We showed you how to use jumper cables to get that dead engine revving up again, but what if you can’t find another car to connect to? If you drive on mostly empty roads, or late at night, then you may have car trouble and be unable to find anyone to help you out. And if your battery is the problem, then you are really out of luck – unless you have a portable jump starter in your trunk.
If you’ve never used one of these, then let me tell you – they are pretty great to keep around, especially if you drive an older vehicle like I do. A portable jump starter is basically just a battery pack that you can use to give you vehicle a boost if the battery is dead. They don’t take up much space in your vehicle and they work pretty much like jumper cables – you just attach it to your car battery with the clamps and it gives your vehicle a jumpstart. I first learned of these things about 8 years ago when I was driving a used Nissan 240SX that I got for $1000 off eBay. The car drove fine, except when it didn’t want to start, which was about once a week. I kept one of these portable jumpstarters in the trunk and I was always able to get the car started when it didn’t want to turn over. Even if you’re driving around in a new vehicle, one of these is a great thing to keep on hand as part of a car emergency kit.
Geeks Picks: Best Portable Battery Jump Starters for the Money
Last update on 2021-07-23 at 14:00 / Affiliate links / Images via Amazon Product Advertising API
How To Use A Portable Jump Starter
Using one of these is actually pretty similar to using jumper cables. Before you attach it to your vehicle, you’ll want to make sure that the unit has enough juice to give your car the charge that it needs. Most of these devices have a button that you can press to see if it is fully charged, partially charged, or needs charging. I find that they hold a charge for months, so it’s fine if you just toss it in the back of the car or truck and don’t check it for a few months at a time.
Once you know that it’s ready to give your car’s battery the boost, flip the vehicle’s hood and connect the clams from the portable battery charger just like with jumper cables. Once connected, turn the unit on and then go start your car. Pretty easy, huh? Once the vehicle is running, you can turn off the portable unit and then disconnect the clamps (remember, positive first!). That’s it. If you want to see one of these things in action, check out the video below.
Our Portable Jump Starter Reviews
We’ve taken the time to select out 10 favorite models on the market right now and compared them against each other to help you find the model that best needs your needs. Some of the models below are just basic portable car battery chargers while others offer extra features that you might need, like an air compressor and USB charging ports. Take a moment to look through our reviews below and let us know if you need any additional help selecting one of these models.
My favorite thing about this one is that it is packed with additional features that can be put to good use on the road – especially if you go on a lot of road trips. In addition to being able to jump start your car, the Stanley J5C09 has an air compressor, a LED light (perfect for late night car problems), and USB and DC charging plugs. That is a lot of features, right? All of that makes this one of the best portable batter jump starters for the money right now. Plus, the price is very affordable.
My biggest complaint here is that this thing weighs close to 20 pounds. Sure, that isn’t a lot but compared to some of the other models on the market, it is heavier. At the end of the day though, the weight isn’t a deal breaker for me since you get all those extra features.
The biggest benefit of this model is that it has a lot of power – you can use it to jump start a large SUV with no problem at all. Plus, the cables on it are a decent length at 46-inches – and they are heavy duty cables so that all of the power can be delivered to your truck battery. It’s also designed for heavy duty use, so if you work on a construction site, then something like this model is perfect for you.
This one weighs the same as the Stanley model above, yet it doesn’t have all those extra features. Instead, it just has a DC outlet. Plus, the retail cost is a bit higher. So, you have to ask yourself this – do you need the power that this model offers (1700 amps)? Cause if not, I honestly think that you are better off with something else. That being said, this one works well and can seriously start up a dead SUV.
Obviously, the biggest benefit of the PowerAll PBJS12000R is that it is an ultra-light pocket size battery jump starter. In fact, it can easily slide into your glove box or center console as it take up hardly any space at all. And due to the small size of this compact car battery jump starter, it only weighs around one pound. But that’s not all that there is to like about it. This thing is packed with features. It can be used as a high powered flashlight and to charge your USB devices.
Probably the only downside here is that the amperage is pretty low at just 400 amps for the battery charger. Now, that does get you around 20 jumpstarts on a fully charged unit. However, you’re probably not going to be able to use this one with a large vehicle since it won’t have enough power. But for cars, wagons, maybe some vans, golf carts, and motorcycles, this thing should work as expected.
I gotta say, the Schumacher XP2260 looks like beast of a portable car battery charger! Though it really shouldn’t matter, I’m a big fan of the way that this one looks. It also has a pretty rugged build, which makes it a decent choice for construction sites. At 1200 amps, you get a good amount of power out of this model, which means that you can even use it on your trucks and SUVs. I also like that it has a built-in air compressor, work light, inflator/deflator, one USB charging port, and two each 12V outlets and 120V AC outlets. This is pretty much everything that you need for a long road trip, and you can’t beat that in such a small package.
My biggest problem with the Schumacher XP2260 is that it is heavy. It clocks it at around 24 pounds, which is heavier than most of the units that we evaluated. Of course, you’re not really going to be carrying this thing around, so it isn’t a big deal. But, it would be nice if it was a bit more lightweight.
If you need just a basic portable car battery charger that you can keep around for emergencies when you might need to jumpstart your vehicle, then this Jump-N-Carry JNC300XL is a good choice. It is very basic – it has the jumper cables, an emergency light that you can use as a flashlight, and a single DC outlet. And it weighs less than 10 pounds, which is nice. And, it has a good low price.
The negative of this unit is that it doesn’t have any of those extra features that you might be expecting. It doesn’t have an air compressor and it doesn’t have any USB ports for charging your phone or tablet.
If you want a good portable car battery charger that works well and offers a good value for the money without a lot of extra features, then this unit is a solid choice for you. Personally, I prefer a few more features from one of these things, but if you’re like my dad then this unit will be perfect for you.
What I like about the Jump-N-Carry JNCAIR model is that it has the most power of all the units we evaluated. It offers up 1700 peak amps and a whopping 425 cold cranking amps. That makes this model the best choice for portable battery chargers for heavy duty trucks. It even has super extra long 68″ cables to reach the battery. And the clamps are industrial grade. The construction also seem to be very rugged and durable.
It also has a DC outlet and an air compressor. Unlike the other models with an air compressor, this one has a 12-foot coiled air hose so that you can reach all of the tires easily. It takes less than seven minutes to fill a completely flat 15-inch car tire with it.
I dislike that the air gauge only goes up to 60 psi, which makes it challenging when attempting to air up a RV tire. I’m also not a fan of the weight of this one. At 25 pounds, it is the heaviest unit that we evaluated. Sure, you don’t need to carry it around often, but if you use it to fill up the tires, then you arms get quite a workout as you walk around the vehicle.
The ultra-thin pocket size NOCO Genius Boost Plus gets our pick for the best lithium ion jump starter on the market right now. And since you can get it in four different models, that range from 400 amps to 4000 amps, it is also our top pick for most powerful lithium ion jump starter in 2016. This thing is small, but it is jam-packed with features. In addition to being able to give your car’s dead battery a jump, you can use it as an emergency light/flashlight and to charge your USB devices.
It’s also a good, cheap choice for portable battery chargers for lawn mowers, boats, and ATVs.
Honestly, it’s hard for me to find anything to dislike about this one. I do with that it had an electric outlet or two so that I could use it with my laptop on long road trips. Of course, that is not a dealbreaker for me, just something that would be a nice additional feature.
The Energen Power Jumper P5 is another one of our favorite slim portable jump starters. This pocket size unit weighs under two pounds, which is awesome. And it is so small and thin that you can easily store it in the center console or glove box. It also has a built-in bright LED flashlight and it can charge your USB devices.
Like the NOCO Genius Boost Plus up above, this one also doesn’t have an outlet for you to charge you laptop. While this would be a nice feature, it is not a necessity.
As you can tell, this model has a lot in common with the NOCO Genius Boost Plus. If you are considering one of these two models, then I encourage you to click on the Amazon links above to see the full features of each model to determine which make the most sense for you. Both are great choices and perform well, as expected.
This is another one of the heavy duty portable jump starters that comes in four different models. You can choose from 1800 peak amps, 2200 peak amps, 3600 peak amps, and 4400 amps. Each of the models has heavy duty clamps to deliver all of that power. I like that it also has a DC power outlet.
However, that is where the features on this one end. You don’t get a work light or emergency light or USB charging ports or an air compressor. All you get is a basic battery jump starter with a DC outlet. Now, if that is all you need, then I think that you will be really happy with this one since it is made to last. But is also pretty heavy at just over 22 pounds. Personally, I think that there are better options at these amperage levels, but this is still a good quality unit that performs well.
As you can tell, this one has a lot in common with the Energen Power Jumper P5 model up above. The key differences are that it weighs a little more (2.5 lbs vs 1.9 lbs) and it offers more amps (600 amps vs 400 amps). You still get the high powered LED light and USB charging port. And, the Anker PowerCore Jump Starter 600 is also ultra-thin and pocket size so that you can easily store it anywhere in the vehicle or in your bag.
Probably the only negative about this unit is that it only has a single USB charging port. That can be a challenge if you have two cell phones that need charged at the same time. Of course, it’s not a huge deal, but something that I wanted to point out to you.
Overall though, the Anker PowerCore Jump Starter 600 is a good choice if you want a few more amps than the Energen Power Jumper P5 model up above. Plus, it has a very affordable price.
top image credit: photography33/Deposit Photos