The 9 Best Portable Jump Starters of 2019

Your must-own lifeline when your car battery dies

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: DBPOWER 600A Peak 18000mAh Portable Car Jump Starter

DBPOWER 600A 18000mAh Portable Car Jump Starter

 Amazon

What We Like

  • Great value

  • Lots of useful features

  • Compact size

What We Don't Like

  • Instructions could be clearer

Cool design? Check. Smart charging port? Check. LCD screen with compass? Check. The DBPOWER is a top-selling jump starter and for good reason. Measuring 3.94 x 9.53 x 4.92 inches, it's compact and perfect for your glove compartment. It's made for 6.5L gas or 5.2L diesel engines and is able to emit a charge up to 30 times on a single charge with a peak of 600 amp voltage. It also comes with an 18000 mAh-capacity smart charging port, an 8-in-1 laptop adapter unit, and an LCD screen with a digital compass that displays its remaining power. Its cable clamps are perfect for newcomers too, offering over-current, short circuit, overload, over-voltage, and over-charge protection. It also comes with a three-year warranty. Some online reviewers reported that its instructions weren't precise enough.

Best Budget: DBPOWER Ultra-Compact Portable Jump Starter

What We Like

  • Compact size

  • Inexpensive

  • Doubles as portable phone charger

What We Don't Like

  • Not as powerful as other options

This portable jump starter from DBPOWER sits somewhere between a full-fledged car jumper and a portable charger for consumer electronics like smartphones. In fact, since it's not much larger or thicker than most small tablets, it feels similar to a portable phone charger—and you can, in fact, charge mobile devices using the 5V/2.1A USB output. This device features an 8,000mAh battery capacity, which is pretty sizeable for mobile devices, but with a 300A peak current, it isn’t the most powerful option on the auto side. It’s important to note that it will only work on 2.5L gas engines—if it’s fully charged, it can jump an engine up to 10 times, but it’s important to understand the limitations. The jumper comes with intelligent battery clamps that have protections for discharge, reverse polarity, overheating, over-charging, short-circuiting, and reverse charging. There’s a built-in LED flashlight, too, with three modes: standard bright, strobe, and SOS. The package comes with a USB charging cable that can bring the unit up to full capacity in as little as 5 hours.

Interested in reading more reviews? Check out our list of the best smart car products.

Best Safety Features: Aickar 800A Peak 19800mAh Car Jump Starter

What We Like

  • Extra safety-conscious design

  • Compact size

  • Powerful charge

What We Don't Like

  • Cables too short

If you’re worried about getting shocked, the Aickbar 800A is probably the best portable jump starter for you. Its design is extra safety-conscious, featuring five advanced safety technologies for its provided jumper clamps. It also includes protection from reverse polarity, over-currents, overloads, over-voltages, and over-charges. The Aickbar 800A can start any gas engine or up to 4.5L diesel engines around 30 times on a single charge. It reaches an 800-amp peak current and comes with heavy-duty jumper cables. Like other options on the list, it doubles as a power bank for your smartphone with up a 19800-mAh battery life. It also includes a power light that can be adjusted to SOS signaling and strobe modes. Other pluses include its compact size (8.6 x 3.6 x 1.1 inches). Some online reviewers said that its cables were too short.

Best Features: NOCO Genius Boost Pro GB150 4000 Amp 12V Lithium Jump Starter

NOCO Genius Boost Pro GB150 4,000 Amp 12V UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter
Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like

  • Powerful

  • Efficient

  • Durable

What We Don't Like

  • Heavy

  • Pricey

The NOCO Genius Boost Pro GB150 is a portable lithium jump starter that offers a whopping 4,000 amps and up to 80 jump starts on a single charge. At 7.5 pounds, it's on the heavier side, but with good reason: it’s reliable. Its 22500 joules per every three seconds provide enough voltage to restart 10L gas and diesel cars, trucks, boats, commercial vehicles, and other heavy-duty equipment. It also features a 12-volt power port and 2.1A USB port that can be used for smartphones, tablets, and more. It comes with an integrated digital voltmeter, so you can check your vehicle’s engine voltage and make adjustments. Plus, if you break down after dark, the device is also equipped with a 10XLED flashlight.

Best Power Bank: Beatit 800A Power Bank and Car Jump Starter

What We Like

  • Excellent power bank

  • Overcharge protection feature

  • Emergency flashlight

What We Don't Like

  • Instructions could be clearer

  • Cables too short

The Beatit 800A Power Bank and Car Jump Starter will jump-start a 6L gas engine or a 5L diesel engine upwards of 30 times at its peak power output of 800 amps. That 18000 mAh battery can be tapped via two USB ports as well that Beatit says will charge your iPhones, tablets and more at a fast-charging rate of 2.1A, which is much quicker than many other models. In terms of the car jumping aspect, alligator clamps are included and attached, providing both convenience and a smart overcharge protection feature that prevents you from harming your car battery by over-juicing. Add that to onboard LED lights that indicate how much power is left and an emergency flashlight function, and you’ve got a great little glove box companion. However, some reviewers felt that the instructions could have been clearer and that its included cables were too short.

Not finding what you're looking for? Here's our list of the best car code readers.

Most Compact: Scosche Portable Jump Starter

Scosche - Portable Car Jump Starter
Courtesy of BestBuy.com

What We Like

  • Super compact size

  • Safety mechanisms built-in

  • Flashlight has SOS patterns

What We Don't Like

  • Not as powerful as other options

When placed next to alligator clip cables, it’s almost comical how small this jump starter is. It’s basically the same size as a portable power bank for a smartphone, which is pretty impressive considering it can jump a car with its 5,400 mAh lithium-ion battery. That jump capability does max out at only 300 amps though, so for extra-dead batteries, it might not do the job as well as some of the other options on our list. It also has a super bright built-in flashlight with some optimized SOS flash patterns for roadside emergencies. The USB port can help you charge your smaller devices, and the boost button will send a bit of extra power while jumping. The included jumper cables have safety mechanisms built in to prevent overcharge or reversed current. You also have the flexibility of charging up this battery either via your wall plug at home or the car-charging cigarette port.

Best Design: Jump-N-Carry JNC660 1700 Peak Amp 12V Jump Starter

Jump-N-Carry JNC660 1700 Peak Amp 12V Jump Starter

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like

  • Durable case

  • Has carrying handle

  • Powerful

What We Don't Like

  • Heavy

The Jump-N-Carry JNC660 is the best-designed jump starter on the market, featuring a heavy-duty case and a carrying handle. It offers 1,700 peak amps and 425 cranking apps, plus features extra long, 46-inch heavy-duty #2 AWG cables. It’s also equipped with a replaceable PROFORMER battery that’s designed specifically to perform a jump-starting application. On its front, it has lights to show its built-in automatic recharging, so you'll know when it's fully juiced up. The unit also features a voltmeter dial that checks the status of your battery. Aside from jump-starts, it includes a 12-volt power output with automatic circuit prevention that can power a number of your accessories. Although it's one of the heaviest portable jump starters on the list, weighing 18 pounds, it comes with a 30-day warranty.

Best for Larger Cars: STANLEY J5C09 1000 Peak Amp Jump Starter

What We Like

  • Great for big cars

  • Includes air compressor

  • Has 270-degree LED swivel light

What We Don't Like

  • Heavy

  • Large size

The STANLEY J5C09 is one of the bigger ended portable jump starters on the list, weighing 18 pounds and measuring 11.2 x 8 x 13.5 inches. However, if you’re driving a larger or heavier car, it's the portable jump starter for you. It offers 500 instant starting amps with a peak of 1,000. It also includes a 120-PSI air compressor, so you can fill up your inflated tires, and a USB port, so you can charge up your mobile devices. If you happen to be in the pitch dark, this portable jump starter includes an ultra-bright 270-degree LED swivel light, so you can shine light where you need it. On top of that, if you have an improper connection with your car, the J5C09 has a reverse polarity alarm to alert you.

Most Rugged: DBPOWER 500A Portable Jump Starter

What We Like

  • Durable covering

  • Intelligent jumper clamps

  • Includes 8-in-1 laptop adapter

What We Don't Like

  • Compass doesn't always work

With a durable protective covering, this portable car jump starter is the obvious choice if you expect rugged conditions. Featuring 500A peak currency, this jump starter can start an engine up to 20 times on a single charge. The unit is designed to work with both a 3L gas or 2.5L diesel engine. Advanced intelligent jumper clamps are included for use with any capable vehicle, and an LCD screen provides information about remaining power and number of jump starts left. For directional awareness, a compass is also found on the LCD display, though some reviewers felt it didn't work very well. Equipped with a 12,000-mAh battery and a 2.4A USB port, the jump starter doubles as a way to charge cell phones, tablets, and other electronics. Plus, it includes an 8-in-1 laptop adapter and three separate LED light modes (high, strobe, and SOS) that can be used to notify first responders of your location.

FAQs

What does a jump starter do?

When your car's battery is dead, a jump starter gives it a jolt of power so you can turn your car on. From there, start driving, and your car's alternator will charge the battery as you go along.

What types of jump starters are there?

Jump starters come in both portable and plug-in varieties. Portable models have a built-in battery for extra convenience, but their main negative is that they need to be charged after use, which can take several hours. Plug-in chargers, on the other hand, are far less portable because they need to be connected to a power outlet—meaning that if you’re stuck on the road with a dead battery, you're out of luck.

How do you use a jump starter?

First, connect the positive jumper cable to the positive terminal on the battery and connect the negative cable to the engine block. Then, place the jump box in a secure, out-of-the-way location, and try to start your car. Once your car is running, disconnect both cables and secure them to the jump box.

How much does a jump starter cost?

Prices for jump starters range depending on what features they have, but it should be possible to find a decent option for $50 or $60. If you decide you do want a more sophisticated model, expect to pay about $150 or more.

The Ultimate Jump Starter Buying Guide

There aren’t many worse feelings than the one you have after walking out to your car in the morning, turning the key, and realizing that it’s out of battery. Thankfully, if this does happen, there are ways to give your car the kick it needs to get going again.

While you could simply rely on jumper cables, that assumes that you’re going to be able to find someone else to help you out—which may not always be the case. Alternatively, you could keep a jump starter in your car, which allows you to jump-start your car easily without losing more than a few minutes of your day.

As you might expect, there are a bunch of factors to consider when shopping for a jump starter. First, think about the type of jump starter you want to buy—whether it be a portable jump starter, a plug-in jump starter, or a battery charger. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. After that, there are dozens of other things to keep in mind when it comes to features.

Read on for everything you should consider when buying a jump starter.

Types of Jump Starter

Before thinking about what features you want, consider the type of jump starter you need. Not all models are the same, and the type you choose can have a significant impact on how much it'll help in certain situations.

Jump Starter

A jump starter does exactly what it sounds like: it gives your car a jump, allowing it to turn on. After the jump, your car's alternator should take over, charging your car’s battery as you drive. It’s important to clear up a few common misconceptions, though. A jump starter does not recharge your car’s battery itself. Instead, it gives the battery enough kick to turn the car on—you’ll need to drive your car to power it back up again.

Jump starters come in both portable and plug-in varieties. Portable jump starters have a built-in battery, meaning they can be used on the go whenever you need them. The only downside is that after they’re used, they have to be charged, which can take a number of hours. Plug-in chargers, on the other hand, are much less portable. Instead of having a decent-sized battery built-in, you have to connect them to a power outlet—meaning that if you’re in a parking lot with a dead battery, you’re largely out of luck. We generally recommend buying a portable jump starter over a plug-in one. The portability outweighs the downside of having to keep the device charged up.

There are a few advantages to jump starters, generally. They allow you to get on the road almost instantly and, in many cases, can also be used to supply power to other devices in a pinch. For example, you could use one to recharge your phone if you need it in an emergency. On the other hand, most car alternators aren’t built to recharge a car’s battery fully from zero, and forcing one to do so can shorten its lifespan. In other words, it might be the way to go in a pinch, but if you can avoid jump starting your car, it’s probably best to do so.

However, if you do need to jump-start your car, here's a step-by-step guide to how to do so safely.

Battery Charger

Unlike a jump starter, a battery charger actually recharges your car’s battery—which comes in handy in a different set of situations. Battery chargers take at least a few hours to recharge a car battery, meaning they’re not ideal for those who might need to get on the road quickly. They also have to plug into a power outlet, meaning they're not as portable. Plus, they can come to the rescue if you have a faulty alternator, as they can allow you to get your car up and running without having to worry about your alternator recharging your battery.

Our recommendation? Having both a jump starter and a battery charger can be helpful. A battery charger is better if you have access to a power outlet and have enough time to charge the battery, while a jump starter is better in a pinch for those who need to get on the road right away.

Other Features and Considerations

Once you've decided what type of jump starter you want, there are dozens of other features to consider. Here’s what you should be thinking about.

Cables

Jumper cables are an important part of any jump starter—without them, you don’t have anything to connect the jump starter to. You might think that jumper cables are all the same, and to an extent that’s true—they’re copper wires that deliver power. Some cables, however, are better than others.

For instance, cables can have different lengths. Generally, they range from around 10 to 35 feet. Don't think you need to go for extra-long cables, though— for most people, 15 feet will be perfectly fine. Another differentiator is a cable’s wire gauge, which refers to the thickness of the wire inside. Thicker wire is better at delivering more power, which can be important if you’re trying to jump-start a vehicle with a bigger battery. For smaller vehicles, like most cars, a cable with at least an 8 gauge will be fine, though larger batteries might need a 6 or 4 gauge cable.

Air Compressor

An air compressor is what you’d use to pump up a car’s flat tire if it's been deflated. A built-in compressor may not matter when you’re jump-starting your car, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come in handy.

Like many other features on this list, the air compressor does need to be powered—so if you have a battery-powered device, it will take up some of that capacity when in use. Still, the likelihood of needing to pump up a tire and having to jump start your car before you have a chance to recharge your jump starter is pretty low.

If you’re strapped for cash, a built-in compressor is something you can avoid, but if you have the money to spend on a device with an air compressor, we recommend doing so.

Emergency Lights

Being stuck on the side of the road at night is never a preferable situation. With low visibility and distracted drivers, you could easily find yourself in a dangerous spot. That’s where emergency lights can come in. When a jump starter has emergency lights, you’ll be able to place it near your car to alert other drivers to the fact that you’re there.

Many jump starters have other types of emergency lights, too. For example, some that allow you to see where you’re placing the jumper cables, which is handy for those who haven’t done a whole lot of jump-starting before. Last but not least, others have lights designed to be used as simple flashlights—perfect for almost any other situation where light is required.

We definitely recommend buying a jump starter with emergency lights of some kind, especially considering the fact that they could end up saving your life.

Radios

Some jump starters have built-in emergency radios, which will help you keep up-to-date with local events in case of an emergency or a natural disaster like an earthquake or hurricane. If you live in an area that's prone to these types of events, this feature might be incredibly helpful.

Inverter

A power inverter turns the DC current from the jump starter’s battery into an AC current that you can use to power other devices like smartphones and tablets. Often, jump starters with an inverter will also have a built-in power outlet. Of course, considering the fact that some jump starters are battery-powered, you won’t want to run anything too power-hungry, as it’ll eat up that battery much faster than you might want. Still, an inverter is perfect for those who want a little power when they’re camping or on the road.

Charging Modes

Charging modes apply more to battery chargers than to jump starters, but if you’ve chosen to buy a battery charger, charging modes might be worth considering. Car battery chargers usually offer a few different modes.

Automatic charging is perhaps the most common. When in automatic charging mode, the battery will charge its remaining capacity and switch to maintain mode when it's fully charged. Maintain mode keeps your car’s battery topped up by delivering a small current whenever necessary; this mode is also known as float charge. Lastly, in manual charging mode, a car battery charger won’t cycle down, even when the car’s battery is full. In other words, you’ll need to disconnect the charger to stop it from charging—and if you don’t, it could do damage to your car’s battery.

Those who want a little more control over their car battery charger might want to find a device with at least a few charging modes, but most people will be perfectly fine with a device that only offers automatic charging.

Amperage

Amperage also relates more to car battery chargers than to jump starters, so you can safely move on if you’ve decided on buying a jump starter.

The amperage of a car battery charger determines how quickly it can charge a flat battery. For example, a battery charger with a charge of 2 amps can charge a standard 48 amp car battery in 24 hours. Thankfully, car battery chargers range higher than 2 amps—in fact, some go as high as 10 amps, which will help charge your car battery much faster.

In other words, if you want to charge your car’s battery quickly, select a battery charger with a higher amperage.

Brands to Consider

There are a number of companies that make reliable, high-quality jump starters and battery chargers. Generally, it's worth buying something from an established brand instead of a newer company without a track record—not only because the product will likely work better, but also because the company may offer a better warranty in case the device doesn’t work as expected.

When it comes to jump starters, known brands include the likes of Noco, Stanley, Beatit, and Jump-n-Carry, all of which offer slightly different takes on the jump starter. The Jump-n-Carry JNC660, for example, offers a reliable output power for jump-starting engines thanks to the included PROFORMER battery technology and the heavy duty cables. The Beatit 800A Peak Jump Starter, on the other hand, is a little more portable, yet still offers enough power to jump start up to a 7L engine.

Some of the same brands also make car battery chargers, but there are also a few others to consider in that area, too. For example, both Black & Decker and Schumacher are both known for their car battery chargers.

Price

How much you spend on a car jump starter or battery charger largely depends on the features you’re looking for. If you want a jump starter that's completely decked out with an inverter, emergency lights, a radio, and so on, you’re going to pay more than you would for a basic jump starter.

If you’re buying a jump starter, you should be able to get a decent one starting at around $50 or $60—though devices in that price range won’t deliver huge amounts of power and will be limited on features. On the other hand, if you decide you want a more sophisticated, feature-rich model, you can expect to pay up to $150 or more.

When it comes to battery chargers, prices start a little lower, though again, only for lower-capacity devices that may or may not meet your needs. You can get a cheap battery charger for around $30, though if you want a larger device with a bit more oomph, expect to pay $50 or $60.

Conclusion

These are many things to keep in mind when buying a jump starter. Hopefully, after reading this guide, you know a little more about what you want. The good news? There are hundreds of options on the market, so no matter what you’re looking for, you should be able to find one that suits your needs and budget.