Battery Clamp

A Review of the Schumacher Battery Charger

One of the difficulties of a classic car is having to deal with dead batteries.

Just last week my wife and I wanted to take the ’39 out for a spin. I took the cover off, got in, and pushed the starter button.


It was completely dead.

I don’t drive it every day so it will sit weeks at a time in my garage without a charge. Sometimes even longer during the winter.

This is where a charger with maintenance mode will come in handy.

I hook up the charger when I put the car back in the garage and leave it turned on. Maintenance mode will apply a small current when it senses a small voltage drop.

Battery chargers are a tool that every car owner should consider. No matter the season or the age of your car a battery can fail for a huge range of reasons. You’ll always have a way to fix it yourself.

I will break down a popular battery charger to help you determine whether it might be right for you.

What to Consider In a Battery Charger

If you’re trying to find a battery charger for your car then you have many options to consider. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Battery Compatibility – Most chargers will support standard, AGM, Gel, and Deep cycle batteries. Make sure the charger is compatible with your type of battery. Learn more about automotive battery types at Wikipedia.
  • Application – You may need portable charger that carries its own charge. If you’re storing a vehicle over winter months, you may want a trickle charge type for maintenance.
  • Reverse polarity protection – Connecting the terminals backwards can short and cause a fire. Some chargers will give a warning light and won’t charge for safety reasons.
  • Spark proof clamps – I always see sparks when I connect my 12V battery charger clamps. Look for spark proof clamps if you want to avoid this.
  • Float mode – This protects your battery from overcharging. The charger will automatically stop charging when it senses the battery is completely charged. It will enter maintenance mode and apply a small current when needed.
  • Built in battery tester – This will measure the charge level and voltage. This is useful to help diagnose and fix problems.

Is Schumacher a good battery charger?

The Schumacher SC1281 is highly-rated. It’s very versatile, fully automatic, and works on a large range of battery types. It has many built in safety features and will even trickle charge batteries for storage and maintenance. It’s one of the top chargers on the market.

The Specifics

  • Price: The Schumacher SC1281 isn’t overly expensive. There are cheaper car chargers on the market. But many of the more affordable options have fewer features or provide less output power.
  • Safety: The reverse-polarity protection feature can help prevent sparking and damage. It also has auto-voltage detection to charge 6V or 12V batteries. You don’t want to apply the wrong voltage!
  • Compatibility: The charger works with standard batteries, deep-cycle, gel, and AGM (absorbed glass mat).

Features and Benefits

A few of the most notable features of the fully automatic Schumacher SC1281 battery charger, and how they might benefit you:

  • It features both quick boost and jump start modes. It adapts to whatever situation you’ve found yourself in.
  • Use the built-in battery tester to check the current and voltage. The LED indicators will help you check the state of the battery.
  • Reverse-polarity protection keeps your car (and you) safe from human error.
  • The microprocessor-controlled charger will change the charge rate as needed. It will slow down the current as it approaches a full charge. This helps to extend the life of the battery.
  • It’s very versatile because it works with a large range of batteries.

How long does it take for a Shumacher battery charger to charge?

These charging times change depending on the age of your battery. Temperature can also affect charging times. These times are also for a battery that’s at 50% charge.

Battery Size2A6A8A10A
6Ah6 hours2 hours1.75 hours1.5 hours
32Ah15 hours5 hours4.5 hours4 hours
105Ah33 hours11 hours9.5 hours8 hours

How do you troubleshoot a Schumacher Battery Charger?

  • If the charger won’t turn on, make sure the outlet is working. Try a new extension cord and check your circuit breaker. It’s possible the clamps aren’t making a good connection either.
  • If the engine won’t turn when you’re trying to jump start it, you need to wait 3 minutes. The engine is pulling more power than the charger can output and it needs to charge the battery some. Give it some more time and then try again.
  • If the charging LED is not lit, press the start button. Otherwise it will begin charging in about 10 minutes.

What is the best car battery charger on the market?

The Best Car Battery Charger

If you’re looking for a battery charger to keep in your garage, the Schumacher is the best on the market. It will charge 6V and 12V batteries, it has built in polarity protection, and will adjust the current as needed.

The Best Battery Charger and Maintainer

If you want a charger to maintain a battery, the best on the market is the Battery Tender Plus. It’s a fully automatic trickle charger and will apply current only when needed. You’ll be able to start your ATV or classic car after a long winter in storage.

The Best Portable Battery Charger

For a portable car battery charger, the STANLEY JUMPiT Portable Power Station is the best on the market. It will give your car a boost of 500A if you’re stuck without jumper cables somewhere. Keep it charged up and never worry about a dead battery again.

What Are Users Saying?

User reviews for the Schumacher SC1281 battery charger are very positive. Most say that it’s accurate, easy to operate and delivers a strong charge.

Users with dead batteries like the immediate jump-starting. The charger can apply a 100Amp current to start a dead battery quickly.

As with any product, there are some cons.

Some users say that this charger may not be optimized to work with completely dead batteries. Some say that it will work eventually, but that you may have to turn it off and on a few times to get it to charge the battery.

Others also say that despite the safeguards, that the SC1281 overcharged their battery and caused damage. This might have been human error, but it could have also been a malfunctioning product.

Some other users also reported that it stopped working in as little as a month.

These users are in the minority.

What Are the Alternatives?

The Schumacher SC1281 does have some strong competition.

One very popular alternative is the Battery Tender Plus which retails for a bit less. It also has reverse polarity protection and automatic safeguards to avoid over-changing. But it doesn’t have the quick engine starter that the SC1281 has. The Battery Tender is more useful for battery maintenance than jump starting.

There’s also the NOCO GENIUS2 which is also a fully automatic battery charger. It’s less than the SC1281 but more expensive than the Battery Tender Plus. This one is also compatible with a wide range of batteries. The biggest advantage it has is a thermal sensor to detect air temperature. This allows it to adapt to hot and cold climates. Temperature can greatly affect how a battery charges. It also has a “force mode” that allows you to manually charge a dead battery where others won’t.

It’s a wonderful product by all accounts. But it only offers 2 Amps of charging current. But with their NOCO GENIUS5 model you can get up to five amps for about the same price as the Schumacher SC1281.

Battery Group size and polarity

Is the Schumacher SC1281 Battery Charger Right for You?

The Schumacher SC1281 battery charger has tons of great features to keep you and your car safe. It has excellent user ratings and the price is fair. It’s a great option and most users highly recommend it.

In studying the NOCO GENIUS line of products I was equally impressed with their offerings. Both of these are excellent options and I recommend that you do a little comparison shopping. They output similar voltage and they both have many wonderful features.

You have lots of options when it comes to battery chargers. My advice is to consider what’s popular, read the reviews, and compare the features. You’ll have the perfect battery charger for your vehicle in no time.

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