Battery 101: The Difference Between a Trickle Charger and a Regular Battery Charger

A lot of factors that come into play when trying to decide the right battery. More importantly, once you’ve chosen the right battery for your application you need to know the correct way to it.

Does the battery need to be charged quickly? Is the battery going to be stored for a while? Does it just need to be kept charged until its next use? Questions like these help to determine if you need a regular battery or a trickle charger.  Here we’ve broken down the difference between the two.

Regular Battery Charger

A regular battery charger is designed to charge a battery as quickly and as safely as possible.

Did you know? Charging a battery too fast can damage the battery, reducing its performance capacity, shortening its life cycle and even cause it to catch fire. For these reasons, it’s important to not rush the process. A standard battery chargers purpose is to send a constant voltage to the battery until it’s turned off.

This means that you have to check the battery and make sure to not let the charger stay connected past the point of a full charge. That will help you avoid mistakes many batteries owners make.

Is it right for you? This type of charger is ideal if you are trying to charge up your battery for immediate use.


Trickle Charger

A trickle charger is a battery charger that delivers a very low voltage. This means that the battery will be charged slowly over a period of time.

Did you know? When preparing to store a battery for a period of time, it’s best to make sure that the battery is charged fully at the time of storage and that it receives periodic charging during its time in storage. That way when you’re ready to use it for your application, you’re ready to go.

A trickle charger removes the need to recharge periodically, as it feeds a constant low charge to the battery without the pronounced risk of overcharging. It’s important to note that a trickle charger and a maintenance charger are not the same things.

A trickle charger will deliver a charge that is equal to the batteries rate of self-discharge and should be disconnected once a full charge has been established to avoid overcharging. A maintenance charger is designed to stay connected to the battery. Once a charge level is set, the charger will automatically turn off and on to maintain the specified charge range.

Regular Chargers vs. Trickle Chargers

A trickle chargers’ primary purpose is to slowly charge a battery and prevent overcharging – however, the same result can be achieved through the use of a standard charger.

If storing batteries for a while is a common activity, then it’s safe to say a trickle charger may be a good investment. On the other hand, if your primary battery charging activities require a quick charge for immediate use with the occasional need to store a battery, you’d be better off investing in a regular charger, and just plan on charging the stored battery every 30 to 45 days.

Just make sure that the battery is fully charged before you put it away and you should be able to maintain its charge without a problem.

Fast vs. Slow

Charging a battery as fast as you can is not always the best solution – here’s why:

When a battery is being charged, the process of discharge is being reversed. This means that the chemical process that allowed the battery to provide power has to go back to its original state.

The heat from the charging process allows this chemical reversal to happen – however, too much heat, or amperage can create an adverse effect called off-gassing. The gas being released is extremely flammable and unsafe to breathe. When charging any battery, you should be in a well-ventilated area and pay close attention to avoid overcharging.

So, Which Types of Batteries Should Be Recycled?

You hear it all the time: recycle. The issue of recycling in today’s world is a big one, and isn’t unique to the battery industry. But even now, not all batteries are created equal and can’t be disposed of equally either. Need help recycling your batteries? Let us know. 

It’s important to understand what kinds of batteries you have and which should be recycled. Use this guide as a way to navigate household batteries, car batteries and industrial batteries, and how they should be recycled.

Household Batteries

– Non-Rechargeable Household Batteries

  • Alkaline and Zinc-Carbon batteries are dry cell batteries that come completely sealed. With a variety of sizes such as AA, AAA, C, D and 9-volt, these batteries are usually used in toys and electronics, among other things. They can leak as they age so proper disposal is important. When recycled, these batteries become components in things like fertilizer, plastic, paper, and steel products.


  • Primary Lithium batteries are also small dry cell batteries that come in a variety of standard sizes. They can be used in a number of different items and are particularly well suited for high temperatures. They can overheat but they are non-spillable and non-toxic. While by the standards of most U.S. States, throwing these batteries away is acceptable, however, if a primary lithium battery is thrown away while still charged a fire could be started in the landfill if the lithium were to become exposed.


  • Silver-Oxide batteries are dry cell button batteries that range in size from small to large. They are used in everything from hearing aids to aircraft. The proper recycling of these batteries helps reduce ground and water contamination and can even make you some money as well. There are many recycling plants around the country that will pay you for your used silver oxide batteries.


  • Mercury batteries are another type of small dry cell batteries that come in a range of sizes. Commonly used in things like medical devices and cameras, mercury batteries are versatile but are also toxic and should be handled with care. Proper recycling is important because if they are ever incinerated they can release toxic vapors.


– Rechargeable Household Batteries

  • Lead-Acid Gel batteries are used to power things such as electric wheelchairs, golf carts, and children’s electric ride on toy cars. These batteries are non-spillable as they are sealed in a hard plastic case and the electrolyte is gel instead of water. The lead, however, makes this battery toxic and, if not properly used, charged and disposed of, can catch fire.


  • Nickel-Cadmium is commonly used in handheld power tools and remote control toys although it comes in a variety of sizes and has many uses. Without proper disposal or recycling, the nickel-cadmium battery can release toxic cadmium vapors if incinerated.


  • Lithium-ion batteries are becoming increasingly common household batteries as they are used in cell phones, laptops, and many other handheld devices. These batteries are non-spillable and non-toxic, and once recycled, the metals and plastic recovered from the battery are used in the creation of new products.


Car Batteries

There are three primary types of car batteries, lead-acid, VRLA, and hybrid. While they can all seem intimidating, it’s really important that you know how to properly handle them, especially in the area of disposal.


  • Hybrid automotive batteries are commonly made with lithium-ion or nickel metal hydride and are non-spillable. They are important to recycle correctly as the components can harm the environment and even become flammable if not handled with care. Not to mention many of the reclaimed metals and plastics can be easily and quickly reused.


  • Lead-Acid batteries are the most common car battery on the road is one of the most recycled batteries. Some states have instituted a core recycling rebate for these batteries which encourages consumers to turn in their old batteries. Once a lead acid battery is recycled nearly every component of the old battery has gone into the making of a new one. In fact, according to the EPA, the lead-acid battery recycling rate was 99%.


  • VRLA, or valve-regulated lead-acid batteries are found in cars, boats and even wheelchairs. These batteries are relatively easy to care for and maintain. Because there is lead in the battery as well as an acid electrolyte, it is important to make sure they are recycled properly. Misuse of a lead acid battery can be dangerous.


Industrial Batteries

While industrial batteries are not as common as household batteries, it is still important to understand the types of batteries and how to handle them. Industrial batteries are used across a number of industries and in a variety of ways.


  • Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) are flooded cell batteries that typically use lead-acid. They are used to provide uninterrupted power to anything that cannot or should not have an interruption in power. Because they are typically made with lead acid, recycling is very important.


  • Nickel-iron batteries are used to power things like railroad signals and are used in some mining operations. They are spillable, so although they are non-toxic, it’s best to dispose of them correctly to avoid any problems.


  • Large Flooded Cell batteries are most often lead acid based batteries and are used for things like utility and telecommunications systems. They are spillable and very heavy so use caution if you ever have to handle it directly. Lead is toxic and the acid is corrosive so you should never just throw these batteries away.


Battery 101: Top 3 Car Battery Safety Tips To Know

Taking care of your car battery is essential – and not overly complicated – when you know the basics. That being said, a car battery is a powerful source of energy that can be dangerous if not treated with care. The next time you pop the hood, make sure you use these top three safety tips to keep you (and your battery) out of harm’s way.

How to: keep it clean

Cleaning your battery is an important step in prolonging the life of your battery and keeping it in peak performance shape. That being said, cleaning the battery can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Before you even get started, make sure you have:

– Baking soda and water

– Small brush ( if you don’t have a wire cleaning brush, an old toothbrush will work in a pinch)

– Towel

– Wrench

– Gloves and protective eyewear

Using the wrench, disconnect the cables from the battery. Then mix a solution using 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of hot water. This will help remove any corrosion that has begun to build up on the battery.

Next, dip the brush into the solution to assist with scouring away the buildup. Use the towel to dry the battery off before reconnecting the cables. While you’re at it, make sure you clean away any dirt on the battery as well. Dirt is a conductor and can increase the rate of self-discharge, shortening the life of the battery.

Pro-Tip: Applying petroleum jelly to the battery posts and the connector clamps help prevent corrosive build up.

How to: give it a jump

Improperly jump starting a car can be bad, very bad. By not taking care and making sure you know exactly what you’re doing, you could fry the electrical system in both cars – something we definitely want to avoid.

Before you get started, make sure both cars are turned off and you’ve unplugged any devices inside both cars, such as phone chargers.

– Carefully attach a red clip to the positive terminal on the charged battery.

– Attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the battery needing to be charged.

– Attach the black clip to the negative terminal of the battery needing to be charged.

– Attach the other black clip to an unpainted metal surface on the car that is not in need of charging. DO NOT ATTACH IT TO THE NEGATIVE TERMINAL. To do so could cause an explosion.

– Start the charged car and let the engine run for a few minutes.

– Attempt to start the car being charged.

– If the car does not start, allow the other car to run for up to five minutes.

– If the car will still not start, the battery is likely completely dead and will need to be replaced.

– If the car does start, DO NOT TURN IT OFF. The car will need to be driven for at least 15 minutes at highway speeds to fully recharge the battery.

– If the car will not start again after being jumped and recharged, then the battery is not holding a charge and will need to be replaced.

Pro-Tip: Don’t attempt to jumpstart a car in freezing temperatures without first checking to see if the battery fluid is frozen. Attempting the jump a battery with frozen fluids could cause the battery to explode, creating a whole host of other problems.

How to: keep it charged

Knowing how to properly charge your battery can help prolong the life of the battery and keep it performing at peak levels. Doing it wrong can not only shorten the life of the battery but it can be dangerous as well.

Keep in mind that simply driving your car at speeds of 60 mph or higher will keep the battery charged, so unless you plan on storing the car (or that particular battery) for a period of time, you don’t need to take extreme charging measures.

– Only charge a battery in a well-ventilated area. The charging process causes the battery to heat up which creates fumes that are highly combustible.

– Do not charge the battery in extreme temperatures.

– Know what to do in case of fire.

Battery 101: How to Prolong the Life of Your Lithium Battery

Lithium based batteries are taking the lead in nickel-cadmium batteries, thanks to their stability and relatively low maintenance nature. Plus, self-discharge rate is lower than half the rate of a nickel battery, and there is little to no harm when the cells are exposed.

Although the lithium based battery has many advantages, it still has its limits and drawbacks. That’s why it’s so important to understand exactly how to care for and prolong the life of your lithium based battery.

Hot Temperatures

As with most batteries, lithium-based batteries need to be kept at cooler temperatures. The higher the temperature the greater the self-discharge rate.

Pro Tip: Try storing your battery at temperatures around 68 °F. Because charging and using the battery creates heat you should give your battery time to cool down in between times of charging and use. This is one of the most effective ways of prolonging the life of any battery.

Cold Temperatures

Just as heat can shorten your battery life, so can the cold. By letting them warm up a bit in the sun or near a heater on a cold day, you’ll help give your battery a power boost – and keep them running so you don’t have to switch batteries or recharge as often.

To be safe, regardless of the temperature outside, store your batteries inside. Indoor temperatures tend to stay pretty steady throughout the year and there is usually less humidity as well.


Lithium and water are two things that should not mix. When they do, look out. They form lithium hydroxide and hydrogen which is extremely flammable. If your lithium battery catches fire for any reason, pouring water on it will only make matters worse. Make sure you have a Class D fire extinguisher on hand (and that your smoke detector batteries are fresh!).

Best bet is to keep all lithium batteries away from any water source. Even though the battery casing is designed to draw moisture away from the battery cells, nothing is accident proof.

Manage the Discharge

Recharge your batteries before they are completely dead. Not letting it die completely will extend the battery lifespan.

If you are preparing to store your batteries for a period of time, make sure you do so at half charge. Unlike other types of batteries that need to be recharged throughout their storage time, lithium batteries do better at 40%-50% DOD (depth of discharge).

Pro-Tip: After every 30 charges, allow your lithium based battery to completely discharge before recharging. This helps to avoid a condition called digital memory. Digital memory can mess with the accuracy of the power gauge of the device you’re using. By allowing it to discharge completely you will allow the power gauge to reset.


Many batteries come to an early end because they were charged using the wrong voltage. One of the benefits of using a lithium-based battery is that they offer rapid recharging so there is no need to mess with the process. You’ll only cause damage that can’t be undone. In general, for a 12V lithium-ion battery, the best charging voltage to ensure maximum lifespan is 14.6V.

While not all batteries are created equal, they all need to be cared for properly to ensure they meet their maximum potential. That means understanding the special care requirements for different types of batteries. Manage the storage temperature, keep them dry, and make sure you are charging properly you’ll always have a reliable battery when you need it.