Quick Guide: The Portable Jump Starter

Guide

In the world of portable jump starters, confusion abounds.

 

Today in this post, I thought I’d put together a few helpful tips to get you pointed in the right direction.

 
I’ll look at sources for reviews, sources for procuring, and how to safely use a jump starter.

 

First, let’s go over the main reasons why you should own a portable jump starter.

  1. A jump starter is portable. Just keep the starter in the trunk.
  2. A starter pack gives you peace of mind when your car battery is weak or dead.
  3. You can boost your battery yourself without the need of another vehicle.
  4. A starter pack also provides portable 12 volt power to charge or run other devices like a laptop or cell phone.
  5. No need to worry about damaging the other vehicle, or your own if you are helping someone.

 

As with any device intended for emergency use, proper care and maintenance is needed to ensure your jumper is ready for use when you need it.

 

Keeping the portable jumper’s battery fully charged is key.  It is generally recommended to recharge your portable jumper pack every three months.

 

There are few thing to keep in mind when considering which portable booster you should buy.

 

To properly size your starter pack consider the amp ratings.  Here is a page that outlines the significance of amp ratings and how to size the right jumper for your application.

 

Portable Jump Starter Comparison Chart

 

Most portable jumpers range from 8 pounds to 40 pounds.  Weight generally goes up with the strength (amps) of the unit because a bigger battery is required.

 

Pick one that is the strongest in amps for your application, that you can still comfortably lift to about shoulder height.

 

Also, consider the need you might have for emergency lighting, tire inflation, and recharging cell phones and laptops.

 

Imagine the worst case scenario.  Your car battery is completely dead, it is dark and your cell phone is also dead.  Well, good thing you have a portable power pack in the trunk right?

 

Portable Jump Starter Reviews

 

When you have narrowed down the basic type of portable jumper you want by strength, weight, and accessories, a good thing to do is check out a few portable jump starter reviews.

 

A good review will give you technical information, features, as well as customer ratings.

 

Most review sites endeavor to be honest and factual, even though they have affiliation with the particular product.  Which means, when you make a purchase through the review site, the site owner will receive a commission.

 

Some folks will see this as a conflict of interest, and others will not.

 

The way I see it is like this.  If the review site is serving up good, useful, quality information, the site owner should be compensated for his efforts.

 

That said, there are plenty of “thin” sites that are not really useful.  You may want to stay way from those sites.

 

Here is an article by ConsumerReports.org that has merit, although “thin” and limited in it’s scope.  I still believe it is useful because it is from a trusted source.

 

Portable jump-starters

We Put Them To The Test

Last updated: June 2012
By ConsumerReports.org

Larger portable jump-starting devices that clamp to a car’s battery have become common in the past few years. But even smaller devices, which plug into a car’s power outlet, are now on the market.

These devices, which cost between $20 and $50, do not instantly start your car. They take 5 to 10 minutes to charge your battery when it’s low. But our testing in four vehicles of various sizes with drained batteries showed that only two of four portable jumpers, the Black & Decker Simple Start, $40, and the Schumacher e-Charge EC-4000, $50, worked on all the vehicles. All models were fully charged before each test.

These models have lead-acid batteries that can be recharged and used again. But they must be periodically recharged even if they’re not used because they lose their charge over time.

They’re also larger and weigh more than 4 pounds, so you’d probably want to store them in the trunk. Five of nine Schumacher batteries started our test vehicles, but two of them required additional charging beyond the manufacturer’s instructions. Four appeared to come with dead internal batteries and weren’t able to start our test cars even with additional charging.

We also tested the StartMeUp2, $20, and the Porta-Jump PJR-STH, $30, which are lighter in weight and small enough to fit in most glove compartments.

The StartMeUp2 needs no maintenance. But it contains a nonrechargeable battery that is good for just one use. Both models started only one of our vehicles.

Bottom line. If you want a portable model, the Black & Decker is the only one worth a try. But be sure to keep it charged. Your best bet is to buy a set of booster cables at least 12 feet long and between 4 and 6 gauge. They don’t need maintenance, and as long as you have access to a second vehicle, they can be used to jump-start any car.

Here are a few review sites that are worth checking out.  Of course I will list CarBatteryHelp.  I’m a little bias. 🙂

 

Sources For Procuring

Amazon

Amazon is one of my favorite online shopping places.

You can always be sure to find the lowest discounted prices and free shipping deals.

Here are two top selling lines of jump starters.

The JNC660 is well suited for most vehicles, while the MicroStart PPS is great for sports vehicles.

Clore Automotive JNC660 and

Antigravity Batteries MicroStart PPS X-1

 

jnc660featured61K3W7xfQPL._SL1500_

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See the full category at Amazon here

 

Autozone

Autozone carries Duramax as their main brand.  They are local so you can go home today with one, but they don’t always have stock of a particular item you may want.

Here’s the top customer rated battery jumper you can find at Autozone.

Duralast/900 Amp jump starter

duralast 900

Access the full line up here at Autozone

 

Walmart

Walmart carries a full line of car battery jump starters.  All top name brands with customer reviews and ratings.

What I like about Walmart is that you can order online and have the item shipped to the  store for free.  

You can also be assured of the low prices.  

They seem to be price locked with Amazon, but I have seen prices higher at Walmart than at Amazon.

Here is the current best seller at Walmart

Schumacher Electric 6-in-1 Jump Starter

portable jump starter walmart

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Access All Walmart Jump Starters Here
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Harbor Freight

Harbor Freight has been a favorite place to go for many years.  

They feature low cost tools and equipment.  

Which is great for bargain hunters an those on a tight budget.

A word to the wise though, non-brand name items are usually of low to inferior quality.

Here’s the best rated car battery jump starter from Harbor Freight, but it’s only available at the store.

Cen-Tech 3-In-1 Jump Starter And Power Supply

portable jump starter harbor freight

 

Access the full listing at Harbor Freight here.

 

Home Depot

Alas we come to Home Depot.  

Definitely a favorite for most people.  

The products available at Home Depot are always good to top quality.

Home Depot also has a fair selection of car related tools and equipment, including portable jump starters.

Currently, Home Depot has 28 jump starters to choose from, 7 of which are available in the store.

Here are two of the top customer rated jump starters at Home Depot

BLACK & DECKER25-Amp Simple Battery Charger with 75-Amp Engine Start

home depot

 

 

Mobile Power Instant Boost 400 6 in 1 12-Volt Battery Jumpstart System with Built in 110 Vac Inverter and Air Compressor

portable jump starter home depot

Access The Full Line Up Of Jump Starters At Home Depot

 

How To Use A Portable Jump Starter

Although using a portable booster pack is straight forward and easy, here is how to use a portable jump starter properly on your car.

 

To use as a jump booster for a weak or dead car battery do the following:

  1. Connect the positive(red) clamp of the starter to the positive(red) cable of the battery.
  2. Connect the negative(black) clamp of the starter to a sturdy metal part of the engine or frame of the car, as far away from the battery as possible and keeping clear of moving parts.
  3. Start the engine.
  4. After the engine starts immediately disconnect the negative(black) clamp first, then the positive(red) clamp.

 

Here’s a video from Clore Automotive demonstrating the [easyazon_link asin=”B000JFJLP6″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”carbattery0e-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Clore JNC660[/easyazon_link], which is a jumper I have reviewed here.

As you can see, it’s pretty easy to use one of these.

 

To use as a 12 volt portable power source is easy too.

Usually, these packs will come with a 12 volt power socket similar to the cigarette light in your car.

 

Just purchase a 12 volt inverter and plug in your 120 volt AC device.  This is a great feature with tons of uses from camping to power outages.

 

I read of one man who used his power pack to power up his CPAC machine during a power outage.  He wrote that it lasted for several days without a recharge.

 

When I’m outdoors and away from my car or truck, I love the fact that I can still use my laptop or small TV.

 

Conclusion

Procuring a portable starter for your car’s battery failures is a wise choice.  It is better to use a car battery starter instead of regular jumper cables because of safety issues for the car and operators.

 

Consider these three factors:

 

Check out the review sites and make your best purchase.

I hope you enjoyed this post on the portable jump starter.  Please don’t forget to comment, like and share.  I truly welcome everybody’s input. Thanks for reading!


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6 Comments

  • Unnecessary OverEngineer says:

    Solid work brother

  • beth says:

    Qvc has the duramax 600 amp charger and air compressor for $65….is this any good

    • Hi Beth. I don’t have personal experience with this particular one, but others who have are not too impressed. I know it’s more money but I am really impressed with the NOCO Genius Boost. It has important saftey features that make it pretty fool proof. If you need the compressor the JNCAIR is pretty well built, or the Stanley 1000 sells for about 60 – 70 dollars. All three are well reviewed by verified customers. Hope that helps!

  • Chris m says:

    Just bought a CAT CJ3000 Professional Jump-Starter for my boat. Started reading the manual while charging it, and came across this statement: “Do not use this jump-starter on a watercraft. It is not qualified for marine applications.” How and why would that be?

    • Hi Chris,

      I know it seems odd since there are many jumpers out there advertising that you can use their jumper on watercraft. The thing to look for is if your jumper carries a RoHS rating. Certain substances are banned in our waterways and one of those substances is lead. The battery used in your jumper may not have this rating, thus the disclaimer is one of legalities rather than any safety issue. Hope that helps.

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