Getting into your car and finding out the battery’s dead can really throw a wrench in your day. If you believe jumper cables are the only solution to that problem, think again. Portable jump starters will get your car going without needing another vehicle for a jump, making them a lot more convenient to use than jumper cables. These devices are compact enough to fit inside your glove box and give you a solution to jump start your vehicle in the case of an emergency.
Portable jump starters have become more popular in recent years, and many of them can also serve as a battery bank for your devices. That means it can serve as a portable charger to keep your phone or tablet fully charged on the go. In other words, they aren’t just there to jump start your car, they can serve another purpose.
There are plenty of options out there, and some of their specifications may look like a mix of random numbers and letters to you. We’re here to give you all the details you need to know about the best portable jump starters, so you can add this valuable tool to your car emergency kit.
Updated 02/01/21: We recently removed the Audew 2000A portable jump starter due to availability, but it is now back in stock. The article has been updated to once again include that recommendation.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: NOCO Boost Plus GB40
- 2. Versatile and Powerful: Audew 1500A Portable Jump Starter
- 3. Premium Features: TACKLIFE T8 800A Peak Car Jump Starter
- 4. Best for Large Vehicles: STANLEY Jump Starter (J5C09)
- 5. DBPOWER 800A Portable Car Jump Starter
- 6. Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry Jump Starter (JNC660)
- 7. POTEK Jump Starter with Tire Inflator/Air Compressor
- 8. GOOLOO 2000A Portable Jump Starter
- 9. Michelin Power Source XR1 Portable Jump Starter
- 10. NEXPOW 1500A Battery Starter
- How many amps do I need to jump start my car?
- How to Use a Portable Jump Starter to Restart Your Car
- How to Tell If the Car Battery is Dead
- How to Jump a Car Battery
1. Editor's Pick: NOCO Boost Plus GB40
For most car owners, this portable jump starter from NOCO will be exactly what they need to get their dead battery going again. Compact, yet powerful, this jump starter is rated at 1000 amps and offers up to 20 jump starts on a single charge. You can safely use this jump starter on vehicles with gasoline engines up to 6 liters and diesel engines up to 3 liters.
Safety is extremely important when it comes to jump starting your vehicle, and this device has you covered. It features a mistake-proof design with spark-proof technology and reverse polarity protection, so things won’t go awry even if you accidentally hook it up incorrectly to your battery. In addition, you can use this jump starter on a daily basis as a portable battery bank, charging your USB devices with ease. An integrated 100-lumen LED flashlight with seven modes may not see frequent use, but it’s nice to have in the case of an emergency.
As our Editor’s Pick, durability is another important factor to take into account. This charger checks all the right boxes in that department as well. It’s safe to use in any climate, thanks to high-discharge lithium technology, while the rugged, water-resistant enclosure is rated at IP65. On the outside is a rubberized over-molded casing that helps prevent scratching or marring of surfaces.
This company has a diverse lineup of portable jump starters, so if you need something more powerful, make sure to take a look at its other offerings.
2. Versatile and Powerful: Audew 1500A Portable Jump Starter
We recently got our hands on the Audew 2000A Portable Jump Starter, and you can read our complete review here. This recommendation offers 2000A peak current and has a 20000mAh battery capacity with USB-C support and we came away impressed with the results. It’s capable of jump starting gasoline engines of any size and diesel engines up to 8.5 liters, making it one of the most versatile offerings out there.
Sporting a sleek design, this portable jump starter even comes with a cigarette lighter adapter, allowing you to power 12V accessories straight from the unit itself. It comes with a durable, hard carrying case and several accessories including a pair of USB cables and a wall adapter for charging the jump starter. A built-in LED flashlight is a common feature on many of these devices, and Audew’s particular offering has three modes: normal, strobe, and SOS.
The top of the unit features a large acrylic lens that protects an LCD screen, which shows remaining battery life on the jump starter and whether or not it’s hooked up to another device. If we had any complaints, the display is a bit dim in broad daylight and the jumper cables are on the shorter side—but that’s by design to ensure jump starting capabilities, according to Audew.
3. Premium Features: TACKLIFE T8 800A Peak Car Jump Starter
Providing 800 amps peak current, this option from TACKLIFE is capable of jump starting 12V cars, SUVs, trucks, or vans up to 30 times on a full charge. It also serves as a compact battery bank with 18000mAh capacity, allowing you to charge your phone or any other devices. It has dual USB ports, one of which is a 5v/9v Quick Charge port, and can also be used to power other car accessories using a 12V 10A DC port.
One standout feature for this portable car jump starter is that you can manually turn it “off” to slow down its battery self-discharge. This allows the TACKLIFE T8 to hold its charge for up to 12 months when it’s not in use. It’s also equipped with super bright LEDs and a built-in compass, while the digital LCD screen clearly shows the remaining battery life. A specially designed indicator will notify you if the clamps are incorrectly being used.
TACKLIFE provides a two-year warranty with this jump starter.
4. Best for Large Vehicles: STANLEY Jump Starter (J5C09)
While it’s not as portable as the other jump starters we’ve look at so far on the list, the STANLEY Power Station Jump Starter offers 1000 peak, 500 instant amps along with a built-in 120 PSI air compressor. This is more of a heavy-duty jump starter geared towards truck owners with larger engines under the hood. What it does share in common with the other portable jump starters is that it features a USB output and a 12-volt DC outlet so you can charge other devices with it. There is also a built-in LED light that swivels 270 degrees, allowing you to adjust it accordingly.
It can also serve as an emergency air compressor with a brass-tipped SureFit nozzle for secure connections. For additional safety, this jumper has a reverse-polarity alarm that will alert the user if there’s an improper connection. It’s extremely easy to use—simply attach the clamps to the battery, turn on the switch, and start your vehicle.
Just keep in mind this is a larger jump starter, tipping the scale at nearly 18 pounds while measuring 11.2″ by 8″ by 13.5″.
5. DBPOWER 800A Portable Car Jump Starter
This recommendation from DBPOWER boasts 800 amps of peak current, making it capable of jump starting vehicles with gasoline engines up to 7.2 liters in size and up to 5.5-liter diesel engines. With a built-in 18000mAh battery, it’s possible to get up to 20 jump starts on a single charge, assuming you don’t use it to charge your portable devices. It’s more likely that you will however, since you likely won’t be needing to jump start your car every single day.
This portable jump starter can charge your USB devices and DBPOWER also includes an eight-in-one laptop adapter so that you can charge some laptops. The heavy duty clamps and cables feature overcurrent protection, short circuit protection, overload protection, over-voltage protection, and overcharge protection. An LCD screen is on the side of the device, displaying how much remaining battery life it has left. There’s also a compass and LED flashlight, just in case you ever need it.
The company provides a three-year warranty and great customer service.
6. Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry Jump Starter (JNC660)
Another more traditional portable jumper is the Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry Starter. Offering 425 cranking amps and 1,700 peak amps, this portable starter features PROFORMER battery technology, which is designed to provide extremely high power output, extended cranking power, and a long service life. Included with this charger are 46-inch, heavy-duty #2 AWG copper insulated cables with industrial grade Hot Jaw clamps.
While it’s not as modern as other jump starters on this list with no USB outlets, this product does have a 12-volt power output to power a variety of accessories. There is also a voltmeter on the front so you can check the status of the battery inside the starter.
This jump starter is ideal for vehicle owners who need something more durable. It’s housed in a heavy duty case that is impervious to shop fluids and is designed to withstand the rigors of everyday professional use. There is also a nice handle, making it easy to carry around.
7. POTEK Jump Starter with Tire Inflator/Air Compressor
This recommendation from POTEK delivers 900 peak amps and includes a 150 PSI air compressor, capable of inflating a regular car tire to 30 PSI in six to eight minutes. It’s equipped with a 9AH sealed lead acid battery and features a DC outlet socket and a 5V 2.4A USB port to charge other devices. An onboard storage compartment comes in handy, allowing you to store charging cables and other accessories, like the included nozzles for the inflator.
Safety features on this jump starter include an integrated LED light on the front, and a reverse polarity LED indicator, which warns you if the polarity is reversed. POTEK offers more powerful variants, with one charger featuring 1000 peak amps and a 12AH battery, while the range-topping variant has an 18AH battery and churns out 1500 peak amps. Grab one of the more powerful options if you have a larger engine under the hood of your car.
8. GOOLOO 2000A Portable Jump Starter
GOOLOO also offers a 2000A portable car jump starter, capable of starting vehicles with up to a 10.0-liter gasoline engine or a 7.0-liter diesel engine. Like similar products on our list, this option can also be used as a portable battery bank and it does feature USB Type-C for both input and output. It can also be used as a DC power source for 12-volt devices, but the cigarette lighter socket adaptor is not included.
Not surprisingly, this portable jump starter also includes a built-in LED flash light with three modes: normal flashlight, strobe light, and SOS light. It’s an added bonus that can come in handy if you’re inflating your tires in the dark, or if you’re carrying this battery bank while camping.
Safety features on this device include protections against short circuit, high temperature, reverse connections, overcurrent, high voltage, and over discharge.
9. Michelin Power Source XR1 Portable Jump Starter
You’ve likely heard of the Michelin brand before, if you’ve ever shopped for new tires for your car. The company also offers a portable jump starter, boasting 1000 peak amps and 300 cranking amps. It’s a versatile option, with a built-in power inverter to provide you AC power when you’re on the go. The power inverter has a 200-watt rating and 400-watt surge capability, allowing you to power devices such as a DVD player, small blender, fan, and more.
Given that Michelin specializes in manufacturing tires, it’s also little surprise this portable jump starter has a built-in tire inflator. It’s a 260-PSI compressor that will do a good enough job inflating your tires in an emergency. And if you’re planning to go camping, not only does the power inverter come in handy, but this option can also serve as a digital Bluetooth radio. Stream your favorite music or audio from your phone or music player straight to speakers on the jump starter, or you can connect your device through the auxiliary input port.
On the outside, the case is constructed from resilient, high-impact plastic that is designed for safety and maximum durability. It is then wrapped in a rubber tire tread armor for additional protection against bumps and drops. The top features a non-slip grip handle so you can easily transport this to and from your vehicle.
10. NEXPOW 1500A Battery Starter
This recommendation packs plenty of modern features, including USB Type-C support and Quick Charge 3.0. Those features come in handy when you’re using this device as a portable battery bank, but how is it when it comes to jump starting car batteries? Well, it claims to offer 1500 amps of peak power and 21800mAh capacity, capable of starting vehicles with up to 6.5-liter gasoline engines and 4.0-liter diesel engines. And with that large of a capacity, it is capable of 30 jump starts on a single charge.
A pair of standard USB ports join the USB Type-C port, allowing you to top off all your devices no matter the connection you require. Not surprisingly, there’s also a built-in LED flashlight with a blinking S.O.S mode for emergencies. Safety features on this device include spark-proof protection, reverse polarity protection, over-current protection, high-temperature protection, and overload protection. That means not having to worry about accidentally hooking up the cables incorrectly, since the device will warn you if that happens.
How many amps do I need to jump start my car?
As you can tell, portable jump starters have a variety of specifications that could make it tricky to determine the right one for your vehicle. What you need to know is that jump starter power is typically noted in cold cranking amps (CCA) or peak amps (PA). To measure CCA, a fully charged battery is put in a cold environment—0°F—and determining how many amps it discharges for 30 seconds. This value explains what to expect from a battery in the worst starting conditions.
It’s true that the more amps a jump starter offers, the more powerful it is. But does that mean you should just purchase the most powerful product? Not necessarily.
What’s important is determining just how much power you need for your vehicle. Compact cars or even small sedans can be jump started with as little as 150 CCA, while full-size trucks and SUVs need around 450 CCA. But there are other things to consider, such as engine size and how old the vehicle is. Larger engines and older vehicles will require more amps to jump start, which is why you will typically see powerful jump starters advertised as being capable of starting engines as large as 8.0L. Generally however, 400-500 CCA is adequate to start most vehicles.
Keep in mind there may be times you have to help jump start someone else’s vehicle. Most of the products on this list will cover any passenger vehicle on the road today, but it never hurts to have something more powerful at your disposal, if you’re willing to spend the extra money.
How to Use a Portable Jump Starter to Restart Your Car
Every person should know how to jump-start a dead car battery — it’s just a useful life skill to have. Knowing how to jump a car will save you time and money so you don’t have to call a tow truck. While most people will wave down a passerby or call a friend to help with the jump, drivers can save even more time and do it themselves if they have a portable jump starter in their trunk at all times.
But if that’s not an option, here is a step-by-step illustrated and easy-to-follow guide on safely jump starting your car the traditional way. Bookmark this page on your phone so you have it handy in case of an emergency.
How to Tell If the Car Battery is Dead
Before you equip yourself with jump-starting skills, it’s critical to establish that the battery is the actual reason the automobile won’t start. If you turn on the ignition and the engine makes a cranking noise, a dead battery is not the problem and jump-starting it will be a futile exercise. Conversely, if the car is totally dead upon turning the key and there’s no noise, then it’s highly likely that you have a dead battery in your vehicle and jump-starting it is perhaps the only option.
How to Jump a Car Battery
- First, park the functioning vehicle in a way that both the cars are facing each other, preferably only 1.5 feet apart, but never touching one another. More importantly, park the automatic transmission cars, while putting the manual transmission ones in neutral.
- Make sure to put parking brakes on both the cars, so neither of them moves unexpectedly.
- Both vehicles must be turned off, with keys out of the ignition.
- Place the jumper cables on the road/ground, while ensuring that the clamps do not touch/collide with each other.
- Open the hood/bonnet of both the cars, and find the batteries (consult the owner’s manual for exact location), and battery terminals. Typically, the two terminals on respective batteries shall be color coded red or black, signifying negative “-” and positive “+” charge.
- It’s crucial to correctly identify both the charges to successfully jump-start the car. Also, if the battery terminals are grimy, wipe them off with a wire brush or rag.
- Attach the red (positive) cable clamp to the (+) terminal of the dead battery. You must firmly connect the clamp to the battery terminal, which may well necessitate some wiggling of the clamps.
- Now affix the red (positive) cable clamp on the other end of the jumper cables to the operative vehicle’s (+) battery terminal.
- After that connect the black (negative) cable clamp to the functional battery’s (-) battery terminal.
- Now go over to the automobile with the lifeless Remember, do not attach the black (negative) clamp to the dead battery, instead affix that cable clamp to a metal, unpainted part of the vehicle such as a bright, clean screw on the car engine block. It will help ensure a safe car jump.
- Start the working car.
- Wait for a minute or two. Depending on your battery’s age, and how long since it stopped working, you are required to let the car run for a few minutes to allow the jump to work.
- Now try starting the inoperative car. If the vehicle does not start, allow the functional automobile to charge the battery for a few more minutes before attempting again. On a few occasions, moderately revving the engine of the operative car while charging the lifeless battery may help.
- Once the defunct car is running, you can start disconnecting the jumper cables, beginning with the black (negative) cable clamps. However, don’t let the clamps touch one another while any part of the jumper cables is still connected to a car.
- Now, go for a drive. It will enable the battery to build up a charge. Also, the drive will allow the car’s alternator to charge off the battery and assure that your battery won’t die again once you switch off the engine.
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