A dead battery is never a good way to start the day. Maybe the cold weather got to your weak battery, or maybe an interior light was left on overnight. Regardless of what caused it, the dead battery doesn’t have enough juice to start the engine and something needs to be done. You can reach for a pair of jumper cables, but a car battery jump starter may be more convenient. Let’s take a look at what makes a car jump start battery pack worthy of a spot in your trunk, and how to jump starter a dead battery using one.
In its simplest form a battery booster pack (sometimes called a jump starter) is a portable power source with sufficient electrical capability to start a car, truck, or SUV engine. There’s really no difference in booster pack vs jump starter when it comes to the name. Most commonly these units contain an internal jump starter battery connected to a pair of cables with alligator clamps. Just like a normal jumper cables there is a positive and a negative connection. Battery booster packs usually have a 12-volt sealed lead acid (SLA) battery inside, but advancements in technology have led to smaller lightweight units that use capacitors for their power source. A traditional SLA powered booster pack weighs several pounds and takes up almost as much room as a car battery, while the newer capacitor booster packs can fit in a glovebox or console.
When To Use a Booster Pack
Any time when you would normally use a pair of jumper cables you can use a battery pack jump start. But there are certain situations when a car battery jump start pack shines. The most obvious example is when there is simply no other vehicle around to supply a jumper cable boost. Jumper cables require a second car and if one isn’t around, they are basically useless. This can be true in a home driveway or off in the wilds on an off road adventure.
Another handy use is when the dead vehicle is stuck in a parking spot that can be accessed by another vehicle. Maybe the dead vehicle is pulled into a single car garage or stuck in an awkward spot in the parking deck. Yes there are jumper cables available with extra long wires, but those aren’t nearly as common as the shorter versions. Having a portable booster pack means you only need to access the dead battery to get back on the road.
How To Boost a Car Battery
The best thing about a portable battery jump starter is ease of use. First off you should read the directions on your booster back before you attempt to jump start a car battery with it. This will help you get familiar with its operation in case it has any special steps. Here is a generic dead battery jump start procedure for most booster packs:
- Turn off all electrical accessories (light, radio, fan, etc.).
- Locate the battery.
- Uncover the battery terminals (the positive terminal is usually shielded).
- Attach the positive and the negative alligator clamps from the booster pack to the corresponding battery terminals.
- Switch on the booster pack.
- Wait 30 seconds to allow for a small charge to be transferred to the dead battery. If you have a capacitor powered jump starter, wait the amount of time specified in the user manual.
- Crank the vehicle. If the vehicle does not crank immediately turn off the ignition key and repeat step #6.
- Once the vehicle is running, switch off the booster pack and remove the alligator clamps from the battery terminals.
Other Battery Booster Pack Uses
Most car battery jump start packs have extra features built-in like a 12-volt power source, USB outlets, air compressor, even a light. If you need to recharge your phone on a camping trip or power a light, a booster pack can handle it with ease. It is the ultimate battery bank for the outdoors with as many uses as you need power. Just remember to plug it back in when you get home. The best portable car battery jump starter is one that is fully charged when you need it!
At-Home Jump Starter
There are also car battery charger jump starter units which can be used at home. These jump starter battery charger units plug into a 110-volt outlet and can not only recharge a car battery but they can also provide a car battery jump start kick. Operation is the same as cordless battery pack but without the need to recharge itself after use.
Check out all the battery booster and jumper starter packs available on NAPAonline, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA Auto Care locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to choose the best battery jump starter, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.
With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of his many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.