No taxi necessary
When your car battery is dead, you only have so many options. The usual method for reviving it is hoping a kind stranger will stop and give you a jump. You could also call a taxi service, though this means leaving your car wherever it is. Jump starting a car is another option. Jump starters are essentially powerful batteries with attached jumper cables that can spark your battery back to life without the need for a donor car.
Shop this article: Stanley Jump Starter, Avapow Jump Starter and DeWalt Digital Portable Power Station Jump Starter
Jump starters have one of two types of batteries inside them.
- Lead-acid: This type of battery is the same type that’s been used in most vehicles for many years. They’re strong and reliable but large, weighing between 15 and 30 pounds.
- Lithium-ion: This type of battery is smaller and lighter. Most can fit inside your glove box and weigh no more than 5 pounds. Some can even be used to charge other devices, such as your phone. The downside is they tend to be less effective. And while they’re just as or more effective than lead-acid starters, they typically cost more.
Volts and amps
Jump starters typically have the same voltage as most car batteries: 12. The range of amps is much wider, though, to fit the gulf of requirements among all types of cars. For example, a small sedan doesn’t need much of a boost to get its battery going again, while a huge diesel engine needs quite a bit of a boost.
However, amps are listed in several types, and they all mean different things. The most important types of amps you can find are peak, cranking and cold-cranking amps.
- Peak amps are the highest possible power a jump starter can give in the best possible conditions.
- Cranking amps are the power supplied when your battery is at 32 degrees.
- Cold-cranking amps are the power supplied when your battery is at 0 degrees.
If a jump starter lists peak amps, look for at least 600 on a lithium-ion starter and at least 1,000 for a lead-acid starter.
If a jump starter lists cranking or cold-cranking amps, you’ll need to meet various thresholds to power your car battery.
- Gas four-cylinder engines need approximately 150 to 200 cranking amps or 120 to 160 cold-cranking amps.
- Gas six-cylinder engines need approximately 200 to 250 amps or 160 to 200 cold-cranking amps.
- Gas eight-cylinder engines need approximately 250 to 300 amps or 200 to 240 cold-cranking amps.
- Diesel four-cylinder engines need approximately 250 to 400 amps or 200 to 320 cold-cranking amps.
- Diesel six-cylinder engines need approximately 400 to 500 amps or 320 to 400 cold-cranking amps.
- Diesel eight-cylinder engines need approximately 500 to 700 amps or 400 to 560 cold-cranking amps.
If you don’t want to consult charts and can afford them, you could just get the most powerful starter you can find. Having more power will start the vehicle and won’t hurt your battery, but not having enough means you’re still stuck on the road.
A low-cost jump starter that’s just powerful enough to revive a basic sedan usually costs around $50. A more powerful starter that can handle larger cars typically tops out around $100, though the very best in this category can cost up to $150. The strongest starters with all the best extra features can cost $200 to $400.
Best jump starters
This Avapow jump starter has a peak amp rating of 2,000 and can hold a charge for up to 40 starts. It has several USB ports of different types so it can charge multiple devices at once.
This portable car jump starter comes in two peak amp ratings: 1,000 and 1,200. Both also include an air compressor feature so you can inflate any flat tires. It needs to be charged every 30 days.
This car battery jump starter has a peak amp rating of 1,200. It comes with an air compressor, high-output USB ports and a pivoting LED work light.
This DeWalt jump starter provides 1,400 amps at peak power, an air compressor and one USB port. With a larger temperature range compared to other units, it’s ideal for use in extreme temperatures.
This Gooloo jump starter has a peak amp rating of 3,000, providing over 50 starts per charge. Thanks to its compact size, it’s one of the best portable jump starter options if you have limited space in your car or garage. The unit doubles as a power bank with three USB ports and can withstand extreme temperatures. As a bonus, it has a built-in LED light.
Another conveniently compact option, this Hulkman jump starter has a peak amp rating of 2,000. It can power up to three devices with the included USB ports and has a built-in LED light.
This powerful, professional-grade Schumacher jump starter boasts an amp rating of 4,400. It’s capable of jump starting even heavy-duty trucks, with two accessory ports and a rapid-charging feature.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly jump starter for a small- or medium-sized car, this is an excellent option. The 500-amp Halo jump starter doubles as a portable charger with two USB ports.
Another affordable unit, the Dbpower jump starter has a peak amp rating of 1,600. It comes with a charging port, compass and LED light.
Last but not least, the Noco jump starter has a peak amp rating of 1,000, providing up to 20 starts on a single charge. It has a USB port for charging devices, as well as a built-in LED flashlight.
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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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