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There is no feeling quite like having your car battery die in the middle of nowhere. Unless you're lucky enough to find a stranger with jumper cables or have AAA on speed dial, your options may be limited for getting yourself out of the bind. With the proper tools, however, this kind of problem is actually easy to solve.
A good jump starter is designed to zap your battery back to life in no time. With plenty of options out there to choose from, you only have to figure out which one fits your needs. All starters have the same basic function: jump start your engine if the battery runs out. All of the starters on this list also include a built in air compressor to fix flats and inflate other tires on bikes or garage equipment, as well.
Your personal needs and preferences will help you decide between different power, capacity and additional feature options. To help you make that decision, check out these top-picks for jump starters to get your car back up and running when the juice runs out.
Best Overall: Jump-N-Carry JNCAIR 170
First and foremost, a good jump starter needs to actually have the power to get your engine running when necessary. The 1700 amp Jump-N-Carry JNCAIR 1700 has the juice to jump a car many times before having to be re-charged. The built in automatic charger also makes it easy to keep the battery primed and ready if the time comes to jump your car without the assistance of someone else.
Jump-N-Carry’s Profromer battery technology is designed to keep the battery running at peak efficiency during the jumper’s long service life. High power output can wear down a battery over time, so this addition will extend the life. This jumper is also perfect when you need range. Extra long 68’ power cables and a 12’ coiled air hose for the compressor will extend far out if you find yourself needing the extra distance.
Runner Up, Best Overall: Stanley J5C09
Jump starters with a smaller power output often extend the life of the starter’s battery while still providing enough juice for most cars. Stanley's J5C09 delivers up to 1,000 amps which will take care of small cars, ATVs, trucks, RVs and tractors. The lower power output also means a small battery and frame. Use less trunk space for your emergency kit while having peace of mind if a problem ever comes up.
Beyond the included 120 PSI air compressor, this jumper also does double duty charging with 12-volt and USB outlets to re-charge other personal electronics such as tablets and smartphones. This will give you extra power for emergencies that don’t necessarily threaten your car’s ability to startup.
Best Budget: JF.EGWO Portable Battery Jump Starter
Another good budget option that will save you in a pinch is the JF.EGWO. This one is particularly suitable if you want a little bit more from the air compressor. The integrated air station is powerful enough to inflate a standard car tire in just seven minutes. Better still, the compressor comes with three different needles to fill other items such as sports equipment, balloons and even inflatable watercraft (kayaks or paddleboards).
In addition to jump starting your engine and re-charging your personal electronics, the EGWO also comes equipped with an eye on safety. A jump cable smart chip can automatically detect when the unit is about to short circuit, overheat, discharge or otherwise damage the battery or the car.
Best Midrange Capacity: YUSTDA Bolt Power G06C
Midrange jump starters are perfect for compact cars, jet skis, motorcycles and other smaller vehicles where space is at a premium. The Bolt Power G06C is smaller in size and features a compact, slim profile, so you can easily slip it into any nook or cranny you may have available. The 80 PSI compressor continues this small presence with enough power to inflate four tires on a compact vehicle.
For smaller device charging, the 16,500 power bank has enough capacity to re-charge a number of small devices before needing re-charging. There is a built-in key switch to control the amount of voltage you are using from the 12V/16V/19V DC outlet. Not sure what kind of devices you can charge if you don’t have a USB outlet? The included 7-in-1 laptop adapter will work with a variety of popular brands, so you don’t have to struggle with carrying extra cords.
Amps Determine how much power you may need to draw to find the jump starter that's right for your situation. Measured in amps, some high-capacity starters generate 1,500 or more—enough power to start even large vehicles like heavy-duty trucks or RVs. Other jump starters pack less power (around 1,000 amps or less) but also have a longer lifespan for this reason—and they still have plenty of juice to start your average-sized passenger vehicle, ATV, or truck.
Size The bigger the power source and the size of the air compressor, the more room you’ll need for storage. While this may not be a concern if you plan to keep the unit in your garage or workshop, it could take up valuable space in the trunk of your vehicle or on your truck bed. Some jump starters are the size of a backpack, while others can be as slim as a shoebox.
Charging In addition to charging car batteries, many jump starters also offer the option to charge personal electronic devices as well. Some are equipped with USB chargers, 12V DC outlets, or even 120V AC outlets that provide power comparable to a standard house outlet. A few include the ability to auto-detect the type of device plugged in and adjust the electrical current accordingly to reduce wear on your device’s battery.