Best Car Automotive Battery Chargers 2019

Ignoring a battery or trusting that the alternator of your vehicle is not charged is an emergency remedy. Who was late for work or school because of an empty battery? But there is a better way.

Batteries use chemical reactions to generate electricity (more on that later), but these reactions need to be maintained. Early chargers have got users to set and monitor their functions, but today the best car battery charger can do it all on its own.

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We discuss what battery chargers do and why it is important in the following guide. But first, here are some of our most popular battery chargers available.

A Guide To Buy Best Car Battery Chargers

Once upon a time there was just a kind of car battery that needed only a kind of charger. As more battery types came on the market, we asked for more chargers. In modern times, the best car battery charger combines several functions with automated use.

What Do Chargers Really Do?

To answer this question, it helps to understand the basics of car batteries (or motorcycle or ATV or lawnmowers, etc.). Batteries do not store power. They use chemical reactions and turn that energy into electricity when there is a draw.

Most batteries are lead acid types, such as the usual flooded car battery. These batteries contain lead plates that sit in an electrolyte solution – typically sulfuric acid. The plates are coated with one of many available materials to facilitate a chemical reaction in which a resultant imbalance of the electrons causes them to flow from the negative to the positive plate surfaces via the outer leads.

When charging a battery, the flow of electrons is simply reversed. The electrons move from the positive plate surfaces to the negative terminal. The hydrogen sulfate formed on lead sheets is resuspended in the electrolyte. The battery is now charged and the chemical reaction can recur.

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VRLA Batteries

The simple batteries just described have open cells so that the electrolyte can be topped up. These openings allow the ejection of the gases generated in the charge-discharge cycle. Some newer types use a valve to vent the gases. These are the valve controlled lead acid batteries (VRLA).

Gel

Rather than a liquid electrolyte, these batteries use a jellied substance to prevent spilling. Because it doesn’t evaporate, the gel never needs replenishing. Gel batteries have their own safe charging range to prevent overheating (about 14.3 volts).

AGM

Absorbed Glass Mat batteries use rolled fiberglass sheets soaked in electrolyte. These batteries allow for the efficient flow of electrons, though charging is still required. An AGM battery can tolerate roughly half a volt more than gel batteries without overheating (about 14.8 volts).

Lithium Ion

Although most vehicle batteries fit into one of the above categories, there are a few other options. Since lithium is such a reactive metal, some modern batteries (called lithium ions) use it in their construction. Light and fast-charging lithium-ion batteries place special demands on the voltage. Only a few chargers can handle both lithium-ion and lead-acid applications.

Smart Chargers

Normally, the alternator of a car produces enough power to fully charge the battery. In general, however, a low consumption of the battery is required by devices such as watches that exhaust the charge. Batteries also discharge spontaneously. If enough time has passed, car batteries should be charged with a charger. Repeated deep discharges kill the batteries.

Modern battery charging often has computers on board, which greatly simplifies the guesswork. Depending on the model, these devices can detect the battery type and prevent dumb errors such as reversing the positive and negative connections. They can also help remove the sulfur deposits that may form on the lead plates and prevent recharging.

Critically, these smart chargers can also vary the fee rates. High charging speeds are fine for deeply discharged batteries, but heat becomes a problem when the charge is closer to 100 percent. Smart chargers automatically reduce the charge rate at this point, preventing overheating.