Your jump starter is one of the tools that you need to ensure are sharp and ready to go at a moment’s notice. When your car battery is weak or dead, a charged jump starter can mean the difference between getting back on the road quickly and waiting for hours for someone to come along to help – or spending money on a tow truck or other service vehicle. But you should know exactly how to charge your jump starter and the safety precautions that go along with that. It starts with understanding what type of jump starter you have and how your particular model works.
Different Types of Jump Starters
There are several different types of jump starters out there.
The most basic of all of these types are the jumper cables. Although not technically a jump starter unit, the cables do the same job, but they require another vehicle to work.
There are also jump starters that plug into the wall and recently, there have been new jump starters on the market that are completely portable – some of them no bigger than your smartphone – that will get your car going even if your battery is completely drained. It is these portable jump starters that require charging and it is what this guide will focus on.
Why a Portable Jump Starter
So, why should you choose a portable jump starter?
There are lots of reasons to carry one around with you. First, you don’t have to rely on anyone else. You have the ability to start your car at any time if the battery goes dead as long as you have a charged jump starter.
The portable starters of today are so easy to stow into your car and so affordable that there is really no reason not to choose to have one. Some people even choose to have two, because they are inexpensive enough to get two, and they can be used as portable power banks for smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Choosing From the Various Sizes
The first thing that you’ll have to do is choose from the various sizes of jump starters that are out there. To begin with, you’ll want to figure out what kind of a budget you are looking at. That’s because the budget is going to determine – at least partially – what size of portable charger you are going to get.
The smaller, more compact jump starters generally cost more, but there are other features that affect the price as well. At this point, you basically want to determine what size you need and whether or not you can afford it.
Ensuring That Your Jump Starter has a Full Charge
So, That’s a little difficult to explain because every jump starter has a different method for showing whether or not it is charged.
Many of them will have an indicator light that shows when the charge is low and you need to plug it in. Some of the will have meters that show you exactly how much juice is left in them. Other jumpstarters will not have any indicator at all, although these are very few and far between.
Your best bet is to read the owner’s manual and determine how your charger tells you when it has a full charge or when the charge is nearly depleted.
How to Charge Your Jump Starter
Charging a jump starter is usually very easy. Many of them simply plug into a wall and you charge them for a few hours until the blinking green light turns a solid green.
Some, more exotic jump starters may have a different way of letting you know that they are charged, but most of them will just have a solid green light on. But not every jump starter out there uses the electrical outlet.
Other jump starters can be charged using the car’s cigarette lighter. With these, you need to make sure that you only charge the portable jump starter when your vehicle is running. That way, you know that the battery is being recharged even while it charges up your portable jumper. Again, check your owner’s manual or look at the specifications before you buy the unit.
When to Test Your Jump Starter
You should test your jump starter regularly. One of the things that happen is that a driver forgets to check their jump starter, leaving it in their vehicle for months or even years, and then, when their battery actually does go dead and they need to use their jump starter – it doesn’t have enough of a charge to start their vehicle.
You should check your jump starter regularly – when you don’t need it to start your car – and make sure that is it capable of giving juice to your battery; once a month is a good benchmark to use, although you can probably go every six weeks and still be safe as well.
Other Uses for Your Portable Jump Starter
There are other uses for your portable jump starter that you might not be aware of. Many models have USB plugs that can be used to charge smartphones and other devices. This is one of the reasons why it is so smart to buy one – or more than one – and have it in your vehicle in the case of an emergency.
Along with emergency supplies like flares, water, blankets and the normal parts of a standard emergency kit, you should add at least one portable charger. And our list of the best portable jump starters is just the ticket for you if you are still not sure about what jump starter to buy.
The bottom line here is that you start with making sure that you select a good jump starter and then learn how to use it properly. You’ll want to read the manual and know what the indicators mean and how to plug it into your vehicle to give yourself a jump start – as well as know how to recharge it. Make sure that you check it regularly so that it is ready to give you a charge if you ever need it. You can also use it in an emergency where you need to make a phone call but your phone battery is dead. This makes a portable charger one of the most useful tools you can have in your vehicle.