If you have a car or motorcycle, having a jump starter is practically an essential accessory.
It is impossible to predict when your car will play tricks on you. Sometimes the battery simply refuses to start once the car is parked. Without a doubt, it is a frustrating situation and too familiar for experienced drivers.
Imagine that you go out with your family to the countryside and park it a bit far to enjoy a walk in nature to the fullest. However, when you return, you find yourself with an unpleasant surprise: when you try to start the engine you do not hear anything other than that typical sound of a flat battery .
Even if you have the cables to start the battery in the trunk, you realize that there are no cars within a 100 kilometer radius. So you can’t start the car. There is no other option but to call for help.
To avoid this type of situation, the ideal would be to have at your disposal a battery jump starter or Jump Starter . These devices are capable of starting a car without having to rely on help from other people.
Therefore, it becomes a very useful accessory to keep inside the vehicle and be used at any time.
- 1 Best Jump Starters (2020) 🚩
- 2 What is a Jump Starter? Types
- 3 How to charge a Jump Starter?
- 4 Features of a jump starter
- 5 How to choose the right starter for my car? 🚘
- 6 How many times can I start my car?
- 7 How to use a battery starter?
Best Jump Starters (2020) 🚩
Next, you have a list of the car starter models that we recommend on Amazon based on what we have explained during this Guide.
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What is a Jump Starter? Types
A Jump Starter is a rechargeable portable battery designed mainly to start a vehicle in addition to allowing charging electronic devices (mobiles, camera, bluetooth speakers …) through one or more USB ports as a traditional power bank would do .
Although it is popularly known as a jump starter, really, what it does is start a vehicle and not, not surprisingly, the battery. It is so named to distinguish it from a battery charger that does recharge the battery without starting the vehicle.
When the vehicle is started, the alternator starts, which provides enough energy for all the electrical components of the vehicle to work and at the same time recharges the vehicle’s own battery.
In this way, after keeping the vehicle running for a time, when we stop the engine, it will be able to start with its own battery without the need to use the starter again.
One of its great advantages is that it allows us to start our car at any time and place without the need to resort to an auxiliary vehicle, for this reason, it becomes an ideal accessory for the car that will avoid problems in an emergency situation.
Battery starters are obviously not all the same, there are several types that have specific technical data and are compatible with different vehicles .
Before buying one, it is necessary to verify that the product in which we are interested adapts to all our demands and functions that we regularly fulfill with our car.
According to its dimensions, we highlight 2 types of jump starters:
Portable Jump Starter
They are small and compact starters, that can be transported in a practical way, even in the glove compartment of the car , and have a shape that is vaguely reminiscent of an external hard drive for PC.
Despite being extremely compact , these starters guarantee remarkable power and a fairly high autonomy to carry out numerous emergency starts.
Carry Case Jump Starter
The Carry Case-type models, on the other hand, have larger dimensions and are commonly equipped with a carrying handle, as can be seen in the photo below. Some also incorporate an air compressor in case of having a slightly deflated wheel.
Generally, this type of battery starters offer superior power to portable starters and are ideal for use in large vehicles : vans, trucks, boats, buses …
How to charge a Jump Starter?
In the past, a starter used to incorporate a DC charging port (DC Input) and was recharged by means of a specific charger or power adapter (included in the purchase).
Optionally, it could also be recharged by connecting it to the cigarette lighter of the vehicle with a compatible charger.
Later, new generations of starters with micro USB and USB type C charging ports appeared .
Its main advantage is that they can be recharged with any USB charger (such as that of the mobile itself) instead of using a specific one that, in addition, if lost or damaged, would be more difficult to replace.
Although any starter with a USB charging port is recommended, models with USB type C are preferable for 2 reasons:
- It acts as an input / output port: on some models, in addition to recharging the starter, the USB-C port can be used to charge other devices with a USB charging port: mobile, camera, headphones, speakers …
- Faster charging (starter and / or devices) : In general, the USB-C port supports more power (15W) than a micro USB port (12W max). It is also compatible with the new technology of fast charging Power Delivery (18W).
Our recommendation is to choose a starter with a USB Type-C charging port and check that it is input / output . Optionally, include the Power Delivery (PD) protocol for faster recharging.
Features of a jump starter
We are going to identify the technical specifications of a starter to know how to choose the model that best suits the needs of each one (price, capacity, peak current …) and is compatible with our car:
Battery capacity (mAh)
A car jump starter incorporates a 3.7 volt (V) rechargeable battery at a specified capacity expressed in milliamps-hours (mAh).
The capacity indicates the amount of energy (Wh = V x Ah) that the starter has to start the vehicle and / or charge our devices when we use it as a power bank.
In the example in the image we see that the Tacklife T8 starter has a capacity of 18000 mAh (or 18Ah), therefore, the stored energy is 66.6Wh (18Ah x 3.7V).
It is important to note that a starter with more or less capacity does not determine if a vehicle will start or not, it will only depend on the starting current that it is capable of supplying.
In general, the more capacity a battery jump starter has, the more times we can start our car or the greater number of charges we can carry out on our devices (mobile, tablet, camera, speakers …) without having to recharge their battery completely again.
However, it is advisable that the starter battery is above 60% of its capacity to ensure the vehicle starts .
Peak current and starting current (A)
Both the peak and starting currents are 2 fundamental characteristics when choosing a starter for our car, as we will explain below.
The peak current ( peak current ) is the maximum instantaneous current that can provide the starter in a short period of time (<1 s) to start the engine of the car.
In the event that the car does not start instantly, this current decreases to a constant value that the starter can hold for a few more seconds (3-5s) to try to start the engine. This value is known as inrush current ( starting current ).
In this case the Tacklife T8 starter reaches a peak current of 800A and maintains a starting current of 500A and 250A for 3 and 5 seconds respectively.
While the peak current of a starter can vary between 300A and 2500A , the starting current is always less than the peak current and even on some models there will be a big difference.
How to choose the right starter for my car? 🚘
First of all, it is important that we familiarize ourselves with the specifications of our car battery . Normally, these are usually indicated on the battery itself (it is also possible to find them on the manufacturer’s website):
In the image above we can see the specifications of a Tudor brand battery :
Indicates the nominal voltage or voltage of the battery. Most commonly, your vehicle uses a 12-volt (V) battery .
Capacity: 74 Ah
Indicates the amount of energy that a new, fully charged battery can store.
In general, the capacity of the battery is linked to the size, the bigger the battery, the more capacity it has.
Cold Cranking Amps (CCA): 680A
The main function of a vehicle’s battery is to start the engine, for this reason, batteries are designed to provide a high current intensity which is called Starting Current or Cranking Amps.
Generally speaking, it is easier to start an engine in a warm environment than in a cold one.
To measure the ability of a battery to start an engine in cold temperatures, it is subjected to a test under EN * (European Standard) to estimate its CCA (Cold Cranking Amps):
The cold cranking amps or CCA is the maximum current -measured in Amps (A) – that a battery can supply for a certain time (varies according to the EN1 or EN2 level chosen in the test) at a temperature of -18ºC without the voltage drop below 7.5V.
* The CCA value can vary in the same battery according to the regulations in which it has been measured (EN, DIN, SAE, JIS …), it is important to always compare under the same standard:
540A (EN) = 600A (SAE) = 390A (IEC) = 335A (DIN)
In addition, this value also influences the useful life of the battery , since over time the battery degrades and its starting current decreases, reaching a time when it is not enough to start a vehicle.
For this reason, the vehicles use batteries with a CCA high enough to guarantee the vehicle start in the most unfavorable conditions, also taking care that its useful life is not very short.
As we have seen, the CCA broadly indicates the starting power of a battery . The higher its value, the easier it will be to start the vehicle.
As a general rule, when choosing a starter we should check the value of the cold cranking amp (CCA) that indicates the battery of our car and look for a starter that is capable of supplying a higher peak current.
Remember that a vehicle requires more starting power in a cold environment and its battery may not provide it if it is old or heavily discharged.
The Importance of Starting Current
The peak current ( peak current ) of a starter is an instantaneous value which can be supplied for a few tenths of a second, for example:
If we have a starter that can supply 1200A peak current and a car needs 350A peak current , then the starter would be able to start the car instantly.
However, if the car does not start instantly because it requires several seconds , the current that can be supplied by a starter constantly decreases considerably, that is:
The starter can deliver an instantaneous current of 1200A and maintain a constant current of 250A for at least 3 seconds.
This constant current of 250A is the so-called starting current .
Therefore, if the car initially requires a peak current of 350A to start and a constant current of 300A for 3 seconds, this starter would NOT be able to start the car because it can only provide a starting current of 250A (although it can initially deliver 1200A peak)
Once the starter has been selected based on the peak current, the next step would be to check the starting current ( Starting Current ) that it can hold for a few seconds and keep the one that best suits the needs of our vehicle.
The problem is that some starter manufacturers do not indicate it and others make mention of it without indicating the seconds that can maintain that current.
On the other hand, each particular car demands a different starting current and is normally difficult to know, since the manufacturer does not usually indicate this in the vehicle manual:
- Normally a car with a diesel engine demands a starting current higher than 300A .
- On the other hand, a car with a gasoline engine is well below that figure, and depending on the architecture of its engine, the required starting current could be less than even 200A .
How many times can I start my car?
When we buy a starter, it is common to want to know how many times our vehicle will be able to start.
However, we are sorry to tell you that there is no universal answer as it depends on many factors, including:
We have already explained that the more capacity (mAh) a starter has, the more energy (Wh) we will have available to start our car (or devices).
However, not all starters are of the same quality, some models will have better energy efficiency than others and will therefore supply more power.
Logically, the energy level of the starter also influences :
Manufacturers often recommend using the starter above 60% load , as if it is below that level it may not be able to deliver all the current the vehicle needs to start.
On the other hand, each vehicle model will demand a different starting current , depending on various factors such as engine displacement and architecture, as well as the type of fuel it uses (diesel or gasoline).
It should also be known that the colder the vehicle’s engine is, the more starting current it will demand:
The same vehicle can demand different starting current depending on the atmospheric temperature (winter or summer, for example) and on the engine temperature itself .
Not the same the cold start (first time the engine is started) when the engine has already acquired some temperature (once started the car, cape a stopped minutes and then return to start it again).
Finally, the state of tuning of the vehicle also influences the start.
A neglected vehicle (improper oil density, damaged fuel and intake air filters, bad spark plugs or preheaters, etc.) cause the engine to take a few seconds longer to start.
As you will have seen, there are many factors that influence to know exactly the number of times that a starter can start our vehicle.
Although the truth is that, if its load is above 60%, it will give us several attempts to start.
Our advice is that, once we have successfully started our vehicle, always carry out a full recharge so that it is ready the next time we need it.
In addition, it is recommended to perform a full recharge every 3 months if we have not used it before.
How to use a battery starter?
Regardless of the model you are going to buy, the instructions for using a starter are practically the same. We wanted to prepare a small general guide to explain how to use it:
Before starting to use your battery starter, it is important to take all necessary precautions to ensure your safety, that of the car battery and the rest of the equipment. Since starting your car requires the use of electrical voltage, you must be careful at all times.
But don’t worry, although there are electrical risks associated with starting your car, using a portable battery starter is much safer than starting it by connecting it to another car’s battery.
Before starting your adventure with a battery starter, keep in mind the following safety precautions for good practice:
- Make sure your vehicle and battery starter are completely off before beginning the battery starting process.
- Take the keys out of the ignition to make sure that all parts of the vehicle are turned off for the first step.
- Never connect the red (+) and black (-) clamps to each other , or allow them to connect through an electrical conductor. You could cause a short circuit and the portable starter may stop working. (Although most already have short circuit protection)
- Check that there are no flammable liquids or elements near your car or the battery starter during the process.
- Turn off both your vehicle and the battery starter.
- Next, connect the jump leads to the device itself.
- While the vehicle is still off , take both ends of the starter cables in your hands. You should have a red end and a black end, in the form of tweezers.
- Connect the red clip (+) to the + terminal of the car battery.
- Connect the black clip (-) to the – terminal of the car battery.
- Make sure that the clamps are firmly attached to the battery posts, so that when the car starts, they do not come loose and cause a short circuit when they come into contact with each other.
Starting the starter
After checking that the calipers are in the correct position, you can start the battery starter, but still don’t start your car.
The portable starter must be turned on first to “stimulate” the flow of electricity from the device itself to the car battery. You will need a short time interval so that everything is ready for the car to start.
Then start your vehicle. This will allow the battery starter to send a current flow to your car battery that will normally start the vehicle’s engine in no time.
Since the starter acts like a supercharged portable battery and is designed to provide short bursts of power in large quantities. However, running the starter for a long time will prevent the starter from working properly later.
You only have to actuate the vehicle’s starting contact for a maximum of 5 seconds. As soon as you turn on the ignition, the starter motor starts to act, due to the burst of energy that the starter sends to the starter motor through your car battery.
At this point, the portable starter is providing its maximum amount of power possible.
Therefore, it is best to operate the starter motor only in short bursts to match the starter power, giving the necessary starting voltage and current for the vehicle engine to start.
If you try to operate the starter for 5 seconds and the vehicle’s engine still doesn’t start , don’t try to keep starting the car for an extended period. Wait about 3-5 minutes between attempts.
If you continue to try the car’s engine, you will put too much power on the portable starter, which can lead to overheating or a short circuit, causing permanent damage to it.
Make another 5-second attempt after the starter is ready to supply all of its power again. The vehicle’s engine should start after a few more attempts.
If it still does not start, we will see later what to do in these cases.
Once your car is started successfully, you must turn off the battery starter. Then remove the black (-) wire first, then the red (+) wire .
Remember that your battery starter works best when it’s fully charged, so be sure to recharge it as soon as possible, even if it didn’t drain your battery since the last time you used it to start your car.
What to do if the car still doesn’t start?
If your car still won’t start after 5 or more attempts to reset the battery, there are a few things you can do to try to fix this situation:
The first thing is to turn off the starter and then fix the position of the clamps on the terminals of the car battery . Sometimes they may be too loose or not in the correct position.
Try placing the black clamp (-) on another part of your car body instead of attaching it to the negative battery post.
It moves the clamps rotatably to literally squeeze them against the battery posts.
If neither of those options works, your battery may have died . Possible reasons may be corrosion and acid leakage or popped electrodes inside the battery itself.
At this point, the best thing to do is to find a towing service that will take your car to the technical service.
Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API