An onboard battery charger is not just a convenient way to charge up your boat after a long day of fishing. The best marine battery chargers recharge your batteries faster, safer, and maintain charge until your next fishing trip. When you fish every weekend, 8 to 12 months out of the year, you come to realize how important that is.
There are many types of marine batteries, like flooded lead acid, gel, sealed AGM, and now even Lithium Ion. Each technology has their own ideal charging profile and response to ambient temperatures. The best onboard marine battery chargers use digital technology to get the best performance and longest life out of your expensive marine batteries.
Quick Picks – 5 Best Marine Battery Chargers
How to Select an Onboard Charger for Your Boat
Selecting an onboard charger might seem like a complicated decision, but it doesn’t have to be. Narrow down your options down by answering these simple questions.
- How many banks? – Each 12V battery on your boat can be hooked to the charger if you have enough banks. A three-bank charger can juice up a 24V trolling motor and 12V cranking battery. Running a 36V trolling motor means you need at least a three-bank, and a four-bank will cover your cranking battery.
- Recovery Time – The recovery time is the speed with which your batteries can be fully recharged after being drained. Top chargers can recharge your boat in 3-5 hours, putting out 15 amps per bank. Other chargers will range from 6 to 12 hours to recharge all your batteries. Do you fish multiple days in a row? If yes, then faster recovery times are very important.
- Battery Type – Not all marine chargers are compatible with AGM or Gel batteries, which can lead to permanent damage if you ignore this point. Generally, Gel and AGM batteries require more specialized chargers to protect and maintain their longevity. Lead acids are easier, but are prone to boiling off their flooded cells when overcharged.
- Budget – The price of onboard chargers is going to vary greatly, depending on the number of banks, and the number of bells and whistles. A simple 2 bank charger without any digital protection or battery monitoring will cost a fraction of 3 or 4 bank with precision digital charging.
With these factors in mind, you can set yourself up with a quality battery charger that will protect your marine battery investment for years to come. Below, we’ve analyzed the data and technical specs to review the best marine battery chargers for the money.
Marine Battery Charger Reviews
1. Minn Kota MK 330D – Best 3 Bank Marine Battery Charger
The Minn Kota Digital chargers offer an affordable and reliable lineup of onboard marine battery chargers. There is a size for almost anyone, from a single bank 6-amp to a four bank 40-amp. The digital linear charging profiles are the right technology to charge, condition, maintain, and protect your boat batteries. The 3 bank/10 amp MK 330D is one of the most popular chargers for fishing boats.
Pros: Mid-priced battery chargers, with premium technology that handles lead acid and AGM batteries. Protects your batteries from overcharging by monitoring the voltage and temperature. Rapid recovery 3 bank chargers are the most popular type on the market, and the MK-330D is one of the best.
Cons: These chargers do not distribute the total amps, instead use a fixed amp output per bank. A fully distributed charger can recover your batteries faster, but typically cost more. The Digital Linear chargers are epoxy filled putting them on the heavy side, and have larger footprints compared to the Minn Kota Precision.
Minn Kota Digital Charger Features & Sizes
The Digital marine chargers are compatible with, and best suited for traditional flooded Lead Acid batteries, and AGM batteries. There is not a selector for the type of battery, but the smarts inside of the black box uses digital control to deliver multi-stage charging.
- Digital Control – Utilizes a microprocessor to check, measure, and monitor your batteries and deliver the correct charge needed.
- Auto Multi-Stage Charging – The digital controls detect how depleted your batteries are and automatically put them into the right stage of the charge profile. The stages are bulk charge, trickle charge, and maintain after charging is complete.
- Auto Temperature Compensation – The charger’s output automatically adjusts based on the outside temperature. If you live in a hot climate, this feature prevents overheating and overcharging, which can damage your batteries.
- LED Status Lights – A bright LED light bar on each bank quickly shows the charge status.
- Waterproof & Shockproof – The Digital chargers are epoxy filled to be completely waterproof them and to withstand the shock of wave impacts.
- 3 Year Replacement Warranty
Minn Kota Digital onboard chargers come in 6 sizes, from a single bank up to 4 bank. You have the choice, with the 2 and 3 bank, to select a fast or standard recovery time. The 10 amp per bank are the fast recovery chargers (4-6 hours), and anything else is rated for 10-12 hour recharges.
|MK 106D||1||6||12.75x8x7||4.5 lbs||10-12 hrs|
|MK 210D||2||10||11.5x7.5x4||11.0 lbs||10-12 hrs|
|MK 220D||2||20||13.5x7.5x4||15.0 lbs||4-6 hrs|
|MK 315D||3||15||12.5x7x4||14.0 lbs||10-12 hrs|
|MK 330D||3||30||16.5x7.5x4||20.0 lbs||4-6 hrs|
|MK 440D||4||40||11.75x6.75x8||22.5 lbs||4-6 hrs|
Be sure to measure the available space in your boat’s battery compartment and compare to the chart below. The Digital charger mounting footprints are slightly on the large size. If space is tight, you may want to look at some of the other chargers below.
2. ProMariner Pro Tournament Elite
The ProMariner Pro Tournament Elite chargers are high performance marine battery chargers geared towards tournament anglers, and guides. These are the most demanding users, the anglers who need fast and reliable charging daily. The Pro Tournament Elite is compatible with all lead acid, AGM, and HP AGM batteries like Optima Blue Top and Odyssey.
Pros: The Elite chargers have some of the best features in class. The Distributed On Demand charging is one of the best features on these chargers. If your cranking battery is near full, more amps can be directed to your trolling motor batteries to provide the fastest recovery times.
Cons: The main drawback on the Elite chargers is the price. They are on par with the Minn Kota Precision chargers in price. ProMariner Elite is a high-end charger, so you get what you pay for. The 2-year warranty is also not quite as good as the Minn Kota chargers.
Pro Tournament Elite Features & Sizes
- Distributed Charging – Utilizes all the available amps of the charger for faster recovery compared to fixed bank outputs.
- Status Dashboard – LED lights display the system status, and check for any faults. A Push to Test button provides remaining battery power status.
- 3 Battery Type Profiles – You can select the type of battery (Lead Acid/AGM, HP AGM1, HP AGM2) by simply swapping out the programming plug on the back of the unit.
- Five Stage Charging – The five stage charge profiles properly recover your batteries for optimum life, while also maintaining your batteries during periods of less use. The last stage is a handy once monthly reconditioning charge.
- Forced Induction Cooling – The Elite 360 chargers uses a forced induction cooling fan to keep the unit from overheating and increases the charge speed.
- Waterproof & Shock Resistant – The Pro Tournament Elite are waterproof to IP67.
|Elite 240 Dual||2||24||13x7x2.75||6.75 lbs|
|Elite 360 Dual||2||36||13.5x9.4x4.0||13.1 lbs|
|Elite 240 Triple||3||24||13.2x7.2x2.8||8.0 lbs|
|Elite 360 Triple||3||36||13.5x9.4x4.0||13.5 lbs|
|Elite 360 Quad||4||36||13.5x9.4x4.0||14.5 lbs|
The Elite are lightweight chargers, for lack of being potted black boxes. The 240 models weigh under 8 pounds, and the big 360’s are 13-14 pounds. Compare that to the 20+ pound bricks from the other brands.
3. Minn Kota Precision Chargers
For the ultimate in marine battery chargers, look no further than Minn Kota Precision onboard chargers. The Precision lineup is loaded with the best charging technology, like digital controls, low power line compensation, selective battery type, and battery equalization. If you demand the best for your bass boat, you need to consider the 3 and 4 bank Precision chargers.
Pros: These chargers are perfect for anglers running more expensive battery types like AGM, gel, and HP AGM. It is as easy as setting the selector on each bank to setup the correct charge profile. The microprocessor controls everything from temperature compensation, line voltage, and battery status to ensure a full and even charge every time.
Cons: Minn Kota Precision chargers are pricey, running well above ProMariner, NOCO, and even Minn Kota’s Digital chargers. The added smarts in these chargers can be worth it in protecting your battery investment, and getting the longest life.
Minn Kota Precision Charger Features & Sizes
- User Controlled Battery Type – Each bank is selectable to your specific battery type. You can charge 3 AGM deep cell trolling motor batteries and an HP AGM cranking battery at the same time.
- Auto Temp Compensation – By monitoring and compensating to the outdoors ambient temperature, the risk of overcharging due to the heat is reduced greatly.
- Outlet Voltage Compensation – The Precision charger can automatically adjust for outlets that don’t put out the standard 120V they should be. Don’t let shoddy electrical work slow down your recharging speed.
- Lead Acid Battery Equalization – This is a cleaning cycle activated on traditional flooded Lead Acid batteries. It removes deposits on the plates and increasing overall performance and longevity.
- Digital Multi-Stage Charge Profiles – The Microprocessor controls the voltage and amps delivered to your batteries, along the proper charge profile for the selected battery type.
- Waterproof, Shock Resistant – Despite not being epoxy filled bricks, the Precision chargers are still waterproof and shock resistant.
- 3 Year Minn Kota Replacement Warranty
|MK 220PC||2||20||9.25x8.25x3||5.0 lbs|
|MK 230PC||2||30||9.5x10x3.75||8.75 lbs|
|MK 330PC||3||30||9.25x8.25x3||8.0 lbs|
|MK 345PC||3||45||13x10x3.75||12.5 lbs|
|MK 440PC||4||40||9.25x10.5x3||10.0 lbs|
|MK 460PC||4||60||16x10x3.75||15.75 lbs|
For anglers who demand a lot out of their gear, there are not many better onboard chargers than the Minn Kota Precision. They have compact footprints for already cramped boat compartments, and are a fraction of the weight of other black box chargers. They do have a steep price tag compared to others, but the amount of technology and battery optimization you get makes it all worth it.
4. Cabela’s Pro Series – Best Cheap Chargers
The Pro Series 20 Amp is possibly the best marine battery charger under $200. They are Cabela’s branded, but designed and manufactured by ProMariner, the same company who makes our #2 ranked chargers.
You might wonder why the prices are so much lower than the ProMariner brand chargers. The only real difference is the Pro Series is focused on 3 banks and less chargers, with lower total amp output.
If you want the distributed digital charging technology and don’t care about the fastest possible recovery times, these chargers are a great option.
Pro Series Size & Capabilites
|Pro Series 6 Amp||1||6||7.3x7.2x2.5|
|Pro Series 8 Amp||2||8||8.4x7.2x2.5|
|Pro Series 12 Amp||2||12||10.0x7.2x2.5|
|Pro Series 20 Amp||2||20||12.4x7.2x2.5|
|Pro Series 20 Amp||3||20||12.4x7.2x2.5|
- On Demand, Distributed Charging – The charger automatically detects number and charge level of all batteries connected and allocates all available amps towards them for faster recovery times.
- Multistage Auto Charging – Pro Series chargers automatically run in stages, from initial analysis, bulk charging, cell conditioning, and finishes with an energy-saving maintenance mode.
- System Status LED Panel – Quickly determine the system status, charge stage, and overall charge progress with a bright LED status panel.
- Monthly Reconditioning – A once a month battery reconditioning cycle helps maintain battery performance over short to long term storage.
- Lead Acid & AGM Compatible – No selection required, the Pro Series charges flooded Lead Acid and sealed AGM batteries automatically.
- Saltwater Approved – An all-aluminum construction has been tested and approved for saltwater use.
- In Line Fuses – Protect your system and batteries from line overloads with built in inline fuses for each bank.
- Temperature, Load, Voltage Protection – Pro Series chargers have built in digital overload protection, as well as temperature compensation to protect your batteries.
5. Marinco ChargePro – Best 2 Bank Charger
Marinco ChargePro is another solid marine battery charger option. The ChargePro is a basic, but highly reliable digital charger. These units don’t have the fancy distributed charging, instead utilize a set amperage for each bank. It’s a reliable design that has worked well on boat batteries for a long time.
ChargePro chargers can drop in replace older Guest ChargePro chargers, and typically use the same mounting holes. These units are completely epoxy filled and rugged enough to resist shock, and handle moisture and saltwater use. All models are waterproof to an IP68 rating. The ChargePro are some of the best 2 bank marine battery chargers for the money.
*Last updated 2019-01-20 at 05:46 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API