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:
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.
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 a 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.
Weight 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.
Warranties vary greatly by manufacturer and 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.
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.
If 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.
If you’re using your jump starter battery as a temporary emergency power source 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:
The 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 at home or a tire repair store.
Jump Starter Battery
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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.