A smart battery charger is another name for a microprocessor-controlled charger. These chargers are designed to work only with smart batteries from the same manufacturer. This is because the smart batteries contain special microchips that are programmed to communicate with a charger of the same brand.
Smart batteries are typically understood to be batteries that are capable of complex functioning. The microchips in them help inform the user of its current state of charge (SoC) and state of health (SoH). They are popularly used in medical equipment, computer devices, video and digital cameras and military tools. As SoC and SoH are important to their functionality, smart batteries are natural matches for these devices. It's important to note that batteries that simply inform a charger to recharge the battery to a certain level are not typically considered to be smart batteries.
A smart battery charger is built to make charging precise and because of this, it is unlikely to suffer from overcharging, and trickle charges can be successfully maintained. Smart batteries are equipped with microchips that work with a specific and corresponding charging unit. To make sure that smart batteries are not damaged, consumers should always charge their batteries with the same manufacturer's battery charger. Charging the battery with a foreign charger may result in the nullification of any free or purchased warranties that the consumer has on the battery.
Several types of smart batteries may exist and some consumers may have to research their batteries before deciding on a specific charger to purchase. Maintenance-free, Wet Cell (flooded), Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM), Gel Cell and Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) are some of the different types of smart batteries that a consumer may have purchased. Documentation to these batteries should be studied before investing in a charger. Business owners who sell battery chargers may often advise customers that one type of smart battery charger can work well with many different types of smart batteries. However, mixing and matching smart batteries and chargers may result in damage.
For consumers who are interested in charging batteries and minimizing expenses, other options exist besides purchasing chargers. Those who are electronically-inclined may also consider building a smart battery charger on their own. Some knowledge of circuitry may be required to achieve this and building should not be attempted by the novice electrician or consumer. Charging batteries this way may also result in voiding warranties or damaging the battery.