Categories: Products
September 8, 2021
| On 3 months ago

The Best Portable Car Jump Starters

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. Some of 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 electronics. 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.

For more information on the best portable car jump starters, refer to our table of contents.

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 1,000 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 six liters and diesel engines up to three liters. Yet it’s only  6.57 x 3.15 x 7.72 inches, and weighs under three pounds.

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. 

If you need more power, NOCO offers 12 different battery jump starters all the way up to a huge 6,250 amp Boost Max GB500 unit designed to start industrial engines.

Read More Best Trickle Chargers

2. Versatile and Powerful: Audew 200A 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 2,000 amps peak current, has a 20,000 mAh battery capacity with USB-C support. After testing 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 12-volt 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 Audew 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 display, 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, as you need thicker cables for longer distances.

3. Viking 450 Peak Amp Portable Lithium Ion Jump Starter And Power Pack

Viking makes a range of sizes of jump starters, from this compact lithium ion battery pack, to the 1,700-amp battery jump starter below, to monster 3,400 amp versions capable of starting big V-8 diesels. These jump starters have good reviews across the line so if you need a jump starter just for emergency use, their 12,000 mAh unit only weighs 1.4 pounds, yet is packed with all the features you could want.

It manages to fit in detachable six-foot jumper cables with a covered plug to keep dirt out, three-watt LED flashlight, 12 volt adaptor, USB charging with micro-USB and Apple connectors, and a nice zippered storage case that holds the jump starter and all the accessories. It claims to hold a 70% charge after two years, which is great peace of mind if you forget about it, and has a 4.6-star rating with over 2,000 reviews.

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 1,000 peak and 500 instant amps along with a very convenient built-in 120 PSI air compressor. This is more of a heavy-duty jump starter geared toward truck owners with larger engines under the hood. What it does have in common with the other portable jump starters is that it features a USB port 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 without needing to move the jump box.

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 x 8 x 13.5 inches.

Read More Best Jumper Cables

5. HULKMAN Alpha85 Jump Starter

If you plan on using your portable jump starter as a battery charger for your mobile devices, you’ll want a device that recharges quickly. This way, it’s always ready to jump start your vehicle as well as keeping your smartphone topped off. For this, we turn our attention to HULKMAN’s Alpha85 Jump Starter that features the company’s patented 65 watt Speed Charge, which can fully charge the jump starter from zero percent to 100 percent in under 1.5 hours. The company says just over 20 percent of power is enough to start your car if necessary.

The starter itself offers 2,000 peak cranking amps, allowing it to jump start vehicles with up to an 8.5-liter gasoline engine or a 6.0-liter diesel engine. HULKMAN claims this option can jump start 60 times on a single charge! Internally, it’s a 20,000 mAh battery bank and you get the added bonus of a 12-volt port to power any of your DC devices, like a portable tire inflator. There’s also a built-in flashlight with three modes and a 3.3-inch screen that displays status information.

All of this is housed in a rugged enclosure that boasts IP65 resistance, which makes it resistant to rain, dust, and drops. HULKMAN also includes a 24-month warranty and lifetime technical support.

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. VIKING 1700 Peak Amp Portable Jump Starter and Power Pack

Viking offers battery packs for jumping a car from this 1,700-amp model up to a 3,400-amp unit, but battery jump starters get bigger and most importantly heavier the more powerful they are, so unless you need to start large diesel engines, this should be all the jump starter most people need. It’s rated at 550 cold cranking amps, which is comparable to many actual car batteries, helping turn even a big engine over at full speed for a long time.

Built in a rugged case with molded top carrying handle, the Viking Portable Jump Starter and Power Pack weighs a hefty 26 pounds, thanks to its big, 22,000 mAh lead acid battery. It’s a compact unit for the power, though, at 14 inches wide overall, 16 inches high and only four inches deep. 

Along with big weight come big power and features, like 55-inch, 2AWG leads; ultra bright, five-mode, six LED array; DC (cigarette lighter) power port; and USB port. We really like the recessed port for charging the jump box from the wall outlet, and master disconnect switch that ensures there’s no power to the jump leads when you don’t want it. If you’re going to be jumping a car in cold conditions, or you just want to be sure you can crank any engine, the Viking Portable Jump Starter and Power Pack is an excellent choice.

 

8. 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 1,000 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.

Read More Best Battery Maintainers

9. 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 1,500 amps of peak power and a 21,800 mAh capacity, capable of starting vehicles with up to 6.5-liter gasoline engines and 4.0-liter diesel engines. And with that large a capacity, it is capable of 30 jump starts on a single charge. You could just about fit this small battery jump starter in your pocket, at 9 x 3.4 x 1.2 inches and under three pounds.

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, as will diesels which have high compression, which is why you will typically see powerful jump starters advertised as being capable of starting engines as large as 8.0 liters. Generally however, 400-500 CCA is adequate to start most vehicles. The colder the temperature, the more CCA you’ll need, too.

If you’re trying to jump start an older carbureted vehicle, you’ll usually need far more cranking time and amperage for a hot spark than a modern fuel injected one. But as no one has sold a vehicle with a carburetor in Canada or the United States since the 1994 Isuzu P’up, that’s not likely to be a problem.

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.

What are the Different Types of Batteries?

There are two kinds of batteries commonly available in jump boxes, lead-acid and lithium ion (LI). LI batteries are the same ones you find in a cellphone and are very energy-dense, meaning they hold a lot of electricity for their size. They also tend to be able to charge faster than lead-acid. But they are more sensitive, too, losing power fast in extreme cold. Inconveniently, LI batteries last longest when they’re not fully charged. Keeping them between 85% and 25% full can make them last as much as 50% longer, but of course you want your portable battery charger at 100%. Slow charging and discharging also help a lot—again, not what you need in a jump starter. The tradeoff is a much smaller and lighter battery pack.

Lead-acid batteries are like traditional car batteries (although they increasingly use other technologies). These are very dependable, durable and as lead means actual lead, heavy batteries. Unlike LI batteries, they like to be kept fully charged and in fact should be topped off every 30 days, and every time you use it. To get the most out of a lead-acid battery pack, you can even break it in by slowly discharging it to under 50% and then charging again. After 20-50 cycles of this, a lead acid battery will actually have more capacity than it came with. And it’s easy to do—just use the included USB or DC ports to power and charge your personal electronics. This will be exactly the right sort of slow discharge for the formatting or priming cycle.

It’s up to you to choose between potentially less expensive and lighter LI battery jump starters that might have a shorter lifespan, and big, heavy lead-acid jump boxes that can last a long time.

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, or maybe help out someone stuck on the side of the road on their way to a job interview. 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 glove box or 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, or maybe just clicks, 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 Start a Car

  1. 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.  
  2. Make sure to put parking brakes on both the cars, so neither of them moves unexpectedly.
  3. Both vehicles must be turned off, with keys out of the ignition.
  4. Turn off everything in both cars–radio, overhead lights, heaters, and headlamps if you can. You want all the power to go to starting.
  5. Place the jumper cables on the road/ground, while ensuring that the clamps do not touch/collide with each other.
  6. Open the hood/bonnet of both the cars and find the batteries (consult the owner’s manual for exact location, some are in the trunk, or even under the back seat), and battery terminals. Typically, the two terminals on respective batteries are color coded red or black, signifying negative “-” and positive “+” charge. 
  7. 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.
  8. 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. 
  9. Now affix the red (positive) cable clamp on the other end of the jumper cables to the operative vehicle’s (+) battery terminal.
  10. After that connect the black (negative) cable clamp to the functional battery’s (-) battery terminal. 

    Sparks can happen, don’t be too alarmed. Just double check you’re connecting everything in the right order.

  11. Now go over to the automobile with the lifeless battery. 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.

    The rule is, “positive to positive, negative to ground”

  12. Start the working car.
  13. Wait for at least a minute or two. Depending on your battery’s age, and how long since it stopped working, you will need to let the car run for a few minutes to start to get some charge into the dead battery.
  14. Now try starting the inoperative car. If the vehicle does not start, allow the running vehicle 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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. If your car didn’t start because you left the lights on and not because you have a bad battery, you should drive your car for at least 45 minutes to ensure you’ll have enough charge to start it next time.

Recent Updates:

November 24, 2021: Updated product links

October 13, 2021: Added additional product links.

September 16, 2021: Removed unavailable DBPOWER brand. Replaced with Viking 450 Amp Jump Starter And Power Pack. Removed unavailable GOOLOO brand.

September 8, 2021. Removed unavailable POTEK Jump Starter with Tire Inflator/Air Compressor. Added Viking 1700 Peak Amp Portable Jump Starter And Power Pac

May 18, 2021: Removed the TACKLIFE T8 Pro 1200A Car Jump Starter due to availability. Added the HULKMAN Alpha85 Jump Starter.

March 10, 2021: Replaced the TACKLIFE T8 with the new TACKLIFE T8 Pro.


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