If you’re not a car enthusiast, there is a chance you don’t know or care about the difference between a starter and a charger. While it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of the world, you should take a moment and read our article in order to learn the differences so that you don’t end up buying something that doesn’t meet your expectations, or worse, doesn’t do what you thought it would. It doesn’t take much to get the hang of both the chargers and jumpers, as they are pretty simple devices designed to jump in when trouble strikes.
A dead car battery isn’t a rare occurrence. However, quite a lot of drivers simply don’t think about it nor do they foresee the issues. Consequently, people are sometimes late for work, or even can’t respond to an emergency because of a dead battery. Such a trivial thing as an empty battery isn’t supposed to be an incapacitation, especially because there are ways to prevent or deal with it. As you can assume, both chargers and jumpers come in handy when you’re dealing with weak car batteries, but they by no means do the same thing. This article should be a good starting point for the ones who are wondering about the differences.
What Is a Charger?
In order to comprehend the concept of a 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 will do is plug it in. The same rule applies to car batteries as well. However, these devices convert household electricity to 12V DC which is important because, as you can tell, 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 Jumper?
Jumpers deliver an instant power signal which is supposed to kick-start a battery. These devices have notably higher output in comparison to chargers but lack the consistency. That is why there is a term “Peak” in this industry. It marks the highest possible amperage a particular unit can output. However, that doesn’t mean it’s consistently delivering the max output. In fact, most manufacturers point out the number of “cranks” within the peak power. In most cases, the number of cranks depends on the quality of the device’s battery.
Instead of relying on household electricity, jumpers have dedicated 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 perform one operation. Many modern starters come equipped with quite a bit of additional features such as LED, USB, micro USB, and etcetera. Therefore, you can use them as an emergency backup for almost all smart devices that you own. It’s also quite convenient because most models come with a visually appealing design and in small dimensions. One can carry their device in their car’s glove compartment at all times and use it in times of need, especially if you’re on the highway, traveling, or camping.
Advantages and Disadvantages
It’s a convenient thing to have because you can always guarantee that your battery is fully charged. For example, if you have a faulty alternator in your car, the jump starter will help you but only to a certain extent. If the alternator doesn’t automatically charge the battery while the car is in motion, you’ll have to use the jumper once again when you turn the car off and wish to restart it. However, a charger eliminates this problem as it fully recharges the battery and lets you restart the car numerous times before the next cycle.
When it comes to the shortcomings, the price is the biggest factor that separates these from jumpers. They tend to have a bigger price in comparison to starters, and as we said, the more output you require, the heftier the price. However, there are a couple of budget-friendly models out there that we have covered in some of our reviews. The lack of portability can also be considered a disadvantage. While it’s not deal-breaking by any means, some people greatly appreciate portability because they are frequently on the move. Another downside is the fact that it usually takes 10 to 12 hours for a full recharge cycle. Therefore, these devices aren’t supposed to be used for emergencies due to the obvious limitations. It is a great thing to have in the corner of your garage, but it’s not something you should reach for in case of an emergency.
Compactness and convenience are two main things most people look for in these units. Some models are small enough to fit one’s pocket and act as a substitute power station for anything including charging smart devices, illuminating dim areas, and etcetera. In fact, anything that requires a 12V connection can be recharged with an average jumper. Kick-starting a car will get you back on the road almost instantly whereas you can’t count on that with a charger. The high output makes the battery usable immediately which is also a great upside in comparison to waiting for several hours, especially if you’re in a hurry. Most people think about these devices as boosters, which is a pretty close representation of their whole purpose.
While they are portable, they definitely are not lightweight. Some models tend to weigh quite a lot and it can be a burden, especially if you’re often on the move. On the other hand, some models are quite lightweight, but they lack output power and additional features. The size of the jumper’s battery is proportional to the power output. That means the more powerful a model is, the bulkier it gets. In case you own a particularly demanding car you might have to opt for the bulkier solution which isn’t always a pleasant one. It all comes down to personal preferences, but most people prefer compact units over cumbersome devices. While the additional features come in handy, they also tend to draw a lot of power thus decrease the peak amperage.
Which One Should I Get?
Your decision should depend on your expectations and requirements. There is no definite winner because these units don’t share the same concept, ease of use, design, nor value. 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 troubles 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 a couple 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.
In a perfect scenario, one should own one of each so that they don’t have to worry about which one is more efficient and useful for them personally. However, most people can’t count on the perfect scenario, especially the ones 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 due to the difference in the quality of components and materials used during manufacture. 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 always dangerous and can cause severe sometimes fatal consequences.