Make sure your battery is ready to go for your next ATV ride
Battery technology has come a long way over the past several decades, but it still isn’t perfect, and if you don’t have a good ATV battery charger to keep topped off, you’re flirting with disappointment. Your ATV’s battery is slowly discharging itself as we speak, leaving you with fewer cranking amps to get going when it’s time for your next ride. If you ride frequently, that’s not such a problem; your ATV’s electrical system supplies a constant charge to the battery so long as the engine is running. If you let it sit for too long, however, your battery can deplete to the point that you don’t have enough juice left to get it started.
The good news is that an ATV battery charger is not an expensive piece of equipment, and many modern chargers are endowed with advanced electronic systems that prevent overcharging, reverse polarity connection, and other potentially damaging scenarios. Some of them even come equipped with a “battery tender” function that makes long-term storage easier by topping the battery off periodically, as needed.
But the process of selecting the right ATV battery charger for your application can be daunting, so we’ve rounded up some of our favorite chargers currently on the market.
Table of Contents
1. Editor's Choice: NOCO Boost Sport GB20
Designed for gasoline engines up to 4.0 liters, the NOCO Boost Sport GB20 is rated for 400 Amps and is the perfect portable ATV battery charger. The GB20 holds a charge for up to one year, so all you need to do is charge it up in the spring and keep it in your UTV glovebox or your ATV gear bag. It can safely jump start a dead battery in seconds, which can save your ride day.
Features include high-discharge lithium technology for safe operation, water-resistant enclosure rated at IP65, needle-nose battery clamps, micro USB charging cable, microfiber storage bag, user guide, and one-year warranty.
2. Schumacher SP1297
The Schumacher SP1297 is a 12V fully automatic battery charger and maintainer. It features clamp and ring terminal adapters that are easy to connect to your battery. Helping make the SP1297 easy to use is a microprocessor that automatically adjusts the amperage rate with multi-stage charging and float mode monitoring for both charging and maintaining your battery. As well, the charger boasts reverse hook-up protection, which means if you accidently reverse the clamps the charger won’t operate.
3. Best Budget Option: Mroinge MBC010
If you’d rather save some coin than take a bunch of bonus features you might never use, the Mroinge MBC010 is an excellent barebones budget option. It still offers the safety and reliability of an automated four-stage charging routine, helping optimize battery energy without the risk of overcharging, and at 1 amp of current, it can fully recharge a 15 Ah battery in an estimated 16 hours, but it doesn’t include any fancy battery rejuvenation routines or 6-volt battery compatibility. Sometimes, simple does it.
4. BatteryMINDer 2012
At the far end of the price spectrum from the Mroinge MBC010, we have this: the BatteryMINDer 2012 – an ATV battery charger, maintainer, and desulfator. Battery sulfation, where lead sulfate crystals accumulate within the battery, is the leading cause of premature car and ATV battery death, but the BatteryMINDer’s high-frequency pulse desulfation helps to reverse the process, recovering lost capacity on older batteries. It also uses an advanced, microprocessor-controlled seven-stage recharge routine, with ambient temperature compensation, and best of all, it can be used to maintain up to six batteries at a time, provided you spring for some extra Y-connectors. If you keep multiple ATVs or other powersport equipment, we don’t have to tell you what a useful feature that is.
5. Foxsur Multifunctional Smart Battery Charger
The Foxsur Multifunctional Smart battery charger is overkill as an ATV battery charger, putting out 3 amps of current, but it’s an attractive option because it offers a pulse repair function much like the BatteryMINDer 2012 listed above, for far less coin. Not quite as advanced, the Foxsur nonetheless features a fully automated recharge routine, an easy-to-read LCD screen that displays things like charge status and inside temperature, and protections to guard against overcharging, overheating, and reverse polarity. If you don’t need to tend to six batteries at once but you still want the benefit of pulse repair, it’s an excellent, low-price option. As an added plus, it’s compatible with a wide range of 12-volt and 24-volt batteries, including wet, gel, sealed, AGM, Enhanced Flooded (EFB) – even lithium and LiFePO4.
6. Battery Tender Junior Charger and Maintainer
Looking for a less expensive ATV battery charger that will gladly handle both your lead-acid and lithium batteries? This reasonably priced Battery Tender Junior model has a mode for each, powered by an embedded microcontroller that ensures your battery is getting the correct level of current no matter where it is in the recharge cycle. That means it’s fully automated and guarded against reverse-polarity connections, with up to 800 mA of current to recharge most any ATV battery, lead-acid or no.
A Quick Word on Charging
Most people seldom read instruction manuals these days, but we highly recommend perusing your ATV battery charger’s literature. Not all batteries – nor all chargers – are created equal, and it’s important to understand the capabilities and risks of your equipment before you make a potentially costly mistake.
Most ATV batteries in use today are of the 12-volt variety, the same as any modern gas-powered car, but batteries can vary drastically in both capacity and composition. That can affect recharge times, as well as the maximum recommended amperage rating. The rule of thumb is try to supply no more than one amp of current per amp-hour of battery capacity, up to a hard max of 3 amps, primarily to avoid damage to the battery that can eat away at its total capacity over time. That said, many – but not all – modern chargers feature built-in over-current protection, and the best way to be sure you’re not exceeding your battery’s limits is by reading the manual.
Overcharging is another concern – at least on some “dumb” chargers that don’t have smart overcharging protections built-in. With older chargers, it used to be that if you left a battery connected for too long, it would cause the electrolyte water to overheat and evaporate into hydrogen and oxygen gas, reducing battery life and, in some cases, leading to a dangerous buildup of pressure inside the battery. Modern chargers – including the ones on this list – have built-in protections to theoretically prevent this from happening, and evolutionary changes to battery chemistry and composition have made it less of a concern, but it’s nonetheless important to understand what your charger will – and won’t – do.
In short, read up on your ATV battery charger’s capabilities and built-in protections, try to stay within the rule of thumb with regard to current supply, and when in doubt, disconnect the charger a bit early, as opposed to too late.
March 29, 2021: Replaced the NOCO G750 (no longer readily available) with the NOCO GB20 and updated links to all of the products.
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