Video: How to Choose a Vehicle Battery Charger

Whether in your car, boat, RV, motorcycle or farm tractor, keeping your battery in top condition will help you get off to a great start. Learn how to find the right battery charger for you.
 

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Whether charging or simply maintaining a battery, choosing the right battery charger for the job will help your batteries perform better and last longer. Don't worry-- you've got this. Battery chargers have evolved. Bulky metal can chargers have been replaced by smarter, more compact, more efficient technology. Microprocessors monitor and adjust to deliver a safer, faster, more thorough charge. They can even detect battery problems. Lead acid batteries come in several types-- Flooded, also known as wet or conventional, maintenance-free, deep cycle, absorbed glass mat, or AGM, and gel cell. Some battery chargers use one setting for all battery types, while other chargers require you to select your battery type before charging. In either case, choose a charger that's compatible with the type of battery you plan on charging. Next, pay close attention to the voltage and size of your battery. Choose a battery charger that is compatible with your battery's voltage. Most batteries are 12-volt, and most chargers are designed for 12-volt batteries. Choose a battery charger that will deliver an appropriate amount of charging amps for your particular battery. Charging at too high an amperage can overheat and damage a battery. Charging at an amperage too low can result in unnecessarily long charge times, or your battery may never fully charge. Battery capacity is rated in amp hours. Determine the amp power rating of your battery, and choose a battery charger recommended for that range. As a rule of thumb, your charger's amp rating should be about 1 and 1/10 the amp hour rating of your battery. Say you have a battery rated at 70 amp hours. A charger rated between 5 and 10 amps would be ideal. If you can't determine the amp hour rating of your battery, approximate it by size. If you're looking for a charger that will maintain a battery's charge while not in use over a long period of time, a charger rated at 2 amps or less is recommended. Some chargers have multiple charge rate settings, allowing for a wider range of batteries. Finally, look out for these useful features. Engine start delivers a quick, high-amp boost to the charge level of your battery, useful for starting a dead vehicle. Also referred to as a float charge, this feature allows you to keep the charger safely connected to a battery indefinitely without over-charging, ideal for maintaining a battery in storage. A charger with a reconditioning feature can help reverse sulfate buildup on the internal battery plates of a lead acid battery, restoring performance and capacity. Some battery chargers are designed to be weatherproof, allowing them to be used safely outdoors in rainy or snowy conditions. A multi-bay charger allows you to connect and independently charge several batteries at once. Whether charging or simply maintaining a battery, the right charger will help your batteries perform better and last longer. Use these tips to find the right charger for you. Don't worry-- you've got this.
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