Written By Car Bibles Staff
Published Jan. 20, 2020

It can be frustrating to get your motorcycle out of winter storage and discover that the battery is dead. Or maybe you have a vehicle that’s been sitting for a long time that just doesn’t want to start. You can avoid costly battery replacements by properly maintaining the batteries in the first place. High-quality battery maintainers make life a lot easier. Once you hook one up to your vehicle, you can relax knowing it will start when you need it. Here are the best battery maintainers to choose from.

The Best Battery Maintainer

This 12-volt, 1.25-amp battery charger has two separate charging circuits. It’s ideal for both charging a battery and maintaining it at the proper voltage levels. It works on flooded, sealed, maintenance-free, AGM, and lead-acid batteries. It features Infinite Sequential Monitoring (ISM) to ensure your battery is safely charged at all times.

The maintainer complies with U.S. and international safety standards and features reverse polarity protection and spark-proof application, so you can “set it and forget it.” You connect this unit to the batteries and leave it without worrying that your batteries will become overcharged or damaged. The smart charger comes with a two-year warranty, two alligator clips, two sets of ring terminals, and a 72-hour safety timer.

Key Features
  • 12 volts and 1.25 amps
  • Features two independent charging channels
  • Has Infinite Sequential Monitoring
  • 72-hour safety timer
Specification
  • Brand Battery Tender
  • Model 022-0165-DL-WH
  • Weight 1.7 pounds
PROS

Complies with safety standards

Set it and forget it

Spark-proof operation

CONS

One channel may burn out prematurely

Attached wires and connectors could be longer

Indicator lights are unreliable

This 12-volt maintainer is intended for motorcycles, ATVs, scooters, and automobiles. The device can be used on lead-acid, flooded, or sealed maintenance-free batteries, both AGM and gel cell. It features a 12-foot output cord, an 80-hour safety timer, and is reverse polarity protected.

The Battery Tender Junior is compact, lightweight, and completely automatic. It’s perfect for small spaces and features initialization, bulk charge, and float mode to maximize power without overcharging. The two-color LED indicators show the state of the charger, and when the voltage drops too low the device provides full output power. It comes with alligator clips and ring terminals for installation, as well as a five-year warranty.

Key Features
  • Input voltage: 120VAC / 60Hz
  • Output voltage: 12 volts
  • 80-hour safety timer
  • Reverse polarity protected
Specification
  • Brand Battery Tender
  • Model 021-0123
  • Weight 1.8 pounds
PROS

Light and compact

Completely automatic

Includes failsafe to prevent overcharging

CONS

May fail prematurely

May not connect well to an extension cord

Wiring is a little short

The Optima is both a maintainer and a charger that works with 12-volt AGM and flooded batteries. It features a USB charging port that works with smartphones, cameras, and tablets. The backlit LCD gauge features quick-set selections for ease of use. It’s designed to extend battery life and recovers batteries that have been deeply discharged.

This digital charger and maintainer charges faster than some of its rivals and produces up to two times the output. It will not overcharge a battery, it feels substantial, it’s well-made, and it’s easy to use. It allows you to choose auto/marine, motorcycle/powersport battery, or Optima batteries, and the LCD panel displays all the information you need.

Key Features
  • Charges and maintains batteries
  • 12 amp max
  • USB charging port for smartphones and other devices
  • Backlit LCD gauge
Specification
  • Brand Optima
  • Model 150-33508
  • Weight 7.75 pounds
PROS

Charges quickly

Has a large amount of output

Feels substantial and is easy to use

CONS

It’s a little expensive

Plastic case is not durable

Company may not stand behind its warranty

This maintainer can be used with eight batteries at a time and is compatible with cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATV, boats, and RVs. The device adjusts voltage based on temperature readings, so your battery is properly charged and maintained in all conditions. It also features reverse polarity and short-circuit protection.

The device uses high frequencies to reverse sulfation, which is the top cause of battery failure, and it also reconditions weak batteries. This extends the battery life up to four times versus batteries that are improperly maintained. It has 2-, 4-, and 8-amp settings, which are dependent on the shape of the battery. The maintainer also comes with a five-year warranty.

Key Features
  • 90-140 VAC 47-63 Hz input
  • Settings for 2, 4, or 8 amps
  • FCC certified
  • Five-year warranty
Specification
  • Brand BatteryMINDer
  • Model 128CEC1
  • Weight 3.2 pounds
PROS

Reverses sulfation

Reconditions weak batteries

Reverse polarity and short-circuit protection

CONS

Parts of the maintainer may get very hot

Y-connectors must be purchased separately

Customer service could be better

This device maintains up to four batteries at a time and works on automobiles, motorcycles, ATV, boats, and campers. It is a SmarTECHnology plug-‘n-run 1.5-amp battery charger and maintainer. It includes a high-frequency pulse desulfator to extend the battery’s life up to four times longer.

The device is compatible with 12-volt flooded, sealed, maintenance-free, starter, deep-cycle, Optima brand sealed AGM, and marine batteries. It includes reverse polarity, short-circuit, and over temperature protection. It includes a failsafe to ensure batteries are not overcharged or undercharged.

Key Features
  • 90-240V AC 47-63 Hz input
  • 12-foot power cord
  • Insulated battery clips
  • Ambient temperature sensor
Specification
  • Brand BatteryMINDer
  • Model 1510
  • Weight 15.2 ounces
PROS

Reverse polarity protection

Short-circuit protection

Won’t over or undercharge your battery

CONS

May stop working prematurely

Isn’t great at desulfation 

Requires Y-connectors for parallel connection, which aren’t included

This 10-amp device charges and maintains one 12-volt battery. It is enclosed in a waterproof housing, which makes it particularly useful in marine environments, and can be submerged up to three meters. The charger is compact and lightweight and has the ability to detect, diagnose, recover, charge, and maintain lead-acid batteries. It’s compatible with flooded, gel cell, AGM, and deep-cycle batteries.

It offers protection against reverse polarity, sparks, and short circuits. It automatically and continuously monitors a battery and shuts off power when it detects a full charge. It comes with a five-year warranty, and the manufacturer calls it “one of the most advanced battery charges in its class.”  In addition to boats, they’re great for golf carts, ATVs, and work trucks.

 

Key Features
  • 10 amps
  • Waterproof
  • Reverse polarity protection
  •  
  • Shuts off power when it detects a full charge
Specification
  • Brand NOCO
  • Model GEN1
  • Weight 1 pound
PROS

Compact and lightweight

Great for boats, ATVs, work trucks, and more

 

Five-year warranty

CONS

May fail after a short period of use

Indicator may be faulty

Sleep mode not ideal if there is a load connected

Best Battery Maintainer Buying Guide & FAQ

The best battery charger maintainers are built to completely charge and/or maintain your vehicle’s battery. They send a small amount of electricity to the battery to keep it in operating condition when it’s stored for an extended period of time. The best car battery maintainers are designed so they do not overcharge your battery.

They sense the amount of charge that is necessary to keep the battery functioning properly. The charge is transferred to the battery over a time period of several hours. Once the battery is completely charged, the maintainer will typically go into a float mode. When the device detects that the battery is losing power, it kicks on and resumes its job.

Benefits of a Battery Maintainer

There are several advantages to using the best battery maintainer for cars and motorcycles. It’s a good investment because it will keep your automotive and bike batteries charged and ready to go. Vehicle batteries have a limited lifespan, and over time, the charge will drop to the point that it’s nonexistent. If you use a battery maintainer, it will top off the charge, which extends the battery life.

Another benefit of using the best 12V battery charger maintainers is that you can store batteries when you’re not using them. A battery will eventually lose its charge whether you’re using it or not. A maintainer will ensure that it still functions optimally even when it’s in storage. Plus, there’s no risk that the battery will be overcharged or get damaged.

Finally, some of the best auto battery maintainers will actually restore an old battery. There are some brands that are a combination of a maintainer and charger. Depending on which model you choose, it can take an old lead-acid battery and bring it back to life.

Benefits

  • Extend battery life
  • Keep stored batteries fully charged
  • Restore old batteries

Types of Battery Maintainers

There are three types of battery maintainers: a single-bank maintainer, a multi-bank maintainer, and a hybrid maintainer. They each have their purpose, depending on what your needs are. You will need one type of maintainer if you’re just charging one battery, while you’ll need a different type if you’re charging several at once.

Different Kinds of Battery Maintainers

  • Single-Bank

A single-bank maintainer is the most common and basic type. It is designed to be used with a single battery and is usually less expensive than other kinds. Despite its simplicity, this type of battery maintainer can include some added features that make it perfect for use on a single car or motorcycle.

If you are storing just one bike, ATV, or classic car in the garage over the winter and want to keep it charged, a single-bank maintainer should do the trick. You don’t need to spend the extra money on a device that has multiple banks if you’re only going to use it on one vehicle.

  • Multi-Bank

This type of maintainer is useful if you want to maintain more than one battery at a time. The great thing is that you can choose the number of banks you require based on the number of vehicles you want to keep charged. You can get a device with two banks for two vehicles or as many as 10 banks for 10 vehicles.

These maintainers work on several batteries at once. The caveat is that you have to make sure that the cables are long enough to reach all the batteries. You may have to purchase additional hardware and cables to ensure that each battery is properly connected.

  • Hybrid

While you can just purchase a basic battery maintainer, you may want one with more bells and whistles. Some brands have a lot of features that make them more versatile. While certain types of battery maintainers only maintain the battery, others are able to charge it as well. If your battery is nearly dead, it has the ability to bring it up to a full charge.

Be sure to check that the device offers the features you require. For example, some even have the ability to recondition old batteries by reversing sulfation, which is the build up of sulfur crystals on the device.

What to Consider When Buying a Battery Maintainer

The batteries in your truck, motorcycle, ATV, and boat are all designed differently. While lead-acid batteries are the most common, there are other types as well. It’s critical that the battery maintainer you select is compatible with the battery types it’s expected to charge. There are also other factors you need to consider before making a purchase, such as amperage, charging modes, and safety features.

The Most Important Features with Battery Maintainers

  • Amperage

The amperage is the amount of current that flows from the maintainer to the battery. Usually, a higher-amp device will charge faster. However, this isn’t necessarily what you need or want. The best battery maintainer for motorcycles and cars are meant to be used long-term. That means that a low-amp device will use less energy in order to make sure that the battery is full.

If you’re storing a vehicle for an extended period of time, you don’t need a lot of amps. However, if you want to charge something quickly, you want a model that has higher amps.

  • Charging Modes

If you purchase a high-amp battery maintainer, it will have several different charging modes for certain situations. For example, if the battery charger/maintainer has the ability to juice up a dead battery, in all likelihood it will have a fast charging mode. This enables the unit to deliver a lot of electrical charge in a relatively short period of time.

Another mode to look for is maintenance mode. This will keep your car, ATV, bike, boat, or camper battery charged over an extended amount of time. This is essential if you winterize your vehicles and want them to start right up at the beginning of the new season.

  • Safety Features

Different battery maintainers have different safety features. They are important because charging a battery can potentially be hazardous. If you are unable to control the power, you can put yourself and/or the vehicle in danger. 

The best 12V battery charger maintainers have spark-proof clamps as well as reverse polarity protection and short circuit protection. Smart battery chargers also feature voltage and amperage limits, so they don’t overcharge the battery. These features will automatically kick in on smart maintainers, so you don’t have to do anything manually to ensure that they are functioning properly and protecting your vehicle.

Tips for Buying and Using a Battery Maintainer

As we previously noted, charging a battery can be dangerous or ineffective if you do it incorrectly. Therefore, there are some things you should do to ensure that your battery is properly maintained. For example, there’s a difference between maintaining a full charge and charging a battery that is low on juice. You need a higher-amp charger to revive a dead battery, but remember that this can be a slow process.

You can use a battery booster to inject life into a dead battery. It will provide just enough current for you to start a vehicle. However, the battery will need more amperage than one that simply has a low charge. Many people keep boosters in their vehicles for emergencies. Another advantage is they recharge low batteries quicker than standard chargers.

Battery maintainers can also provide you important diagnostic information. The best car battery maintainers will let you know when there is an issue with a battery that keeps it from properly functioning.

  • Select a higher-amp charger if you need to revive a dead battery.
  • Keep a battery booster in your vehicle for emergencies. 
  • Make sure your battery is functioning properly by paying attention to the diagnostics on the maintainer/charger.

Best Battery Maintainer FAQ:

By now, you know how important battery maintainers/chargers are for keeping your vehicle, motorcycle, boat, or RV up and running, especially if they’ve been sitting for a long period of time. But you may still have some questions about the devices, including how they differ from trickle chargers, how long they take to operate, and why overcharging a battery is not recommended.

Q: What’s the difference between a battery maintainer and a trickle charger?

A trickle charger will transfer a constant charge to a battery, whether it’s fully charged or not, while a battery maintainer will charge the battery until it’s fully charged. It then changes to a float mode and will only charge it if the voltage drops.

Q: How long does it take to charge a battery? 

The charging process depends on several factors, including the battery capacity and current. You can figure it out by dividing the capacity by the current.

Q: Why is overcharging a battery a problem? 

Overcharging a battery can damage it, the charger/maintainer, as well as surrounding objects. The best automatic battery charger maintainers and those with float modes prevent this because they turn off after the battery is completely charged.

Our Top Pick

Our pick for the best battery maintainer is the Battery Tender 2-Bank 12V, 1.25A Battery Charger. It has two separate charging circuits, so you can use it on two vehicles, including a motorcycle battery. It both charges and maintains a battery, whether it’s lead-acid, flooded, sealed, maintenance-free, or AGM. It provides some peace of mind because you can set it up and leave it without fear that it will overcharge or damage your battery.

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