Dead Battery? No Mechanic? Need a Battery Charger-Jump Starter?
If you have ever found yourself needing, or anticipate needing in the future, any of the following:
Jump start a car
Recharge or Power:
- cell phone
- music player or iPod
- electric tools
- tire inflator/ air compressor
- emergency heater
- radio (incl. weather, emergency communications, am/ fm/satellite)
- any 120 volt appliance
- oxygen concentrator
then a battery jump starter is definitely a ‘must have’. This is just a partial list of the possible uses for a battery jump starter. One or more of these uses may one day prove best car jump starter to be more than just a convenience, and could help save a life – YOUR life… or the life of a precious family member. There are many of us who would want one or more of these possible benefits. Yet, in purchasing this type of device, most potential buyers are unaware of the features, benefits and limitations of a battery booster.
Some things that need to be taken into consideration when purchasing a battery jump starter are:
- Capacity (power output, resistance to effects of heat and cold on durability and output, weight, relative safety)
- Internal chargers which protect from overcharging.
- An alert that warns you of reverse connection hazards and protects a battery from overcharging or undercharged conditions
- Multiple voltage output voltages. They can provide power in 5, 12, or 24 volts without the need for adapters.
- Internal air compressors
- Inverters to provide 120 volt power (some of these have up to three 120 volt outputs)
- Include work lights, emergency lights or both
Ideally, seller integrity, warranty/return policy, and support should drive your decision in buying a battery jump starter, then power requirements, followed by features. Also important are convenience, shipping costs and/or delays if not in stock or buying online. A product other than the most popular brand can often be a great value (brand name is not everything).
The biggest mistakes in buying a jump starter can turn out to be:
- Not getting enough power to start the auto battery in their current vehicle (most buyers choose less power capacity than will serve them best)
- Not buying a unit with features which greatly enhance the use of the product (heavy duty 4 gauge cables, longer cables, heavy duty clamps, automatic charging, air compressor)
- Not immediately checking the internal battery’s capacity to confirm it will provide how much current for how long, and its recharge characteristics.
The batteries used in battery jump starters are often sealed lead acid or gel cell batteries. These batteries are able to provide power for either short term high load requirements or lower demand over longer periods of time. These batteries prefer a slow to medium charge rate and to remain fully charged. They may be smaller in size and lighter in weight, than the battery that powers your car, which makes them a better choice for a portable jump starting use.
Before using any battery jump starter, you can increase the likelihood of a successful result by making certain that the connections at the battery are clean and free of oil or corrosion. Ideally if corrosion is present, the battery connections should be taken apart, cleaned thoroughly and a protective coating applied. Commercial products are readily available. Baking Soda added to a small amount of water may be applied to the corrosion present at battery connections to increase current available for starting the vehicle. In an emergency, some drivers report using various liquids to temporarily increase battery performance for starting, including Pepsi Cola or even water with a little salt in it.
When using a battery jump starter, it is recommended that you connect the jumper to the positive terminal on your car battery first and then to the negative terminal. After use, disconnect in the reverse order (i.e. remove negative clamp first, then the positive clamp). This helps reduce the chance of unwanted sparks, and is therefore safer.
By some estimates over 50% of car problems are battery related. Battery mis-use accounts for a high percentage of battery failure. Lead acid batteries are best stored at approximately 60 deg F fully charged. Other types of batteries are ideally stored under different conditions. All batteries perform best at moderate temperatures. When an average car battery is not kept fully charged poorer performance and shortened battery life often result. The electrolyte in an under charged lead acid battery may actually experience changes in the acid concentration levels within the cells. This causes an increased likelihood of sulfating of the cells, also causing lower performance and shortened battery life. Sulfation can be reduced or prevented by regular charging to a fully charged state and physical movement of the battery, and the electrolyte within. It is common for a vehicle to be driven a short distance during which time the alternator may not fully charge the vehicle’s battery. A driver may not notice the problem if the battery retains enough charge after remaining parked for some period of time, to start the vehicle. The more power options a vehicle has, the more likely the alternator may not fully charge the battery during short trip driving. Batteries do eventually wear out, but proper maintenance is essential to ensure your battery lasts the maximum time possible. If you are unsure of the present condition of your car battery, your mechanic will be able to quickly check your car battery’s efficiency.