A 12V battery charger is an essential piece of equipment for anyone who regularly rides a motorcycle or off-road vehicle. They’re also great for batteries used occasionally, like for seasonal use or as a back-up battery for an RV.
Not all chargers are designed for the same purpose. Some are for jump-starting, some are for refilling the charge, and some are for maintaining a consistent charge. The first choice you have to make when you’re shopping for a charger is exactly what you need it for.
We’ve picked out the 10 best 12V battery chargers and reviewed them on the list below. There’s something here that will suit every need and situation. If you’re in the market for a new charger, read on below! You’ll find one that’s a perfect fit.
Top 3 12V Battery Charger Comparison Chart
Foval Smart Battery Charger
LST Trickle Charger
Ampeak Smart Battery Charger
|3.9” X 2.4” X 1.3”
|1.5” X 3.2” X 1.7”
|9” X 6.5” X 12”
|Smart charger (manual option)
Best 12V Battery Charger Detailed Reviews
1. Foval 100mA 12V Smart Battery Charger
Let’s start with the basics. This affordable trickle charger is nothing fancy, but it will charge any 12V SLA or AGM battery. It’s a compact little thing, too, no more than 4 inches on aside. That’s the perfect size to throw in your glove box, or into your backpack for an off-road adventure.
Another advantage of simplicity is that it makes it easy to use. You can attach it onto your battery in seconds and removing it is just as easy. If you prefer, you can even safely leave it plugged to the battery full-time in a maintenance application.
This isn’t the best charger if you want to charge things quickly. If you want to charge them safely on the cheap, though, you want this Foval automatic charger.
- Least expensive option on the list
- Pocket-sized for convenience
- Safe to permanently connect to a battery for maintenance
- Quick and easy to hook up and remove
- Includes ring connectors as well as alligator clamps.
- No diagnostic or analytic functions
- Charging is relatively slow.
2. LST Trickle 12v Lead Acid Battery Charger
If you’re looking for the most portable 12V battery charger, this LST trickle charger is one of your best options. It’s also one of the least expensive choices here, so budget-minded shoppers will want to give it a look, too.
While this 12V battery charger does have a high enough current for a car battery, it really excels for smaller vehicles. Since it has both 6V and 12V modes it works on a lawnmower or golf cart battery without overcharging. Its small size means you can easily use it as a maintainer, as well.
Speed is the only real downside of this super-compact 12V battery charger. It just doesn’t have the capacity for a quick charge. For maintaining off-road vehicles, though, it’s a sure bet.
- Most compact option on the list
- Great value
- Suitable for both 6V and 12V batteries
- Fully-sealed outer casing resists water and dust
- 4-stage charging process increases battery lifespan
- The interface isn’t very useful
- Takes a while to charge
3. Ampeak Winter Mode 2/8/15A 12V Smart Battery Charger/Maintainer
The issue some people have with smart chargers is that they don’t give you the option of switching to manual control. If it doesn’t automatically sense the right power levels, you have no way around it. This Ampeak Winter Mode charger, on the other hand, gives you full control along with an automatic mode.
As you might guess from the name, this is the best 12V battery charger to use in extreme weather. It’s designed to give cold batteries enough power without damaging them or lowering their lifespan. Additional protection against over-heating and over-charging make it one of the safest chargers you’ll find, too.
This is on the bigger side, as chargers go, but it’s also a veritable tank. The ABS shell can even protect it from fire, so you definitely don’t need to worry about the heat from an engine. There’s also a storage area on the back for the cables, which makes it more convenient to store.
- Has an option of choosing charging rate automatically or manually
- Specifically designed to work well in cold weather
- User-friendly LCD display
- Multiple layers of protection against over-heating and over-charging
- 6-step-program includes desulphation process
- ABS outer shell protects from damage and temperature fluctuations
- Not very compact
- Won’t revive a completely discharged battery
4. BMK 12V 5A Portable Smart Battery Charger Maintainer
If you’re charging a boat battery, you need to plan for the possibility that the charger will get wet. That’s what makes this BMK charger such a perfect choice for marine use. The casing is completely waterproof so you can use it worry-free in any environment.
This is a relatively compact little charger, too. It only weighs a couple of pounds and it’ll fit in most toolboxes or glove compartments. While you shouldn’t leave it out in the elements full-time, it can handle a lot of different environments without a problem.
You might expect the waterproofing to jack up the price, but this is honestly a great value for a 5-amp charger. Our only complaint is that the interface doesn’t give you much information. Strictly in terms of performance, though, it’s an excellent option for both land and water vehicles.
- Completely waterproof and ideal for marine applications
- Weighs less than two pounds
- Ideal for trolling motor applications
- Helps stabilize your battery’s inner chemistry to extend its life
- Easy to use and charge
- Can disulfate and restore damaged batteries
- Not a very comprehensive interface
- No fan means it can overheat after long use
5. MOTOPOWER MP00205A 12V 800mA Fully Automatic Battery Charger/Maintainer
If your budget has you shopping more in the under twenty bucks price range, you can still get a decent portable charger with this Motopower model. It can be used for both charging and maintenance, too. The inclusion of two connection options makes it even more versatile.
We’ll say right off the bat this isn’t the best battery charger for car use. The charging current is less than an amp, so it’ll take a while to get you up and running. It’s a better choice for things like ATVs and motorcycles. In our opinion, its best application is the long-term maintenance of these batteries.
The lower power does have one benefit: it’s physically smaller, too, weighing less than a pound. This portability is another point in its favor for recreational vehicles. If you don’t need a lot of power, you can save yourself some money with this little gem.
- Budget-friendly price
- Energy-efficient design
- Weighs less than a pound
- Constant Pulse Current function with built-in charge protection
- Simple plug-in operation
- Includes both alligator clamps and SAE rings
- Very low charging current
- Can overcharge batteries if you don’t keep an eye on it
6. Battery Tender (022-0186G-DL-WH) 12V 5 Amp Battery Charger
Safety is important in any auto battery charger. It’s especially important if you’re using it to float charge or conduct other long-term maintenance. If that’s your main concern, this Battery Tender model has the most sophisticated safety features of any on the market.
Redundancy isn’t normally a good thing, but it is for safety features. It means there are multiple levels of protection in place against power surges, sparking, or overheating. Not only will it shut off if there’s a problem, but it also won’t even turn on unless you’ve made a good connection.
This is an especially great option for float charging applications. You can truly plug it in and forget it until you’re ready to use your battery. It might not be the most powerful 12V battery charger, but if you’re looking for reliability it’s a good choice.
- Resists water damage making it great for boat applications
- Doesn’t have a dampening effect of trickle charges
- Equally effective at charging and long-term maintenance
- The high output gives you a faster-charging speed
- Uses smart microprocessor with ISM technology
- Fully protected against sparks and overcharging
- Not fully weatherproofed against cold
- The charge rate is slow, especially for deep discharges
7. NOCO Genius G7200 12V/24V 7.2A UltraSafe Smart Battery Charger
NOCO is known for packing a lot of power into a small package. The G7200 is the best car battery charger if you have a larger or more powerful engine. With a bigger capacity, it can also charge batteries twice as fast as traditional smart chargers.
Every detail of this charger is designed with the user in mind. It’s streamlined and compact, weighing less than five pounds. It’s also rubberized, scratch-proof, and water-resistant. Basically, you can use it wherever, whenever – and count on it to work reliably every time.
This also might be the smartest charger on the market. The automatic mode selection is accurate and efficient. It has comprehensive diagnostic functions, too, so you can be confident in your battery’s performance.
- Can charge both 12V and 24V batteries
- Charges batteries 2X faster
- Redundant safety features make it spark-proof and worry-free
- Protected against damage from UV, water, and impacts
- Safe to leave connected to your battery
- Automatically diagnoses problems with the charge or battery
- Higher cost
- The interface isn’t very intuitive
8. CTEK 56-353 Multi US 7002 12-Volt Battery Charger
Many major luxury auto brands use CTEK chargers in their factories. If you’re curious, this includes high-performance companies like Corvette, Porsche, and Lamborghini. If these chargers are trusted by the makers of these vehicles, you can definitely trust it in yours.
The versatility of this charger is probably its biggest selling point. Its four charging modes let you use it for charging or maintenance. It can even recondition and desulphate your battery in Recond Mode, bringing a once-dead battery back to life.
This is a great option if you need a heavy duty battery charger. It’s safe and reliable enough to leave connected to a battery for permanent maintenance. The all-weather performance and multiple charging modes round out its impressive list of features.
- Tests, charges, and maintains battery all in one
- Pulse charging system increases battery’s overall life
- Can operate in a wide range of temperatures (-4°F to 120°F)
- The low ripple effect for safer, cleaner charge
- Safe to use as a permanent battery maintainer
- Recond Mode can disulfate and restore damaged batteries
- Efficient charging with a low back drain
- On the expensive side
- Can get very hot during extended charging
9. BLACK+DECKER BC15BD Fully Automatic 12 Amp 12V Bench Battery Charger/Maintainer
Most chargers can’t work as jump starters and vice versa. If you’re looking for something that can do it all, check out the BC15BD from Black+Decker. It’s a powerful, versatile lead acid battery charger that also lets you keep tabs on your battery’s health.
A lot of smaller chargers use simple light indicators for the charge status. These can be frustrating for laymen to interpret. On the BC15BD, the LCD display screen solves that problem. You’ll see your battery’s status, the progress of the charge, and other helpful info at a glance.
And that ease of use is our favorite thing about this charger. It provides the perfect amount of power to charge a GEL, WET, or AGM battery automatically and safely. The built-in alternator check diagnoses systemic problems, to boot.
- LCD display screen makes it very user-friendly
- Alternator check provides more insight into your engine’s power handling
- ETL Certified for safety
- Automatically switches modes to suit your battery’s needs
- 40 amp engine start jump-starts batteries in about 90 seconds
- Charges 40% faster
- Too bulky for easy portability
- No manual trickle charge option
- Some consumers report receiving faulty units
10. Schumacher SC1305 12V Fully Automatic Battery Charger
In the same vein as the Black+Decker above, this Schumacher can both start and charge batteries. It takes things a step further, though, with added power and performance modes. It’s a convenient option for repair shops as well as your home garage. Even better, built-in protection and monitoring mean you’ll never have to worry about it damaging your battery.
Now, this is a bulkier unit, weighing over 10 pounds. It’s not the kind of charger you can leave plugged onto your battery for long-term maintenance. While it will fit nicely into a car’s trunk, I wouldn’t say it’s easily portable.
When it comes to performance, however, this Schumacher is impressive in all its modes. The boost function is very helpful for starting batteries that have been completely discharged. This is the best battery charger if you want a powerful all-purpose device.
- Can be used for starting or charging
- Built-in reverse hook-up protection
- Smart systems adjust current level automatically
- Boost mode provides a powerful jolt to revive dead batteries
- Monitors and optimizes battery performance in float mode
- Too bulky to be considered portable
- Not suitable for long-term continuous maintenance
- Higher cost
The Bottom Line: The Best 12V Battery Charger
There are merits to all of the chargers on this list – that’s why we included them! If pressed to pick one as the best, though, we have to say it’s the Noco Genius G7200. Not only is the capacity impressive, but the safety features and build quality are top notches. The super-quick charging time is nice, too.
The biggest reason to go with a different model would be the price. You likely noticed there’s a significant price difference between the top and bottom entries on this list. If you only need a little power, you can get it cheaper elsewhere.
Hopefully, these reviews have helped you figure out the best 12V battery charger for you! Don’t forget to drop us a line in the comments to let us know which one you bought.
1. How long does it take to charge a car battery with a 12V charger?
There’s no single answer to this question, unfortunately. It will depend on the size of your battery, how much it’s been discharged, and how powerful your charger is. On average, though, you should expect it to take between 10 and 12 hours to fully charge a deeply-discharged car battery.
2. How many watts does a 12V battery charger use?
Again, this depends on the charger. The more power the charger puts out at one time, the more watts it will use. You can usually find this information on the product specification page for the battery you want to buy.
3. What is the 12V car battery voltage range as it is charging and discharging?
When we say something is a 12V battery, that’s an indication of its size, not its actual voltage. Most 12V car batteries measure at around 12.6 volts when they’re fully charged. This will go up if the battery’s in use or if you’re charging it. Most batteries will charge at around 13-14.7 volts.