The 7 Best Portable Jump Starters of 2020

Your must-own lifeline when your car battery dies

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NOCO Genius Boost Pro GB150 4000
Photo from Amazon
The Rundown
"The jump starter allowed for the car to start more readily than with any other model that we recently tested."
Best for Larger Cars:
STANLEY J5C09 1000 at Walmart
"If you need a compressor and can accommodate the incumbent weight and bulk, the price is pretty reasonable."
"A built-in, three-mode flashlight helps you see in the dark and send out an emergency signal."
Best Power Bank:
Tacklife T8 at Amazon
"Can start your car, pickup, SUV, or light diesel truck up to 30 times on a single charge."
"Basically the same size as a portable power bank for smartphones."
"Featuring a heavy-duty case that's made to withstand rugged and professional use."
"This powerhouse gives you a peak output of 4,400 amps to charge everything."

There are few worse feelings than sliding into your car before work or when you're done grocery shopping, only to find out the battery is dead. The best portable jump starters have eliminated the need to carry cumbersome jumper cables in your trunk as well as the stress of trying to flag someone down who might have them; they also not only provide you with plenty of power for your car battery, but many now double as portable power banks to help keep your mobile devices charged. Some use 12V outlets for cigarette lighter-style charging cables, while others have USB 3.0 or USB-C ports for fast charging. 

Many portable jump starters like the STANLEY J5C09 at Amazon also have built-in LED flashlights to help you see your car battery in the dark or to flag down help with SOS and strobe modes. Other models like the Rugged Geek Intelliboost at Amazon even have built-in air compressors to help keep your tires properly inflated. When shopping for a portable jump starter, it's important to know your engine size, fuel type, and battery voltage; some units aren't designed for larger engines or 24V batteries, while others are specifically meant for marine vehicles or small passenger cars.

Whether you just need the occasional jump-start before work or a very heavy duty unit for company fleet maintenance, one of our best portable jump starters will suit your needs. We've rounded up our top picks and broke down their features and tech specs to help you decide which is right for you. 

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

What We Like
  • Multipurpose

  •  Reverse polarity protection

  • 40 jumps on one charge

What We Don't Like
  • No USB-C charging

  • Jump cables are short

Whether you're on a cross-country road trip, or just trying to get to work, a dead car battery can instantly ruin your day. The Noco Genius Boost Pro is designed to keep you powered up and on the road. It packs 4000 amps of power in a compact package, and enough juice to jumpstart your battery 40 times on a single charge. The cables are color-coded for easy identification and feature spark-proof designs to keep you safe from accidental electrical discharge. They also have reverse polarity protection to keep your battery safe from improper jumpstarts and charging. The body of the jumpstarter has a voltmeter for instant assessment of battery voltage and power needs as well as charge indicator LEDs and controls for the built-in, 500 lumens LED flashlight. 

The flashlight has 7 different modes including a strobe and SOS for emergency signaling as well as different strength settings to help you see under the hood in dim and dark environments. The Genius Boost Pro also acts as a portable power bank, allowing you to charge smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices to keep you connected to help, family, and friends in the event of an emergency. The body of the jumpstarter is water and dust resistant to prevent damage from the elements and making it safe to use in rainy or misty weather. It also weighs just over 7 pounds, making it lightweight enough to carry from the garage to your car or from your trunk to help someone in need of a jumpstart.

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

What We Like
  • Reverse polarity alarm

  • Built-in air compressor

  • 30 day charge

What We Don't Like
  • No Overcharge protection

  • Very Heavy

The Stanley J5C09 is a great portable jump starter for anyone who drives a truck or SUV, or wants to have a portable jump starter for their boat or RV. It delivers 500 amps for jump starting dead batteries and 1000 peak amps for long-term charging. With the reverse polarity alarm, you won't have to worry about accidentally connecting wires to the wrong posts and potentially ruining your car battery. The unit holds a charge for 30 days, giving you a whole month of security and peace of mind. The unit also has a 120 PSI air compressor to help keep your tires inflated and in their best working condition; under or over-inflated tires can be dangerous and cause damage to your car. 

There is an LED flashlight built into the carrying handle, and it has a 270-degree swivel arc to help you check for damage and assess problems in dim and dark environments. The front of the jump starter has a 12V outlet and USB port for charging your mobile devices on-the-go and in the event of an emergency, as well as a battery status button to check the unit's charge levels. The sides have convenient cord storage to prevent damage to the air compressor hose and jumper cables while in storage, and the back has an illuminated pressure gauge for instant reading of tire pressure. 

Best Features: GOOLOO Upgraded Car Jump Starter

What We Like
  • USB-C and Quick Charge ports

  • 20 jump starts on single charge

  •  6 month max standby time

What We Don't Like
  • Jumper cables are very short

  • Not for use with larger diesel truck engines 

With all of the things that can go wrong on a road trip or work commute, you need a device that can do more than just give you a quick jump start. The Gooloo GP2000 is a portable jump starter, battery charger, and mobile power bank. With the detachable 12V clamps, you can quickly and easily start or charge dead batteries in both gas and diesel vehicles; perfect for company fleets or home garages with vehicles, boats, and ATVs. The end of the unit features a 12V outlet for cigarette-style plugs, a USB-C port for charging the latest mobile devices, a USB 3.0 input, and a USB 3.0 quick-charge port for when you need juice fast. It also has an LED flashlight with steady, SOS, and strobe modes for assessing problems or signalling for help. 

With 8 built-in protections like overcharge prevention, reverse polarity protection, and short circuit protection, you won't have to worry about damaging your jump starter or car battery with improper electrical charges or incorrect connections. The unit provides up to 2,000 peak amps for all the power you need to start gas engines up to 10 liters and diesel engines up to 7 liters. The built-in battery gives you enough power for 20 jump starts on a single charge, and it has a standby time of up to 6 months; this means you can charge it once and put it in your glovebox or trunk and have it at-the-ready whenever you need it without the worry of a dead starter.

Best Power Bank: Tacklife T8

What We Like
  • 1 year standby

  • 2 USB ports

  • 12V adapter

What We Don't Like
  • No backflow protection

  • No USB-C port

With all of the mobile devices that we've come to rely on, you need a jump starter that can also double as a reliable power bank to keep your devices powered up for general use and in an emergency. The Tacklife T8 features two USB 3.0 ports, one of which is a Quick Charge input, so you can power up multiple devices at once; you can either top up your phone battery on your commute to work or back home, or keep it charged to call for help in the event of an emergency. It comes packaged with a 12V adapter for devices like GPS units to keep you on-track. 

The internal, rechargeable battery reaches full power in as little as 4.5 hours, meaning you can plug it in when you get home from work and have it ready for your morning commute before you even go to bed. The manual power switch helps to slow down natural battery discharge and give you up to a year of standby time to give you long-term peace of mind. It also gives you a peak output of 800 amps to jump start small passenger vehicles, and enough power to jump your car up to 30 times on a single charge. With reverse connection and overcharge protection, you won't have to worry about ruining your car battery.

Most Compact: Scosche Portable Jump Starter

What We Like
  • Very compact & lightweight

  • USB charging ports

  • 12 month standby

What We Don't Like
  • No USB-C port

  • Jumper cables are short

Gone are the days when jump starters and battery chargers weighed over 20 pounds and were too large to keep in your car. The Scosche portable jump starter weighs just under three pounds and is about the size of a smartphone, letting you keep it in your glovebox, car door pocket, or backpack for easy access when you need it. It comes packaged with a rugged carrying case to protect it from damage when not in use; perfect for when you toss it in your trunk or garage cabinet. With a peak output of 700 amps, you can jumpstart batteries in passenger cars with gas engines up to 10 liters. 

The unit is UL safety certified to protect you from electrical injuries and your car battery from overcharging or incorrect connections. The jumper cables have a spark-free design to protect you even more. With dual USB ports, you can power up your mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to keep you connected all day or when you need help. The easy-to-read LCD screen lets you instantly know if the unit has enough power to start your car or if it needs to be charged; the battery has a 12 month maximum standby time to give you up to a full year before it needs to be charged.

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

What We Like
  •  Industrial grade clamps

  • Replaceable batteries

  •  Built-in charge plug

What We Don't Like
  • No USB ports

  • No flashlight

Design probably isn't at the top of your list when shopping for a jump starter, but the Clore Automotive JNC660 is built for both power and convenience. The internal batteries give you a peak output of 1,700 amps for fast charging of dead batteries and a maximum of 425 cranking amps for quick jump starts. They're also replaceable, so if your unit no longer holds a charge, you can simply order new internal batteries rather than needing to buy a new unit altogether. The jumper cables are 46 inches long, letting you connect to any number of under-hood configurations and almost any sized gas or diesel vehicle. 

The clamps themselves feature an industrial-grade design that easily penetrates any post corrosion for secure connections. The front of the unit has a 12V outlet for charging mobile devices like phones, tablets, or GPS units as well as a built-in plug for easy, automatic charging of the jump starter; simply attach any extension cord to keep your unit ready to go. The sides have built-in cord keepers to prevent tangles and damage when not in use, and to keep your unit organized and the molded carry handle makes it easy to just grab the jump starter and go.

Best Heavy Duty: Schumacher DSR115 ProSeries

What We Like
  • Excellent Amp output

  • 12 or 24 volt jump starting

  • 60-inch jumper cables

What We Don't Like
  • Very heavy (47lbs)

  • Expensive

If you need a portable jump starter that can handle extreme conditions as well as keep up with even large diesel vehicles, the Schumacher DSR115 ProSeries is the only option. This powerhouse gives you a peak output of 4,400 amps to charge everything from passenger vehicles, to large boats, and even tractor trailer batteries. It also has a maximum normal crank output of 750 amps and a cold crank output of 525 amps, making it perfect for keeping your vehicle running even in the worst winter temperatures. The manual on/off switch lets you select outputs for 12 or 24 volt batteries, making it perfect for company fleet management or keeping all of your toys in top shape. 

The easy-to-read LED indicator lets you know instantly the internal battery power levels and when it needs to be charged. The front of the unit has a 12V outlet for cigarette lighter style charging cables as well as a USB port to help keep your mobile devices powered up. The jumper cables are 60 inches long and feature industrial-grade design, letting you connect to any battery in any size vehicle. The body of the jump starter features a rust-resistant shell as well as molded cord keepers and a molded carrying handle to keep the jumper cables organized and the unit easy to pick up and take to a roadside emergency or carry around the workshop.

Final Verdict

The NOCO GB150 is the best portable jump starter available. With a peak output of 4,000 amps and enough battery power to give you up to 40 jumps on a single charge, you can keep your car or truck in peak condition. The Gooloo GP2000 is perfect for anyone looking for a multi-purpose jump starter. Not only can it jump and charge your car battery, integrated USB-C and USB 3.0 ports let you keep your mobile devices powered up during your morning or evening commute or during an emergency. For heavy-duty charging and very large vehicles, the Schumacher DSR115 is the only choice. Its peak output of 4,400 amps and 60-inch jumper cables let you connect to any battery in any size vehicle. It also has a peak cold crank output of 525 amps for jumping dead batteries in the middle of winter.

About our Trusted Experts

Taylor Clemons has over three years of experience writing about games and consumer technology. She has written for Lifewire, Digital Trends, TechRadar and her own publication, Steam Shovelers.


Tony Mitera
has a passion for helping people make informed decisions with his knowledge of how things work. Tony is both an IT and auto mechanics nerd, and enjoys tinkering with both computers and cars. When not writing, Tony is a Membership Director of the SCCA Nebraska Region, participating in autocross events.

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.

About Our Trusted Experts:


Taylor Clemons
has over three years of experience writing about games and consumer technology. She has written for Lifewire, Digital Trends, TechRadar and her own publication, Steam Shovelers.


Tony Mitera
has a passion for helping people make informed decisions with his knowledge of how things work. Tony is both an IT and auto mechanics nerd, and enjoys tinkering with both computers and cars. When not writing, Tony is a Membership Director of the SCCA Nebraska Region, participating in autocross events.