Jump Starter Battery: Key Functionality You Need To Know

If you’re looking for a jump starter battery so it’s important that you know what to look for and what key functionality they offer before plunking down your cash.

Why would you want one in the first place? The most obvious answer is that you are concerned about being left stranded in a lonely parking lot, at night, in the rain with a low battery incapable of starting your car. You could use jumper cables if you carry them and if you’re lucky enough to find someone left in the parking lot that is willing to let you use their vehicle’s battery for the jump start. These days it seems harder to trust people you don’t know in a lonely parking lot, at night, in the rain! Also, with my luck I would forget the jumper cables, leave them in another car, or have a hard time finding anyone to jump my car. But that’s just me. I’m sure you are much more conscientious and lucky than I am.

If this description approximates why you might want one, then please read on.

I have listed the key specifications you need to consider when purchasing a jump starter battery with an explanation and then the most common features also with explanation for each so you can compare apples to apples.

Let’s look first at the key specifications you need to consider when purchasing:

Jump Starter Battery Key Specifications:

schumacher jnc 660 battery jump starter

1. Battery Type:

Your vehicle will most likely have a 12 volt battery but, it’s possible in the case of garden tractors and classic cars, that it might have a 6 volt battery. Be sure your jump starter battery matches your battery type.

2. Jump Starter Battery Power:

As has been said, when it comes to a Jump Starter Battery, it’s all about the battery’s power. The battery inside the unit needs to have enough peak and cranking amps to start your car in an emergency situation. The higher the peak amps, the more power the jump starter battery can feed in a hurry to your low battery to boost it for starting. For most applications, look for approximately 900 or more Peak Amps and 225 or more cranking amps. Pay attention to what type of battery is in your car and make sure you match the cranking amps accordingly.



Key Features:

1. Easy Recharge:

You will need to stay on top of the health of your device so that it’s ready when you need it. That means keeping it charged. Most have aeasy use easy button built-in AC cord that can be used to recharge the device. Make sure the device you’re considering has an onboard method to recharge the battery.

2. Heavy Duty Insulated Clamps:

Often emergency starting happens in bad weather and if the under hood of your car wasn’t dirty enough there could be additional dirt and build-up on the battery posts. To get through all that crud and make a good contact, you need heavy duty clamps. For the sake of safety, choose a unit with well-insulated clamps to prevent shocks.

 

3. Cable Length:

Cable length determines how much flexibility you have in placing the jump starter battery while jump starting the car. Three foot long cables or longer should be considered the minimum.

4. Weight:

battery jump starter weightsWeight will be determined by the battery’s size and capacity. If jump starting is an infrequent occurrence for you, then consider a smaller size and weight unit. Weight is also determined by optional features. For instance if you want a small compressor built-in or if you want power outlets, these will add weight to the unit.

5. Warranty:

Warranties vary greatly by manufacturer car battery charger warrantyand the type of jump starter battery. Typical warranties run between 90 days up to 2 years. All other things being equal, a longer warranty may tip the balance in favor of one unit over another.

 

Optional Features:

1. Power Outlets:

Since this is a portable device, it can make a great traveling companion, not just for emergencies, but also, if properly equipped, as a temporary power source for all those electronic devices we carry with us. Power outlets can include AC outlets for video players and laptops as well as DC outlets like USB for mobile phones and MP3 players. Power outlets can be a highly desirable feature so consider this feature when choosing a unit.

2. Lights:

jump starter lightIf your car doesn’t have a light under the hood then jump starting in the dark could be difficult. Some units have built-in lights to help with this problem. Of course just having an extra light in the car in case of emergencies can be very helpful.

 

3. Radio:

If you’re using your jump starter battery as a temporary emergency power jump starter radiosource due to a weather related outage having a radio built-in to track events is handy and can take the place of an additional radio you might buy otherwise for the purpose.

4. Air Compressor:

jump starter air compressorThe ultimate portable emergency jump starter battery package would include an air compressor to inflate a tire in the event of a flat. If the tire is damaged, it might not be as useful.  However, if it just has a slow leak, the compressor may give you enough inflation to get to a safe place, such as home or a tire repair store.

 

Top 5 Battery Jump Starter Comparison

Image
TitleClore JNC660 'Jump-N-Carry' 1,700 Peak Amp 12-Volt Jump StarterClore JNC300XL 'Jump-N-Carry' 900 Peak Amp Ultraportable 12-Volt Jump Starter with LightSchumacher PSJ-2212 DSR ProSeries 2200 Peak Amps Jump Starter and Portable Power UnitSchumacher PSJ-1812 DSR ProSeries 1800 Peak Amps Jump Starter and Portable Power UnitClore ES2500 'Booster PAC' 900 Peak Amp 12V Jump StarterPowerAll PBJS12000R Rosso Red/Black Portable Power Bank and Car Jump Starter
Feature1700 peak ampere
Battery status indicator gauge
46 inch heavy-duty #4 cables
DC outlet to power 12 volt accessories
This item is not for sale in Catalina Island
900 peak amps and 225 cranking amp, with 27 inches of #4 gauge jumper cables
Full size clamps to penetrate battery corrosion
Equips with a high intensity work light
Note: This item is Hazmat and non-returnable
This item is not for sale in Catalina Island
2200 peak amperes, 330 cranking ampere and 275 cold cranking amperes
22 Ah professional grade, high output AGM battery
12 Volt DC power outlet
3 ampere built-in, automatic charger
Heavy duty clamp have replaceable copper jaws
1800 peak amperes, 280 cranking ampere and 225 cold cranking amperes
18 Ah professional grade, high output AGM battery
12 Volt DC power outlet
Built in automatic charger
LED indicators for charging, charged and battery status
900 peak amperes/300 cranking amperes
21" #4 gauge cables, Automatic recharging
Industrial grade, Hot Jaw clamps
This item cannot be returned and has additional shipping restrictions
This item is not for sale in Catalina Island
Portable battery charger with charging adapters for all major electronic devices
Compact car jump starter that can jump start your car 20 times on a full charge
Ultra-bright LED flash light, strobe light, and SOS signal light that lasts 120 hours
Built-in protection features: over current protection; short circuit protection; overload protection; over-voltage protection; over-charge protection
Portable compact design that will easily fit in your pocket, backpack, or glove box for convenience
WarrantyManufacturer
Price$124.75$64.95$131.32$104.77$110.99$99.95
Height5.1 inch7.25 inch15.15 inch12.25 inch11.3 inch1.25 inch
Weight18 pound5 pound21.47 pound18.35 pound19.8 pound1 pound
Width14.1 inch7.75 inch4.72 inch8.75 inch18.4 inch2.88 inch
Rating0 out of 5 stars0 out of 5 stars0 out of 5 stars4.2 out of 5 stars4.5 out of 5 stars0 out of 5 stars
ReviewsRead ReviewsRead ReviewsRead ReviewsRead ReviewsRead ReviewsRead Reviews
LinkMore InfoMore InfoMore InfoMore InfoMore InfoMore Info

Product prices and availability are accurate as of Jun 22 7:06:42 UTC but are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the merchant site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

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I would love to get your opinion of this article or hear your jump starter story. Please take a moment to leave a comment below.

For a comparison of popular units, please see our article Battery Jump Starter Top 5 For 2013.

I think you can see that there is a lot more to the selection than just price. I hope this article has been helpful in preparing you for making a buying decision for a jump starter battery.

 





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Comments
  1. BobbyRay02

    Just what I needed to make my decision. Thanks, Mark!

  2. AllenR

    I don’t see the article yet on the Top 5 starters. Is that coming soon? Great article, very helpful and concise.

    • Mark Ridgeway

      Yes, Allen, the article is being updated and should be posted by tomorrow or Saturday, 5/3 or 5/4. Thanks for your interest.

  3. Dwayne

    Great article. You hit nail on the head. Knowing what charger is best for you based on your battery.

    • Mark Ridgeway

      Hi Dwayne, thanks for your comment. I took a look at your site and I wondered, how do you choose which battery chargers and jump starters you sell? – Mark

  4. GlennFromIowa

    Hi Mark, I wasn’t very impressed with this. I’m no expert on electrical or batteries, but I have some background. I’m looking for a jump starter battery for my mother’s car, and one of the things I’m most concerned about is that it is ready when she needs it. You kind of allude to this in your “Easy Recharge” feature, but this seems to be the area where the units vary the most and it’s the hardest to find info on the units. Oh, and maybe I’m misunderstanding, but what is an example of a device that does not have an “onboard method to recharge the battery”?

    I’ve found lots of positive reviews of units with less than 900 peak amps, and apparently a 3 foot cable length is not that important, since 2 of your top 5 have less than that and 2 others don’t have any specification on cable length. Besides, if you can put the unit right next to the battery, why do you need long cables? Also, regarding getting shocked, many units delay voltage flow until they sense some voltage from the battery, avoiding sparks altogether.

    So what would I like to see reviewed? Reliability, construction, ease of use. My brother had a unit where the cable clamps were made of plastic and broke as he was jump-starting someone’s car in the cold weather. Where can you find that in the specifications? Car batteries come with an expected/warrantied life cycle. How long can I expect this battery to last? How many recharge cycles? How long will it hold a charge without being used? How does it indicate that it needs to be re-charged – an audible alarm (and how often), or visual only? Does it have an alarm or circuitry to prevent damage if you hook the cables up backwards? And not that I’m looking for this, but is it compatible with Gel cell batteries?

    Sorry, I know I’m being kinda rough on you – you seem to be fairly knowledgeable, but I’m getting frustrated with trying to find info on these units and I happened to be on your website when I reached my limit. Also, you seem to be the kinda guy who might actually implement some of these suggestions.

    • Mark Ridgeway

      Glenn, thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it. Let me try to answer your questions.

      Oh, and maybe I’m misunderstanding, but what is an example of a device that does not have an “onboard method to recharge the battery”?

      A: I don’t review those so I don’t pay much attention to them, but some devices are just external batteries and either provide an external battery charger or you have to provide your own. The built-in chargers on jump boxes are not the best, so in the case where the jump box might not be used for months (which you never know) external chargers can also do desulfation and maintenance prolonging the life of the battery.

      Besides, if you can put the unit right next to the battery, why do you need long cables?

      A: One of the biggest headaches with battery boosters is that you are usually by yourself when you’re using it. That means that you have to leave it to go start the car. If your cables are short, it makes it less convenient to find a place to safely leave the box while you’re starting the car. It is one of the biggest complaints against battery boosters. If I don’t provide cable length specifications, then I wasn’t able to find them out from the manufacturer and I don’t have a box to measure.

      Where can you find that in the specifications?

      A: Unfortunately about the best you can do when looking for durable alligator clips is to believe them when they say heavy-duty. In general, jump boxes are used very few times in their lives (thankfully) so in most cases, most clips provided are adequate.

      How long can I expect this battery to last?

      A: This specification you will have to get from the manufacturer (the manual) in most cases. I don’t post those types of specs because they vary so much by user. How you treat the jump box is an important consideration in battery life. Shock and temperature extremes can reduce the battery’s life. So all specifications are only a guideline.

      How long will it hold a charge without being used?

      A: My rule of thumb on any lead-acid battery that sits without being used is 1% per day. So you should be recharging a battery booster about once per month to make sure it has enough juice.

      How does it indicate that it needs to be re-charged – an audible alarm (and how often), or visual only?

      A: Battery level indicators on battery jump starters, if they have them, are visible only.

      Does it have an alarm or circuitry to prevent damage if you hook the cables up backwards?

      A: Look for reverse polarity warning or protection in the specifications. Some also have fuses to prevent damage.

      And not that I’m looking for this, but is it compatible with Gel cell batteries?

      A: True Gel cell car batteries are uncommon for cars and require special charging considerations. For jumping a car battery, you can use any jump box to jump true Gel cell and AGM batteries.

      Thanks for your questions and I hope this helps! – Mark

  5. Ron Harris

    Would you believe that up until a couple weeks ago, I had no idea that these things existed. When an AAA technician showed up to jump start my neighbor’s car, he used one of these things. Wow…that was easy!

    Mark, thanks for helping make my decision. I read a couple of your articles and decided to go with the JNC660 (which was my first choice before I read anything).

    • Mark Ridgeway

      The JNC660 is the choice of many repair shops so it’s a good choice. You might also consider some of the newer lithium jump starters if your demands aren’t that great. -Mark

      • Ron Harris

        The reason I chose such a heavy duty jump starter was because I have an F-150 and live in Maine, where the temperature on a winter night can go to -20° or worse. Is there a lithium jump starter that you think might meet that kind of demand?
        Thanks,
        Ron

        • Mark Ridgeway

          Hi Ron, sorry for the delayed response. I used to live in Brunswick so I definitely can sympathize with your situation. If your F-150 has a V8 which I imagine it does, then under normal circumstances, I would recommend one of these models in our article http://www.carbatterychargerscentral.com/heavy-duty-jump-starter-top-5-compact-boosters/. One thing I’m not sure of is if any of them should be stored at -20 degrees or worse. Your best bet is to keep the unit in your home and use it if the truck won’t start in the morning. If you’re storing it in your truck, that low a temperature may shorten the life of the jump starter. Another thing that can help, is I put dual engine block heaters on my truck when I lived in Maine and keeping the oil warm made it much easier to turn over in the morning and would help the jump starter do its job as well. I hope that helps! -Mark