Jump starters are a great accessory for people who often have issues with their car battery. These units are affordable, efficient, and most importantly – easy to use. A lot of potential users give up on utilizing these units because they aren’t informed or experienced enough.
There is no need to worry too much about the complexity of these units because most of them are quite user-friendly and easy to get the hang of.
However, there are some things you can do in order to improve your overall experience. While a vast majority of these accessories come with a user manual included, the manufacturers sometimes oversee some important facts and fail to mention them in their manuals.
It’s not that big of a deal if you already used a jump starter before, but if you’re a complete beginner, the lack of crucial information can lead to some consequences due to improper handling.
What is a jump starter?
It’s important that you differentiate starters from battery chargers because they are not the same thing, by any means. Jump starters are units that are designed to deliver a great amount of power instantly in order to kick-start a car battery. On the other hand, battery chargers are designed to recharge a battery with a continuous flow of current which can take up to several hours. Therefore, the difference is pretty obvious – one if for kick-starting whereas the other is for recharging.
The included versatility
Contrary to popular belief, jump starters can be used for charging various gadgets and act as a backup battery. For example, if you have a smartphone and you forgot to recharge it before going on a trip, most modern jump starters offer a pretty simple solution. The IO on most of these units includes a USB, micro USB, and other frequently used ports.
In other words, you can plug a smart device into the jump starter and use it as an emergency battery before finding a better solution or an electric outlet. It can come in handy, especially if you’re often on the road without easy access to electricity. As you can tell, while these units are primarily designed for car batteries, they can be used as a portable power supply for modern devices as well.
Charging the jump starter
There are several methods you can use to recharge a starter, and neither one is the best one. It all comes down to convenience and what you personally prefer to use.
Via an electric outlet
This method is probably the most used of them all as it is one of the simplest. If you have access to an electric outlet, all you have to do is plug in the unit and wait for it to finish the charging cycle. Most modern jump starters come with some sort of indicator that’s designed to inform you on the current level of both the unit’s batteries as well as the car’s battery.
In this case, the one you should refer to is the unit’s battery level. Most people advise charging it up to 100% every time, but it’s not a mandatory factor by any means. In other words, it will perform similarly with 20% charge less as long as it has enough output power to jumpstart a particular battery.
As you can tell, this process is similar to plugging in your everyday smart gadget into a wall and waiting for it to recharge.
Using your vehicle’s AC adapter
Every vehicle that isn’t an old-timer features an AC adapter. In fact, even some cars that are over thirty years old still have a cigarette lighter integrated somewhere on the board. A vast majority of models that are sold nowadays come with an AC adapter included. It’s a great thing because it lets you utilize your unit without having to worry about finding an electric outlet in the middle of nowhere. For example, if you have an emergency and you don’t have access to electricity, all you have to do in order to recharge your starter is plug it into the cigarette lighter slot in your vehicle. The biggest advantage here is the fact that it doesn’t take a long time to recharge a starter via the AC outlet in your car.
Using Solar energy
Solar energy is the future; there is no question about that. Because it’s becoming more and more affordable, many average consumers decide to utilize solar energy due to many of its advantages in comparison to regular power grids. Fortunately, there are a couple of solar chargers and jump starters that come at an acceptable price for most people who aren’t on a strict budget. However, it’s still a relatively new thing on the market, and the biggest drawback of solar chargers is their bulky and cumbersome design. In other words, they aren’t as portable as one might expect. Therefore, if you’re looking to go green and save quite a bit of power, a solar charger is a great idea. On the other hand, if you’re often on the move and away from home, it’s strongly recommended that you don’t put all of your trust in a single solar unit as they are prone to failure.
Other important things to remember
As you can tell, charging a battery with these gadgets is a pretty simple process. While it may seem complicated and intimidating to some, there is no need to worry, even if you’re an absolute beginner. All you have to do is follow the instructions from the manual and you should be fine most of the time. Here are some other important things you should pay attention to –
Now, even though these units operate at very low voltages, that doesn’t mean they are harmless. In fact, whenever you’re dealing with electricity, there is always a chance for something to go horribly wrong and cause severe consequences. The biggest cause of jump starter-related accidents is the user’s fault. A vast majority of units have different safety mechanisms that are responsible for preventing any accidents. However, most inexperienced users bypass these mechanisms one way or another thus exposing themselves to potential danger. It’s important that you comprehend the included risks so that you can decrease the margin to a bare minimum. Even though most modern starters feature a couple of preventive mechanisms, you can never be careful enough and you should maintain focus and concentrate on the system itself while using it instead of ignoring the potential dangers.
Difference between various models
There are dozens of different jump starters on the market. You can find anything from a massive 1700Amp starter for larger cars to a small and compact 500 Amp portable one with a ton of auxiliary ports and features such as LED lights, display, various indicators, and etcetera.
Naturally, you shouldn’t purchase the most powerful one as soon as you stumble upon it, nor should you get the cheapest one just to use it a couple of times before it dies out. The key is in finding the one that suits your needs the most. In other words, if you’re frequently on the road and away from home, make sure you can still utilize the starter without access to, for example, an electric outlet. Needless to say, if you live in the area that doesn’t get too much sunlight throughout the year – don’t invest in solar chargers. In case you need a particularly powerful unit, make sure to check the peak amperage and compare it to consistent flow in order to get an idea of how efficient it actually is.
Q: Should I charge the starter to 100%?
A: While it’s not a necessity, it’s definitely recommended. A jump starter can perform well even with 50% of battery left, but it won’t deliver as many kicks as it would with a higher percentage.
Q: I have a limited budget; can I find a decent model?
A: Yes, you can. However, you have to be prepared to make some compromises. The more features you want, the bigger the price – it’s as simple as that. On the other hand, if you’re not looking for auxiliary capabilities, don’t worry about the price as it’s usually acceptable and affordable.
As you can tell, the process is pretty simple yet it does require your attention and focus. As we said, every time you deal with electricity there is a chance for something to go wrong. Even though those chances are little to none, it’s still important to remain cautious and aware at all times. As far as we are concerned, every car owner should own at least one jump starter, especially if they are experiencing battery problems frequently. You can hassle with chargers but that takes a lot of time and it can’t be done in a matter of minutes. That being said, the biggest advantage of these units is the fact that they deliver large amounts of power instantly in comparison to chargers which output a continuous signal and need more time to finish the cycle.