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Choosing the Best Portable Jump Starter - Buyer’s Guide

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  1. Type Of Jump Starter
  2. Battery Size And Voltage
  3. Size & Type Of Engine
  4. Safety Features
  5. Quality Of Jumper Cables
  6. Multifunction Features And Extra Accessories

Choosing the Best Portable Jump Starter - Buyer’s Guide

If you’re reading this guide it means you already understand the importance of having a jump starter in the trunk of your car or under your seat in case of a battery mishap while on the road.

After reading this guide, you’ll know what features and specs to look out for before buying a portable battery booster so you can make an educated purchase and get a product that is compatible with your vehicle.

1. Type of jump starter - lithium-ion or lead-acid?

Despite being small and compact, do not underestimate the power of lithium jump starters. These things are tiny but incredibly powerful, some models are even capable of jump-starting an 18-wheeler truck! More importantly, lithium batteries have a longer lifespan and retain their charge for longer when not in use.

Lead-acid jump starters are big and heavy simply because of the old battery technology they employ but don't get fooled, bigger is not better when it comes to jump starters. Generally speaking, these models are not even portable since they can way up to 40 pounds.

For more information on the difference between the two types of jump starters visit our complete guide on the difference between lithium and lead-acid jump starters.

Recommendation: Look to buy a jump starter with a premium quality lithium-ion battery. Lead-acid batteries are heavy, non-portable, discharge quickly and retain their charge poorly.

2. Battery size and voltage - 6v, 12v or 24v?

Different types of vehicles have different battery sizes and voltages, that’s why it’s important to find the right jump starter for whatever vehicle you’re looking to kick-start.

Normal jump starters will typically work on batteries ranging from 6 to 12 volts while industrial-grade ones designed for medium and large trucks can go up to 24 volts.

Keep in mind that jump starters can be used for virtually any vehicle with a battery, from cars and trucks to motorcycles, watercraft, snowmobiles, and lawnmowers.

The vast majority of cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs run on 12-volt batteries while smaller vehicles like motorcycles sport 6-volt batteries.

Recommendation: Check your battery’s voltage in order to buy a product that will work on your vehicle. If you have a motorcycle and a car, look for models that have adjustable voltage settings.

3. Size & type of engine - 4, 6 or 8 cylinders? Gas or diesel?

The size and type engine your vehicle has is a crucial component of choosing the right jump starter for your car. Vehicles with bigger engines have bigger batteries and diesel engines require larger batteries than gas engines.

As such, you will need a more powerful jump starter in terms of cranking current (amps) if you have a bigger engine or if you have a diesel engine. Using a less powerful car battery booster on a big car will simply not work no matter how many times you try.

The table below summarizes how much power you’ll need for your engine size and type.

Gasoline Engine Diesel Engine
4-cylinder 150-250 amps 300-450 amps
6-cylinder 250-350 amps 450-600 amps
8-cylinder 400-550 amps 600-750 amps

Keep in mind that this table isn’t perfect because of another important factor, the depth of discharge. A battery that is only halfway discharged will require a lot less power than a battery that is completely discharged.

If your 4-cylinder car battery, for example, is completely discharged, you may need a jump starter designed for a larger car in order to get the car going. This isn’t necessarily because of a low quality or defective jump starter but rather due to your battery’s health.

New jump starters are smart enough to inject just the right amount of power based on your battery’s size so, you won’t have to worry about damaging your battery with a stronger device.

Recommendation: Check your car’s engine size and type to make sure the jump starter you get will be able to jump-start your car. We always recommend getting a more powerful one to be on the safe side.

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4. Safety features

Did you know that some jump starters are safer than others? Quality jump starters will come with reverse polarity, overcharge and short circuit protection, anti-spark technology as well as back-feed protection.

Unfortunately, about three-quarters of jump starters on the market come with a limited amount of these safety features or none whatsoever. You’ll want to look for a jump starter with a smart jumper cable module, which will guarantee all these features are present and keeping you safe.

Dealing with jump starters without key safety features is much like using booster cables, they can be an electrical or fire hazard if not used properly.

Recommendation: Look for a jump starter with smart jumper cables for reverse polarity, anti-spark, and over-current and back-feed protection.

5. Quality of jumper cables

Building on the previous point, quality jumper cables are not only determined by their safety features but on their length, quality of cable material and most importantly, the quality and material of the clamps.

First off, as mentioned above, you want to find cables that come with a smart module, this will ensure a whole bunch of safety features come with your car battery booster. Further, the smart module will tell you if and when you are correctly connected to the battery and when you are good to start your engine.

Next, you want to make sure the cables will be long enough for your car. On some cars, the positive and negative battery terminal may be quite far apart, requiring longer than normal jumper cables. However, they are normally within a few inches of each other and your average cables will do just fine.

Last but not least, the quality and material of the clamps. You ideally want to look for a copper-coated pair with a nice and dense base metal. This will ensure you get great results, proper current flow, and solid connectivity.

Recommendation: Get a jump starter that comes with booster cables with a smart module, long enough cables for your vehicle and copper coated clamps.

5. Multifunction features and extra accessories

Lithium-ion jump starters often come with a whole bunch of extra nifty features and functions. Being a battery at its core, portable jump starters double as portable charges for your electronics as well.

Some of these extra features include flashlights, one or more USB ports to charge your electronics on the go, a compass, an emergency hammer, an LCD display screen, an air compressor option, and some even come with a wireless charging pad for those latest phones and gadgets.

Recommendation: Look for a jump starter with a flashlight, an LCD screen, at least one USB port, and an air compressor. Flashlights and USB charging ports come in handy quite often, an LCD screen will help manage your device better and the air compressor can easily save the day in case of an emergency.

We hope you enjoyed reading our guide and that it helps you make an educated and worthwhile purchase.

While you’re here, check out our line of feature-packed, premium portable lithium-ion jump starters. As the jump starter experts, you know we only carry nothing but the best and at the best price!

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