There’s nothing more soul destroying than jumping into your car and turning the key, only to hear the death throes of a flat battery. It can strike when you least expect it, and can be a major inconvenience if you’re in a hurry or have somewhere to be. But did you know there’s a way of quickly getting yourself going again with minimal fuss?
Buying a reliable portable car battery charger can be the solution, but it can be tricky knowing what to buy. Lucky for you, we’ve done the hard work by putting together this buying guide on how to choose the right one for you, including our ranking of the top 10 best in the UK on Halfords, Amazon and eBay. With tips on selecting the correct voltage and safety features for your engine, you'll be able to get your car's battery recharged, repaired and optimised in no time!
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Table of Contents
If a portable car battery charger definitely sounds like something you’d find useful, you'll need to know what to look for to make sure it will works with your car. In this guide, we’ve covered all the main considerations that you need to be aware of when searching for the right one.
To make sure that a portable battery charger will work with your car there's a few things that you should check to make sure they're compatible. If this seems a bit confusing, we’ve broken it down for you to make it easier!
Cars can have different types of battery. You should check which type your car has so that you can be sure your chosen portable car battery charger will be compatible. The two most common types of battery are lead acid batteries (wet, gel, sealed, VRLA and AGM) and calcium batteries.
The easiest way for you to check what type of battery your car has is to pop the bonnet and have a look as your existing battery will be labelled with its type. From there you can start to narrow down what portable car battery chargers will be suitable.
Accidentally using the wrong type of charger for your car's battery can cause irreparable damage, as it could use too much current for your car's battery to handle. It is therefore very important that you ensure your chosen charger and your car's battery are compatible.
As with battery types, you should also check the voltage of your battery to make sure your chosen charger will work. Most car battery chargers are available as either 6V, 12V or both, so have a look to see whether it’ll be suitable for your car.
Again, you can check the voltage of your car's battery by looking at the label. Failure to take note could cause damage to the battery, making it unusable and resulting in you needing to replace it.
A bigger engine needs a bigger battery, which in turn needs a more powerful charger! If you accidentally buy a battery charger that is undersized for your engine then it won't be powerful enough to fully charge the battery.
Make sure you know the size of your car's engine to be sure that your chosen portable charger will be capable of fulfilling the task when you need it to!
Portable car battery chargers can have a variety of different modes and functions, most of which have been added by the manufacturer to make the charger more appealing. However, there are two manual modes that you should pay attention to for charging and maintaining your car’s battery, and a third that can take away the guesswork.
Recharge mode pretty much does what you would expect it to, in that it recharges a flat battery so that it will work again. Repair mode is also useful, as it removes the lead sulphate crystals (sulfation) that build up over time in your car’s battery and impair its ability to hold charge, which improves its performance.
The third option is a smart charger, that charges, protects and repairs your car's battery automatically. This allows the battery charger to detect the condition of the battery and apply the fastest charge available, or perform the repair function to remove sulfate build up. You simply attach it to your car’s battery, and it does the rest!
A lot of modern cars are fitted with engines that automatically stop when the car is stationary, and restart when you press the accelerator. These are known as start stop engines.
If your car has a start stop engine you should check that your chosen portable car battery charger is compatible with this type of engine, otherwise it won’t charge the battery effectively.
Auto shut off prevents over charging when the battery is at capacity. It also stops too much power being applied if the charger isn't suitable for the battery. It does this by monitoring the charge flowing between the ports, and if it is too high it automatically shuts off.
Reverse polarity protection can help you avoid any damage that may be caused by attaching the wrong charging lead to the wrong battery port. In batteries where this isn't feature, attaching the positive lead to the negative port, or vice versa, will completely destroy the battery making it useless.
Finally, overheating protection is fairly self explanatory. The charger monitors the temperature of both itself and the battery as it's charging, and if the temperature gets too high, it automatically switches off to prevent any damage.
Portable car battery chargers can also have additional features to make them more user friendly, such as LED screens and USB charging ports.
While these are by no means essential, they can be very useful and may make the difference between a charger that you use occasionally, and one you use on a regular basis.
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Genius 10 Smart Charger
Smaller, Lighter, and More Powerful
Genius Smart Battery Charger
Smart Technology Optimises Your Battery's Performance
CT5 Time to Go Fully Automatic Battery Charger
Tough, Durable, and Will Withstand Extreme Temperatures
Advanced Smart Battery Charger Plus
A Sleek, Intuitive Design That's Easy to Use
C3 Battery Charger
Very User Friendly With One Button Operation
Battery Charger & Maintainer
A Charger That's Used and Approved by AA Patrols
Fully Automatic Battery Charger
Get Clear Readings of Your Battery's Status on the LED Screen
Automatic Battery Charger
Protects Your Car's Battery From Overcharging
Intelligent Battery Charger
Optimises the Battery With Minimum Stress During Charging
12A Smart Battery Charger
Keep Batteries Topped up on a Wide Range of Vehicles
One that you can truly depend upon, it's been optimised for all temperatures with an integrated thermal sensor that adjusts the charge to suit the unit's surroundings to give you peace of mind that it won't overcharge or damage your battery. This is a great buy that's sure to pay for itself, and that's why we've chosen it for our top pick!
Simply plug in this battery charger and its advanced smart charging technology automatically monitors and maintains your battery to optimise its performance. Ideal for use on most vehicles from trucks and cars, to smaller engines like lawnmowers and scooters, all while being backed by NOCO's 5 Year warranty.
This charger is really small and lightweight, but feels durable enough to withstand the test of time. It offers great value for money, and is sure to be a wise investment for your car maintenance tool kit.
This is a really convenient and easy to use charger unit. It's dependable and has a wide range of applications that are sure to become invaluable very quickly.
Simple to use, the Halfords Smart Charger Plus has a sleek, uncluttered design that applies an advanced charging cycle without any input from you. It automatically selects the fastest charging mode to efficiently charge the battery, with a repair phase that helps it last longer and improves the battery condition even in colder weather.
The cold weather features on this charger are fantastic. We especially like that it will charge your car's battery really quickly, no matter how warm or cold it is!
The main reason we've marked this down is the cost. It's a good charger from a premium brand, but doesn't have anything that makes it stand out enough to justify the higher price.
This battery charger and maintainer is used and approved by AA Patrols. It's suitable for most car batteries and perfect for situations where a top up is needed, whilst minimising any possible risk of battery damage. The inbuilt microprocessor automatically adjusts to the right current and voltage for the level of charging.
Once again, this charger is better for maintaining a battery and keeping it optimised, rather than charging a near flat battery. If you need something that can deal with low levels of charge then this may not be the best option for you.
This charger is easy to connect, and the clear digital display shows key details such as charging status, battery status, and charge voltage. Suitable for all kinds of vehicles, this charger will keep them all fully charged and maintained year round.
Disappointingly, this unit does not seem to work as well during the winter, which results in inaccurate readings. The casing also feels a bit flimsy, but it is compact, lightweight and quite effective overall.
This charger from Halfords automatically switches to a lower charge rate once it detects that the battery is full. This protects the battery from damage via overcharging and always leaves it at full capacity.
It's ideal for medium cars, lawnmowers and leisure batteries, and comes with fully-insulated battery clamps. The leads could be a longer length to make it more adaptable, but if you're looking for a straight forward, no nonsense charger, then this is a great buy from a trusted car brand.
Einhell's intelligent battery charger has a smart electronic control system that analyses the connected battery and automatically starts the appropriate functions according to its status. This unit is water and dust resistant, and the charging function is designed to minimise stress on the battery to ensure it's maintained at an optimal level.
Unfortunately, this charger doesn't work on batteries with a very low charge. So if you routinely need to recharge a nearly flat battery, this unit won't be suitable for you.
Ring is a market leader in car electrics, and their smart charger is ideal for keeping 12V car batteries in shape and working with optimal performance. Suitable for a wide range of vehicles, including motorbikes and campervans, this model can be used on batteries that haven’t be used for a long period of time, to keep them in good condition.
This charger is fairly noisy to use, and operating it isn't very intuitive so you may need to refer to the instruction manual a fair bit. However, once you've mastered how to operate it, this is a really useful piece of kit!
Car batteries need to be maintained to optimise their performance and overall life. Different factors can affect your car's battery life, from only making short car journeys so it doesn't fully charge, to extreme low or high temperatures due to the weather. So having a solution to getting you back on the road quickly is a worthwhile investment.
Portable car battery chargers are units that you can have easily to hand to recondition, recharge, and optimise your car's battery. They connect to a power socket and convert the mains power into the right voltage for your battery - which can be great in getting you out of a sticky spot if your battery has gone flat!
While keeping your car's battery maintained and topped up can help keep you moving, there are certain pieces of equipment that can help you stay safe even in the most inclement weather. From snow chains, to jump starters, check out our other articles below to ensure you stay safe on the road.
That concludes our listing of recommended portable car battery chargers. We hope you found all the information you needed to be able to buy the ideal charger to help keep you and your car on the move!
Author: Catherine Torrance
No. 1: NOCO | Genius 10 Smart Charger
No. 2: NOCO | Genius Smart Battery Charger | G750UK
No. 3: CTEK | CT5 Time to Go Fully Automatic Battery Charger | 40-162
No. 4: Halfords | Advanced Smart Battery Charger Plus
No. 5: Bosch | C3 Battery Charger | 018999903M
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