There could be times when you decide to keep your vehicle off the road for a long time.
Whether you have another home and can’t take the car with you or you’re simply not in a position to drive for months on end, there could be a reason why you won’t be putting the keys in the ignition for a while.
If you want to maintain the electrical health and consistency of your vehicle, you should consider investing in a trickle charger.
We’ve looked at a huge variety of models and will help you determine which is the right trickle charger for you.
How Does a Trickle Charger Work?
The term “trickle charger” refers to the same concept as what you hear in the name.
By charging the battery at the same rate we see the battery decreasing, your vehicle’s battery will remain at a constant charge after months at a time.
This process only occurs when a car battery isn’t currently loaded. While the battery is operating under a steady process of float-voltage, which is the level a battery measures at when fully charged, it will charge under a similarly-named process of float-charging.
A trickle charger works best when you are storing a vehicle for the winter time or any vehicle typically used under emergency situations, like a rescue vehicle or tow truck.
To reduce the risk of any damage to the battery, you should monitor the trickle charger if you plan to keep it hooked to the battery for a very long period of time.
How Did We Assign Ratings for Each Trickle Charger?
When designing our list to find you the best trickle charger, we took many questions into consideration. What exactly makes a great trickle charger, and how could we best pass on that info to you?
Smart Trickle Chargers
Using a smart trickle charger means that you won’t be dealing with nearly as many cables or levels of confusion to determine your battery level during its dormant state.
Most of what you will see below can be considered smart chargers, mainly due to the safety involved with using another kind of trickle charger.
Without the ability to monitor your battery’s level, there is a risk for the battery to overheat and fry itself.
We took the price of each trickle charger into our factors when deciding on a final rating. While you wouldn’t consider a trickle charger to be essential to your car’s existence, it isn’t an out-of-reach luxury item only available to the ultra-wealthy.
We will go over the factors that go into the price, including charge efficiency and the number of monitoring features available to you as you use it through several months.
We brought this up a couple times already, but it bears repeating. The safety involved in charging something as reactive and powerful as a car battery must be your biggest priority when using a trickle charger.
It won’t be enough for you to just leave it plugged in and forget about its existence.
Thanks to the smart features included in many of these trickle chargers, you can remotely monitor all the necessary levels while your battery hibernates.
Choosing a Trickle Charger for Your Vehicle
Now that you know what to expect from a trickle charger, it’s time to figure out which one you should take home with you. Let’s take a look at some of the best trickle chargers on the market and discover which one will get paired with your vehicle!
- The most versatile all-in-one battery charger any vehicle owner would need to quickly...
- Perfect for keeping your vehicles fully-charged and maintained during year-round battery...
- Works with all types of 6-volt and 12-volt lead-acid batteries, including Wet, Gel, and...
NOCO doesn’t bother with subtlety in their naming of this trickle charger. Seeing the words “genius” and “ultra-safe” suggests a high level of confidence in the charger’s ability to securely keep your vehicle’s battery charged without too much outside monitoring.
We’re happy to report that the NOCO Genius Ultra Safe lives up to both its genius and ultra-safe namesakes. There are lead connectors used to reverse the protection in polarity and prevent any potential overcharging. This lets you keep the trickle charger plugged in while you go do other things without staring at the monitor, waiting for something to happen.
The mini-computer gives you a detailed readout of the battery’s condition while it makes the transition from fully charged to trickle charged. By altering the power flow through the battery, the NOCO Genius Ultra Safe can actually repair damage done to the battery through the powering process.
Pretty cool for something you are supposed to ignore completely, right? This helps to extend the battery’s existing lifespan, saving you the hassle of replacing a car battery before it’s necessary.
With an outer housing consisting of rubber, the trickle charger won’t slip off the surface and destroy the paint job on your vehicle.
Chalk this one up to another concern about your convenience experience – NOCO doesn’t want you wasting your money.
Speaking of money, this is one of the more expensive trickle chargers on this list. That won’t stop us from telling you it’s one of our favorites, and a requirement if you’re looking for a trickle charger that does what it claims.
- Fully automatic: The Battery Tender plus is a 1.25A battery charger designed to fully...
- Fast and efficient: This 1.25-Amp charger will charge as fast or faster than any 3-amp...
- Convenient: Included is a quick connect harness for hard to reach areas. Ac power cord...
Any trickle charger with the name “smart charger” included might sound a little gimmicky. After all, isn’t every charger designed to be smart?
It turns out that the Battery Tender smart charger might just be a genius after all. This device automatically adjusts voltage, allowing a compromise when the temperature fluctuates.
Having a trickle charger that monitors itself might give you visions of a strange dystopian future where cars are operated by androids, but for now, it’s in good hands.
Simply attach the battery to the trickle charger, and you’re all set.
It will start out in a full charge mode, and once it senses the proper levels, quickly shifts to trickle charge mode.
Many trickle chargers require you to keep a close eye on their levels to not worry about overheating, surges, and the like.
The Battery Tender Plus isn’t one of them.
It is a lightweight trickle charger that does exactly what it claims to do. Using this charger guarantees your vehicle will be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
- TRICKLE CHARGER ----- It can charge all types of 12V lead-acid batteries, including...
- FULLY AUTOMATIC ----- No need of any manual operation, just plug and leave it for charging...
- MICRO-PROCESSOR CONTROLLED PROGRAM ----- No worry about overcharge, short circuit and...
Upon first glance, the OrionMotorTech charger might seem a little too basic. Where are all the visual readouts, and the compatibility with mobile devices for app reading?
The manufacturer’s decision to keep all of these features out of the trickle charger means that it comes with an extremely low price tag compared to others.
The fully automatic charger comes equipped with a built-in processor that makes any necessary adjustments during the charge process. Short circuiting, overcharging, and static electricity are all prevented by the OrionMotorTech’s industry standards.
With such a small price, this charger has to come with a drawback or two.
Right off the bat, we learn that the bigger batteries found in trucks, cars, and fully-sized vehicles cannot be fully charged if they completely run out of juice. You can still do this for a motorcycle, but cars and similar vehicles will only receive the top off and maintenance that comes with a trickle charger.
We think the OrionMotorTech is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t plan on letting their vehicle ever completely run out of battery access. Don’t expect any amazing bells and whistles when opening the packaging, and you won’t be disappointed in what you find with this no-frills trickle charger.
- Spark proof during lead connection, reverse polarity protected and includes a 12-foot...
- Perfect for charging all 12-volt lead-acid, flooded or sealed maintenance free batteries...
- Complete 4-step charging program (Initialization, Bulk Charge, Float Mode) allows for...
The smaller relative of the other Battery Tender on this list, the Junior model won’t bring your vehicle back to life if its battery has completely expired. Like the OrionMotorTech, it has enough punching power to charge a smaller unit in a motorcycle, but all larger vehicles will need a regular charger for anything other than a trickle level.
Thankfully, the low price point of the Battery Tender Junior ensures that you won’t be wasting any money if you know what you’re getting into.
Three different charges exist in this model: float, bulk, and initial. This tells you exactly how much power the battery is (and should be) getting during its dormant period.
All of the usual safety features come standard with this trickle charger, such as preventing overcharges and guarding against spark.
The Battery Tender Junior is another great budget option if you aren’t worried about needing a larger model to accommodate a larger vehicle. Battery maintenance doesn’t get much easier if you keep a Battery Tender Junior nearby.
- Powerful 12V 1.5A output: reload your SLA car battery 2 times faster than other 750Ma...
- Safer and smarter charging: power and protect your car battery with secure and intelligent...
- Suitable for most vehicles: adapts to all kinds of 12V car batteries using either the ring...
Unlike the rest of the chargers on this list, the RAVPower Trickle Charger does not have any kind of visual flair or smart monitoring accessories. It’s about as no-frills as you can get, and there’s something admirable to be said about a device like this when stacked against so many other “intelligent” options.
The RAVPower model allows you to conveniently switch from ring clips to alligator-types, which you’ll attach to the charger itself.
Despite its small stature, there’s enough voltage running through the RAVPower Trickle Charger to provide a full charge to regular-sized cars and trucks.
You will need to watch this device a little more closely than other trickle charges on this list.
Without a smart monitoring feature, the RAVPower will only slow its charge as the battery nears full capacity, not shut off. Take careful steps and plan to be around when the charging is complete.
Thankfully, you can still check to see how long is left on the charge, thanks to the LED gauge located on the charger itself. You won’t be missing out on any safety features, as the RAVPower guards against electric shocks and power surges.
There’s no way you will confuse the RAVPower with anything overly sophisticated. This is the model for those who turn up their nose at smartphones and still like reading print versions of newspapers.
The benefit of all the missing features of a smart charger is the price tag. With less electronic parts, there’s also less potential for failure.
The Buyer’s Guide to a Trickle Charger
When you make a decision on what trickle charger to purchase, you can ask yourself a few questions.
How much time of the day do you have to look in on your battery?
Do you want a trickle charger that can also give your battery a full charge if needed?
If you want the trickle charger that does it all, we would recommend the NOCO Genius Ultra Safe. Depending on how much voltage you want to send to your battery, it could easily be the most expensive trickle charger on this list, especially matched up against the minimal chargers that can’t provide a full battery recovery.
With that said, you are getting the most bang for your buck in the NOCO model. No other trickle charger that we tested gives you as much information on your battery’s current health and functional performance. Thanks to its extensive on-board computer, you will be extending the life of your current (and all future) vehicle batteries by keeping them secure with the NOCO Genius Ultra Safe.
If you just need a trickle charger that keeps the minimum level flowing to the battery, go with the RAVPower. No, you’re not going to get a ton of information from it. In fact, all that’s included is an LED gauge to tell you how much is left to charge. For some owners, that’s the only thing necessary. The RAVPower is not only inexpensive, but it’s still able to fully charge your battery if it runs out.
Final Words on a Trickle Charger
Whichever trickle charger you choose, you can be sure that your car will thank you if you leave it in hibernation for a season or longer.
A trickle charger is the perfect choice for when you need to excavate your vehicle, whether you plan to take it out when the weather thaws, or you need access to your car immediately.
Enjoy the ride!