If you’ve ever been out on the road, or ready to head out to work in the morning, and turned the key in the ignition to hear nothing but a clicking sound, you’re not alone. Plenty of us have had our entire day turned upside down by sitting in the car, only to discover that the battery is completely flat and we’re going nowhere. All batteries run down but having a battery charger at hand, when your car is getting low on energy, is essential to keep you moving and can help prevent you having to go to an auto shop.
Of course, like most things, not all battery chargers are the same, and choosing the right one for you and your car is extremely important. Getting it wrong can be just as bad as not buying one at all. Take the time to research and understand what you’re looking for before making a decision, whether you’re a commercial mechanic or a car enthusiast. Zena Racing has a great selection of reviews if you get stuck.
Choosing the Perfect Charger
What exactly should you be looking for in a car battery charger? There are a few criteria that need to be taken into account. First up – the all-important voltage.
Most modern chargers have variable voltage settings that cover 6, 12, and 24-volt batteries. Check your battery voltage before deciding. Getting the wrong voltage can permanently damage the battery. Some chargers also have a scalable voltage, and allow you to increase their charging capacity by adding extra chargers.
Next up is the amperage. Most basic chargers designed for home garages have 10 or 20-amp currents, and work really well for people that need to avoid a flat battery, and a car stuck on the driveway. These low-amperage chargers are great for domestic use, but commercial auto shops need much higher amperage, and you should be looking for something that’s up to 275 amps to get the jump-start you’re looking for. 100-amp chargers are also widely available, and are an excellent option for motorsport fans who need just a little extra juice.
It’s also a great idea to choose a charger that can diagnose issues with the battery. These smart chargers will let you know if the battery has been connected correctly, what its charging status is, and use feedback between the charger and the battery to determine what condition the battery is in. Trickle charge is another excellent feature. This means that once the battery is completely charged, it will remain at 100% as long as it stays connected to the unit, and won’t start running down until it’s unplugged. You can leave your battery to do its thing as you go about your day!
You can also choose a charger that uses maintenance mode. These make sure your battery charge is maintained but doesn’t recharge a drained battery. If you’re running low, you’ll need to switch out of this mode. And don’t forget the short-circuit protection. This is essential to avoid battery blowouts.