3 Battery Trickle Chargers For Your Car (And Why You Might Need One)

A trickle charger is a simple device that plugs into the outlet in your garage (or outside, where available). The charging unit is connected to the terminals on your battery and a main power source to maintain or add to the charge level of your car's battery unit. Like any other accessory for your vehicle, they can be purchased for premium or bargain pricing levels, depending on your needs. 

Generally speaking, a trickle charger should offer low amperage to affect a slow charge of the battery. This provides for the health and longevity of the unit more effectively than a fast charge will if used routinely. Alternatively, a more substantial unit may fit the bill to juice up a nearly dead battery.

In the same way that electric vehicle range diminishes in cold weather (up to around a 35% dropoff in some instances), cars with an internal combustion engine (ICE) and a standard battery experience starting trouble on occasion when the weather becomes colder. A trickle charger provides a slow infusion of electric current to the battery, keeping it from discharging when not in use and maintaining functionality more efficiently. If you've experienced problems starting the car after long periods on vacation or during the winter, for example, a trickle charger may be the perfect solution to keep your vehicle running without issue.

Battery Tender Plus Charger and Maintainer

Deltran's Battery Tender has been a big name since it launched in 1965. The trickle chargers offered by the company are second to none. With a variety of amperage options available, you have pick of the litter when selecting the appropriate power output for your needs. 

Perhaps the best option of the bunch is the 1.25-amp Battery Tender Plus Charger and Maintainer. Its 12-volt model provides ample trickle charging power and smart charging technology to speed up or slow down the charging output to suit the battery and environment's needs. The tool also provides a maintenance mode to keep your battery charged after any capacity discrepancies are worked out.

The product comes with a 10-year warranty and lifetime support from Deltran. It also incorporates reverse polarity protection to ensure the charger won't activate unless adequately attached (preventing electrical hazards). The charger utilizes a safety shutoff to cease charging after 72 hours of continuous engagement, protecting you if you forget to disconnect the unit.

NOCO Genius5 Smart Charger

The NOCO Genius5 Smart Charger is a more potent charging option than the others on this list. The 5-amp charging device can support 6-volt and 12-volt battery capacities, including lead-acid automotive batteries and others (like tractor, boat, and lawnmower batteries). 

The NOCO 5-amp offering will pump a higher flow of juice into the battery than the other two on this list, providing a far superior charging speed to the 1.25-amp Battery Tender and 1-amp NOCO options. However, this additional speed is offered in a trade with a slight dip in longevity. The slower the trickle charge, the better the tool is for the battery's health overall. Even so, this 5-amp charger provides a happy medium between the speed of a 10-amp option and the stability benefits of a 1-amp trickle charger.

As with the 1-amp NOCO charger discussed below, the Genius5 is underpinned by a thermal sensor that creates precision charging output for temperature fluctuations in the surrounding environment. In extreme cold, your battery may under-charge, and in exceedingly hot weather, the opposite may occur if you use a charger that doesn't utilize integrated thermal regulation tools. This is a fantastic option for those seeking a trickle unit that can protect the health of their car battery during times of disuse or freezing temperatures while also retaining the ability to recharge a dead or near-dead unit efficiently.

NOCO Genuis1 Smart Charger

Last on this list is the Genius1 Smart Charger from NOCO. Like the Genius5, it's a fully automatic charger that uses a thermal sensor to support intelligent function and works with 6-volt and 12-volt batteries. However, the Genius1 provides a 1-amp power supply to your battery, so it isn't up to delivering substantial charging power to your car battery. Instead, it should be used to maintain a consistent charge in the event of a prolonged absence of use or any other reason that might contribute to a long-term discharging of the battery's power.

NOCO's product information suggests that this tool can charge batteries that are down to zero volts. However, the device may underwhelm you when it comes to speed, which is especially true compared to the charging rate of the 5-amp offering from the company. The Genius1 is only $29.95, making it a very inexpensive option by a notable margin. 

Similarly, the device is exceedingly small and can be used to maintain or charge vehicles and tools beyond just your personal car (ATVs, lawnmowers, boats, motorcycles, and others). The thermal sensor detects ambient room temperature to provide the most efficient charging conditions.