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In today’s modern world, our electrical gadgets are more important than ever. Just try to remember the last time you didn’t leave the house with your phone in your pocket or bag or the last road trip that wasn’t guided by a GPS device of some sort. For those of us with kids (big or small), can you imagine a drive without the incredible distracting power of an iPad?
No matter the form, we are all wedded to our gadgets, and they can all play a big part in making car journeys of any length more fun or provide practical assistance like navigation or making phone calls. No matter their function however, there is one thing they all have in common – they all rely on batteries for power.
Where you have batteries, you also need chargers so in the article we’re going check out some of the best USB car chargers on the market right now. Read on to find out which one can do the best job of keeping your devices charged up and ready to go.
One word of warning – they are a very popular subcategory of electrical device. We’ve found no less than 15 high-quality designs of car chargers, each one bringing something a little different to the party. So, maybe crack open a beverage before you get started.
Best Rated USB Car Chargers in 2020:
Just take a look at this gadget. You probably won’t even bother to unplug it, as it will happily blend into any modern style of dash array. It’s not just the looks that impress on this model though, it’s also packing some very useful features.
First up is the power on this model, with 4.8 amps and 10 volts spit between each port – that is an excellent level of power that will do a great job of charging up your electrical devices. It also packs the punch to charge iPads, which not all USB chargers do, so bear that in mind if you ever travel with tablet style devices.
All that power has excellent control too, with the Maxboost Intelligent circuit design providing protection against short circuits, over heating and over charging. Add in the fact that the device comes with 2 ports, both of the same power output (a feature not as common as you may assume) and you have an extremely well designed product, really well built and boasting an array of useful features.
Best of all, it currently costs less than 10 bucks. Incredible value for such a well made tool.
24 Watt /5 Volts
Double Injected Frame for Toughness
Built in Protection from Over Charging/Short Circuits
Great Value for Money
- Weight2.08 Ounces
This is our second entry from Ainope, which has already impressed us with that very attractive model above. This product is also good looking, with a zinc alloy finish that is scratch resistant. This model doesn’t sit quite as flush in the accessory port as the previous one however, and the reason for that is the built in LED screen that is mounted in the faceplate.
It is however very well worth having the charger be a little more bulky in order to accommodate that screen, because it is monitoring your car battery health. Yes that’s right, and how cool is that? The number displayed corresponds to the voltage that is currently in the car electrical system, allowing you to keep a constant eye on the car batteries’ health – and top it up when you need to.
Aside from that function, if it’s to be a good USB charger it also has to, well, charge stuff. This model has you covered there too, with a very useful 4.8 amps of power split equally between the two ports. You’ve also got the built in overcharge, short circuit and over heating protection you would expect from a high-end manufacturer like Ainope.
LED Voltage Display
4.8 Amps Total (Even Split)
Sturdy Aluminum Construction
- Weight2.4 Ounces
RAVPower claim that this is the smallest USB charger on the market right now and, looking at the product, its kind of hard to disagree. Frankly, we struggle to picture a charger that could be even smaller – it weighs less than half an ounce.
Aside from being small, it is actually also a very well designed product with a number of impressive features. The main thing that does jump out is of course the dual 2.4 amp charging ports. That’s a very good power level, especially for something so small.
Inside however, RAVPower has iSmart 2.0 charging technology. What they claim is that this software is always learning. That in turn means that the charger can adapt the amp output to better match the device being charged – remember that not all devices are going to need those meaty 2.4 amps of power.
That in turn helps to make this a very efficient little charger, with an equally small price tag too.
Built in Adaptive Technology
2x 2.4 Amp Ports
- ModelUS RP-PC031B
- Weight0.48 Ounces
Another style of dual USB chargers quite similar to the one we looked at above, this is another excellent model with a number of standout features. The most eye catching is probably the 4.8 amps of dual power, which the device routes to each port as 2.4 amps per port. That is going to supply enough power to effectively charge up even tough, high amp batteries like those found in iPads and other tablets.
The device comes with something called PowerIQ. To us it sounds like Neil deGrasse Tyson with a battery taped to his head, but apparently it helps the device to manage the power load that is placed on it by connected devices. By doing that it funnels power to exactly where it needs to be, making this something of a fast car charger.
Anker is well known for producing well built electrical devices, and that’s true here with a device that is sleek but tough. It’s also covered by the ever-popular 18-month warranty. All in all then a very good little charger for an excellent low price.
4.8 Amps Total
Voltage IQ Feature
- Weight0.96 Ounces
Some people are reluctant to buy a USB charger because they have visions of a big, funny shaped lump sitting up out of the dashboards. For most people, the practical abilities of larger USB chargers outweighs their sometimes less than aesthetic looks. If you have a modern, flush dash and you don’t want to ruin its visual appeal with an unsightly, bulky charger then this could be the answer to your prayers.
Of course, if you’re praying about USB chargers, it might be wise to redirect some of that energy.
This model looks great but to a certain extent that doesn’t really matter too much. You see, the body of the charger will be hidden out of sight, with only the top plate visible, completely flush with the accessory port. The part that is visible boasts an all aluminum construction (with black paint job) whilst the port glows with a very pretty – and actually very useful – blue light.
This thing looks good and will be a credit to the inside of any car. It’s not just looks though, with each port capable of pumping out 2.4 amps of juice. A great design but also highly effective? Looks like we’ve found the Black Widow of car chargers.
All Metal Construction
Light Up Ports
- Weight0.96 Ounces
Another Dual car charger, and another model designed to sit flush inside the accessory port. This one, we should point out, is a few bucks cheaper than the model we looked at above so there are a few bells and whistles missing from this model.
In particular, you’re not getting the high-end finish. There is no black painted aluminum face here, just regular old plastic. The ports themselves also don’t light up. That’s not just an aesthetic consideration by the way (though the lit up blue ports do look kind of cool). A lit port is easier to find in the dark, and stops you fumbling around like a pair of back seat teenagers.
Whilst it may not be as good looking as the model above, it is still a highly effective car charger. Again, we have a total output of 4.8 amps split evenly between the two ports, so again this product can happily take on just about any charging job thrown its way. It also has some excellent built in safeguards against over charging and over heating whilst it also claims a very wide compatibility with a range of device manufacturers.
4.8 Amp Output
Built-In Safeguards Protect Devices
- Weight0.32 Ounces
It’s called Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, and it’s those last two digits that should really make you sit up. The 3.0 refers to amps, as in how many can be pumped out of each port. That is a super level of power and helps make this one of the quickest chargers out there – provided of course your phone is compatible with Qualcomm Quick Charge.
Even if it isn’t, this device is still kicking out excellent power levels so it can be relied upon to charge just about anything. The all-metal construction, in addition to looking great, also allows for superior heat dissipation too – a design choice that is a nod to the incredible power that will be flowing through this bad boy.
All Metal Construction
Max 3 Amp Per Port Output
High Speed Charging
- Weight1.28 Ounces
The standout feature with this model has to be the dual front piece with variable amp ports. This is the first such charger that’s made it onto this list, because whilst it is an extremely effective design, it takes bit more from the manufacturer to pull it off successfully. HUSSELL seems to have done everything it can to guarantee it pulls it off however.
So as you see, the lower port is a 2.4 amp standard port – that level of amps by itself is impressive enough. But right above it – and built in red so you can’t miss it – the Qualcomm 3.0 quick charge port. If you have a phone or device compatible with Qualcomm quick charge technology, that port can charge your device up to 4x times faster than a standard port.
This really is a fast car charger, but it also has the built in safety features you would expect when that amount of power is in play. We have built in protection from over charging, from over heating – the works. There is other tech at work here too, as the charger can also detect the model of phone you plug in, and adapt the power flow to suit it best.
Qualcomm 3.0 Quick Charge Port
Standard 2.4 Amp Port
Tech Recognizes Phone Model
Built In Protections
- Weight22 grams
To be perfectly blunt, there’s not really much about these products in terms of stand-out features. Yes, they are dual 2.4 amp ports. Yes, they do have wide compatibility across a range of electrical devices.
They are of a very durable and compact design too, and they contain built in safe guards against overcharging, against over heating and against current surges. All very worthy, all very impressive, but by this stage of the list (we’re into double figures for anyone who is counting along at home) it’s all very similar, isn’t it? We’ve seen several models with near identical features – so what has this done to make the cut?
Well, quite simply, it’s a two pack. Not only is it a two pack, but it also has a total price of about 15 bucks, making this a really good value. If you have a modern car with a couple of accessory ports in it, and if you don’t necessarily need the bells and whistles that come with products from the premium end of the market, then we would strongly suggest you take a look at this offering from Trianium.
Dual USB, 2.4 Amps Per Port
Basic But Efficient Design
- Weight2.24 Ounces
This is a powerful tool. Not only is it packing incredible power, it’s also extremely well designed, it looks great and it is surprisingly small.
There are a range of eye catching features with this product, but naturally enough the one that is going to grab the attention first and foremost is the fact that it is packing no less than 4 ports. Look over the specs a little closer though and you’ll see that this device is pushing out 9.6 amps total, or 2.4 amps per port for a total max output of 50 watts. That is a crazy power level, and this is a product that can tackle charging just about any electrical item that it comes up against.
Further, its very well designed. It’s sleek, it looks great, it has built in software to detect your device and tailor the power flow. It also of course has all of the built in protections you would expect. It’s a shame the ports don’t light up, but this is still a remarkably well-designed car charger bursting with power and useful features.
9.6 Amp Total Output
Extremely High Power – 50 Watts of Output
- Weight1.6 Ounces
This model is extremely similar to the model we looked at above from Vogel. It is packing a 9.6 amp total output spread across each port, allowing for 2.4 amps per port. As I’m sure you know by now, 2.4 amps is very good.
It also has the built in safety features to protect against overheating, overcharging and all those other things that can damage your electrical items. It’s of a very similar size, it is even of a similar weight an good overall construction.
The only real difference comes in terms of the shape of each charger. The Vogel was a kind of futuristic gear stick looking device, with all the ports neatly laid in a vertical line. This model chooses to pair them, so it is a little shorter but also a little wider. That’s it. They are both very good chargers, packed with useful features. If you need a 4 port device, you probably won’t go wrong with either, so just pick the model that you like the looks of better.
Lightweight & Compact
4x Charging Ports
9.6 Amps Total
- Weight1.44 Ounces
This is an interesting little design from AmazonBasics. In many ways, it mirrors the TrimDish model we looked at above. This model however is even more basic, missing out the additional USB port for a simple wired lighting power cord that connects directly to the base unit.
Unless you exclusively wish to charge Apple products in your car, there may not be enough features and cross platform compatibility to recommend this as an everyday charger. Of course, if you do only wish to charge Apple products, this is a winner.
On the other hand, remember what we said about the TrimDish product above, that the power cord was kind of the Achilles heel of USB chargers? No cord means no charge? Bearing that in mind, this product from AmazonBasics could be a very handy standby charger. Buy it – along with a more traditional design for everyday use – and pop this one in the glove box.
When the day comes when you desperately need to charge your phone, and you’ve forgotten the cable to plug into your USB charger, you can reach into the glovebox and thank your lucky stars you were smart enough to plan ahead.
(And by plan ahead, we mean listen to our sage, Mr Miyagi style wisdom)
1.5 to 3.9 Foot Cable
2.4 Amp Output
Great Emergency Stand By Option
- Weight4 Ounces
We finish up our marathon march through the best USB car chargers with this product from CHOETECH. This is the second style of charger we have come across on our list where the two USB Ports serve separate functions.
The top port contains the Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 tech. Again, if your phone is compatible (and most modern models are) it can plug into this port and be charged up to 4x times faster than when plugged into a standard USB. The second port is a standard USB kicking out 2.4 amps to tackle any other charging jobs.
The product itself is small and light, and pretty unobtrusive – there are no bells and whistles here from a design point of view, just a well designed and constructed little device. One extra feature we like is the fact the ports light up. This is a useful feature on any charger as not only does it make them look really cool (in our opinion at least), it makes them easier to use in low light conditions.
One Quick Charge 3.0 Port
One Standard 2.4 Amp Port
Ports Light up Blue
- Weight4.8 Ounces
Best USB Car Charger Buying Guide & FAQ
Phew – glad you grabbed a drink now, huh? We realize that was a very long list, with a lot of information to take in. In this section now, we’re going to give you the tools and knowledge you need to interpret all that data, and help you to choose the best USB charger that suits your needs.
This section won’t be as long of course, but feel free to crack open another beverage – we’re sure you’ve earned it.
Features to Consider When Buying USB Car Chargers
What are the most important features to bear in mind when you select your new car charger? If only someone really cool and extremely handsome could make a list of them all…
Number of Ports. Don’t buy any product with only one port (unless it is a one port/one attached wire, or an emergency use wire only). It’s just a criminal waste of real estate, as the accessory port can kick out some serious amps and voltage. Take advantage of that by selecting at least a dual USB car charger as your everyday device.
Light Up Ports. It’s not just because they look really cool – though no one can deny that they do. It’s also because they make the charger easy to use – heck, they make it safer. USB ports are tiny. When you’re driving, and the light is poor, and you want to plug in your phone you do not want to be fumbling around in the gloom. You want to glance down, see exactly where the lit part is, and plug in. It minimizes distractions whilst you’re driving, and that can only be a good thing. (Plus they look really cool, did we mention that?)
Amps. Power is extremely important when it comes to these devices, however it is how that power is delivered that is the key – and that is measured in amps. No device on this list delivers power at less than 2.4 amps. There are models out there that do, we’ve seen some with as low as a 1 amp rating – and they are a complete waste of time. They’ll still be trying to get your phone up over 50% even as the sun consumes the Earth itself in a few billion years time.
Construction Material. USB chargers made of metal will usually cost a bit of a premium compared to models constructed entirely from plastic. You are getting two advantages by choosing a device with metal as the primary construction material. First, they look really cool and also are pretty tough and scratch resistant. Secondly, metal helps dissipate heat. These devices can get pretty hot sometimes, especially with multiple ports going. A metal USB charger will be able to handle that just a little better than their plastic brethren.
Benefits of Using USB Car Chargers
Why spring for a new USB car charger? Well, there are a couple of reasons we can think off…
Convenience. If you spend a lot of time in your car, then it can be very convenient to charge your devices up inside it. Think about it, you get in the car, you’re commuting to work. Pop your phone on charge and arrive at the office with a topped up battery. No more having to borrow a charge cable from Dave in accounts, and having to spend 15 minutes listening to his boring stories in return. We get it Dave, you wasted your life – now please just give me the charger.
Emergency. These little devices can also be extremely useful to have on hand during an emergency. They are so small – and also pretty durable – you can pop one into the glove box and leave it there indefinitely. But you can also be sure that, should the need arise, it will be right there ready to charge up your phone or GPS if you desperately need it.
Make Long Trips Bearable. You can also look at these devices as power outlets in the car cabin. If you are on a long trip and want to use your phone as a navigation tool whilst syncing your IPod to the car radio, they need to be charged. If you want to entertain the kids in the back by showing Frozen for the 900th time on their iPads, they need to be charged up too. Losing an electrical device on a road trip can be a first class ticket to hell. Drop 10 bucks or so on any of the products we looked at above and stop that happening.
Types of USB Car Charger
There are broadly speaking two types of USB charger, wired and unwired.
- Wired. Definitely the older style of charger, they date to the early days of cell phones. Back then, you wouldn’t have multiple devices that needed to be charged – you’d just have your phone. So chargers were wired so that they ran directly from the Car accessory port into the phone handset.
- Unwired. Definitely a more modern version of charger, these make up the bulk of the devices we looked at above. They are particularly useful because of their versatility. No longer are they designed just for phones, they have the capacity to connect to – and charge – a very wide range of electrical devices.
Of course, there are also sub categories even within these broad categories, with USB chargers that are flush, some that have dual ports and some with as many as five. Broadly speaking, in this modern world where we often have several electrical gadgets on the go at once it makes sense to choose a more modem unwired version of car charger.
Best USB Car Charger FAQ:
Got any questions about good old USB chargers? Of course you do! Settle in and read on to see the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about these useful little devices.
Q: What is a USB car charger?
A: USB chargers are designed to take advantage of the standardization of USB as a charging method in recent years. Think about it – phones, GPS, headphones, games consoles controllers, tablets and music players – they all come with USB charging cables right? USB car chargers have developed alongside this to provide a fast and convenient way to charge a whole host of electrical devices right inside your car.
Q: How is the USB car charger connected to the car’s power supply?
A: ISB Car chargers typically plug into what used to be called the cigarette lighter port. These days though, when was the last time you saw anyone light up a cigarette with one of those things? It would be like watching a caveman rub pieces of flint together. These days, it’s usually called an Accessory Port, or sometimes even just a Power Port.
Q: Can I charge my iPad & my Iphone at the same time?
A: Yes and no (we love giving these kinds of answers at Car Bibles!) You can certainly charge them both at the same time, provided the USB charger you have selected can push out enough amps. Both the iPhone and iPad have minimum amps levels that any charger must deliver in order to charge the batteries. So as long as one port can deliver at least 1 amp, and the second can deliver at least 2.1 amps then yes, feel free to plug in your fruit based electrical devices.
Q: Can I charge my smart watch on a USB Car charger?
A: As always, double check this with the guide that the smart watch came with (because we don’t want to get sued!) As a general rule of thumb however it should be fine. After all, the device will (should) only draw as much power through the charger as it requires. Don’t forget, many people plug their watches into wall outlets to charge them, which are capable of delivering far more power than the car’s accessory port.
Q: Can a bad charger harm my phone?
A: Yes, it can. It can deliver too much power and damage the delicate circuitry in the phone battery. Never buy a clearly knock off model, always try to buy from reputable manufacturers, and look for products with good reviews. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for models that boast built in protections against things like overcharging, surges in current and even overheating.
Our Top Pick
It’s got to be the Maxboost USB smart charger. Yes, there are other products on the list that deliver a bit more power, yes there are some models that boast more ports to attach devices. But with each increase in power or ports, the price skyrockets. This tool however delivers sufficient power through two ports (so still a useful amount) to be extremely useful in everyday driving.
Add in the fact it is small, looks great, is built to last with a tough double injection molding construction method and it’s remarkably cheap – put all those factors together and that is why it is our top choice.