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Posted: Apr 27, 2020

What is a Good Car Battery Charger?

Many newer cars can discharge batteries in just a few weeks, if those vehicles aren't being driven regularly or for long enough periods of time. Auto manufacturers know this and many high-end manufacturers, like Ferrari and Porsche now include battery chargers with all their new cars, because they assume many of those cars won't be driven on a regular basis. Just because you don't own a Porsche or Ferrari doesn't mean your car battery may not be in need of a battery charger at some point, so what do you look for in a good battery charger?

While we think our OPTIMA Chargers do a fantastic job with any 12-volt lead-acid battery, including AGM batteries, there are a lot of good battery chargers and maintainers on the market that can also get the job done. So what should you look for? You may hear folks mention "smart" chargers, but what does that mean? We consider "smart" chargers to be microprocessor-controlled and properly-regulated, so they don't overcharge batteries and don't try to charge batteries that cannot accept a charge. The bargain bin chargers you see in the checkout line at big box retailers probably aren't microprocessor-controlled, but if they are, they'll usually mention it somewhere on their packaging (all OPTIMA chargers and maintainers are microprocessor-controlled).

We don't recommend charging our batteries at a rate that exceeds 10 amps and the reason is pretty simple. Many chargers that offer multiple amperage settings may go from 10 amps to 50, 100 or even 200 amps. If those chargers aren't properly-regulated (and many are not), they could overcharge a car battery very quickly. If an average car battery has a reserve capacity of 50Ah, but can't start a car, it may only be 50% discharged. However, if someone connects that battery to a 100-amp shop charger, it could charge that battery back to 100% in well under an hour. Will that person remember to check their voltage periodically or will they forget and come back only after they hear the explosion in their garage or find a battery that is hot to the touch and venting flammable and toxic fumes?

The OPTIMA Digital 1200 Charger & maintainer (pictured above) charges at a maximum rate of 12 amps and only for as long as the battery needs it. Once a battery is fully-charged, OPTIMA chargers and maintainers will automatically go into maintenance mode, preventing an overcharging situation. OPTIMA chargers & maintainers also have no-spark technology, which means you can accidentally touch the alligator clip connectors and they won't make a dangerous spark (remember the fumes batteries vent can be flammable). They also know if you've accidentally hooked up the connectors incorrectly and won't deliver current until a proper connection is made to the battery.

Tenderfoots in the garage will be happy to know that OPTIMA chargers and maintainers also have simple push button prompts to help even an absolute beginner in the garage figure out how to charge their battery. Even if you forget to push a button, if you connect an OPTIMA charger to a battery and plug it in, the charger will eventually turn on by itself, analyze the battery and begin charging it on it's own and then automatically go into maintenance mode at the appropriate time. We would also recommend avoiding "gel" or confusing "gel/AGM" settings, as gel batteries are a different technology than flooded lead-acid or AGM lead-acid batteries and those charger settings may not fully-charge non-gel batteries and could damage them over time. Besides, everyone we've ever met, who thought they had a gel battery in their car or truck really had an AGM battery anyway.

If you need a good battery charger or maintainer, we hope you'll consider an OPTIMA Charger or Maintainer and we can ship either one to your doorstep.

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