If you’re not a car enthusiast, there’s a chance you don’t know about the distinction between a car charger v jumper. But, assuming at the very least you own or drive a vehicle, understanding how these two tools differ is crucial.

car battery charger and jump starter

Experiencing a dead car battery isn’t a rare occurrence — all drivers have experienced this annoyance at some point. At best, it makes you late for work, at worst, it could prevent you from responding to a family emergency.

Both a car battery charger and jump starter can come in handy when you’re dealing with weak or dead car batteries — but they by no means do the same thing. This article explains the vital differences between a battery charger vs jump starter — and what is most suited for different applications.

What Is a Car Battery Charger?

To comprehend the concept of a car charger, all you have to do is refer to any other charger for any other device. For example, once your phone battery dies, the first thing you’ll do is plug it in. The same rule applies to battery car charger units. However, these devices convert household electricity to 12V DC, which is important — meaning they have to be plugged into a wall socket at all times. Every unit has a different estimated time of fully recharging a battery, and it depends on its overall output. The higher the output, the less time it needs to go through a complete recharge cycle. However, the price also scales with the increase of the output power — meaning that it costs more if you’re aiming for more amps and faster cycles. There are many types of chargers on the market, but the top-used ones are automatic. That means they shut off once the recharge cycle is complete and thus save power and prevent potential damage. In conclusion, a charger is a device that requires time to recharge a battery and delivers a steady flow of current.

What Is a Car Jump Sarter?

Jumpers deliver an instant power signal which provides sufficient grunt to start your car ignition — these devices have notably higher output in comparison to chargers.

That is why there is a term peak in this industry. It marks the highest possible amperage a particular unit can deliver. The larger your vehicle engine, the higher the amps needed to bring it back to life.

Instead of relying on household electricity, jumpers have dedicated internal batteries. As expected, the quality of this component has a massive impact on the overall price of the product.

Furthermore, jumpers can be used for a variety of other things, whereas chargers only usually perform one operation. Many modern starters come equipped with quite a lot of additional features — such as LED lamps and USB and micro USB outputs. Therefore, you can use them as an emergency backup for almost all smart devices you own.

They’re also quite convenient because most models come with a visually appealing design and small dimensions. You can carry the jump starter in your car’s glove compartment and use it in times of need, especially if you’re on the highway, traveling, or camping.

Features of a Jump Starter vs Battery Charger

Here at Tool Nerds Towers, I’m often asked — what is better, a battery charger or jumper? The truth is, comparing a car battery charger vs jump starter is akin to comparing a smartphone to a laptop. Sure, they share similarities, but the relative usefulness and suitability are distinct — depending on your requirements. Below are the factors that characterize and differentiate each type of machine:

Recharging Your Car Battery

Ok, it’s obvious — battery chargers replenish the juice in your car battery. That said, car batteries themselves aren’t designed to become totally depleted — unlike your smartphone cell. Theoretically, your vehicle’s alternator should constantly recharge the battery during normal driving. Short circuits, old powerpacks, or leaving the lights or radio on, can all cause your battery to become drained — meaning it needs to be recharged. When comparing a battery charger v jump starter, it’s important to note that a jumper will not recharge your battery. Therefore, battery chargers are crucial for the vehicle owner — permitting you to give life back to a dead battery. However, if your battery keeps draining, further investigation is required to find the cause.

Quick Starting Your Engine

An external car battery charger isn’t a quick fix for starting your car. If the battery is dead, a battery charger requires you to partly or fully recharge the cell to get you up and moving again — which could take up to 24 hours.

This is where, when contrasting a battery charger and jumper, the jumper excels. Able to deliver an immediate kick to your ignition system, it allows you to be back on the road again in minutes.

If there is no internal fault and the battery isn’t failing, the alternator should then be able to replenish the battery during normal driving. However, if there’s a deeper issue and the cell isn’t being rejuiced — you still need to use a battery recharger and troubleshoot the underlying problem.

Lack of Portability and Mains Requirement

Compared to a car jumper, charger units are large, heavy, and unwieldy. They’re hardly portable machines to be kept in your car trunk. Furthermore, even if you take your charger on the road with you to safeguard against battery issues — you still need to locate a power socket to plug the unit into. Jump starters are small, compact, and run off their own lithium-ion power cells (as long as you’ve remembered to charge it). Meaning they’re ideal to keep in your car, truck, or RV.

Additional Functions of Battery Charger vs Jumper

Some jump box and charger units offer additional benefits on top of delivering power to your battery.

You can purchase both battery charger and jump starter machines that include an in-built compressor — permitting you to effortlessly inflate flat tires. Although, bear in mind that since a battery charger needs mains access — it can only be used in your home or garage. A jump starter with a compressor can conversely be used out on the road.

Furthermore, unlike standalone chargers, the majority of jumper for car battery units include additional outputs for tech devices — usually the most common USB sockets. And, as a bonus, many jumpers combine an LED lamp with SOS and strobe functions.

Should I Get an External Car Battery Charger or Jump Starter?

Your decision should depend on your expectations and requirements — there is no definite winner because these units don’t share exactly the same concept.

However, some of the good guidelines you should use are written in this article. For example, if you’re looking to fully recharge your battery at all times, opt for a charger. In case you’re having trouble starting your car in the morning, or during cold weather, a jumper might be a better solution — as it solves the predicament instantly instead of over the course of hours.

Another thing you should consider is the price difference between these two products. If you’re on a tight budget and in need of a fast solution, make sure you make the right one, or else it can backfire pretty quickly.

Final Words On Car Battery Charger Vs Starter

In a perfect scenario, you should own one of each, so you don’t have to worry about which is more efficient or more useful.

However, most people can’t count on the perfect scenario, especially those on a strict budget. Our advice is to take a good look at the pros and cons of both products and make sure you understand the difference. Even though it sounds simple enough, a surprising number of potential users get confused quite a bit by all the additional features, capabilities, and fundamental differences between jumpers and chargers.

Make sure to get a device manufactured by a well-respected brand on the market. As you can assume, the difference between cheap copies and legitimate units is massive.

Pay attention to the included batteries if you’re opting for a jumper, as it’s one of the most important features. As far as the chargers go, the better amp per dollar ratio you find, the more you’ll get out of it.

Always take safety seriously and follow the precautionary measures listed in the user manuals. Dealing with electricity, regardless of voltage, is dangerous and can cause severe, sometimes fatal, consequences.

I hope you enjoyed this comparison of a car battery booster charger vs jump starter, and found the information helpful and informative! If you have a car enthusiast buddy who you think might also benefit from this Charger v Jumper 101 — please feel free to share!

Difference Between Battery Charger and Jump Starter FAQs

Where Do I Put the Jumper Cables on Battery Charger?

Connect the positive (usually red) cable to the positive (marked as + ) terminal onto the battery. Then, attach the negative cable (usually black) to the negative terminal (marked as – ) on the battery.

Can You Buy a Car Battery Charger That’s Cordless?
No. Due to the energy required to fully recharge a 12-volt vehicle battery — they need to be plugged into the mains or a generator. You can, however, purchase cordless jump starters to get you back on the road.
How Often Should You Use a Car Battery Pack Charger?

Unless you live in extreme weather conditions — either hot or cold — you shouldn’t need to charge your battery often. If you find that a dead or draining cell is a frequent occurrence, get the battery and your vehicle checked out by a professional.

I recommend using a multimeter to investigate voltage and current on a monthly basis, to ensure that your battery is healthy.

Do Portable Car Battery Chargers Stop Charging When Full?
Yes! A booster charger car battery unit will cease charging once your battery is full. This prevents dangerous overcharging and extends the life of the cell.
Car Jumper vs Charger — How Do They Differ?
A battery booster charger connects to a main outlet and is used to replenish dead or partly charged automotive cells. Jump starters are usually cordless, and offer a quick, high-power burst of energy to start a car ignition.
Can You Buy a Battery Charger With Jump Start?
Yes, but they’re extremely rare. Due to working on different principles — a charger delivers slow and steady power, and a jumper knocks out a rapid high amp burst — combi units are extremely large and heavy as they contain twin internal systems.
What Are the Best Makes of Jump Starter?

For a reliable unit, I suggest checking out the ranges of starters provided by the leading manufacturers JF.EGWO, NOCO, Stanley, and Jump-N-Carry.

What Is the Best, a Battery Jumper or a Charger?

It depends on your requirements. Comparing a charger v jumper, chargers are mains powered units to replenish batteries over a few hours — jumpers are portable cordless devices that instantaneously provide a sufficient kick to start your car ignition.