Choose the right battery charger for your car

If you have a car in storage, or your car just won't start, you might need a boost from a battery charger and we can help you choose the right one!

Car battery chargers plug into your mains electricity socket and attach to the terminals of your car battery. They can be used to charge up a battery that has run low or to maintain a car battery that isn't being used - for example, if you leave your car in storage.

If you want to know how to charge your car battery, take a look at our guide.

What do they do?

All chargers send electricity to your car's battery, but there are three main functions that they can perform. Make sure that the charger you buy can do what you need it to!

Maintenance chargingAlso called 'trickle' charging, this sends a small amount of electricity to your battery to keep it healthy while it's being stored for long periods of time.

Conventional chargingThis sends power to your battery to charge it up from a low amount of power. It takes between 6-24 hours, but normally about 10 hours to charge a battery to full.

Engine start function: This is the same as jump-starting your car. It takes a lot more power, so is normally seen on more heavy-duty chargers.

What types are available?

There are two main types of battery chargers:

  • Standard and smart
  • Standard chargers
Standard Chargers 

Standard chargers have traditional styling, simple interfaces and limited additional features. While they can be a cost-effective option, they don’t tend to have the more sophisticated functionality that you’ll get in a smart charger. They’re also not suitable for vehicles with start-stop technology.

Best basic charger: The Halfords Automatic Battery Charger recharges and protects batteries in 12V vehicles up to 2L.

It’s suitable for lead acid and gel batteries and can recharge a battery in around 15 hours (based on a 60Ah battery).

Smart chargers

Smart chargers are more technologically advanced and can be used for both charging your battery and as a long-term connection for maintenance charging.

They come with various added features and provide multiple charging stages for more efficient charging, which helps to extend a battery’s lifespan.

They'll also automatically detect the fastest charging mode and will switch to a trickle charge when the battery is full, so there's no risk of over-charging and damaging your battery!

Best smart charger: The Halfords Smart Battery Charger (6A) is compact, easy to use and compatible with 6V and 12V batteries.

With one-touch button operation, it provides a 7-stage charging cycle for lithium batteries and a 9-stage cycle for lead acid/AGM batteries, before switching to long-term maintenance mode when your battery is full.

Best smart charger for car enthusiasts: The NOCO GENIUS5 is one of the most advanced chargers of its kind.

High-performing, energy-efficient and compact, the NOCO GENIUS5 is designed to safely charge and maintain 6-volt or 12-volt vehicle or leisure batteries, including flooded, AGM, EFB, lithium and Start-Stop varieties.

Which one do I need?

If you know what sort of charging you want to do, there are just a couple of things to think about when picking a battery charger:

Engine size: How big is your engine? A bigger engine needs a bigger battery, which in turn needs a more powerful charger! Check that your charger is suitable for the size of your engine.

Battery type: What kind of battery have you got? Lead acid batteries work with all kinds of battery chargers as long as they're suitable, but if you have a gel or calcium battery, or an AGM/EFB battery that’s normally found in cars with start-stop functions, then you’re going to need a smart charger.

Features: What kind of features are you looking for? Do you want a digital display that’s easy to read? Perhaps a winter mode? Specific charging cycles? Have a think about your requirements and that will help to narrow down your options.


What's the best car battery charger?

The best car battery charger is a charger that’s powerful enough to handle your engine size and compatible with your type of battery. These are the two key factors to keep in mind when buying!

Which car battery charger do I need for my van?

Look out for a heavy-duty car battery charger for your van. You may find the right product is listed as servicing your engine size (i.e. 2.0L), or that it’s listed as being a suitable charger for 12V or 24V batteries.

At what amp should I charge my car battery?

48 amp hours is the average capacity of a standard car battery, while the charging speed of a typical charger is roughly 2 amps. From knowing these two figures, you can calculate exactly how long you should be charging your car battery for.

If your battery capacity and charging speeds are 48 and 2 respectively, it will take you 24 hours to charge a battery that is completely flat, to full. Similarly, if your capacity is 60-amp hours and your charger operates at 3 amps, you’ll need 20 hours to charge your battery from flat to full.

Can I use a car battery charger on a motorcycle?

Be extremely cautious when looking to charge your motorcycle battery with a car battery charger. When batteries are overcharged, they lose their capacity to hold electricity, so pay close attention to the capacity of your motorcycle battery and the charging speed of a car battery charger when looking to use them together.

That said, most motorcycle batteries are compatible with the USB connectors you’ll typically find on car batteries, so you should be okay to use them if they seem appropriate for your motorcycle’s engine size.

How can I repair a car battery charger?

We don’t advise tampering with your car battery charger unless you’re a qualified electrician as the internal wirings you’ll find inside your charger are not designed to be DIY serviceable.

That said, the most likely cause of breakage is a blown fuse, and a voltmeter could help to identify whether a charger is actually producing electricity when plugged into the mains. If a charger is producing over 12 volts, it’s probably okay; however, if it’s producing below this amount, a blown fuse is most likely the root of the problem.

Can you leave a battery charger on for too long?

Yes! Smart chargers will pop themselves into maintenance mode to avoid overcharging your battery, however, traditional chargers aren’t capable of this. Be careful not to overcharge your batteries as this could reduce their capacity to hold electricity.

Can I jump start my car with a battery charger?

No. A car battery charger typically won’t produce enough electricity to allow you to jump start your car as they’re designed to deliver small amounts of charge over a long period of time. Instead, you’ll need a dedicated jump starter and you can find our full range here.

Where can I buy a car battery charger?

You can purchase a charger from your local Halfords store or browse our full range of chargers online.

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