The best smart battery chargers for battery health in winter

With winter approaching and a fuel shortage at hand, consider a smart battery charger for maintaining your car's battery through winter and times of disuse.

the best smart battery chargers 2021

by Chris Williams |

Car batteries do not like cold temperatures and prolonged periods of disuse. Winter always brings the former and often causes the latter because people want to drive less. This is currently being exaggerated by the UK's fuel supply woes.

To maintain the health and charge of your car's battery, you may want to consider a smart battery charger.

Understandably, you may be wondering what the need or indeed point of a smart battery charger is. Just more expensive versions of trickle chargers? Overly flash units that are all show and no go? Granted, some smart battery chargers are a little excessive in what they cost, but we still recommend them over traditional battery chargers for a number of reasons.

Related: CTEK CS FREE review

Modern car batteries

On the face of it, car batteries look to have remained largely the same for yonks. A heavy box with some electrons in it. But in fact, modern car batteries are far more advanced than those fitted to your dad’s Morris Marina (he should’ve bought a Ford Cortina, a much better car).

Modern cars demand a lot more power than the cars of yesteryear thanks to safety systems, onboard computers, and all that sort of power-sapping stuff. Thus, batteries have needed to be able to hold more charge and charge faster, and in doing so, will not tolerate abuse and poor treatment by owners.

What is a smart battery charger?

A smart battery charger is able to charge and trickle charge, like a traditional battery charger, but has charging modes specific to each battery type. Smart battery chargers are also programmed with the ability to recondition car batteries.

How does a smart battery charger work?

Smart chargers have a multi-stage cycle when charging car batteries. This begins with something called desulphation – restoring battery capacity by removing sulphate from the battery’s lead plates. The smart charger will then test the battery to see if it is able to accept a charge.

It’ll then go through a series of subsequent steps, including reconditioning the battery (if you have this mode selected), and once the battery is fully charged, it will automatically switch to a pulsing trickle charge to keep the battery level topped up but without over-charging it.

The best smart battery chargers

CTEK MXS 5.0 Smart Battery Charger

Editor's pick
CTEK MXS 5.0 Battery Charger
Amazon

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The CTEK MXS 5.0 is simply everything you want from a battery charger. Itu2019s well-made, affordable, fully automatic, and works on all battery types, including AGM. You can choose between a regular charge mode that skips reconditioning or one that includes it.

Specifications
Dimensions (L) 168mm x (W) 65mm x (H) 38mm
Weight 0.6kg
Current 5A
Voltage 12V
IP rating IP65
Operating temperature -20° to 50° C

NOCO Genius 10 Smart Battery Charger

Best features
NOCO Genius 10 Smart Battery Charger
Amazon

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The Genius 10 from NOCO comes with a lot of specification and it is hard to know where to begin. Like the CTEK MXS 50, the Genius 10 is able to charge and recondition all battery types.

However, the Genius 10 also features something called thermal compensation. It means it monitors the ambient temperature and adjusts the charging cycle accordingly in order to avoid under or over-charging. The Genius 10 is also able to charge from as low as one volt. But if the battery is reading zero, there is also a manual Force Mode if you need it.

Specifications
Dimensions (L) 183mm x (W) 94mm x (H) 60mm
Weight 1.5kg
Current 10A
Voltage 6V, 12V
IP rating IP65
Operating temperature -20° to 40° C

Ring Automotive RSC806 Smart Battery Charger

Good for stop/start batteries
Ring Automotive RSC806 Smart Battery Charger
Amazon

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Offering not just ability but value as well, the RSC806 from Ring Automotive is a top choice. It too will recondition batteries during the charge cycle and suitable for all battery types. It even features a cold weather charging mode for use during the winter months. The instructions arenu2019t brilliant, though.

Specifications
Dimensions (L) 183mm x (W) 101mm x (H) 63mm
Weight 0.88kg
Current 3A or 6A
Voltage 6V, 12V
IP rating IP65
Operating temperature Not given

CTEK CT5 Time To Go Smart Battery Charger

Features unique countdown
CTEK CT5 Time To Go Smart Battery Charger
Amazon

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The CT5 Time To Go unit is quite similar to the MXS 5.0 from CTEK. The difference lies in the CT5u2019s unique feature that tells you how much time is left in the charge cycle. Like the MXS 5.0, the CT5 has normal and reconditioning charging modes and is good for all battery types.

Specifications
Dimensions (L) 168mm x (W) 65mm x (H) 38mm
Weight 0.6kg
Current 5A
Voltage 12V
IP rating IP65
Operating temperature -20° to 50° C

Ring RSC612 Smart Battery Charger

Customisable smart charger
Ring RSC612 12A Smart Battery Charger
Amazon

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The RSC612 from Ring Automotive is a relatively large unit but packs some amazing features. Beyond the smart charging and battery reconditioning (including stop/start batteries and winter charge mode). The RSC612 has an Auto Charge feature that selects the fastest charge option and a Memory Saver Function that saves the caru2019s audio settings if the battery is removed.

Specifications
Dimensions (L) 197mm x (W) 139mm x (H) 74mm
Weight 1.48kg
Current 12A
Voltage 12V
IP rating Not given
Operating temperature Not given

Smart battery charger tips

It is worth remembering that while the units above all do a great job of charging and reconditioning car batteries, it can take time. Charging times vary enormously depending on the battery size and the level of discharge. Therefore, asking how long a charge cycle will take is like asking how long a piece of string is.

Read the instructions about how to correctly connect the charger to the battery. Always connect with the car off

Chargers such as these are meant for use at home. If you are out and about and end up in the fortuitous scenario of a flat car battery, don’t forget portable power packs and jump starters exist to help you. They are small and very handy to keep in the glovebox.

Read next:

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