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How Do I Pick the Right Battery Charger?

Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 10/9/2023

Battery charger, battery and terminal cleaning kit

Regular charging is vital to keeping your vehicle battery healthy. That's true of all vehicles, ranging from cars and trucks, to boats, RVs and motorcycles. Today, we're going to take a look at the different types of battery chargers and provide some basic information on how to find the right charger for your vehicle battery.

What are the Three Types of Battery Chargers?

There are a number of different battery chargers, each of which operates slightly differently.

Standard Chargers - Standard chargers work by supplying a constant source of DC (direct current) power to a battery. The disadvantage of a standard charger is that they must be shut off manually. Because of this, it's important to monitor a standard charger in order to make certain that it doesn't overcharge your battery. While most modern battery chargers will be equipped with a float mode that will shut off the charger when the battery is fully charged, it's important to be sure before using it.

Trickle Chargers - Trickle chargers work by supplying your battery with a much smaller amount of electricity designed to charge your battery over a longer period of time. It's important to note, that while a trickle charger uses a slower charging method than a standard charger, it is still possible to ruin your battery due to overcharging if your battery is attached to a trickle charger for too long.

Battery Maintainer - Maintainers are a kind of "smart" charger that will only supply current when your battery's voltage drops below its ideal level. You can keep a battery connected to a maintainer indefinitely, because the maintainer will shut off once your battery reaches its ideal charge and remain that way until the voltage drops again.

How Do I Know What Battery Charger to Use?

Different batteries have different charging needs. Because of this, you need to use a charger that is compatible with the type of battery you are using. Here are a few basic rules to follow in order to select the correct battery charger for your needs:

Rule #1 Make Sure Your Charger Matches Your Battery's Voltage

  • It's incredibly important to use a charger that matches the voltage of your specific vehicle battery.
  • Different vehicles can have different voltage batteries. Cars run on 12-volt batteries. Golf carts, however, sometimes have 6-volt batteries and boats can sometimes have 24-volt batteries.
  • Some chargers will have different voltage settings, allowing you to use them to charge several different types of batteries.

Rule #2 Make Sure Your Charger is Compatible with Your Battery's Chemistry

  • There are a variety of different battery chemistries, including: flooded (wet cell), AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat), gel and lithium iron phosphate.
  • Using a charger that is not compatible with your battery's chemistry can cause damage to your battery.
  • Some chargers have selectable settings for different chemistries, allowing you to charge multiple types of batteries using the same charger.

Visit Batteries Plus Carries the Best Battery Chargers

Need a new battery charger for your car, truck, boat, RV, motorcycle or other powersport vehicle? Batteries Plus has you covered. You'll find plenty of chargers both online and at your nearest Batteries Plus store. You'll also find options for other everyday applications like cell phone chargers and laptop chargers too.

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