When choosing a marine battery charger the first consideration should be the type of battery you need to charge and its specifications. The type of charger you choose is also important, as each charger functions differently and offers different charging speeds. The ideal marine battery charger should be durable and able to function under a range of environmental conditions.
In order to select the right marine battery charger you need to look at the battery specifications. Note the input voltage, battery type and amp/hour or battery capacity, as these specifications need to be compatible with the charger you choose. To ensure a longer battery life, it is also important to select a battery charger that will not overcharge or undercharge the battery.
Most marine batteries are either 6 volt or 12 volt batteries, and the charger you purchase should match the input voltage of the battery. The most common marine batteries are either flooded, gel cell, valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) or absorbed glass mat (AGM). One marine battery charger should work with all kinds of batteries with the exception of gel cell batteries.
The amp hours of your battery refers to how much charge it can store, and keeping the amp hours of your battery in mind will help you select a charger that will deliver the correct charge. The recommended charge rate within the battery industry is about 20% of the amp/hour capacity of the battery.
Marine battery chargers can be broken down into three main groups: trickle chargers, bulk chargers and solar chargers. A trickle charger can be used to charge a battery while it is discharging or while it is in use. This ensures that the battery is always charged to full capacity without the risk of overcharging. The one downside to a trickle charger is that it requires a longer charging period than other marine battery chargers.
A bulk charger is normally five amps or more and can be used to charge a battery that has been depleted entirely. A high quality bulk charger will charge the battery in a short period of time and avoid overcharging because of its multi-stage charge feature. These chargers are normally available in on-board and waterproof versions.
Solar chargers convert the sun's rays to energy to help maintain your marine battery's charge and extend its life. This type of charger converts the sun's rays into a low voltage DC current, which can be utilized by storing it as a battery charge or by using it as it is generated.