Deciding which battery charger to buy
A battery charger buying guide
Battery chargers can extend the life of batteries that need a charge and are helpful tools in many situations. Battery chargers are often found in the auto tires section of a store. Generally, a battery charger is a battery booster that will replace charge in a battery, but there are many different types of battery chargers on the market today. With a multitude of options available to you, how do you decide which battery charger to buy? You can answer this question by considering a few key points.
>> What will you use the battery charger for?
The types of machines you use and the types of batteries those machines use will greatly affect which battery charger to buy. There are generally three types of batteries:
- Lead acid batteries are the standard type of batteries used in most cars. Lead acid batteries conduct electricity from the charge formed between two oppositely charged lead plates sitting in a pool of acid and water.
- VRLA batteries use the same method as lead acid batteries to charge but don't require ventilation or water replacement. VLRA batteries are commonly used in ATVs and snowmobiles, because they're lighter and more weather-resistant.
- Deep-cycle batteries are lead acid batteries as well, but they discharge most of their capacity at once. These batteries are commonly used for boats, golf carts, forklifts, wheelchairs and power tools.
Many chargers are compatible with one or two of these types of batteries. Read the owner's manual or check the model number on your batteries to determine compatibility. Knowing the batteries you use in your machine is a good first step to figuring out how to buy a battery charger.
>> How much charge does your machine need?
Battery charge is measured in amps, and most batteries can sustain a wide range of charge. It is often a matter of how long you have to charge your battery. A consistent 12-amp charge will charge most car batteries quickly. Many battery charger designs will have a variable charge rate so that you can choose 20-amp charges or 50-amp charges to quicken the time needed to charge the battery. Machines other than cars often require less charge, however. Some types of batteries will have 8-amp or 2-amp charge options to charge motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile and lawn tractor batteries. Check your owner's manual to find out the charge rate that your battery can sustain before you decide which battery charger to buy.
>> Do you need emergency start capability?
Some auto battery chargers can exert enough power to start an engine. A 150-amp boost is enough charge to go from the battery charger through the battery to the ignition system in the engine. This feature is great for emergencies and for car batteries that tend to die in the cold. There are some battery charger models made especially to jump start an engine in an emergency. These models can be small enough to fit into your glove compartment. You should again check your car's owner's manual to make sure that your battery can sustain the type of boost required to start the car's engine.
>> Would jump starter cables work for you?
A set of jump starter and cables is a good option for people who want emergency protection for situations when their car's battery doesn't start. Jump starter and cables will transfer electricity from another car's battery to your car's battery so that your car's battery has charge again. A set of jump start and cables is helpful in emergencies. These battery cables will work in any condition, whether rain, sleet or snow. The clamps have the capability to handle 500 amps of charge and the cables often come with a tangle-free feature.
>> Consider portability
Different types of battery chargers come in different sizes. Some battery charger designs are about the size of a briefcase or a backpack. Other battery chargers are larger and come with wheels to move around more easily. You should consider how you will use your battery charger to decide how important portability is. Battery charger designs with wheels are good if you plan on using your battery charger in a garage or workshop, while case types of battery chargers are good for everyday home use.
>> Consider accessories
Battery charger accessories can help you decide which battery charger to buy. Some battery chargers come with a digital display of charge percentage, while others have some automotive diagnostic tool features. For people who want added protection from battery charger misuse, reverse hookup protection is a great battery charger feature to consider. Float mode monitoring can extend the life of your battery. This battery charger feature stops charging the battery once the battery has reached its full charge. These accessories can help improve your automotive electronics condition and protect other machines as well.
The many different types of battery chargers on the market today can make it difficult to shop for a battery charger. If you keep the amount of charge you need and the type of batteries you have in mind, deciding how to buy a battery charger can be a relatively easy task, though. Keep such things in mind as you navigate this and other useful automotive tools and equipment.