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Updated February 2024
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Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
NOCO GB150 Boost PRO
NOCO
GB150 Boost PRO
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Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

The best option if you need to be completely sure that you can start a dead car battery.

Pros

Works up to 80 times between charges. LED flashlight. Charges devices via USB or 12V connections. The voltmeter is very helpful. Has a rugged design that holds up to regular use. Includes mistake-proof cables.

Cons

Bulkier than other models, which can make it more difficult to operate for some.

Best Bang for the Buck
Nexpow 1500A 12800 mAh Portable 12V Starters
Nexpow
1500A 12800 mAh Portable 12V Starters
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High Power
Bottom Line

This charger holds up to 20 jumps and doubles as a flashlight and strobe light when you need it most.

Pros

It works on a wide scope of cars, trucks, boats, and RVs. It's filled with safety features to keep the power where you need it. The quick-charging battery works with any 3.0 USB Port. You get cables and a charging cord, too.

Cons

The results are inconsistent for some chargers.

Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry JNC660
Clore Automotive
Jump-N-Carry JNC660
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

A mid-sized model with enough power for almost all passenger vehicles.

Pros

1700 peak amps. Includes voltmeter to display charge status on onboard battery. Cables, case, and clamps are heavy-duty and built to last. Contains a great handle that makes it easy to move. Works on some larger batteries.

Cons

No lights or mobile device charging ports.

NOCO GB40 Boost Plus Portable 12V Jump Starters
NOCO
GB40 Boost Plus Portable 12V Jump Starters
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Compact Form Factor
Bottom Line

This portable device holds up to 20 jump starts most engines up to 6.0L with every charge.

Pros

It's safe and easy to use and won't be a problem to store when you're not using it. Not only is it a jump starter, but it's also a power bank and charger with an SOS strobe, too. You get a charger, cable, clamps, and a bag in the box.

Cons

Some buyers reported inconsistent jumping results.

Stanley Portable Power Station Jump Starter
Stanley
Portable Power Station Jump Starter
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Most Comprehensive
Bottom Line

This multi-functional choice includes an air compressor and allows you to charge your devices.

Pros

Delivers up to 1000 amps to get your car battery going. A reverse polarity alarm sounds when you have it connected improperly. Includes a 120 PSI air compressor to help inflate tires. Includes a USB port as well.

Cons

Some buyers have issues with the compressor not working as it should.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 
HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Consumers
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Buying guide for best jump starters

A jump starter is one of those things you buy while hoping you'll never have to use it. However, that doesn't mean you should get an inferior model. On the contrary, since you will probably only be using a jump starter to get out of an unpleasant or potentially dangerous situation, you need it to be 100% reliable. 

A jump starter must be strong enough to crank the engine of the largest vehicle you own (or may own in the future). A variety of useful features may come in handy in a number of situations. These features may include emergency lighting, a charging port for your devices, an air compressor to inflate your tires and more.

The NOCO Boost Pro UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter is a high-end model with well-designed features that even a novice can safely operate. Another product we really like, the Nexpow Car Jump Starter, is a favorite because of its compact size: It’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand yet powerful enough to start your car.

Best jump starters

NOCO Boost Pro UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter

With the UltraSafe line of NOCO jump starter products, you do not have to worry. The mistake-proof design offers protection against reverse polarity and sparks, making it safe for even first-time users.

Besides having enough power to provide 40 jumps on a single charge, this model can function as a power bank to charge your mobile devices. It can also serve as a portable 12-volt power station and a 500-lumen LED flashlight with an emergency strobe and SOS modes.

The case is a rugged waterproof enclosure that has been rubberized to prevent marring on your vehicle's surface. The high-discharge lithium technology makes this device suitable for operation in any climate.

Nexpow Car Jump Starter

This compact jump starter is about the size of your phone (only thicker). It can easily fit in your glove compartment, so it is always within reach for emergencies. It is also small enough to fit in your pocket, making it ideal for camping trips and other adventures where power may be needed.

The smart protection system on this model keeps the user safe from overload, overcharge, high temperatures and more. It is strong enough to start your vehicle with as little as 25% of the battery life left.

Regarding bells and whistles, this jump starter has an LED flashlight, two USB outputs and a quick-charge 3.0 USB port. It also features a 12-volt DC port to power important items, such as a tire inflator, if needed.

Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry Jump Starter

The Jump-N-Carry starter from Clore Automotive offers 425 cranking amps, which is powerful enough to start many larger SUVs and pickup trucks. Its heavy-duty construction features 46-inch cables and powerful industrial-grade clamps that can penetrate corrosion to give you the best connection possible. The built-in handle and cleverly designed base make it easy to carry and placed nearly anywhere – even on top of your engine.

The Jump-N-Carry jump starter is powered by a replaceable Clore Proformer battery and features an automatic charger that lets you keep the unit plugged in so it’s always ready to use. Unlike smaller models, this jump starter has a rugged case that won't be harmed by shop fluids, and it is tough enough for professional use.

NOCO Boost Plus UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter

If you like NOCO jump starters but want a more affordable model than the top-of-the-line option, this is a solid choice. It is compact and powerful and has a built-in safety feature: Thanks to its mistake-proof, spark-proof technology, you never have to worry about making an improper connection.

You can get 20 jump starts off of a single charge with this jump starter, and it can be fully recharged in about three hours (at 2.1 amps). What’s more, the device can also serve as a portable power bank or LED flashlight. 

Scosche PowerUp 300 Portable Car Jump Starter

Scosche's PowerUp 300 is not much bigger than a large smartphone. Its 10 impressive safety features include overheat protection, short circuit protection, timeout protection, spark protection and more. It can provide enough starting power for smaller vehicles (with four to six cylinders) and features a boost button for enhanced performance.

The handy battery level indicator lets you know how much charge the jumper currently has. The rugged design helps it withstand a little abuse without becoming unreliable. The built-in flashlight has an SOS mode, and the unit has dual 5-volt USB charging ports for your mobile devices.

Stanley Portable Power Station Jump Starter

This all-in-one jump starter covers all your emergency automotive needs. With 500 cranking amps, it can handle any vehicle. Plus, it has a built-in 120-psi air compressor to inflate low tires and a high-powered LED light that can rotate 270 degrees when you need to work in less-than-optimum lighting conditions.

Other noteworthy features include a built-in handle, a 12-volt DC outlet, a USB port and a reverse polarity warning to help prevent improper connections. The jump starter is easy to operate and comes with a one-year limited warranty for peace of mind.

Avapow Car Battery Jump Starter

With a wallet-friendly price, the Avapow jump starter is a nice option for budget-minded consumers, and it’s powerful enough to handle up to an 8-liter engine. It can provide up to 50 jumps on a single charge, and it has a spark-proof design for safety.

For durability, the case is shock-resistant and dustproof. Purchase includes the jump starter, a starter cable, a carrying case, a cigarette lighter converter, a Type-C charging cable and a user manual. The standby feature keeps the unit ready for use for up to 12 months, and the built-in super-bright LED flashlight has a strobe and SOS mode to help in emergencies.

What is a jump starter?

There are three ways to get juice into a flat battery:

  • Battery charger: This type of charger plugs into a household electrical supply. Some can give a boost in 30 minutes or so that might get your car started. Generally, they provide a trickle charge over 12 to 24 hours. They work fine, but they're slow.
  • Jumper cables: Cheap, simple, and effective, jumper cables consist of a bunch of wires wrapped in an insulating rubber or plastic sheath with crocodile clips on each end. The drawback is that you need another vehicle to piggyback off of. Even then, starting isn't guaranteed. If that vehicle is smaller or its battery isn't in top condition, it might not provide enough current.
  • Jump starters: A jump starter is a powerful battery wrapped in a case with jumper cables attached. It provides instant current without the need for a donor vehicle. You can start your car or truck yourself in just a few minutes.

Jump-starter considerations

So, we know what a jump starter does, but why are there so many to choose from? In essence, there are two reasons. The smaller the vehicle, the less current the jump starter has to supply. That leads to models with a wide variety of different power levels. This is fine because not everyone needs to start a V8 pickup.

Notably, manufacturers try to tempt you with a variety of extras such as control technology, built-in safety features, and a host of useful (and not-so-useful) options. These elements impact performance and price, so let's look at each in turn.

Jump-starter power 

A jump starter must supply sufficient current (measured in amps) to get the starter motor cranking over. In turn, that fires the engine. 

The jump starter feeds current through the battery, temporarily taking its place. As soon as the vehicle is running, the jump starter is disconnected and, if all is working properly, the vehicle begins charging its own battery.

Inside the jump starter is one of two battery types: lead-acid (the same kind as in your vehicle) or lithium (the kind you would usually associate with power tools).

Lead-acid versions have been around for decades. They are proven, effective, reliable and durable. The downside is that, from 15 to 30 pounds, they're bulky and heavy.

Lithium versions are much more compact; many would fit in a glove box. They weigh a couple of pounds or less. They also have smart microprocessor control, so they not only start your car, but they can also charge your phone, tablet or laptop. The drawback of lithium models is their lower performance. Though high-performance models are becoming more widely available, they tend to cost more.

How much current is enough?

With the exception of smaller models (used to start garden tractors and that kind of thing), the battery inside a jump starter is the same voltage as your vehicle: 12 volts. More important, however, is the current it supplies in amps.

The motor in the average family car needs far fewer amps to turn it over than the motor in a sports car or big SUV. If you've ever bought batteries for different vehicles, you probably know that some need a higher ampere-hour (Ah) rating than others. Therefore, if you have a small car, you don't need a big, expensive jump starter. On the other hand, if you've got a rumbling V8, then a cheap, low-output jump starter isn't going to make it hiccup, let alone run.

If you can find cranking amp figures, the following is a useful guide, albeit approximate:

For gas engines, you’ll need:

  • 150 to 200 amps for a 4-cylinder 
  • 200 to 250 amps for a 6-cylinder 
  • 250 to 300 amps for an 8-cylinder

For diesel engines, you’ll need:

  • 250 to 400 amps for a 4-cylinder
  • 400 to 500 amps for a 6-cylinder
  • 500 to 700 amps for an 8-cylinder

Peak amps may be the only figure you can compare across several manufacturers.

Look for 600 to 1,000 amps from a lithium-based jump starter and 1,000 amps or more from a lead-acid model.

Jump-starter features

A lead-acid jump starter, being larger, has room for features that wouldn't fit in the compact case of a lithium model. You might see the following features in a lead-acid jump starter:

  • Compressor: Useful for inflating tires in an emergency
  • 12-volt DC outlets: Suitable for powering some accessories
  • 120-volt inverter: Capable of feeding power to ordinary household power outlets
  • Work light: Useful if you're trying to start a car in the dark
  • USB port: Helpful if you’ve got devices to power
  • Voltmeter and charge indicator: So you can see when your jump starter needs charging
  • Long cables: These make it easy to clamp to battery terminals while keeping the jump starter on solid ground
  • Strong clips: These help you make a good connection by biting through the corrosion that often forms on battery terminals
  • Case: The best cases are robust and built to withstand everyday knocks and scratches
  • Overload protection: Most have this to prevent damage to your vehicle

The compact size of lithium jump starters doesn't allow for 120-volt outlets. Instead, they concentrate on providing power for your electronic devices. You might see the following features in a lithium jump starter:

  • One or two USB ports
  • 12-volt DC outlet
  • LED work light (may have multiple brightness settings or emergency strobe)
  • LCD screen 
  • Compass
  • Microprocessor control (prevents overloads on vehicles and digital devices)
  • Polarity sensors (these warn you if you've attached jumper cables to the wrong terminals)

Bear in mind that the more features you use, the faster you'll drain your jump starter. Though most provide excellent performance and multiple vehicle starts between charges, this product is basically a battery in a case, not a portable generator.

Tips

  • If you have several vehicles of different sizes, you need a jump starter for the most powerful. There's no need to worry about delivering too much current for smaller vehicles; the jump starter will only provide what the motor draws from it.
  • You might want to consider a small lithium jump starter even if you already have a big lead-acid one. A lithium model is great for charging electrical gadgets and may come in handy with your camping gear or RV.
  • Many jump starters have storage for cables and safe areas for clips. Use them, or disconnect cables from your jump starter after use, even when the machine is switched off. Accidental discharge can cause extremely painful shocks. Sparks could start a fire.

FAQ

Q. How much does a good jump starter cost? 

A. There are three general price points you will encounter when shopping for a jump starter. For $100 or less, you can expect to find models that would be best for smaller vehicles of 4 or 6 cylinders. Between $100 and $150, you will find jump starters that can handle any vehicle. These products will be of high quality, offer sufficient features and be versatile enough to handle nearly any power situation you encounter. 

If you have no concerns about budget, it is possible to spend over $150 and get a jump starter with all the bells, whistles and safety features possible. Just make sure that what you’re getting is worth the higher price tag.

Q. Are lithium jump starters better than the traditional type?

A. It's not really a question of which is better; it's which is most suitable for you. Lithium jump starters are small enough to keep in a glove box, but many lack the power to start big motors. Traditional jump starters pack more punch, but they are a lot larger and heavier. 

Q. Can I use my jump starter straight out of the box?

A. It depends on the model. Some arrive fully charged; others need up to 24 hours to charge. 

Q. What’s the difference between peak amps, cranking amps and cold-cranking amps?

A. Peak amps denote the maximum current available. Cranking amps reflect the current available at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It must be supplied for 30 seconds at 7.2 volts minimum. Cold-cranking amps reflect the current available at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, it must be supplied for 30 seconds at 7.2 volts minimum. The cold makes engines more difficult to start, so more current is needed.

There is no direct conversion, but a jump starter with peak amps of 1,500 might only produce 400 cranking amps, which is roughly 320 cold-cranking amps. If you can compare CCA ratings, that's when the jump starter is working hardest, but makers often don't give figures. The peak amps figure is a reasonable alternative.

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