What Is a Trickle Charger?
Jeremy Laukkonen is automotive and tech writer for numerous major trade publications. When not researching and testing computers, game consoles or smartphones, he stays up-to-date on the myriad complex systems that power battery electric vehicles.
Michael Heine is a CompTIA-certified writer, editor, and Network Engineer with 25 years’ experience working in the television, defense, ISP, telecommunications, and education industries.
In This Article
The term trickle charger refers to a battery charger that charges at a low amperage.
How Trickle Chargers Work
Many battery chargers put out a variety of amperages, the idea being to charge a battery slowly or quickly depending on the need. Some are also designed to be left connected long-term without overcharging. So when you hear people talk about trickle chargers, that’s typically what they’re referring to.
For general use, any battery charger, or trickle charger, that puts out between about 1 and 3 amps will do, and you don’t really need one with float mode monitoring unless you want to be able to leave it connected for some reason.
As to why you should charge your battery instead of driving it around, there are two issues. One is that the alternator can only put out a limited amount of amperage, so the battery is likely to still be low on a charge if you only drive to work or run some errands. The other issue is that alternators aren’t designed to charge completely dead batteries.
Trickle Chargers vs. Normal Car Battery Chargers
There are two main ratings for car battery chargers: amperage output and voltage. To charge a typical car battery, you need a 12V charger, but many car battery chargers have 6, 12, and even 24V modes.
In terms of amperage, car battery chargers typically put out anywhere between 1 and 50 amps for the charging mode. Some also have a jump start mode, where they can put out upwards of 200 amps, which is what it takes to turn over most starter motors.
The main thing that defines any charger as a trickle charger is that it either has a low amperage option, or it only puts out a low charging amperage. Most trickle chargers put out somewhere between 1 and about 3 amps, but there is no hard and fast rule on that.
When should I charge my phone?
The golden rule is to keep your battery topped up somewhere between 30% and 90% most of the time. Top it up when it drops below 50%, but unplug it before it hits 100%. For this reason, you might want to reconsider leaving it plugged in overnight.
Pushing in the last charge from 80-100% causes a lithium-ion battery to age faster.
Maybe it’s better to recharge in the morning instead, at the breakfast table or on your office desk. That way, it is easier to keep an eye on the battery percentage during charging.
iOS users can use the Shortcuts app to set a notification when the battery level reaches a certain percentage. This is done under the tab “Automation” and then “Battery Level”.
Giving your phone a full recharge is not fatal for a phone battery, and it seems almost counter-intuitive not to do so, but giving it a full recharge every time you charge it will shorten its lifespan.
Likewise, at the other end of the scale, avoid allowing your phone battery to get below 20%.
Lithium-ion batteries don’t feel good about going too far below the 20% mark. Instead, see the extra 20% “at the bottom” as a buffer for demanding days, but on weekdays start charging when the warning for Low Battery level appears.
In short, lithium-ion batteries thrive best in the middle. Don’t get a low battery percentage, but also not too high.
Should I charge my phone battery to 100%?
No, or at least not every time you charge it. Some people recommend that you do a full zero to 100% battery recharge (a “charge cycle”) once a month—as this re-calibrates the battery, which is a bit like restarting your computer.
But others disregard this as a myth for current lithium-ion batteries in phones.
To keep your long-term battery life in good health, frequent, small charges are better than full recharging.
With iOS 13 and later, Optimized Battery Charging (SettingsBattery Battery Health) is designed to reduce the wear on your battery and improve its lifespan by reducing the time your iPhone spends fully charged. When the feature is enabled, your iPhone should delay charging past 80% in certain situations, depending on Location Services that tell the phone when it is at home or work (when you are less likely to need a full charge) compared to when you are travelling.
The deeper you discharge a lithium battery, the more stress is inflicted on the battery. So, topping up frequently extends battery life.
Should I charge my phone overnight?
As a rule, it’s best to avoid, despite the convenience of waking up with a full battery in the morning. Each full charge counts as a ‘cycle’, and your phone is only built to last for a set number.
If you charge overnight, you are guaranteed to miss when the phone exceeds the magic 80% mark that is best for extended long-term life.
While most modern smartphones have built-in sensors to shut off charging when they hit 100%, if still turned on they will lose a small amount of battery while idle.
What you may get is a “trickle charge” as the charger attempts to keep the phone at 100% as your phone naturally loses on its own charge during the night. This means that your phone is constantly bouncing between a full charge and a little bit below that full charge – 99% to 100% and back again during a longer-than-required charge. It can also heat the phone up, which is also bad for the battery.
So, charging during the day is better than charging overnight.
Your best policy is to have Do Not Disturb and Airplane Mode switched on. Better still, you could completely switch off your phone, but that may not be possible if you rely on it as an alarm or wish to be ready to take calls at all hours.
Some devices are also set to power up once the cable is connected by default. Even during waking hours, it’s best to catch your phone before it hits 100%, or at least not leave the charger supplying charge to an already full battery for too long.
If you are leaving it plugged in for a long period of time, removing the case can prevent it over-heating.
Why Do Some Power Banks Fail To Deliver Low Current Charging?
There can be several different reasons why a power bank might not be able to charge low-current devices:
Minimum Current Threshold: Power banks often have a minimum current threshold. This means that if the device connected to the power bank doesn’t draw a certain minimum amount of current, the power bank may not detect it and might shut off to save power. Small devices like Bluetooth earphones, fitness bands, or smartwatches may not draw enough current to exceed this threshold, causing the power bank to shut down.
Lack of Trickle-Charging Feature: Some power banks may not have a trickle-charging feature, which is a mode that allows the power bank to deliver a very low current. This mode is useful for charging low-powered devices with small batteries that require a low current. If a power bank doesn’t have this feature, it may not be able to charge such small devices effectively.
Insufficient Power Management: Power banks with poor power management may not be able to regulate the power output effectively to cater to devices with low power requirements. They are designed to charge more power-hungry devices like smartphones and tablets, so they might not be able to deliver the steady, low current needed by smaller devices.
Incompatibility: In some cases, there could be compatibility issues between the power bank and the device, especially if the device has unique power requirements or a proprietary charging system.
Some Examples of Power Banks With Trickle Charging Mode
Even though the market is filled with countless power banks to choose from, it is challenging to find options that suit low-power devices. So, to help you, we found and tested a few power banks that are ideal for your small-capacity gadgets. Let’s take a brief look at them.
AUKEY Basics Pro
The AUKEY Basics Pro power bank has a 20000mAh battery that can deliver a maximum output of 10W for charging your regular devices such as smartphones and tablets. On the other hand, it delivers a 5W output for low-current charging gadgets such as Bluetooth earphones, smartwatches, etc.
This power bank takes a little over three hours to charge entirely, and it can charge an iPad in about two hours. It features Quick Charging 3.0, Power Delivery, and Qi Wireless charging, and all these charging technologies make the AUKEY Basic Pro a great choice to support all your gadgets.
Speaking of its portability factor, this power bank is relatively compact and is only 0.6 inches thick. It weighs only 8.5 ounces, and similar to the Anker Powercore, you can easily carry it around in your without discomfort. Furthermore, it feels sturdy to use, and it can withstand ordinary shocks and drops with ease, so you won’t have to worry about taking it on outdoor trips. However, if you’re looking to charge your laptop with this power bank, it might set you back to knowing that it is not fast enough for it.
If you are looking to charge a wide range of devices, the 10000mAh battery of the Zendure Supermini is more than enough to support it. You can use its USB Type-C output to charge gadgets such as smartphones, tablets, speakers, etc. And it is robust enough to charge a 2018 iPad Pro, Nintendo Switch, or even Microsoft Surface Pro with an 18W output.
This battery charger features a single button on its chassis that you can double press to switch it to low charging mode. When you’re done charging your wireless earbuds or Fitbit bracelets, you can simply double-press it again to revert to the original settings. However, since this power bank only features one output port, you’ll be unable to charge multiple devices at once. When it comes to its dimensions and weights, the Zendure Supermini is one inch thick and weighs a little over 6 oz.
How to Enable Trickle Charging in Your Power Bank
Some power banks have a built-in low-current charging feature, but you will need to enable it first. Follow these steps to enable it.
- Connect one end of the data cable to the low-current charging device of your preference and the other end to the USB-A port of your power bank.
- To enter the trickle charge mode, double-press the power button on your power bank. (This mode will be active for two hours, and your power bank will return to regular charging mode after that. You can also press the power button again to quit it manually)
- The LED indicator on your power bank will flash in a sequence, indicating that the trickle charging mode is currently active. You can now charge your device.
- Once your device is charged, it is recommended that you manually exit the low-current charging mode. If your device is not charged after two hours, double-press the power button again to re-enter low-current charging mode.
Don’t Wirelessly Charge Your Phone Overnight Unless You Know How
Connect your phone to the charger before you go to sleep, then head to the office next morning to start a new day with a fully charged phone. Sounds nice, right? Many people choose to power up their phones overnight to save the inconvenience of being without their phone during the day. However, you may also have this concern. that charging your phone overnight through a wall outlet may be damaging your mobile.
As wireless charging becomes more and more popular, some of you may be wondering whether you should leave your phones on a wireless charger overnight. Wireless chargers work differently from wired chargers but if it’s OK to charge your phone overnight through a cable, does it mean it’s OK to charge your phone overnight wirelessly too?
Is It Safe To Leave Your Phone Charging Overnight?
It only takes a few hours to fully charge your smartphone, so when you leave your phone on a wireless charger while you sleep, the device continues to charge for an average of 7 or 8 hours, far longer than necessary.
So what happens when your phone reaches 100%? Does it continue to draw current from the charger and generate more heat to damage the phone?
What Happens When Your Phone Reaches 100%?
The modern mobile phone is called “smartphone” for a reason. Various chips inside the smartphone have different roles, and those known as ‘protection chips’ protects the phone automatically. Your device knows when it reaches 100%, and is Smart enough to stop taking in more charge than needed, therefore preventing overheating and other issues. Protection chips are now a standard of modern smartphone technology.
“No need to worry about overcharging as modern devices will terminate the charge correctly at the appropriate voltage”, said John Bradshaw, Marketing Manager from Cadex Electronics, a global pioneer in battery management and technology.
What Happens To The Charger When Your Phone Reaches 100%?
Charging is not a one-way transmission. Your smartphone can protect itself, but how about the charger that is delivering power? Any good quality charger is equipped with protection chips as well. When the charger detects that the receiver, namely your phone, stops taking in charge, it will stop releasing power.
Wired and wireless chargers use different technologies. Wireless chargers use coils to create an electromagnetic field, and transfer current to the receiver’s coil. But it works in the same way as the wired charger concerning battery charging in this case. When your phone no longer draws current, the wireless charger will stop delivering current.
Therefore, you can leave your phone on a wireless charging station overnight and have a sound sleep, knowing that your device won’t overcharge.
Should You Leave Your iPhone Charging Overnight?
The discussion above focuses on safety issues, but when it comes to the lifespan of your phone’s battery, it’s another story.
Does Charging Overnight Hurt Your Phone’s Battery?
We now know that leave your phone charging overnight is safe; however, the debate over whether you should do it never ceases.
When the battery hits 100%, charging stops, but your phone is still running. At least the chip or sensor continues to work to monitor the battery, and apps continue to run in the background. So, after a short while, the battery will lose some power, and will draw in current from the wireless charging station until it’s full charged again. This is the so-called “trickle charge” which may happen a couple of times to your phone while it charges overnight.
Some people believe that the “trickle charge” increases the temperature of the phone and puts it under a certain amount of stress from the high voltage, as the battery has to keep its full charge. On the other hand, a view prevails among some analysts that the “trickle charging effect” doesn’t hurt the phone or the battery since the phone manufacturers have specifically designed the battery in a way that prevents it from charging constantly and harming itself. It’s not clear whether all phone battery companies have included such a function in their batteries. Even if it’s not the case for your phone’s battery, you will hardly see the damage done from overnight charging before the battery degrades overtime.
What Should You Do To Minimize The Possible Impact of Charging Overnight?
There is no concrete evidence about the effect charging overnight has on your phone, but you can never be too careful. If you can’t resist the convenience that charging overnight brings, do it in the right way.
Firstly, don’t put the charger and your phone on your bed or somewhere that doesn’t have good ventilation. Accumulated heat will affect your phone’s battery life, so the cooler the better. Secondly, close background apps and services on your phone that you don’t need while you sleep. In that way, you can reduce the energy that your phone spends, so as to cut the “trickle charge” time.
In addition, use a wireless charger instead of a wired one when charging overnight. That’s because wireless charging charges your phone slower than wired charging. It takes longer to reach 100%, so there will be fewer ‘trickle charges’. It helps maintain the battery capacity between 50%-80%, which is the best for battery life. over, wireless charging transmits power without actually touching any exposed electrical connectors. In other words, this reduces the chance of a connection failure and electric shocks. Double the security.
Are Wireless Charging Stations Ideal For Charging Overnight?
Wireless charging is more convenient than charging your phone via a cable, and more battery-friendly in certain situations, especially when charging overnight. That said, it’s not without problems.
As mentioned before, good quality chargers are “Smart” enough to detect the power the receiver needs. So, you need a reliable wireless charging mat for charging overnight. A big concern is that, if your phone is not positioned precisely on the wireless charging station, there’s a good chance of a flat battery in the morning. Wireless charging is possible because of the electromagnetic field which is created by coils. Coils can’t be put everywhere so, there’s only a specific charging spot on most wireless chargers and sometimes it’s hard to find the sweet spot for your phone to charge.
If you intend to leave your iPhone on a wireless charging station overnight, choose a reliable option that allows you the convenience of charging more freely, and doesn’t restrict the charging position. Air Omni, a 6-in-1 charging station is the perfect choice.
Unlike most wireless chargers out there that stop charging when the device is off center, PITAKA wireless chargers, including Air Essential, Air Tray, and Air Omni, are designed with chain-coil™ embedded, which allows you to charge your devices freely without the necessity of positioning carefully. Among those chargers, Air Omni is the most powerful one that can charge up to 6 devices at the same time.
Keep Your Nightstand Organized
The wireless charging function of the 6-in-1 charging station will save you the mess of cables on your nightstand. Plus, it’s so powerful that you can charge everything on the one station while you sleep. Six devices, one charger. In addition, the hidden drawer on the side panel offers a secure place for storing small accessories.
The Bottom Line
Charging a mobile phone overnight has become the norm for many, since it’s the time were we finally put our phones aside. It’s quite clear that charging overnight will not ‘overcharge’ your iPhone whether you are using a wireless charger or a wired one, but there is potential that charging overnight often may be bad for the battery life of your phone.
To enjoy a sound sleep at night, leave your phone or other devices on a reliable wireless charging station. Although there is a bewildering choice of wireless chargers, Air Omni is highly recommended for its reliability and versatility.
What Does a Trickle Charger Do?
A trickle charger does just what it says: trickle charges your batteries with the goal of keeping them fully topped off. Also called a battery maintainer, trickle chargers slowly emit approximately one to three amps. In some circuits there are small drains on the batteries as well that a trickel charger can keep up with.
If you plan on leaving your batteries sitting for long periods of time, be sure to pay attention to the capabilities of your charger. Some manual chargers simply emit a low amperage, but that’s about it. That means they don’t know when to shut off.
Smart trickle chargers, however, have advanced capabilities such as switching into “float” mode to keep your batteries topped off. They even know when to turn back on when the battery starts to drain again. This prevents your batteries from either overcharging or going dead.
Is It Better to Trickle Charge or Fast Charge?
If you have lithium batteries, the rate of charge doesn’t matter as much.
However, for lead-acid, it can make all the difference. This has to do with the electrochemistry behind lead-acid batteries. When a lead-acid battery discharges, the lead electrodes turn into lead sulfate, and the electrolyte of sulfuric acid dilutes.
When it recharges, the chemical reaction reverses, turning the lead sulfate back into lead and the electrolyte into a stronger solution of sulfuric acid. During this process, a lead-acid battery can overheat and produce off-gassing if it charges too quickly, potentially damaging the battery in the process.
A good trickle charger can prevent this. Not only does it charge the batteries slowly, but it can also detect the state of charge and slow the amperage as the battery nears a full charge. This prevents off-gassing and battery damage. It also limits the risk of a battery explosion. Usually, lead acid can take a Rapid charge at first but should slow for a trickle charge that takes a long time to finish up the charge.
When Should You Use a Trickle Charger?
A trickle charger can come in handy anytime you need to store your batteries. Whether you’re leaving your car parked for an extended period of time, storing your RV for the winter, or want to prevent your boat batteries from going bad, there are a variety of reasons to invest in one.
The type of batteries you own might influence your decision as well. Different batteries experience varying degrees of self-discharge rates. For example, lead acid batteries experience 10-15% per month self-discharge. Meanwhile, lithium batteries like Battle Born experience only 1-2% per month.
Thus, factoring in the amount of time they’ll be sitting, the type of batteries you own, and the number of safety features you’ll need will help you choose the most appropriate trickle charger.
→ Pro Tip: Check out how to choose the best marine battery charger for your boat.
Does a Trickle Charger Fully Charge a Battery?
Yes, a trickle charger can fully charge a battery; it will just take a very long time. Because trickle chargers only emit between 1-3 amps, you can expect to wait days for a fully charged battery.
If your batteries are completely dead, we highly recommend using a regular charger to get them topped off quickly. On average, lithium batteries only take about two to three hours to charge when using the appropriate charger. Lead-acid batteries take about eight hours.
100Ah 12V LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Battery