We live in a smartphone dominated world and one teething problem with these devices is that they tend to run out of charge quite easily. This can make long rides worrisome as the last thing you want to do is arrive at your destination with your phone dying on you. Thankfully, all it takes is a small device connected to the car’s accessory power port to function as a charger. It is pretty straightforward until you go shopping for a USB car charger which is when you come across the multitude of such devices often running into the thousands which leaves you so spoilt for choice that it is almost impossible to settle on any one charger. What is more is that not everyone has the same requirements. So what might work for someone else might not necessarily work for you. Thankfully, we have done all the hard work and figured out the features that a USB car charger should possess to make it a viable option.
Its safety features:
Despite modern phones being quite hardy, they are still delicate when it comes to matters of electricity. A high amount of current for even a small duration can fry the internals of the phone beyond repair. That is why, the first thing you need to look for is something called OVP or over-voltage protection. This acts as a barrier between the charger and the phone in case the charger begins sending out current that is beyond the safe limit of the phone. This is especially necessary in a car charger as the input voltage can fluctuate a lot when the car is turned on or the electrical systems are engaged. Other safety features should include the ability to output a constant voltage irrespective of the voltage value the charger receives from the car. A thermal protector should also be present that turns off the circuit in case it starts generating too much heat to avoid causing a fire. Finally, it should not damage the car’s circuits as that will void the car’s warranty and you might have to incur huge repair bills.
Number of ports:
We are not only in the age of smartphones but also the age of multiple devices that can include phones, tablets and other gadgets that can be charged using a USB port. Sometimes having just a single charging port is not good enough. This becomes a necessity when more than one person needs to charge their phones at the same time. This is also a great feature to let you to keep more than one device topped up at the same time. This is, however, a delicate area that needs to be treaded cautiously. More than one USB port would mean that the charger will draw more power from the car’s port. Make sure that this power rating is well within the capabilities of the car’s electrical system which can be easily found out from the car’s manual or its website. Usually, the maximum number of simultaneous ports we recommend on a car charger is two as anything more than that would either strain the car’s electrical system or the charger might not be able to supply enough power to charge all the devices connected to it simultaneously.
There is no point getting the costliest charger that money can buy if it does not fit the area surrounding the car’s accessory port or looks out of place. Do not go too big as it might stick out like a sore thumb and do not go too small as it might be difficult to plug in and plug out. Managing the cables can also become really tricky. Opt for the perfect middle-ground that fits your car’s decor as well as the overall design of the accessory port. Also make sure that the design of the charger allows it to be handled easily while also being easy to connect the required cables.
We briefly alluded to this before. The charger needs to output the correct amps and voltages as per your device. It should also have the ability to regulate the amps according to the charging capacity of the device that is connected to it. The maximum power output of the charger should be good enough to charge your device at its fastest rate. If it cannot output the required voltage then it wouldn’t charge the device at all while an insufficient flow of current will result in extremely slow charging. Refer to your phone’s manual to figure out the ideal current it requires especially if it has fast-charging capabilities and then try to find a charger that matches this specification perfectly. The best chargers are capable of regulating their output as per the requirements of the device that is connected to it and that is the type you want to get.
Types of ports:
Another thing to keep in mind is the type of port that is available. Most devices need a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port but some need a USB type C port. Again, it is your device’s manual that will provide you with the necessary information and use that to figure out the type of port that you need from your charger.
As this will be attached to a car, it goes without saying that it has to have a certain level of build quality to it. The ports should be sturdy enough to withstand the occasional tugs while the charger itself should be strong enough to be plugged in and out repeatedly without suffering any permanent damage.
Cheap or Expensive
Like with any device, the price plays a huge role in the buying decision and car chargers are no different. While it is foolish to go for the really cheap ones, it is not a mark of intelligence to go for a really expensive one. A price range of between $9 and $16 is the ideal range to shop in. Go for a well-known brand with plenty of positive reviews and with all the necessary features you need. To summarize, go for the least expensive option that ticks all the right boxes.