In a previous article, we talked about jumper cable mistakes. Jump-starting a car seems pretty straightforward, so many people are surprised at the number of hidden dangers involved. For decades, jumper cables have been standard equipment for jump-starting dead batteries, but what about jump starters? Are there any advantages to getting a jump starter (a.k.a. a jump box) instead of, or in addition to, booster cables?
How a Jump Starter Beats Jumper Cables
The main advantage of a jump starter is that it is far more portable than a second battery (typically up to 22 kg) or a second vehicle (sometimes upwards of 2,000 kg). Thanks to advances in battery and electronics technology, portable jump starters tend to weigh no more than 10 kg, but they can pack enough energy to start a V8 engine. For example, this weighs just 4 kg but can deliver up to 900 amps to a weak starting system. Some jump starters are so small they can fit in your back pocket, though these provide less overall power. Here are a few more advantages to jump starters:
- Safer for electronics – Most portable battery boosters feature polarity protection, warning you if you’ve crossed your connections. Jump-starting a vehicle backwards can do a lot of damage to the electrical system, but some jump starters won’t deliver power at all unless the polarity is correct.
- Safer for users – Jump starters are usually clamped directly to the dead battery’s terminals, something you should never do with jumper cables. While jumper cable clamps tend to spark, jump starters don’t deliver power until they have a firm connection. Eliminating sparks means less chance of igniting hydrogen gas.
- Multi-purpose device – It’s nice when one piece of equipment can tackle multiple tasks. Some jump starters are equipped with power sockets, USB charging sockets, air compressors, or emergency lighting. Of course, these functions use the internal battery, so be sure to fully charge the battery booster after using them.
Jump starter maintenance
Jump starters are more expensive then jumper cables, but their versatility makes them a good choice for many drivers. There are a few things you should keep in mind if you want your new jump box to last and deliver a charge when you need it. The most important is to keep it charged by topping it off every two or three months. Alternatively, if your ride has a convenient 12 V socket, you can charge up your jump starter in the car while you’re driving. Finally, store your jump starter in a dry place, because excess humidity or standing water can corrode the electronics inside. Check out “5 Tips for a Long Battery Jump Starter Life” for more information.
There are a lot of ways you can inadvertently drain your car battery. Maybe the door was left ajar or the vehicle’s been sitting a few weeks. Some electrical problems can also drain the battery without causing any obvious symptoms. If you find you’re often reaching for your jumper cables or jump starter, have your battery and charging system checked by a professional. If you’re having problems starting your car, remember that the battery is only one part of the system. Check out our next post, where we’ll discuss starting problems.
By Benjamin Jerew