Our team members have spent day after day researching and testing the top-rated jump starters on the market. Consider the following criteria to find the best jump starter for your vehicle.
Buying A Jump Starter: Expert Tips
We spoke to Zac Salerno, Technician at Import Performance and certified Safety Inspector, about what he looks for in a jump starter. He said, “I think most jump boxes are pretty good. I have a $20 one, I have a $400 one – I use them both, they both work great.”
Salerno recommends you keep a jump starter in close proximity when out on the road. “I always keep one in my car in case something happens. “You never know when something’s going to go out and you might not make it to work or home.”
How To Pick A Jump Starter
Salerno carried on to cite scenarios where he’d use each type of jump starter and brought up a few important questions customers should ask themselves:
- Estimate Your Usage
“How often do you use it?” and “How long do you need it to be charged for?” are the first two questions he asked. If you are someone who needs to use a jump starter more frequently or works in a job that depends on high quality like Salerno, you will likely want to opt for a more expensive, durable option that will last.
- Think About Use Cases
Ultimately, Salerno sees a time and a place to use both a budget-friendly jump starter and a more premium option. Along with considering durability and estimated frequency of use, think about what other needs you may have from the equipment, which could include added features like air compressor functionality or extra USB ports.
- Consider What You Can Afford
“Where’s your budget?” While it’s important to have a jump starter handy so that you are safe, also take into account what you can and cannot afford. If you don’t need extra functionality or won’t be using more advanced features, a standard jump starter may be the best option for you.
What To Look For In A Jump Starter
In the sections below, we go into further detail about the most important things to consider when shopping for a portable jump starter.
Types Of Jump Starters
Car battery starters usually come in two types: lead acid and lithium-ion batteries. Though they’re more rare, you can also find supercapacitor jump starters on the market.
While lead-acid jump starters have been around for many years, lithium-ion and supercapacitor jump starters are both relatively new on the market. Below are descriptions for all three types:
- Lead-acid jump starters: Jump starters with lead-acid batteries have been around for years and are more durable and powerful than lithium batteries. However, they are bulky, making for a larger jump starter.
- Lithium-ion jump starters: Lithium ion jump starters are more compact and usually weigh only a few pounds. Along with being able to fit them into your car, the more versatile lithium ion jump starters can charge other devices like phones and laptops.The biggest downside to lithium ion jump starters are they are generally less powerful and more expensive than lead versions with the same output.
- Super capacitor jump starters: Instead of using a separate battery that you have to charge, supercapacitor-based jump starters use the weak charge from your vehicle (or other power source) to recharge the capacitors within the unit. While supercapacitor-based jump starters can have a longer life and can charge quickly, they often can’t hold a charge as long as lithium and lead-acid jump starters.
Jump Starter Power Output
Power output is how much current the jump starter supplies. You’ll want your starter to have enough power to restart your battery and get the engine to take over the recharging. With that in mind, one of the most important things to look at when buying a jump starter is the amount of cranking and peak power it produces.
While a unit’s cranking power refers to the amount of amps that can be delivered if more cranking is needed, its peak power is the overall max power it can deliver. Below are descriptions of all three types: