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A jump starter provides protection against being stranded with a dead car battery. Different from jumper cables, which require a connection to another vehicle, a jump starter stores energy in an internal battery. Using a pair of attached jumper cables, you can use this power to start your vehicle.
Many portable jump starters are small enough to fit in any compartment of your car, SUV, or even motorcycle. In addition to starting your engine, many models also include a USB port to charge small electronics, like a cellphone, tablet, or computer. Larger jump starters are frequently seen in garages and may include additional functions, like an onboard air compressor.
A smart buy for any driver, here are the top jump starters to consider.
Best Overall: NOCO Boost Plus GB40 1000 Amp 12-Volt UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter Box
Peak Amps: 1000 amps | Voltage: 12 volts | Weight: 2.4 pounds | Dimensions: 6.57 x 3.15 x 7.72 inches
Compact and powerful
Alerts if clamps aren't connected properly
100 lumen LED flashlight
Only charges by USB cable
Power comes in a small package with this slim jump starter from NOCO. The GB40 Boost Plus produces 1000 peak amps but weighs just 2.4 pounds. It’s powerful enough to do the job of starting a 6-liter gasoline engine or 3-liter diesel engine, but compact enough to fit in your glove box. A reverse polarity alarm alerts you if the clamps have been connected to the car battery terminals incorrectly, providing a helpful safety reminder.
This jump starter has earned its popularity with its ability to revive dead batteries in vehicles with engines large and small, but it includes a slew of other useful features you’ll appreciate. A USB port gives you the option to charge your phone or another small electronic device, and a 100 lumen LED flashlight is handy in the event that you have any roadside trouble at night. Take note that it only charges by means of an included USB cable.
Best with Air Compressor: STANLEY J5C09 1000 Peak Amp Jump Starter
Peak Amps: 1000 amps | Voltage: 12 volts | Weight: 17.75 pounds | Dimensions: 11.25 x 8 x 13.5 inches
1000 peak amps and 500 cranking amps
Need to recharge after each use
Solve two problems with one solution: the Stanley JUMPiT. This jump starter with an air compressor can turn over a dead battery in your vehicle or inflate low tires quickly and easily on the go. The JUMPiT has 1000 peak amps and 500 cranking amps to get your vehicle’s engine running again, including most V8 engines (according to the manufacturer). The addition of a 120 PSI air compressor provides inflation power for your tires, while a backlit gauge helps you to keep tabs on pressure readings.
While some jump starters provide dozens of jumps on a single charge, it is recommended that you recharge this model every time you use it. It may be possible to jump a vehicle multiple times on a single charge, but giving it a charge after use will ensure that you’re never left with an underpowered jump starter. Charging is as easy as connecting the 120V AC charging port to a standard household extension cord.
Best Portable: HALO Bolt Portable Jump Starter with AC Outlet
Peak Amps: Not listed | Voltage: 120 volts | Weight: 2.77 pounds | Dimensions: 7.2 x 3.8 x 1.6 inches
Slim, compact, and portable
Includes jumper cables and clamps
Has several safety features
Slower charge time
The Halo Bolt is a super slim and compact portable jump starter that can go with you anywhere. Measuring just 7 x 4.75 x 1.5 inches, this power pack fits is compact but packs enough power to jolt a standard car battery back to life up to 217 times. It comes equipped with the necessary jumper cables and clamps to take care of the job, and you can buy a replacement pair in the event that you ever misplace yours. Despite being small in size, this unit is still big on safety with features like a reverse polarity alarm, low-voltage and over-voltage protection, and jumper cable spark protection.
This jump starter is easy to stash in your backpack, laptop bag, or purse, and comes in handy for more than giving your car, SUV, or motorcycle a jump. It includes a USB port and AC outlet—capable of charging your electronics or small appliances while you’re on the go. It comes in a variety of different color options, which isn’t a functional feature but adds a nice touch, especially if you’re gifting this jump starter to a family member or friend.
Best for V8: Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry JNCAIR 1700 Peak Amp Jump Starter with Air Compressor
Peak Amps: 1700 amps | Voltage: 12 volts | Weight: 28.5 pounds | Dimensions: 6 x 13.5 x 15 inches
Jumps engines up to 8 cylinders
68-inch AWG cables
On-board air compressor
Not for use on diesel engines
Not all jump starters have the power necessary to revive larger V8 motors. Many jump starters are limited to use on 4 to 6 cylinder engines. However, the JNCAIR is a power-packed starter that can give a jump to passenger and light commercial vehicles, with engines up to 8 cylinders. The 68-inch AWG cables make it easier to reach the battery terminals of large or oversized vehicles. In addition, this jump starter features an on-board air compressor to boost tire pressure when needed.
The Jump-N-Carry JNCAIR produces 425 cranking amps and 1700 peak amps, giving it the additional cranking power needed for larger gasoline engines. Take note, however, that this model is not intended for use on diesel engines.
Best for Diesel: NOCO Genius Boost HD GB70 2000A Jump Starter
Peak Amps: 2000 amps | Voltage: 12 volts | Weight: 5 pounds | Dimensions: 6 x 2.5 x 8.6 inches
Can jump more than 20 cars on a single charge
Includes a USB charger and LED flashlight
Charging cable sold separately
Many jump starters are outmatched by a diesel engine, but not the NOCO Boost HD. Model GB70 from NOCO has the same slim profile and convenient features of other NOCO jump starters, like a USB charger and LED flashlight. However, this jump starter delivers 2000 amps that can start a 6-liter diesel engine or 8-liter gasoline engine.
The NOCO Boost HD has a 12V charger, and takes about 3 hours to charge completely. Once it’s juiced up, this starter can jump a diesel or gasoline engine up to 40 times before needing a recharge.
Best Budget: Tacklife T8 Jump Starter
Peak Amps: 800 amps | Voltage: 12 volts | Weight: Not listed | Dimensions: 7.17 x 1.37 x 3.18 inches
Includes two USB ports and a DC port
Jumps 30 times before it needs to be recharged
Little longer charging time
You can’t put a price on being prepared, but you can buy this budget jump starter for under $75. With the Tacklife T8 Jump Starter tucked in your glove box or trunk, you’ll have a source of power ready to revive your dead car battery—or cell phone. This power bank is equipped with two USB ports and a DC port for all your charging needs on the go.
The Tacklife T8 has 800 peak amps, with the capacity to jump-start 7-liter gasoline engines and 5.5-liter diesel engines. It can provide a jump up to 30 times before needing a recharge, which requires 4.5 hours. This charging time is a little longer than some other compact jump starters on the market, but a unique feature of the T8 is the ability to preserve battery life by turning the unit ‘off’ and preventing a slow discharge. A digital LCD screen gives you a heads-up on current battery power remaining when the unit is turned on.
Best Heavy Duty: Schumacher DSR114 Pro Series 12V Jump Starter
Peak Amps: 2200 amps | Voltage: 12 volts | Weight: 24 pounds | Dimensions: 15.12 x 7.25 x 18.25 inches
High output AGM battery
Works well in colder climates
With 524 cranking amps, 2200 peak amps, and 350 cold-cranking amps, the Schumacher ProSeries is a heavy-duty jump starter designed to get your motor running in all situations. Ideal for use in cold weather climates when car battery discharge is a struggle, the Schumacher ProSeries features a high output AGM battery for extra cranking power compared to a typical NiCad battery found in many jump starters. However, the additional power adds some heft to this unit—you’re looking at a 20-pound jump starter that is better kept in the garage or trunk than in your glovebox.
Best Compact: Duracell DRLJS110B Portable Jump Starter
Peak Amps: 1100 amps | Voltage: Not listed | Weight: 1.5 pounds | Dimensions: 11.50 x 3.1 x 8.75 inches
Portable enough to bring on motorcycles
Small but mighty, this compact jump starter is an option to consider if you want one of the lightest portable jump starters available. Weighing only 1.5 pounds, the Duracell Portable Jump Starter fits in the palm of your hand and stores just about anywhere in your vehicle. It’s a great pick as a jump starter for motorcycles, too—since it can fit in tight compartments or tuck into your backpack without adding much weight or bulk.
Despite its compact dimensions, the lithium-ion battery inside the Duracell Portable Jump Starter delivers 1100 peak amps. It can be used to start 4 to 8 cylinder gas engines. It also has enough juice to get a 3-liter diesel engine running again.
Other unique features of this compact jump starter include built-in Bluetooth, which can let you know when the power bank is in need of a recharge using Duracell’s PowerHub app. For those who are not as mechanically savvy, the app also provides a step-by-step tutorial to help you safely jump start a vehicle. IP-65 construction means that this jump starter is sealed tight and safe for use during inclement weather.
Our top pick is the NOCO Plus GB40 (view at Amazon), a full-featured jump starter that's compact enough to fit in your glovebox (but powerful enough to be used in an emergency). If portability is less of a concern for you, the larger Stanley J5C09 JUMPiT Portable Power Station (view at Amazon) is worth checking out. With a built-in air compressor, it's a great pick for your garage or shop.
What to Look for in a Jump Starter
Jumpstarters vary according to their purpose. Portable power banks are smaller in size and have lithium-ion batteries. This type of jump starter is often used for on-the-go power for your devices but has the added benefit of being able to jump your car or SUV battery if you are in a bind.
Larger jump starters might not be as compact but usually produce higher voltage and can rev up larger gasoline or diesel engines. They typically use 12V AGM or lead-acid batteries. Some of these jump starters also include an air compressor, which keeps tires at proper inflation levels (or pumps up bicycle tires or sporting equipment).
Battery size and amps
The size of the battery will determine how many times a jump starter can restart your car, while the amps indicate how powerful the unit is. Larger batteries equate to more stored power, but generally also increase the size of the unit.
Many jump starters include extra features that can come in handy. Some of the most common items found on a jump starter include a USB charging port, which can boost the battery on your cell phone or laptop. An LED flashlight is useful for illuminating the task at hand if you need to jump your car in the dark or fix a flat. An air compressor is a feature commonly found on larger jump starters and is useful for your car or other inflatable items.
Safety features are also worth considering, especially if you infrequently use jumper cables. A reverse polarity alarm is found on most jump starters and alerts you if you fail to properly attach the clamps to the battery terminals. Other safety features you might see include low voltage or over voltage protection and short circuit protection.
How do you use a jump starter?
You should follow the manufacturer's instructions for direction on using a specific model of jump starter, however, the basic steps are listed below. Take safety precautions to protect your face, eyes, and hands when performing this task. Often gloves and safety glasses are recommended.
To use a jump starter:
- Turn the car ignition off.
- Open the hood and find your car's battery. Identify the positive and negative terminals. The positive terminal should be marked with a P, POS, or + symbol. Similarly, the negative terminal should have an N, Neg, or - symbol.
- Ensure that the jump starter is turned off, then identify your jump starter's positive and negative clamps. The positive clamp is always red and the negative clamp is always black. Never touch the clamps to each other.
- First, place the positive (red) clamp on the positive terminal of your battery. Next, place the negative (black) clamp on a bare metal surface of your car's body, frame, or engine for grounding. NOTE: Do not attach the negative clamp to the negative battery terminal.
- Place the jump starter on a flat surface and turn on the jump starter. Then, attempt to start the car.
- Once the car has been successfully started, turn off the jump starter. Disconnect the negative (black) clamp first, and then the positive (red) clamp.
How do you choose the best jump starter for your engine?
It's important to find a jump starter that provides enough amps for your engine. Larger engines will require increased cranking amps. Be sure to differentiate between peak amps and cranking amps. Peak amps are a measure of the output of a jump starter in a short initial burst, which is useful for turning over the engine. But cranking amps are a measure of the current supplied by the jump starter over a longer period (usually about 30 seconds). You'll need to find a jump starter with enough cranking amps to get your motor running once it turns over.
Most average consumer vehicles require between 300 and 500 cranking amps. Keep in mind, though, that how "flat" (or drained) the battery is, along with environmental conditions can play a role in determining how many amps are necessary to start your engine.
How long do portable jump starters last?
Portable jump starters will typically store a charge in their battery for about 12 months. After this, the battery may discharge and leave you stranded if you need to use it. However, some jump starters aren't equipped with the same technology and can experience battery drain much sooner. For this type of jump starter, the manufacturer will typically recommend recharging after each use.
The lifetime of a portable jump starter varies based on the type of internal battery, environmental conditions, and storage and usage. However, you can expect jump starter to last a minimum of 2 or 3 years, with some models exceeding 8 or 10 years of use.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Erica Puisis, a professional writer who specializes in home and lifestyle products that solve everyday challenges. No stranger to a dead car (or cellphone) battery, she knows the importance of having a reliable jump starter and power bank on hand. To find the best options for this list, she evaluated each product based on type, battery power, amps, and price point.
Erica has covered a variety of essential tools and equipment categories for The Spruce since 2017.