautions.
Step 2: Choose a suitable ground location
Bearing in mind that using the negative terminal of the battery may cause explosion or fire, choose a good location for attaching the trickle charger’s negative terminal. You can use a section of the frame that has no oil, grime, or dirt. Alternatively, locate a large bolt connected to the chassis or the engine block of the vehicle.
Step 3: Attach the cables
Attach the red alligator clip to the positive terminal of the battery. Ensure a secure connection, then attach the black, negative wire to your chosen ground location from Step 2 above. Do not touch the wires while the charger is connected and switched on. Otherwise, you might suffer from serious shock or injury.
Step 4: Turn on the charger
After ensuring all the cables are well connected, refer to your battery’s manual to know the charger proper settings. Now, plug in your charger and switch it on.
Step 5: Check the display
Check the display to ensure that the device is charging properly. Many battery chargers contain an amp meter that will read lower to 0 on an adequately charged one and higher on a dead battery. Confirm the reading on your charge. Keep the battery connected until charging is complete.
Frequently Asked Question
Is trickle charging bad for a car battery?
A trickle charger is designed to charge a battery and prevent overcharging slowly. It helps prolong battery life and is ideal for those who intend to store their batteries for a long period.
Does trickle charging reduce car battery life?
On the contrary, trickle charging increases car battery life by replenishing the lost currents when a battery self-discharges. Thus it prevents the battery from completely draining or overcharging, which may cause damage.
How long should you trickle charge a car battery?
Since most trickle chargers operate at around 2 Amps, it might take longer to recharge a 12-volt battery again, depending on the depletion level. It may take as long as 24 hours.
Is it safe to leave a car battery charger on overnight?
There is no risk of overcharging while using a high-quality charger. However, it is important to note that the battery should not remain connected to the charger for more than 24 hours. A full charge is normally achieved when a battery is left to charge through the night.
Can a completely dead battery be recharged?
A seriously depleted battery can be charged using a dedicated battery charger designed to feed electricity into the dead battery unit at the rate required to safely and deeply replenish it.
There are various car battery trickle chargers available in the market. Finding the right charger depends on your needs. Affordability plays a key factor as it determines the quality of the device you are willing to acquire. Other factors like portability, usability, and safety also come in handy during the selection process.