When it comes to car accessories, two of the most important items to have on hand are a spare tire and a set of jumper cables. That said, what happens when you’re taking a trip on the open road and there’s not a car or care in sight? Or, if you’re storing a boat or car for a couple of months in cold weather, how can you ensure the battery won’t die? Jumper cables require another vehicle to start your engine, which means if you’re stranded with a dead battery, you’ve hit a dead end.
Fortunately, car battery chargers can quickly and efficiently power your battery. Some are more like jump starters that work immediately and some require some time to juice the battery to the point where you can start the vehicle. Some are portable and can be recharged when not in use, while others need to be plugged in to function. But at the end of the day, the goal is charging the battery so the engine can start and all chargers do that well. Thankfully many car battery chargers do more than just charge batteries.
Depending on the model, the best car battery chargers can put air in car tires and even charge your mobile devices in minutes. Unlike traditional jumper cables, they’re incredibly easy to use and can be used again and again if you keep them charged and take care of them. And because most car battery chargers come with a whole host of built-in safety protocols, you don’t have to worry about stray sparks or adding the wrong voltage to the battery.
Given all the benefits for long-term battery maintenance or emergency charging, a car battery charger is a purchase you want to make before you need it. That’s why we rounded up some of the best car battery chargers below. There are all-around solid car battery chargers for most cars, some budget-friendly options with fewer bells and whistles and a high-quality charger best for bigger engines.
1. Nexpow 2000A Jump Starter
This car battery charger is a great combination of power, portability and utility. It is small enough to carry in one hand. This also means you can easily fit it in one of those pockets behind your seats or in the rim of the spare tire in your trunk. This little puppy can jump everything from a diesel engine battery to charging your phone. That’s right, beyond jumper cables, it also comes with USB-A ,USB 3.0 and USB-C ports. And it’s only $100. How’s that for power, portability and utility?
2. HULKMAN Alpha85 Jump Starter
The HULKMAN Alpha85 Jump Starter can start vehicles with gas engines up to 8.5 liters and diesel engines up to 6 liters, ranging from motorcycle engines to heavy-duty trucks. The large LCD screen simplifies monitoring the process and the starter comes with standard safety features as well as USB-A, USB-C and 12V DC ports. You can get up to 60 starts on a single charge, less depending on the vehicle we bet, and the starter will stay charged for 1.5 years without energy loss. The HULKMAN isn’t really a car battery charger so much as a jump starter, but for bigger cars and trucks, a starter can be a much more effective solution.
3. NOCO GENIUS1 Smart Charger
For a totally low-impact car battery charger solution, you can turn to the NOCO GENIUS1 Smart Charger. It plugs directly into the wall, can reach car batteries with its 6-foot cables and can charge the vast majority of standard batteries. If you need to maintain multiple batteries, this can be a great, simple solution.
But because it’s a small unit, it only offers 1 amp, so it will take some time to recharge the batteries. We would also note that depending on where your outlets are located, it could be difficult to get your car close enough.
4. Audew Jump Starter
This is a great choice if you are looking to have a backup plan for your car battery, but also don’t want to spend too much either. The Audew Jump Starter can quickly bring your dead car battery back to life, but also charge your phone and other mobile devices thanks to USB 3.0 and USB-A ports. And for other repairs, you can fire up the handy flashlight to help you see in less than optimal lighting conditions or flag someone down with the strobe setting. It’s portable and comes with a small carrying case.
5. Halo Bolt Air
This looks more like a hard drive for your computer as opposed to a car battery charger, but don’t let the size and shape full you, it’s an incredibly handy piece of equipment to have stored in your car. Set this thing on top of your battery and plug in the jumper cables, connect to your battery and you’re pretty much set. It has protection against reverse polarity so if you connect the wrong cables to the wrong ends, you don’t cause any damage. And if your battery dies while it’s dark out, the helpful light will come in handy. Plus, it can even charge your phone or other mobile devices thanks to USB ports.
6. Stanley Simple Start
EASIEST TO USE
Plenty of us out there feel that what sits under the hood of our cars might as well be from another planet. For those who are completely out of their realm when it comes to car trouble and repairs, the Stanley Simple Start is a great solution. Yes, it does come with jumper cables for those with a bit of know-how. But for those who would rather not open the hood, just plug it into your car’s 12-volt DC outlet (the cig lighter for those who are old enough to remember those) and wait a few. When the light turns green, your car battery is charged and ready to go.
7. Schumacher SC1309
BEST FOR THE GARAGE
To this point, our picks have been of the portable variety, but maybe you just want a reliable car battery charger for your car or boat that lives in your garage. The Schumacher SC1309 fits the bill. That’s not to say it’s not portable at all — the wheels and handle have something to say about that — but the size and power of this car battery charger make it more appropriate for staying put. It has a ton of power to jump and quickly charge car and boat batteries and has built-in controls that monitor the amperage and provide an optimized charge that won’t damage your batteries. It can even tell you if your alternator is going bad.