The 10 Best Jump Starters
This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in March of 2015. No need to rely on a Good Samaritan to help you out if your battery dies when you have one of these jump starters in your vehicle. They offer powerful cranking capabilities and some can also be used to charge devices like smartphones and tablets, too. We've included some heavy-duty models suitable for big trucks, as well as small, compact options that can fit in a glove box. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 08, 2020:
Because we consider jump starters to be emergency equipment, we feel it is more important to have something reliable and that can definitely start your vehicle even if the battery is totally drained, as opposed to something that is more convenient to store in small places, but which could be somewhat underpowered. And, based on much research of independent testing, we have found that the compact lithium battery-powered models just can't compete with traditional lead-acid battery-powered options. This resulted in quite a bit of moving things around to better represent how strongly we recommended particular models.
The above said, we aren't dismissing small, lithium battery-powered models like the Noco Genius Boost HD GB70, Rugged Geek RG1200 Safety Plus, Weego 22s, and Beatit BP101 as being poor options, but rather that it is important to have realistic expectations and not expect any of them to be able to jump a big truck with a completely dead battery unless you get really lucky and it turns over quickly, despite what their marketing may state. Even with their limitations, if you have a sedan or small SUV, they may be the best option for you. Unlike the large and bulky traditional models, they can be easily stashed just about anywhere. Plus, many of them have great extra features, like the included USB ports on the Beatit BP101 and Rugged Geek RG1200 Safety Plus, the former of which also as a grounded AC outlet, and the latter of which happens to come with an equally compact compressor. Perhaps their biggest benefit though, is that they don't require as frequent of recharging as the lead-acid models. This means there should be less of a chance you reach for your jump starter only to find that it, too, has a dead battery.
If you have a larger vehicle, like something with 8 cylinders or a diesel truck, you should stick with the tried and true lead-acid powered models. Of these, the Clore Automotive Truck Pac ES1224 is one of the most powerful and most versatile. It can produce up to 3,000 peak amps and has the ability to be used on 12- and 24-volt systems. If you don't need quite that much power though, the DeWalt Portable Power Station may be a better choice as it features an integrated compressor to help inflate your tire if you get a flat. While the DeWalt Portable Power Station may have a couple USB ports to charge mobile devices, the Schumacher SJ1332 puts it to shame in the regards, as it has a USB port, and dual 12-volt DC outlets and 110V AC outlets.
November 11, 2019:
Having a dead battery in your vehicle is bad enough, but it would be even more annoying and inconvenient if you were to reach for your jump starter only to find that it too had a dead battery. To minimize the chances of this happening to you, we did our best to include models that had a slow discharge rate, as well as the capacity to jump start vehicles multiple times before needing to be recharged.
On that note, we eliminated the Allstart 555 Camo Pro Pac because there were too many complaints of it either being dead on arrival or not holding a charge long enough during storage. And though surprising because this company generally offers high-quality products, we also had to remove the DeWalt DXAEJ14 due to complaints regarding its longevity. The Stanley J509 was eliminated for similar reasons, as well.
Continuing to win favor with users, the Noco Genius Boost HD GB70 still remains as one of our favorite models and we highly recommend it based on the combination of features, power, and size. It weighs a mere five pounds, is slim enough to fit in a glovebox, and can jump start pickup trucks.
The Weego 22s is a new addition that offers a good compromise between cost and power. Though best suited for small sedans and motorcycles, it comes for a budget-friendly price and has a water-resistant construction that should help ensure a long service life. We also added the Beatit BP101, which has a grounded 110-volt outlet and multiple USB ports, one of which supports QC 3.0.
If you would like the ability to jump heavy-duty equipment and large diesels, the Clore Automotive Truck Pac ES1224 is your best bet. However, it is rather heavy and quite a bit larger than many of our other recommendations, so make sure to bear that in mind.
Solar Brand HT1224AGM If you run an auto mechanic shop, keeping something like the Solar HT1224AGM on hand can help ensure you have the equipment to service your all of your client's needs. It has a heavy-duty wheeled cabinet that can withstand a lot of abuse and allows for easy repositioning, features extra-long 10-foot cables, and works with 12- and 24-volt systems. northerntool.com
Why You Need A Jump Starter
Instead of relying on the kindness of strangers, many have taken to keeping a jump starter in their trunk at all times.
Jump starting a car, sometimes referred to as boost starting a car, is a simple method of starting a vehicle which does not have enough remaining power in its own battery to crank the engine. To perform a jump start, a temporary connection is made between the dead battery and a live battery, or some other external device, like a jump starter or battery charger.
This external power supply recharges the dead battery enough to crank the engine and start the car. Once the car has been started, the external power source can be disconnected and the car's internal charging system should recharge the battery on its own. If there is a problem with the alternator, or some other component of the car's charging system, it will not be able to recharge the battery and most likely the car will quickly stop running.
Because dead batteries are one of the most common causes of a car not starting, many motorists carry a set of jumper cables in their trunk, or under a seat. While this can be incredibly helpful, it requires the use of another car with a live battery. If stranded at home with multiple cars, this may not be much of a problem as one can just use the other car at the home. If stranded on the side of a highway or road, this becomes more problematic as one is relying on the kindness of a passing motorist to stop and help them out. If stranded on a deserted road with little to no traffic, one may have to wait for hours before another car comes along to help them out.
Instead of relying on the kindness of strangers, many have taken to keeping a jump starter in their trunk at all times. Jump starters are portable, charged devices that contain enough power to start a car. This allows you to be completely self sufficient and get back on the road quicker.
Choosing A Jump Starter
The most important feature to consider when choosing a jump starter is the size. Jump starters come in a range of sizes and different size engines will require a particular size jump starter. The size of a jump starter doesn't refer to the actual physical size, but rather its amp rating. The amp rating will usually be quoted in peak amps and cranking amps, which are wildly different.
Diesel engines require more power, and therefor require bigger jump starters.
The peak amps relates to the amount of power a jump starter can provide in a quick burst when you crank the engine, but peak amps decline quickly. If your car doesn't start at the first crank or two, you will be left with the cranking amp power. Many cars with a dead battery don't start on the first crank or two. This is why it's important to take both ratings into account when choosing a jump starter.
Most jump starters will have 1000 to 2000 peak amps, which is sufficient for most any size car engine, but the cranking amps will be significantly lower and need to be analyzed before making a purchase. Four cylinder cars will require a jump starter with 150 to 200 amps of cranking power. Six cylinder cars require models with 200 to 250 amps of cranking power, and eight cylinder cars require from 250 to 300 amps of cranking power. Diesel engines require more power, and therefor require bigger jump starters. A four cylinder diesel engine needs a jump starter with 300 to 400 cranking amps, while a six cylinder engine needs from 400 to 500 amps, and an eight cylinder engine needs 600 to 700 cranking amps.
Other considerations for a jump starter include its physical size, it should be small enough to store easily, additional features like a flashlight or AC plug, and safety features like over voltage and short circuit protection.
Signs Your Car Battery Is Going Bad
In an ideal world, we would always have warning signs before our car battery dies so we can run to the store to buy a new one, but unfortunately this isn't always the case. Other times, we do have signs, but most don't know what to look for and don't notice them. This is where a little bit of knowledge can save us from a lot hassle just a few days or hours down the line.
One of the easiest to notice indications that a battery is nearing the end of its lifespan is dimmer headlights. If you turn your headlights on at night and it seems they are dimmer than normal, there is a good chance your battery is on its last leg. This also applies to interior lights. Sluggish opening and closing of the windows is another indication of a dying battery. If only one window is opening and closing slowly, but the rest work fine, then it indicates a window problem.
Another easily noticed symptom of a battery going bad is when an engine struggles to turn over. If you notice your car is taking longer to turn over, or the engine sounds slower when it cranks, your battery might be about to die. Other less obvious signs include an A/C making strange noises, less airflow coming out of the vents, and the radio volume not working.