Jump Starter Buying Guide
What is a Jump Starter?
Battery jump starters have been around for some time now, but they have finally reached a size that makes them the perfect addition to a car emergency kit. Before they may have been used for garages, dealerships and other automobile businesses but with their compact size, reasonable price and capabilities, they are perfect for the car owner as well.
Some of the jump starters are as small as 1 pound and can be as small as a paperback book. A lot of the jump starter units can also double as recharging devices and can even have additional items plugged into them if they have 12v outlets. This feature makes them a useful part of your emergency kit for home or car use.
There are some units that can even be used to power certain types of laptops if needed. Sometimes battery chargers and jump starters are two different devices, but manufacturers are finding out that having a unit that incorporates both together is very popular with consumers.
Specifications of a good Jump Starter
When you start looking for jump starters, you will want to be sure that they come with the following specifications. These features are the most important ones a jump starter can and should have and you should not give up any of these. The two biggest specs to consider when researching will be jump starter power and the battery type.
Jump starter power – what you will be using the jump starter for determines the power level you need it to have. You want to ensure that you get the unit that has the necessary power you will need.
The rate of power is measured in amps. Each unit will have peak amps and cranking amps and some also have cold cranking amps as well. In general, the higher the number is for cranking amps the more powerful the unit is. If you want a unit that powers more than just the vehicle’s battery you will want to ensure the unit has amps of at least 1200 and has at least 225 cranking amps.
Battery – What type of vehicle battery will you be charging? Most vehicles have a 12v battery but there are classic cars that have a 6v. You want to make sure that the jump starter can handle the type of battery you have. Knowing the battery voltage enables you to get the unit that meets that requirement so you are not over purchasing.
Considerations to look at when researching and purchasing
- Portability – portability is important is you are going to be using it for emergencies on the road. You want it to be able to be moved with relative ease. Since you want to find something that will fit easily in your trunk without taking all of it up, you want to look for the smaller units that don’t sacrifice anything in power or capability.
- Weight – jump starters can be as lightweight as 1 pound for the minis and upwards of 20 pounds or more for the large commercial starters. If you are looking for a unit that you can carry around with you, take the weight into consideration. If one person can easily move it from one point to the next, then that will be a good weight.
- Appearance – There are many different styles, shapes, designs and color combinations of jump starters on the market. While appearance isn’t one of the MAIN factors involved in determining which unit you are interested in purchasing, in general, consumers are attracted to the appearance of a unit first and foremost and then see if the specs fit their needs.
- Reliability – Since the whole purpose of a jump starter is to take care of an unexpected dead battery, you want the unit you choose to be reliable. Being able to count on the fact that it will work when you need it to, is of utmost importance. Customer reviews come in handy when it comes to learning more about the reliability of a product. The higher the ratings the better the unit is.
- Safety Features – Safety features are always a plus when it comes to a piece of equipment that is made to provide large amounts of power. One feature that is a real plus is an auto shit down as soon as the battery is charged.
- Recharging Dead Batteries – One feature that is very appealing to consumers is the ability to charge dead batteries. It’s not always easy to gauge a low battery, and even though some models have the ability to tell how low a battery is, it is more beneficial to have the unit capable of charging a dead battery.
- Cables for Jump Starting – ideally look for units that have two cables that measure at least 40” each. In each end, there needs to be bill nose clips. In addition, make sure the cable is thicker because that will supply more power to the battery. This will enable a better jump start.
- Warranties – Warranties are a great way to gain extra peace of mind in the event the unit doesn’t operate the way it is supposed to. Different companies offer different warranty terms and types of warranties. Be sure to take a look at the warranty the unit’s company offers to see what kind of assurance you have that they will stand behind the workmanship of their products. Make sure you understand just what your warranty offers. For some it will be total replacement, others may offer parts warranties. Others will offer repair as long as you take care of shipping so it pays to understand exactly what the warranty covers and what it doesn’t.
- Ease of Use- You don’t want to have to be a mechanic or car expert to use your jump starter. They typically plug right into the cigarette lighter, making it super simple to use. Those equipped with lights make it easy to see what you need to see even in the dark. Portable jump starters with lights make quick work of fixing the issue of your dead battery and getting you back on the road without worry of not being able to work the unit.
- Battery Level Indicator – The indicators a jump starter has is a good way to tell what the battery level is while it is being charged. Another benefit to the battery level indicator is that it can let you know when a battery is getting low and needs to be charged. Another really helpful feature, especially for those not very experienced with charging a battery or jump starting a vehicle, is a reverse polarity alarm that will let you know when the clamps are on incorrectly.
- Heavy Duty Clamps – The clamps that your jump starter has, need to be able to get through all of the dirt, dust and grime that can accumulate on your battery terminals. Make sure that the clamps are also insulated which will prevent the user from getting a nasty shock.
- Power Outlets – In addition to jump starting your vehicle, many jump starters also have the ability to power devices such as cell phones, lights, radios, and even laptops. This ensures that your electronics are always fully charged for your use no matter where you are. Depending on the unit, it may come with one or both of the following.
- An AC outlet that is used for video players, laptops and similar
- A DC outlet that is used for mobile phone USBs and MP3 players
- Lights – It is very convenient to have a light source built in to your jump starter. This way you have both the starter AND a light if you are ever stranded at night. This is a very useful feature that gives users a lot of peace of mind that no matter what, they will have the light they need to see what they need to see to get their vehicle back on the road.
The Benefits of Purchasing a Jump Starter
There are many benefits you can reap by choosing the right jump starter for your needs. Once you have done the research and chosen the model you want, you will reap these important benefits that make the purchase worthwhile.
- Great for Emergencies – Whenever you’re traveling, things can happen that will require the need of a power source of some kind. Whether it’s your cell phone dying unexpectedly or the battery on your vehicle is dead, having the ability to charge your phone and your battery is very important. You can even use it during natural disasters to help people out who don’t have the resources to take care of these things.
- Greater Peace of Mind – Knowing you have the means to deal with a dead battery even if you’re out away from home gives you a lot of peace of mind. With all the features and capabilities that jump starters can have, you can choose one that has a lot of features that can make it useful for camping trips as well as for use during any emergency.
- Plenty of Power Storage – Different jump starter models have different power capabilities. It’s that power capability that determines how big a battery the unit can jump start and charge. If you will be using your jump starter for more than just the occasional jump start, consider getting a larger 1700 peak amp starter. This provides plenty of power that can handle a lot of jobs. If you will only be using it for the infrequent emergency a smaller power capability will be just fine.
- Affordability – The best jump starters are ones that handle more than one purpose. When it can take care of many things such as charging, powering other items and jump starting your dead battery, the unit becomes much more valuable.
- Efficiency and Convenience – A good quality jump starter will provide the user with both convenience and efficiency. If you keep it in your trunk, you will always have it on hand when you are out and about in your vehicle. The portability makes it easy to move and you can even help others with it as well. They are also very easy to store and don’t take up a lot of room in your trunk.
Jump starters serve many different functions from getting a car jump started to charging batteries, cell phones and computers. There are many different types, models and designs of jump starters on the market today, so choosing one that meets all the needs you have may feel really overwhelming.
Even though all of them ultimately jump start your vehicle, there are many different features that they can also include. Which one to get will depend on the features that you want to include.
Because of all these differences, it is important that you know exactly what your preferences are before you start your search for the right jump starter. Researching and knowing your needs and preferences ahead of time will ensure that you don’t purchase less or more of a jump starter than you need.
In this buyer’s guide, we have gone over the features that different models can have and have given you the ones that are the most important. Make sure that when you are looking, you look at the overall capability of your jump starter before looking at things like special features and bells and whistles that it may have. The baseline power capability is the most important thing, so look at that first and then go for the extras you are interested in.
Also be sure that you do your homework when it comes to checking out a particular model of jump starter. Word of mouth is fine, and if the reviews or opinions are coming from other consumers, then you can rely on them much more than if the praise comes from the manufacturer or advertising efforts. Each aspect and feature you look at and compare will help you reduce the number of choices you have to deal with.
It may take a little time and research to find the right jump starter but with the information we have provided for you, you will be able to buy with confidence and not worry about purchasing something you won’t use or like.