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3 Best CTEK Battery Chargers for Car 2020 (Review & Buying Guide)

CTEK AB is a Swedish company with a world-wide reputation for their CTEK battery charger. They were the first company to pioneer the smart car charger. Since this development, they’ve continued to stay on the cutting edge, using state of the art technology to give you the best charge and maintenance available. 

A battery charger doesn’t have to be just for emergencies. Chargers are also a helpful tool to have around for long-term maintenance, preventing problems before they happen. In many cases, using a CTEK battery charger can even extend the life of your battery.

Sound like something you need in your garage? Check out the buying guide and product reviews in this article to find the ideal CTEK charger for you.

Side by Side Comparison

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CTEK 40-206 MXS 5.0-12 Volt Battery Charger

CTEK 40-206 MXS 5.0 Battery Charger
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CTEK (56-353) MULTI US 7002  Battery Charger
CTEK (56-353) MULTI US 7002 Battery Charger
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CTEK 56-959 Silver MUS 4.3
CTEK 56-959 Silver MUS 4.3 Battery Charger
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PriceCTEK 40-206 MXS Battery Charger
CTEK (56-353) MULTI US 7002 Battery Charger
CTEK 5PK748190 Silver MUS 4.3
Weight1.8 lbs1.7 lbs2 lbs
Product Dimensions11” X 5.9” X 2.4”7.5” X 3.5” X 1.9”4” X 4” X .5”
Charger Type
Trickle ChargerTrickle ChargerTrickle Charger
Charging Amps
.8-3.3A
.3-7A.8-4.3A
Voltage
12.7-15.8V12-15.7V12-15.8V

Buying Guide: Why Buy a CTEK Battery Charger?

As mentioned in the introduction, CTEK is consistently on the cutting edge. You’ll find features like smart charging and multi-stage battery recovery programs on CTEK chargers that other brands don’t offer.

That’s not the only thing that draws people to these chargers, though. One big advantage of CTEK design is you can count on their chargers to be safe in all use circumstances. They’re also fast, efficient, and powerful enough for any vehicle battery. Let’s take a quick look at the best features of CTEK battery chargers:

Recondition Modes. 

Most CTEK chargers have specialized programs for reconditioning your battery. This typically involves a process known as desulphation. You can think of desulphation as decluttering the cells of your battery, removing lead sulfate crystals that build up there over time. 

CTEK Battery Charger MXS 5.0
Unique reconditioning mode, built-in temperature sensing capabilities.

By removing these crystals, CTEK chargers improve battery performance. They also extend the maximum life of a battery. The better the cells are able to store energy, the longer it will continue to perform. Under the right conditions, a car battery can last 10 years or more, far beyond the typical expected lifespan of 5-7 years. 

Advanced Safety Features.

Most battery chargers have a polarity protection feature that prevents shocks and surges if the clamps aren’t connected to the right terminals. CTEK chargers take this a step further with spark protection. Their chargers shut down automatically if the clamps touch accidentally and that helps keep you safe while you’re using it. 

Another safety advantage of CTEK battery chargers is that the input current is smoothed to avoid spikes. This means you can charge your battery while it’s still installed in the vehicle without worrying about damage to sensitive electronic components. 

Smart Sensors.

All CTEK chargers automatically choose the right charging mode, proceeding through the steps without any user input. Many will also let you know valuable information about your battery, with indicators telling you the sulphation level and overall battery status.

You’ll find lots of brands that claim to offer smart sensors. Many of these are lacking, though, and don’t always take an accurate reading of the battery’s level. This can lead to overcharging and that can lower your battery’s overall capacity—the opposite effect you’re looking for.

The sensors in CTEK batteries are more advanced than those used by other brands. You can trust the accuracy of its readings and that gives you peace of mind when you use one. 

Still not sure whether you want a CTEK battery charger—or which one is right for you? Here are some other questions to ask yourself as you’re evaluating your options. 

What do you expect out of your machine?

This question is two-fold: what you expect out of your vehicle, and what you want in a charger. How you use your car or truck can help guide what kind of charger you need. If you tend to use the electrical components of your vehicle a lot, especially when it’s off, your battery will need periodic maintenance. 

What counts as electrical components? Basically anything that’s not run by the engine. Both exterior and interior lights use the battery, as do the radio and any charging ports in the car. Smart vehicle systems like GPS or dash cams are also battery drainers. 

The second part of the question has to do with what you need from the charger itself. If you’re mostly interested in improving the health of the battery in a regularly-used vehicle, the maintenance functions will be of most value to you. On the other hand, battery tenders a trickle-charge option are better for long-term maintenance. If you want to maintain a battery that’s used seasonally or occasionally, this is what you want to look for. 

Are you new to charging batteries?

It’s not hard to use a battery charger but you can damage the battery (or yourself) if you don’t know what you’re doing. For those with less experience, a smart charger is the best bet. This way you’ll never risk overcharging the battery or using the wrong setting. Just plug the charger to the battery and let its sensors do the rest. 

Less experienced users will also want to look at the charger’s safety features. At minimum, you want a charger with reverse polarity protection. Spark-proof clamps and protections against over-voltage or over-charge are also helpful. 

Don’t forget to review the manual for your battery charger before you use it, especially if you’ve never used one before. Knowing everything you can about the charger’s features and use will help make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

Do you want your battery to serve longer?

The best way to extend a battery’s lifespan is to keep it fully-charged as often as you can. Your battery’s stored energy takes a big hit every time you start your car. It can also lose charge over time, a process known as self-discharge that occurs in all batteries.

People who drive everyday don’t usually have trouble keeping their car or truck’s battery full. As you drive, the alternator refills the charge taken from the battery. Self-discharge takes a couple days to start having an affect, so daily drivers won’t need to give their battery as much attention. 

Even with daily use, though, lead sulphate crystals can accumulate inside your battery. If you notice signs of a dying battery, like dim interior lights or sluggish starts, a recovery program can bring it back to full health. That spares you the need to buy new batteries as often. 

Do you need the best performance?

High-performance vehicles demand more out of every system and the battery is no exception. Using a battery maintainer when your car isn’t in use will ensure it’s ready to meet those high demands. 

High-performance car batteries typically have a higher capacity and can provide more power than regular 12-volt lead acid models. They’ll need a correspondingly powerful battery charger to maintain them. A larger, more powerful charger like the CTEK MXS 5.0 below will be ideal to keep it running its best. 

Product Reviews

CTEK 40-206 MXS 5.0 Battery Charger

 CTEK 40-206 MXS 5.0 Battery Charger
CTEK 40-206 MXS 5.0-12 Volt Battery Charger
4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)
The CTEK MXS 5.0 is ideal for maintaining batteries, especially large batteries like those found in trucks and SUVs. 

Pros

  • Fully automatic 8-stage charging
  • Reconditions and restores sulphated batteries
  • Excellent choice for all-weather charging and high-demand batteries
  • Maintenance function extends battery life up to 3X
  • Built-in temperature sensors
  • Safety protections against sparks and reverse polarity

Cons

  • Plastic insulators on clamps break easily
  • May not restore fully dead batteries

 

CTEK 56-353 Multi US 7002 12-Volt Battery Charger

CTEK (56-353) MULTI US 7002 12-Volt Battery Charger
CTEK (56-353) MULTI US 7002 12-Volt Battery Charger
4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)
The CTEK Multi US 7002 is the best charger for you to take with you on the road. Its portability and charging efficiency make it useful for both quick charges and long-term maintenance.

Pros

  • Charges all lead acid batteries
  • Ideal for use in extreme climates
  • Resistant to water and dust
  • Includes both eyelet terminal rings and alligator clamps
  • Fast, efficient charging
  • Compact and portable

Cons

  • Costs more than other options
  • Reconditioning dead batteries can take a while

 

CTEK 56-959 Silver MUS 4.3 Test & Charge 12 Volt Fully Automatic Charger and Tester

 CTEK 56-959 Silver MUS 4.3 TEST &amp; CHARGE 12 Volt Fully Automatic Charger and Tester
CTEK 56-959 Silver MUS 4.3 TEST &amp; CHARGE 12 Volt Fully Automatic Charger and Tester
4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)
  It’s the easy way to charge and maintain all your batteries. Just plug it in, and the charger does the rest.

Pros

  • Tests battery condition and alternator
  • Easy operation
  • Automatic 8-stage charging
  • Recondition mode recovers badly sulfated batteries
  • Works on any lead-acid, gel, or AGM battery
  • Spark-proof with protections against surges and over-charges

Cons

  • Not as portable as other options
  • Slower charging speed

 

The Bottom Line

All three of these chargers are great products, but if pressed to pick a favorite we’d have to go with the CTEK Multi US 7002. It has everything you’ll find on the others, but with better protection against the elements and a more thorough battery restoration program. 

CTEK battery chargers can bring your battery back to life. Get one today to enjoy more longevity and long-term power. It’s a small investment that can have big returns!

FAQs

Can CTEK battery chargers be used for motorcycle batteries?

Yes, so long as the battery in your motorcycle is 12 volts. Some older motorcycles use 6-volt batteries, which may be damaged by a 12-volt charger. Verify your battery’s capacity before using one of these chargers on it. 

Of course, if you want to, there are also specialized motorcycle battery chargers!

Will a CTEK battery charger jump start a battery?

No. You need a jump starter if you want to cold-start a dead battery in a matter of seconds. These CTEK chargers can restore the full charge of a dead battery, but it will take a little while to do so. This means they’re not the best option to use in emergency situations.

Jump starting a battery often causes damage, reducing its maximum lifespan. If you have the time for it, using a CTEK charger is better than using a jump starter, since CTEK chargers repair rather than damage your battery.

Can you use CTEK battery chargers for marine batteries?

Yes, you can. The CTEK MULTI US 7002 is water-resistant, making it the ideal option for maintaining marine batteries.

Do you need any accessories to use a CTEK battery charger?

CTEK chargers come with everything you’ll need to charge them and connect them to your battery. There are optional accessories you can buy to adapt them better to your particular needs, however.

One useful accessory many people get is a cigarette lighter adapter. This cable plugs into the lighter port in your dash so you can charge the battery without opening the hood or connecting anything to the terminals. Along with convenience, this is beneficial for those concerned about safety. There’s less risk of sparks or surges if you don’t need to use the clamps. 

CTEK also sells a battery monitor you can install on your vehicle’s dash. This connects permanently to your battery using O-rings and tracks its current charge. It can be a very helpful accessory for vehicles with frequent battery or power issues, letting you track the problem and solve it more quickly. There’s also a port on the monitor to plug in a charger when necessary, again sparing you the need to open the hood. 

What is stratification, and will a CTEK battery charger fix it?

Stratification happens when the acid inside the cells separates from the water. This usually only happens when a battery is deeply discharged. Once this has occurred, the battery won’t charge evenly throughout its interior. Part will be undercharged while other areas are overcharged, leading to surges, inconsistent charges, or sulphation. 

The best way to avoid stratification is to keep the battery full, so a CTEK charger can definitely help with that. Using the maintenance function may allow you to restore a battery that has stratified, though it does depend on how bad the damage is. In some cases, your only option may be to purchase a new battery. 

What are the 8 stages of a CTEK battery charging process?

The multi-step maintenance program used in CTEK battery chargers is broken down into 8 different steps. Not every stage will be used for every battery. The charger’s smart sensors read the battery’s needs and respond accordingly.

The 8 steps are:

  1. Desulphation. The charger sends pulses of electricity into the battery to break up lead sulphate crystals and re-integrate them into the plates.
  2. Soft start. This is a diagnostic stage that tests if the battery is able to hold a charge. It’s used by the charger to determine how depleted the battery is.
  3. Bulk charging. If it’s determined the battery needs significant charging, this stage is activated. It uses a strong charge to quickly get the battery’s capacity close to full.
  4. Absorption. This phase begins once the battery is nearly to its full charge. A lower charge is used than in the bulk charging stage. Though this fills the battery more slowly, it also helps prevent over-charging or over-heating that can damage the battery. 
  5. Analysis. Another diagnostic stage, this verifies again that the battery is holding the charge being sent to it. Depending on the readings, the charger may move forward through the stages or go back to the bulk charging or absorption stages at this point. 
  6. Reconditioning. If the battery has undergone stratification, the recondition stage is activated. On some chargers, this stage will be optional and can be manually removed from the process by the user. 
  7. Float/Supply. At this point, the CTEK charger begins to operate more as a trickle charger. A very light amount of charge is sent to the battery for up to 10 days which maintains it at 100% capacity. 
  8. Pulse maintenance. This step is designed for long-term maintenance of batteries that don’t get much use. The charger monitors the condition of the battery, providing a small pulse of current as needed. 

How long does a CTEK charger take to charge a battery?

That depends on which model you get and the capacity of the battery you’re charging. The CTEK MUS 5.0 can charge most 100 amp hour batteries in about 8 hours, though it may take as long as 15 hours if the battery is badly depleted. 

Can you use CTEK chargers to charge multiple batteries in parallel?

You can if you’re simply recharging them, though it will take longer. It can also be a successful approach to maintaining batteries long-term. The desulphation and reconditioning functions on CTEK chargers will not work on multiple batteries in parallel, though. If you’re restoring damaged batteries, you’ll need to hook them up one at a time  

Can you charge gel batteries with CTEK chargers?

Yes, gel batteries can be recharged with lead-acid CTEK battery chargers on the “normal” mode. The internal chemistry of these batteries is very similar to that in a lead-acid battery and will receive the charge in the same way. 

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