Jumping into your car to find that the battery is flat can be very frustrating. If this has happened to you, using a smart car battery charger that safely restores power to a dead battery is highly recommended. Luckily, there is plenty of chargers to choose from and all of our recommendations are suitable for the UK market because they plug straight into a socket.
If you require a quick answer, the best car battery charger is the CTEK MXS Series, which is available in various amperage ratings and is designed to safely charge a range of battery types. However, if you require a more affordable alternative that’s manufactured by a reputable brand, the AA DFC150 is a great option to consider.
To rate the car battery chargers within this article, we based our recommendations upon our experience and testing of multiple chargers. We also carried out hours of research and considered a number of factors. Some of the factors that we considered included the amperage rating, smart functionality, safety features, display, build quality, warranty and value.
Table of Contents
- The Best Car Battery Charger
- How We Rated The Car Battery Chargers
- Car Battery Charger Buying Guide
Car Battery Charger Comparison
|Car Battery Charger||Smart Features||Amperage|
|CTEK MXS||Yes||3.8 to 10 Amps|
|NOCO Genius 5||Yes||1 to 10 Amps|
|Ring RSC612||Yes||12 Amps|
|AA DFC150||Yes||1.5 to 4 Amps|
|Maypole MP716||No||12 Amps|
|Draper 20486||No||4.2 Amps|
Dealing with a dead battery can be fairly problematic and although you may be able to use a jump starter, it isn’t the safest method. This is because it sends a spike of voltage to the battery to help you start the car. Instead, allowing the battery to fully regain its lost power is highly advised because it won’t cause any damage to the car’s electrics or battery.
The latest selection of smart battery chargers are far more sophisticated than they once were. Manufacturers have focused on improving safety, introducing automatic modes and even optimising the condition of the battery.
Below is a list of the best car battery chargers that are suitable for use in the UK and include multiple smart features to safely recharge dead batteries.
The Best Car Battery Charger
1. CTEK MXS 10 Battery Charger
CTEK are a brand that dominate the UK market and the MXS 10 is the most powerful car battery charger that they offer. It’s suitable for home or professional garages and its compatible with a range of batteries regardless of the size. CTEK themselves even claim that their charger will extend the battery’s life by up to 3 times, which is very impressive.
Other features of the CTEK MXS 10 include:
- 10 amps charging current
- Fully automatic 8 stage charging
- Suitable for all car batteries
- Designed and tested in Sweden
- Can be used indoors or outdoors
- Restores battery life and reconditions dead batteries
- Spark free, reverse polarity connection
- Trickle charging functionality
- Includes a 2 year warranty
Although the CTEK MXS 10 comes with a premium price tag, it’s a worthwhile investment that won’t disappoint. It’s by far the best car battery charger in the UK that’s packed full of smart features and is suitable for all battery types.
2. NOCO Genius 5 Smart Battery Charger
NOCO are a brand that specialise in car battery technology and the Genius 5 is by far their most popular device they have to offer. It’s the brand’s new and improved battery charger for cars and the replacement to the previous G3500 model. According to the brand, the new Genius 5 device is 34% smaller and able to deliver 65% more power.
It’s important to note that the brand offer their new car battery chargers in multiple power options. The power selection includes 1, 2, 5 and 10 amp chargers but for most car owners, a charging current of 5 amps is more than ideal.
Other features of the NOCO Genius 5 include:
- Suitable for 6 or 12V batteries
- Integrated thermal sensor to eliminate over or under charging
- Easy to setup and use
- Fully automatic charging
- Detects sulfation and restores batteries
- Backed by a three year warranty
To conclude, the NOCO Genius 5 is packed full of smart functionality and it’s a well-made car battery charger that won’t disappoint. It also comes with a three year manufacturers warranty and is built by a reputable brand that specialise in battery charging technology for complete peace of mind.
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3. Ring RSC612 Car Battery Charger
Ring are a highly reputable brand that are behind the most popular video doorbell. However, they do offer a number of other products such as the RSC612 Smart Battery Charger. According to the brand, it’s an award winning device that’s suitable for lead acid, gel, EFB, AGM and calcium car batteries.
The brand also offer other chargers but the RSC612 is the best because it comes equipped with all the smart features.
Other features of the Ring RSC612 include:
- Seven stage charging with winter charge mode
- Fully insulated charging clamps
- 4 Diagnostic tests and a maintenance mode
- 12 amp charging current
- LCD display and memory saver
- Rugged protective rubber case
Overall, the Ring RSC612 is an excellent all-round smart battery charger that can fully recharge dead batteries in just 5 hours. It also comes with all of the desirable smart features you’ll require for charging batteries of all types and sizes.
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4. AA DFC150 Battery Charger For Cars
AA are one of the most well-known breakdown companies in the UK and they offer a number of products to assist with breakdowns. The DFC150 is a great example of such product and it’s the brand’s latest car battery charger. According to the AA, it’s the exact model that’s used and approved by the AA patrols that need to charge cars on the roadside.
The standout feature of this particular battery charger is that it’s one of the cheapest available in the UK. However, although it’s a budget option, its still packed full of functionality and built to a high standard.
Other features of the AA DFC150 include:
- Choice of 1.5 or 4 amp chargers
- Compatible with 6 or 12V batteries
- Reverse polarity and short circuit protection
- Automatic current and voltage assessment
- Supplied with crocodile and eyelet connectors
If you require a cheap car battery charger that’s actually worth buying, you can’t go wrong with the AA’s DFC150 charger. It really does tick all the boxes and considering all of its functionality, it can’t be beaten on price.
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5. Maypole MP716 Battery Charger
The Maypole MP716 is a simplistic battery charger that’s enclosed in a metal case for maximum durability. In terms of its compatibility, it’s suitable for all passenger cars and commercial batteries as well as a caravan leisure battery.
Although it’s not a smart car battery charger, it still includes all the safety features that you require for safe charging.
Other features of the Maypole MP716 include:
- 12 amp charging current
- Suitable for 12 or 24V batteries
- Easy to read ammeter
- Fully insulated battery clips
- Overload, reverse polarity and short circuit protection
- Charges up to 180 Ah
- Fast charge and boost functionality
Overall, the Maypole MP176 is a budget battery charger that’s relatively powerful and is able to effortlessly charges dead batteries. It also has the added bonus of being a 24 volt charger, which is fairly unique because not many of the alternatives are able to offer the same type of charging.
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6. Draper 20486 Car Battery Charger
Another affordable car battery charger is the Draper 20486 and it’s a great option to consider. It’s suitable for both home or professional garages and it charges lead acid batteries up to 45 Ah.
The Draper brand are well-known for their superior build quality and the 20486 car battery charger follows that great reputation with a rugged construction and durable copper leads.
Other features of the Draper 20486 include:
- Suitable for 6 or 12V lead acid batteries
- 4.2 amp charger
- 1.5 meter power cable
- Integrated carrying handle
- Lightweight at just 2.5 KG
- Insulated copper leads and battery clips
Overall, it’s a budget car battery charger that’s easy to use and read with an analogue gauge. The lightness and carrying handle also makes it great for transporting to other jobs or around the house too.
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How We Rated The Car Battery Chargers
Due to the fact that we own a number of cars, we often find ourselves topping up the charge on all of the batteries because the cars aren’t always driven regularly.
Over the years, we’ve tried a range of battery chargers but because we tend to use them quite often, we decided to invest into the premium CTEK MXS 10 to keep our batteries maintained. Needless to say, we certainly weren’t disappointed with it and it’s a far better car battery charger than any of the devices we’ve previously used.
As you can see in the photo, the CTEK charger allows us to track which stage of the charging process the battery is at via the LED indicators. You can also see the build quality (clamps, protective sleeve and wires) is at a much higher standard when compared to most of the alternatives on the market too. As well as the CTEK MXS, we’ve also had experience with the NOCO, Ring and AA chargers and they are also great options to consider by reputable brands in the UK.
Along with our experience and testing of multiple car battery chargers, we also based our recommendations upon hours of research and a number of factors. Some of the factors that we took into consideration included the amperage rating, smart functionality, safety features, display, build quality, warranty and value.
Below is a video that we posted onto our Instagram page that shows us testing the CTEK MXS. As you can see, it moves through the stages to give us an idea of its charge status.
This is a great feature to have because it means that you don’t have to rely on guesswork. Once it reaches the latter stages, it also indicates whether its fully charged or on an automatic trickle charge too.
Car Battery Charger Buying Guide
In order to restore power to a dead battery, you’ll require a car battery charger. They are available in a variety of different power ratings that range from as little as 0.75 amps to as powerful as 26 amps.
Along with the choice of amperage ratings, there is also a range of types that include a standard, trickle or smart car battery charger. Regardless of the model you choose, by owning a charger, you’ll always be able to restore power to a battery. To help you make an informed buying decision, we’ve produced the below guide regarding car battery chargers.
Different Types of Chargers
Battery chargers have seen a huge amount of improvement over the last few years. This is because manufacturers have been competing with themselves to produce the best, which has resulted in a variety of different types being available. The main types include a standard charger, trickle charger and the highly recommended smart battery charger.
Standard chargers are the cheapest and they simply charge a battery at a fixed current until it’s fully charged. However, it’s important to note that not every charger will automatically switch off once the battery is fully charged and this may result in overcharging. This can be damaging to the battery and its why you must monitor the charging process when using this type of charger.
The purpose of a maintenance/trickle charger is to keep the battery topped up without overcharging or causing damage. They are designed to provide a low current to the battery in order to maintain its optimum power. This type of charger is perfect for those that have cars they only drive on the weekends or when it’s occasionally sunny in the UK.
Smart Car Battery Charger
By far the best battery charger for cars is one that’s “smart”. In short, it’s a combination of both the standard and trickle charger types but they also include extra features such as:
- Additional safety functionality
- Diagnostic tests
- Battery repair modes
- LED display
- Various charging modes
- … and so much more
If you are able to stretch your budget, we would highly recommend opting for a smart battery charger.
Many brands offer multiple amperage options with their chargers and the higher the amperage, the faster your battery will charge. However, the battery size will determine the length of time it takes for the charger to restore any lost power.
As stated by NOCO, you can calculate the time it takes to charge a battery by multiplying the battery amperage per hour by the depth of discharge. This’ll provide you with the total number of hours required to achieve maximum charge.
In short, if you require fast charging, you should choose a car battery charger with a high amperage rating.
Cables and Clips
Battery chargers need to be able to withstand tough conditions and heavy usage. Therefore, to ensure that the device you choose is long lasting, you’ll want to make sure that the cables and clips are constructed of high quality materials. A good sign that they are built to last include thick copper leads and insulated battery clips.
How To Charge A Car Battery
In terms of using a car battery charger, there are two methods of charging batteries. You can either leave the battery installed without any load or alternatively remove the battery to charge it.
Battery Left in the Car
Removing the battery in some cars can involve quite a lot of effort, which means that leaving it installed may be the best option. Before you connect the charger, it’s important that you ensure all electrical loads are switched off. To ensure that this is the case, you’ll want to remove both the negative and positive cables from the terminals
Some vehicles may suffer electrical malfunctions if you connect the charger with the battery under load. Although it may be safe to do so, we always recommend removing the cables from the terminals for peace of mind.
Removing the Battery
Taking the battery out of the car and placing it indoors is the safest option and it can sometimes be easier too. For example, not all battery chargers are waterproof and you may not be able to run an extension cable to your car.
When you come to installing the battery back into the car, we advise that you double check it’s placed back correctly. This means checking the terminals are next to the matching positive or negative cables and that it’s secured within the battery tray. The RAC have a great guide if you need any further assistance with regards to installing the battery.
Almost all car battery chargers are compatible with lead acid batteries. However, not every charger will be compatible with lithium-ion, AGM, gel or wet cell battery types. Therefore it’s crucial that you double check the battery you have installed in your car is compatible with the charger to avoid any disappointment.
Many chargers may also work with other types of batteries that are used for lawn mowers, caravans and marine applications. Therefore, spending slightly more for a charger that’s compatible can be very beneficial.
Without having access to a car battery charger, you can be left literally stranded with a dead battery. Although you could jump start your car, doing this regularly isn’t advised and it can potentially cause damage to the battery and your car’s electrics. Instead, fully recharging your battery to its optimum condition is the best and safest option.
All of our recommendations listed above are suitable for a range of budgets and cover all the different types available in the UK. Although its not something you use all the time, it’s certainly a device that can save you a lot of time and hassle.