How to choose the right battery charger

What is a vehicle battery charger? It charges car batteries, right? How complicated can it be? Believe it or not, there are literally hundreds of models of chargers to fill every situation. What’s your situation? Your particular situation will determine which vehicle battery charger you will choose for your car.The first question to ask is if you actually need a vehicle battery charger at all or are just looking for an emergency jump starter to carry in your car. Battery chargers typically stay at home in the garage or shop and are plugged into household current in order to charge a battery, and in many cases, maintain its charge as well. Jump Starters are really portable batteries with built-in jumper cables that you can carry with you in your car and in an emergency, use to jump start your low car battery. If you’re looking for a jump starter, this article is not for you. I will write another article on how to choose a jump starter.

Battery Size and Voltage

Next you need to ask yourself, in what vehicle will the battery be used; a car, boat, light truck, garden tractor, classic car, etc.? The vehicle will determine whether the device will need to charge a large battery or a small one and if it needs to handle only 12 Volts or will need to also handle 6-Volt applications. A common inexpensive car battery charger for home use can typically accommodate 12-volt batteries and in some cases, will handle 6-volt batteries as well. If you don’t have a need for 6 Volts (some classic cars and some tractor batteries), and don’t think you ever will, then you can save money if you choose a 12 Volt vehicle battery charger. These days, some of the best home chargers are still relatively inexpensive and will handle both 6- and 12-Volt applications.

Vehicle Battery Charger: Schumacher SP-1 Full ViewBattery Chemistry

And you thought you left chemistry behind at school… I promise I will make it simple! Most all car batteries are lead-acid batteries with lead plates in an acid bath. Where they differ in chemistry is whether they are standard lead-acid, AGM, Gel Cel, or Deep Cycle. You don’t need to know what those chemistries mean, you just need to know which type they are. Not all chargers are designed to handle the special needs of AGM, Gel Cel or Deep Cycle types. Most are standard lead-acid. The specialty types can be found in applications designed for other equipment besides cars.

Fully Automatic

Battery chargers can be manual or automatic. Many are fully automatic which means they can detect when your vehicle’s battery is fully charged and automatically switch to a maintenance charge or float mode to protect it from overcharging. This is an important feature that is available on many better-quality vehicle battery chargers.