Three Considerations When Buying a Portable Jump Starter
The gadgets that will get you motoring again when your battery is flat.
Cold weather, a dodgy alternator, leaving the headlights on, or simply not being driven for a while—there are any number of reasons you might find that your car’s got a flat battery. And while you can always bump start it, or find a neighbour with jump leads, if you’re on your own, having a portable jump starter in the boots is one way to ensure that you’re not stranded. Here’s how to pick the right one for you.
Before buying a jump starter for your car, make sure you know your engine size—and whether it’s a petrol or diesel—and buy accordingly. Diesel engines and larger petrol engines will require a more powerful jump starter, so do check the specifications of the model you’re looking at and ensure they tally to the vehicles you need it for.
It stands to reason that if your jump starter is portable, it’s going to need to get its charge from somewhere. Most are mains chargeable, but it’s worth taking a look at both how long your charger will take to reach maximum power (two to four hours is usual), how long it will hold that power for, and how many jump starts you’ll get from it—usually between 20 to 40, depending on the size of the starter.
If you’re going to be carrying your jump starter around with you in the car, look for a starter that has real multi-functionality. Some of the better ones out there can also be used as portable power banks with USB ports for charging phones, tablets and other USB devices, alongside a 12V (cigarette lighter-style) output for powering other devices. And many can also be used as torches and flashlights too.