DATA DOCTORS

Here are tips for buying car battery jumper packs

Sep 24, 2022, 5:45 AM
Jumper cables are jammed to a car battery. Photo: Christophe Gateau/dpa (Photo by Christophe Gateau...
Jumper cables are jammed to a car battery. Photo: Christophe Gateau/dpa (Photo by Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images)
(Photo by Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Q: I’m looking for a portable battery that can double as a jumper for my car battery, but the range in price is so wide, I’m not sure what to get. Can you help?

A: If you own a car with a combustion engine, it’s just a matter of time before you’ll be faced with a dead battery. Having jumper cables in your car is a great idea if you can find another vehicle to connect to, but controlling your own destiny with a portable jumper makes more sense.

The starting price of these battery packs is so cost-effective, it’s kind of a no-brainer to have one for each car in your family.

Another bonus is that you can store many of these portable battery jumper packs in a much smaller space than jumper cables.

It can get confusing as there are lots of options that range from basic to including an air compressor for your tires. The more options you want, the higher the price and the larger and heavier the unit.

Cranking Amps
The first specification that you’ll want to focus on is the cranking amp rating as it must be adequate for the type of vehicle that you own. Some battery packs may also refer to this as the ‘starting amps’.

Gasoline engines require less power to jump than diesel engines and the more cylinders you have, the more cranking power you’ll need.

Here are some basic cranking amp requirements according to CarBatteryHelp.com:

4 cylinder gasoline engine 160 amps
4 cylinder diesel engine 350 amps
6 cylinder gasoline 210 amps
6 cylinder diesel engine 450 amps
8 cylinder gasoline engine 250 amps
8 cylinder Diesel engine 650

Keep in mind that these ratings are based on temperatures above freezing, so if you live in a really cold climate and you plan on keeping the battery in your car, check the Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) rating.

Peak Amps
This rating is usually roughly double the starting amp rating and is important for the initial start of your car. While the cranking amps are a more important number to focus on, it’s always best to get the highest peak and cranking (starting) amps that you can afford.

Battery Bank Options
If you also want to be able to charge up your smartphone or tablet, you’ll need to make sure that you have the proper power interfaces for your devices.

A standard USB port will work for your portable devices and if you want the ability to charge more than one device at a time, you’ll want to look for multiple ports preferably with a 2.1A rating.

Larger batteries may also have a 110v plug for charging laptops or for powering other devices that need to be plugged into power.

UL 2743 Certification
Lithium Ion batteries that are used in these battery packs do have potential issues if they aren’t well constructed, so looking for the safety certification from Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL 2743) is their testing standard for portable power devices.

Cigarette Lighter Charger
I like this feature because it allows you to plug it into your cigarette lighter to recharge it while you are driving.

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Here are tips for buying car battery jumper packs