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Battery savers, battery maintainers and trickle chargers

17 October, 2023

Battery savers, battery maintainers and trickle chargers

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Battery savers, battery maintainers and trickle chargers are all devices designed to help extend the life of batteries, particularly for vehicles and other equipment that may not be used regularly

All 3 have a common goal, which is to keep your battery in top condition, but there are some slight differences among them. Here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision:

What is a battery saver?

A battery saver, also known as a battery voltage monitor is a device designed to protect and maintain the health of batteries, especially in vehicles or equipment that are infrequently used. When you connect a battery to a battery saver, the device starts monitoring the battery’s voltage.

As we know, a battery that get discharged at an extremely low level will certainly present a reduced life and performance. When the battery saver detects that the battery’s voltage is dropping, it automatically activates the charging circuit and starts sending a small charge to the battery. It is a very low rate charge, which is aimed at ensuring the battery won’t discharge down to critically low levels. Contrary to a regular charger, this is not a rapid charge but a very slow one.

Many battery savers come with safety features like overcharge protection, reverse polarity protection and short-circuit protection. Although not absolutely necessary for normal operation, these features ensure that your battery remains in good condition and to protect both the battery and the saver itself from malfunction as they are designed to be left connected to the battery for extended periods of time.

Why are they called battery “savers”?

Because, contrary to the other two below, battery savers can actually help recover partially discharged batteries

What batteries would benefit from using a battery saver?

Battery savers focus on preventing deep discharge rather than maintaining a constant charge. They can help recover partially discharged batteries and ensure they are ready for occasional use. They are useful for any battery you want to prevent entering a deep discharge state. We do not recommend battery savers for batteries that you want to keep at a constant charge.

What is a battery maintainer?

A battery maintainer, also known as a float charger, is a device very similar to a battery saver. Contrary to a battery saver, the maintainer provides a continuous, low-level charge to the connected battery instead of waiting for the voltage to drop first. Other than that, the rest of the operation and applications of battery maintainers is the same as with battery savers.

What batteries would benefit from using a battery maintainer?

Battery maintainers savers are particularly useful for batteries that will be held in storage for prolonged periods of time.

What is a trickle charger?

A trickle charger (also known as a battery tender) is a device designed to slowly charge a battery at a very low rate over an extended period. They provide a very low constant current to the connected battery, which is typically much lower than what you would get from a regular charger or battery maintainer.Most trickle chargers operate automatically, adjusting the charging rate as needed. They will typically slow down the charge as the battery approaches its full capacity, preventing overcharging.

It is important to understand that trickle chargers are specific to the battery chemistries they support. For example, you should never use a trickle charger designed for AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries on a Li-ion battery. Therefore, when you purchase a trickle charger, make sure you buy one that is designed for your battery’s chemistry.

What batteries would benefit from using a trickle charger?

Same as battery savers, trickle chargers are useful for any battery you want to prevent entering a deep discharge state.

What are the best battery savers, battery maintainers and trickle chargers I can buy?

Here are the ones we recommend:

Top Pick

NOCO GENIUS10

  • Battery Maintainer, Trickle Charger And Battery Desulfator
  • Charge dead batteries as low as 1-volt
  • Integrated thermal sensor detects the ambient temperature and alters the charge to eliminate over-charging in hot climates and under-charging in cold climates
  • Spark-Proof and Reverse Polarity Protection
  • 3 Year Limited Warranty
  • Expensive, but if you want the very best, this is the one to get
  • If buying from the UK, you will need a US to UK plug adapter

CTEK MXS 5.0

  • Fully Automatic
  • Spark-free
  • Up to 5 amps charging current
  • Can charge batteries of between 1.2A and 110A
  • Suitable for lead acid and AGM, and Start Stop engines

Ring RSC808

  • Perfect for Larger Vehicles (SUVs, vans, LGV)
  • 8 Amp Smart Charger is both 12v and 24v compatible
  • Great for Start Stop, Lead Acid, Gel, Calcium, EFB and AGM
  • Fast Charging and Maintenance mode

Draper 53491

  • Charges and maintains
  • Suitable for WET, MF, Ca/Ca, AGM, GEL, LiFePO4
  • Standard wet/lead acid batteries only
  • Winter charging mode protects batteries in freezing temperatures

The two chargers below are specifically for motorbikes. Both have been extensively tested and we recommend them for many years of trouble-free use:

OptiMate 4

  • Designed for modern 12v starter batteries from 2.5 to 50Ah
  • 1A charging current
  • Charges the battery direct, or via the 12v port on canbus equipped BMW motorcycles
  • Suitable for STD, AGM & GEL batteries
  • Weatherproof case with wall mounts

Oxford EL570 Oximiser 900

  • Suitable for all 12V battery types up to 30Ah
  • Gel, MF and Acid batteries
  • Heavily discharged batteries as low as 4.1V can be charged if the battery is not damaged