All of our vehicles are complex mechanisms that all play their important part in moving you from point A to point B. However, all these systems are powered by one single unit – your car’s battery. If it ends up dead, you won’t be able to move even for an inch – even if all other systems are in pristine shape.
All this brings us to one conclusion – when it comes to car maintenance, looking after the battery should be one of your highest priorities.
In one of our previous articles, we have presented a couple of entries competing for the title of the best car charger.
Now, we are going to see what you can do to keep the battery topped over the extended periods of time and even restore the old, dead units. How to do that? It’s easy – you only need to find the best battery maintainer currently sitting on the shelves.
Here are our top 10 contenders:
Top 10 Best Battery Maintainer for Long Periods of Inactivity
1. Battery Tender Plus Charger and Maintainer
We have to say we fell in love with this unit as soon as we laid our eyes on it. And that is not due to the fact that the product doubles down as both battery charger and maintainer. Oh no, you will find a lot of similar products on the list.
The reason behind our affection is that we are probably talking about the best car battery maintainer the money can currently buy.
What made us so impressed? Well, let’s start with the sheer versatility. Battery Tender Plus Charger and Maintainer is suitable for all types of batteries (flooded or sealed, AGM and gel) and easily adapts to ambient temperature, which means you will be able to use it in all climates and weather conditions.
What’s even better is that the unit automatically switches from charging to maintenance mode, so all you need to do is to plug the battery and let Tender do its job. When you get enough juice, there is no danger you will overcharge the unit.
In terms of specs and build quality, everything feels top-notch. The tender packs 1.25 Amp/12 Volt output, which makes it suitable for all sorts of bikes and cars, and everything feels like it was built to last for ages (you get a 10-year warranty if it doesn’t).
The only flaw we noticed during our test run is that the performance takes a slight drop on extremely cold temperatures. But, these deviations were only occasional.
- Versatile and reliable performance
- Good price-value ratio
- Safe and secure
- Easy to use
- Slight performance drops on low temperatures
2. BLACK+DECKER BM3B Fully Automatic 6V/12V Battery Charger/Maintainer
Black + Decker has to be one of the most famous battery tender brands currently working in the industry. And if we are to be honest, this reputation was well-earned with a series of reliable, quality, and reasonably affordable products.
We are happy to report that Black + Decker BM3B stays true to this legacy and makes one yet another great feather in the cap of this famous manufacturer.
Everything here seems streamlined, straightforward, and intuitive. The unit easily attaches to your car’s battery (standard battery clips and O-ring terminals), you get to choose between 6 and 12 Volts (you will most likely use 12 but we appreciate the option), and that’s pretty much it.
The unit will charge the battery until it fills the capacity. Then it will switch to float mode monitoring making your life as easy as it gets.
This convenience is made possible by the complex built-in circuitry that protects the battery against short circuits, overcharging, and all other things that may go awry when they are hooked up.
Of course, being the entry-level unit, BM3B does not offer the same level of performance as some of the more expensive units. If you want fast charging, we advise that you look elsewhere.
Also, the cables are way too short for comfortable use. But, overall, we are more than happy with what we got at this price point. If you are a new driver, you will find a lot of good things here.
- Very affordable
- Easy to use
- Built-in protection against overcharging
- Not made for fast charging
- Short cables
3. MOTOPOWER MP00205A 12V 800mA Fully Automatic Battery Charger/Maintainer
In the previous review, you probably noticed how pleased we were with the overall trickle charger quality we got from Black + Decker for more than an affordable price. Well, Motorpower MP00205A sells at even lower prices and, honestly, offers pretty satisfying performance (albeit with a couple of flaws).
Sure, it’s only a couple of dollars down the price ladder, but why would you pay more when you don’t need to.
Let us start with the positives. This tender offers a bunch of useful features that allow you to tackle all sorts of battery maintenance duties ranging from reviving dead batteries and bulk charge to absorption, and indefinite maintenance.
We are even pleased with the low-temperature performance. Throw into the equation a two-year warranty, support for all sorts of different batteries, and absolutely no need for manual operation, and you will get one neat car maintenance tool that packs a lot of value for the money you are asked to pay.
Unfortunately, all these good things are slightly compromised by the fact that MP00205A doesn’t exactly know when it needs to switch its modes from charging to maintenance.
Namely, we have noticed a couple of times too much that the product failed to shoot out the LED notification and stops charging the battery. The delays were not outrageous, but they can damage the battery on its back feet.
Bottom line – we are more than pleased with versatility but wouldn’t use the maintainer on older batteries.
- Very affordable
- Bunch of useful options
- Quality components
- Switching between modes is not entirely seamless
4. NOCO GENIUS2, 2-Amp Fully-Automatic Smart Charger
Noco Genius2 checks all the marks one good battery tender for car storage should. It’s well-built, features compact dimensions, and offers intuitive one-button controls that allow you to easily switch between different modes with one press of a button.
What’s even more important, the charging performance offers a great level of protection and easily adjusts to surrounding temperature conditions (it eliminates over-charging in hot climates and pumps out a bit more juice when the temperatures drop).
The support for different types of batteries is also great – we have no problem powering up all sorts of things covering the mentions like automotive units, marine batteries, lithium-ion batteries, lead-acid batteries, and so on.
In all these cases, the product was able to keep the batteries fully-charged and driving-ready 24/7 even after the prolonged periods of testing. We don’t have any reason to believe the things would change if we extended the tests for a couple of weeks.
Overall, in terms of performance, this is one of the best auto battery tenders we got to use.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of things we would like to see improved. First and foremost, the cables we got in the package were simply too short for comfortable use. Second, at this price point, we expect the auto battery maintainers to be able to recognize the type of unit they are hooked on.
That’s not the case here.
- Extremely well-built
- Powerful and precise performance
- One-button controls
- Covers a lot of different battery types
- Short cables
- Battery detection would be useful
5. LST Trickle Battery Charger Automatic Maintainer
We already had an opportunity to take a look at two automotive battery tenders that tried to draw the audience with an affordable price tag. Both of them were very good and kept the list of drawbacks on the bare minimum. This unit somehow manages to outclass both of them.
All things you expect to see in this type of product are here – you get to choose between 6V and 12V charging modes, the maintainer supports the whole slew of different battery types and intuitive 5-stage automatic charging that keeps the vehicle’s battery safe from accidental overcharging (the unit automatically switches to float mode when it hits 100%).
And most of the similar auto battery tenders would be perfectly fine with this. But LST Trickle isn’t afraid to go one step further, even on a modest budget.
By this, we primarily refer to an intuitive LED indicator that provides visual feedback and diagnostic information – simple but very effective. The other thing we are happy with is the auto battery detection that saves you a lot of trouble during setup – there is no way you will accidentally fry the unit because you chose the wrong mode.
Still, LST Trickle is far from perfect. The unit we got did not work when we hooked it on. The manufacturer was kind enough to replace the unit, but still – we have read numerous reports where other customers reported the same happened to them.
That kinda undermines our fate in this product.
- Excellent features
- Very affordable
- Automatic battery detection
- Simple visual feedback
- The first unit we got was broken
6. DieHard 71219 2 Amp 6/12V Shelf Smart Battery Charger
DieHard 71219 is probably not the best car battery tender we recently used. But, the product definitely scored some crucial points on our battery tender ratings. One of the main things that set it apart from similar products in this price range is the option to choose between 50A clamps, 12A accessory plugs, and permanent ring connectors.
All these extensions are excellently made, and you don’t need to worry they will wear out and break no matter how long you use them.
And you will have a perfect incentive to keep the unit hooked as long as possible. When it’s set to maintenance mode, Die Hard has no problem keeping the battery fully charged and optimized during storage or more extended periods of inactivity.
This didn’t change even when we changed the surrounding conditions. When it worked on sub-zero temperatures, the product ramped up the output and kept the things subdued as soon as we increased heating.
We even managed to bring a couple of dead units back to life with this neat product, which is simply great.
Unfortunately, although it’s called “smart battery charger,” this product doesn’t pack nearly enough juice to be used for this duty. So, if you need something to get your vehicle started quickly and without breaking too much sweat, you should buy a separate unit.
Also, we would like to see a couple of more features here – as it is, the charger feels almost dull.
- Rock-solid maintenance performance
- Simple and sturdy design
- Excellent connectivity options
- Simple LED-based feedback
- Does a poor job as a charger
7. BMK 12V 5A Smart Battery Charger Portable Battery Maintainer
Now, this is a curious product. One the one hand, BMK Smart Battery charger checks all the right boxes a battery tender for winter storage should address. On the other, we can’t escape the feeling that the manufacturer overthought some features that were supposed to be simple and shot its product in the leg.
But let us start with the positives. This charger is truly feature-rich, and the 4-stage smart charging feature allows you to effortlessly go through four main steps of battery care – diagnostics, bulk charge, absorption, and maintenance. All the way through, performance is reliable, spark-free, and reliable.
Also, the list of supported vehicles is nothing short of extraordinary – we have no problem powering up everything ranging from scooters to tractors and boats. The cables we got in the package were long enough and well-put-together, so we experience no issues with connectivity.
Finally, BMK Smart Battery Charger is very simple to use and offers intuitive visual feedback on the current battery status. As we said, all the building blocks for the best battery tender.
However, this product seems to have the will of its own, and the “smart” moniker prevents you from performing some simple tasks other products would tackle without any hassle. If the maintainer detects the battery is dead, it will simply refuse to start charging, which is ridiculous.
We can count a couple of similar situations.
- Versatile features
- Good performance
- 4-stage charging
- Quality components
- Refuses to work on dead batteries
8. Optima Digital 400 12V Performance Maintainer
Now, if you are an avid car lover and you want a serious tool that will offer the best possible car maintenance performance, this is the product for you. Seriously, this unit wouldn’t look out of place even in a professional car repair shop. Of course, this level of refinement comes at a price, and Optima Digital 400 is no exception.
But first things first. Optima Digital 400 is one compact, but incredibly powerful battery tender for AGM batteries powered that offers smart (this time we mean it) microprocessor-controlled multi-stage performance that speeds up charging times and increases overall reliability.
But that’s not all – unlike the previous unit with smart capabilities, this one does an excellent job of reviving the dead batteries and reconditioning the remaining storage.
All these things are only made simpler and more intuitive by comprehensive but streamlined controls and a bright LCD screen that offers excellent feedback and diagnostic info on everything you are doing.
Suffice to say the charger works on any imaginable vehicle that is powered by an AGM battery. So to sum it up, we are more than happy with everything we got in this premium package.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have some complaints. For a product so expensive, the gauge is tough to read at low temperatures. The performance takes a slight dip in the extreme conditions as well.
- Excellent multi-stage performance
- Microprocessor-controlled charging
- Great diagnostics
- Maintenance mode works like a charm
- A bit too pricey
- Doesn’t truly shine at low temperatures
9. Schumacher SC1299 800mAh 12V Automatic Battery Maintainer
The first thing that crosses the mind of anyone with an itch for driving upon hearing the name Schumacher is almost certainly the famous F1 racing family. Well, although Schumacher battery maintainers do not have the same reputation in the world of car care products, they always make one incredibly worthwhile purchase and offer reliable performance.
Schumacher SC1299 is not the black sheep of the family.
What we got here is a small and streamlined but still incredibly capable automatic battery maintainer that has no problem recharging all sorts of car batteries and driving them through endless hours of seamless battery maintenance.
The only vehicles we hit the wall with were tractors, RVs, and large trucks, but they are not that frequent anyway.
We are also delighted that, in spite of simple design, the maintainer proved to be adaptable to different external conditions and keeping the battery optimally charged all the way through.
But that’s pretty much it. The product does not offer any advanced features, let alone full-blown battery-charging performance. You are also limited to clamps as a go-to connectivity option, which can become bothersome and unsafe in the long run.
We can justify this by the product’s low price. On the other hand, we have seen far better versatility, even in this price range.
The silver lining is that the core maintenance performance is pretty darn good.
- Very affordable
- Great maintenance performance
- Works well in different conditions
- Clamps and only clamps
- Devoid of any advanced features
10. Meearo 5 Amp 12V Automotive Smart Battery Charger/Maintainer
Last but not least, we have a product coming from Meearo, the company that may not be the biggest name in the world of multi-battery maintainers, but we are always eager to see what’s cooking in their kitchen.
Some of their products definitely need more refinement. Others are surprisingly great. We are happy to report that the product we are going to cover definitely belongs to the second group.
So, what do we have here?
Well, a pretty decent 5 Amp – 12 Volt unit that tackles both charging and maintenance duties and seemingly switches between the two main modes without breaking too much sweat. The support for different battery types is pretty good (AGM, Gel, SLA, flooded), the 3-stage charging checks most of the battery care boxes (we would like to see better diagnostics) and the unit works pretty well on different temperatures.
Also, props to the manufacturer for including the pulse repair option that will allow you to repair your dead battery and extend the life of working ones.
Still, all affordable products inevitably need to cut some corners, and Meearo Smart Battery Charger is no exception. The product does not look very well built, and we are afraid it can’t withstand long-distance races. We have experienced only the slight performance drops, though.
Also, this is yet another clamps-only package. We are used to seeing more connectivity variety, even in this price range.
- Good budget option
- Solid performance on different temperatures
- Three-stage charging
- Revives dead batteries
- Sloppy craftsmanship
Battery Maintainer FAQs
1. How to use a battery maintainer?
Different battery maintainers offer different sets of features, so the steps you are going to take to keep your battery healthy will ultimately depend on the unit you are going to buy. Still, most of the products you will find on the shelves will require that you go through the same basic steps:
- Connect the battery. In most cases, you will do that by hooking up the clamps to appropriate terminals (positive and negative). More expensive units offer more connectivity options.
- Select the battery type (AGM, gel, etc.). Once again, premium products will be able to recognize the battery type automatically.
- When the green light turns on, and the battery is charged, switch to maintenance mode. Some products will be able to do this instead of you.
So, if you are buying an advanced tool, the answer to question how to use a battery maintainer basically boils down to – hook it up and turn it on.
2. What is the difference between a battery maintainer and a battery tender?
Essentially, these two terms are interchangeable. Both battery tenders and battery maintainers are used to gradually bring the battery to full charge and keep it there until you are ready to use the vehicle. Most of them are capable of reviving the dead batteries as well.
Battery charges, on the other hand, are designed to charge the car batteries in the shortest time possible.
3. Should I use a battery maintainer?
The answer to this question is very simple – yes, you should. As a matter of fact, using battery maintainers offers numerous benefits. We are going to cover some of them:
- Batteries lose charge overtime when they are not in use. Using battery maintainers is a great way to keep them stored long term.
- Battery maintainers keep the batteries charged without the risk of damage. When they hit 100%, they go to float mode and stay inactive until they detect charge drops.
- Restore old batteries. Although not all battery maintainers can bring dead batteries back to life, the ones they can perform this task are a gift sent from heaven. Reviving old lead-acid units can save you a lot of money in the long run.
4. How do I choose a battery maintainer?
It really depends on your vehicle and your personal needs. If you already own a full-blown battery charger, buying a dedicated maintainer with the sole purpose of preventing the charge drops will be the way to go. In this case, be sure that the unit works well at different temperatures.
However, if you have just recently bought the car and you are still building your toolset, the unit that will be able to charge and maintain the battery seems like a worthwhile purchase. Lack of tools makes versatility a priority.
5. What is a good battery maintainer?
This consideration is pretty arbitrary, but let us try to list a couple of basic requirements that will be appealing to the largest possible number of people:
- The unit should be reasonably affordable
- You should have several connectivity options
- You should have automated multi-stage performance (the unit should switch between diagnostic, charging, optimizing and maintenance modes)
- Good performance in different conditions and on different temperatures
So there you have it, ten products competing for the title of the best battery maintainer on the market. Which one of them is the best? Well, that depends on what you want to get from these units. We did our best to make the list as diverse as possible and find something for everyone.
The most important thing you can get from this short roundup is that battery maintainers are incredibly useful car care products all of us should have in our garages. Keeping the car batteries fully charged during long periods of inactivity can be a tough job. Battery maintainers make this challenging task a breeze.
I am Dave McCurdy I am the content developer on the ecodrivingusa.com website. I have 6 years of experience in marketing as an automotive major.