Tips and advice

Top 10 best car battery chargers 2021

We test the best gadgets that can keep your car battery in tip-top shape

Finding your car won’t start because the battery is dead can be frustrating and hugely inconvenient, so you may want to consider investing in a car battery charger. Aside from getting your car running when the battery’s flat, they can also keep them charged and in good condition if your car is left in a garage for long periods.

Some cars are regularly left unused for weeks or months at a time, and in these cases it’s vital to use a battery charger or maintainer to ensure they start when you next want to use them. The latest battery chargers are capable of charging even the most modern car battery types, from lithium-based cells to high-output batteries that support stop-start systems.

How to test a car battery

How we tested them

We used each charger to recharge a flat battery until it was fully charged, calculating a charging rate from the test and noting the minimum voltages the chargers could work from. Their efficiency and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) was also considered.

We tested ease of use, by looking at the instructions and display for each charger, and build quality, by checking all leads and accessories included. To test safety, we also deliberately misused the chargers to check for sparks. Read on to see how each charger measured up when taking this all into consideration along with their prices.

Verdict

1. Draper 12V Intelligent Battery Charger 53491 review

  • Price: Around £65
  • Rating: 5/5

Draper’s new range of smart chargers is a big improvement, addressing many of the issues we had testing the 33851 previously. It now has the same dust and moisture protection offered by many of its competitors and passed EMC tests without any problems.

In charging tests, the Draper reached 80% five hours quicker than the CTEK, which comes as no surprise as Draper’s 10-amp rating is twice that of the CTEK. With just a difference of £10 between their prices, the Draper has the upper hand here.

Despite a less than intuitive display and button controls, Draper’s compatibility with more battery types and capability as a supply source makes it a very worthy winner.

2. CTEK MXS 5.0 review

  • Price: Around £55
  • Rating: 4.5/5

The CTEK MXS 5.0 was one of our top car battery chargers thanks to how easily it dealt with every part of our test. With intuitive, easy-to-use controls and performance that closely matched its claimed five amp target, the CTEK is a great option. We just wish it was packed with a slightly longer cable.

3. Sealey Autocharge650HF review

  • Price: Around £60
  • Rating: 4.5/5

While the Sealey Autocharge650HF undercuts the CTEK with a lower price and a higher stated current supply, it couldn’t quite match its consistency and straightforwardness. The Sealey created sparks when we performed our misuse test, so this knocked it down a few points. But for anyone that can’t quite justify spending the extra on the CTEK or Draper, this is still a great option.

4. Maypole MP7428 review

  • Price: Around £36
  • Rating: 4.5/5

Cheaper still, the Maypole MP7428 is the best budget battery charger you can buy. For those who are not technically minded, the Maypole is fully automatic so there’s no need to fiddle with any settings. The only downside is that the Maypole frequently struggled to hit even half of its stated amperage of eight due to sporadic bursts of power.

5. Clarke IBC7 review

  • Price: Around £60
  • Rating: 4/5 

The Clarke IBC7 boasts a convenient set of long leads as well as a relatively high mean current supply of five amps, even if this is slightly off the stated seven amps. The Clarke also falls short with its rather baffling instructions and poor performance in the EMC test. However, overall it’s still a solid choice.

6. Ring SmartCharge Premium+ RSC612 review

  • Price: Around £85
  • Rating: 3/5 

With its high amperage, the Ring SmartCharge is the perfect choice if you need to charge quickly. However, this is not the easiest unit to use due to its complicated controls and small, niggly jaws to connect up to the battery. The Ring does carry some slick bonuses though, with the ability to check the alternator and the battery state. 

7. Ring Smart Battery Charger & Maintainer RSC804 review

  • Price: Around £35
  • Rating: 3/5 

On the opposing end of the Ring battery charger lineup, the RSC804 is a budget alternative for someone who simply needs to top up their battery and nothing more. Don’t expect the breakneck charging speeds of its bigger brother, however, as this Ring model packs a rather slow current supply. Compared with the brilliant value of the Maypole, we can’t quite recommend this over it.

8. Victron Blue Smart Charger review

  • Price: Around £105
  • Rating: 3/5 

The Victron Blue Smart Charger is the most expensive charger on our list but attempts to justify this with a host of smart features. Unlike the other entries on the list, you can control the Victron via an app on your smartphone and with its high amperage, it can charge your battery in a jiffy. Be aware that the Victron had a few problems in the misuse test and is not the easiest to use due to its rather vague instructions.

9. Halfords Smart Plus review

  • Price: Around £60
  • Rating: 3/5 

The Halfords Smart Plus is the option that most buyers will consider first given they can pick it up at their local branch. Yet this is a key example of why research and shopping around may be in your best interest; the lack of physical buttons makes the Halfords charger difficult to use and its low four amp target is dwarfed by other similarly priced competitors.

10. Draper Intelligent Battery Charger BCIB review

  • Price: Around £55
  • Rating: 3/5

Big and bulky, the Draper Intelligent Battery Charger is reminiscent of old-school battery chargers and therefore clear and easy to use. What pushes it this far down on the list, however, is a combination of short leads, a lack of IP65 water and dust protection, and a failure to hit its stated eight amps.

Looking to give your car a little TLC? Here's our list of the top 10 alloy wheel cleaners 2021

Most Popular

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
How much does it cost to charge an EV
Electric cars
3 Dec 2021

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

New Renault Austral SUV replaces Kadjar for 2022
2022 Renault Austral
Renault
6 Dec 2021

New Renault Austral SUV replaces Kadjar for 2022

All-new 2022 Kia Sportage: UK prices and specs revealed
2022 Kia Sportage
Kia Sportage SUV
1 Dec 2021

All-new 2022 Kia Sportage: UK prices and specs revealed

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
29 Sep 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2021
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021
Ioniq 5
Best cars
1 Dec 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
27 Oct 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks