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, a Technician at Import Performance and certified North Carolina Vehicle Safety Inspector, about what he looks for in a jump starter and found that he values jump starters across multiple price points for different scenarios. He recommends having at least one jump starter in close proximity when on the road.
How To Pick A Jump Starter
Salerno recommends shopping for jump starters by use case and brought up a few important questions customers should be asking 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 encourages drivers to ask. If you are someone who needs to use a jump starter more frequently or works in a job that depends on 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
While it’s important to have a jump starter handy so that you are safe on the road, take into account what you can and cannot afford. If you don’t need extra functionality or won’t be using more advanced features, Salerno believes a standard jump starter may be the best option for you. “I think most jump boxes are pretty good,” he said. “I have a $20 one, I have a $400 one – I use them both, and they both work great. 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.”
Types Of Jump Starters
Car battery starters usually come in two types: lead acid and lithium-ion batteries. Though they’re rare, you can also find supercapacitor jump starters on the market. Lead-acid jump starters have been around for many years, while lithium-ion and supercapacitor jump starters are relatively new.
- Lead-acid jump starters: Jump starters with lead-acid batteries 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 is they are generally less powerful and more expensive than lead versions with the same output.
- Supercapacitor 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: