A mobile jump start can be structured in different ways. There are combination devices that combine jump starters, compressors for the tires, and other useful functions. Such often powerful devices are also referred to as “power packs” or “energy packs”. Furthermore, so-called jump-start batteries or power banks are very popular because they are extremely compact, but usually, only provide a peak current of around 600 amps or less.
A little less compact, but based on the same principle, boosters work for all types of motors that can provide up to 2,000 amps or even more.
In the test, we took a close look at the most popular models of various types and the three best starting aids for cars summarized for you in our list of the best.
So you will find a suitable model among them, regardless of whether you are looking for an extremely powerful or simply an inexpensive jump starter for cars. First, however, we will give you an overview of the most important criteria and properties of the mobile start-up aids so that you do not make a bad buy.
Nevertheless, with a size of 18.5 x 8.8 x 3.5 centimeters, it is very compact and can easily be carried in the vehicle. The charging time is very manageable at around five hours and thanks to the high performance you can start engines with a displacement of up to 6.5 liters (diesel engines up to 5.2 liters) at room temperature.
The workmanship is very solid overall and in addition to an LED light that can be used as an emergency flashlight, the device also offers a red emergency light, additional USB ports with 5V and 2.4 amps, and extensive protection against polarity reversal, overvoltage, and Overcharging as well as overheating. As a result, it is very well equipped, reliable, and, above all, one thing: compact and handy. However, one should not neglect that, due to the good equipment features, it is priced in the upper mid-range for mobile battery starters.
The device is very safe and robust, offers complete spark protection, reverse polarity protection, and can be used as a power source for a wide variety of 12-volt devices. With a suitable inverter, you can even connect conventional devices to the strong power bank. An extremely bright LED torch with 400 lumens is also integrated, which can also be very helpful in an emergency. Thanks to the USB port, you can also charge mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones and diesel engines up to 6 liters, or start petrol engines up to 8 liters. Boats, trucks, and tractors were also not a problem in the test thanks to the high performance.
Despite the performance, the device is very compact with a size of 10.2 x 33 centimeters and can also be fully recharged in just around 3 hours. The charge lasts up to a year in standby mode, which is also a very good value. NOCO can also pay for these specifications well, so the model is in the upper price range. However, it is worth it, so the bottom line is that the price-performance ratio is good.
In 12 volt operation, the device offers a peak output of 1,500 amps and in 24-volt operation, a strong 900 amps are possible. Almost all types of vehicles can be started with it. Also, the model offers a battery with a very large capacity (2x 18 Ah) and a 12-volt socket for charging additional end devices. A compressor is not integrated into this model, which is now common with many power packs, but the model is convinced overall with its very good performance and good workmanship. Overall protection is very good thanks to overcharging protection, an alarm signal in the event of incorrect polarity and overheating protection, and the integrated work light consisting of 5 LEDs on the pole clamps ensures good operability even at night.
In terms of price, the model is attractive despite its high performance, so that the bottom line is that the price-performance ratio is very good.
Compared to conventional battery chargers or jumper cables, mobile jump starters are completely self-sufficient because they have their battery. Power packs are the largest representatives and are rather unsuitable to be carried permanently onboard the vehicle but in larger vehicles such as a truck or a boat. The smaller power banks or jump-start batteries, however, can be carried in the car because they are very compact.
The great advantage of all of these devices is that the battery does not have to be charged, just enough power is provided to start the vehicle immediately. However, you must make sure that the nominal voltage of the device corresponds to that of the vehicle to be started. The small models usually work with 12 volts, while large models for various vehicles of all types often also offer the option of switching the voltage to 24 volts.
The test has shown that inexpensive entry-level devices often have weaknesses when it comes to starting a vehicle at very low temperatures. A completely discharged car battery can freeze at 0 ° C. Likewise, cheap batteries sometimes have problems with cold. High-quality models, on the other hand, were not affected by the temperatures in a cold chamber. In general, however, you should always plan for a certain power reserve. If you plan to start up in cold temperatures, you should use a device with twice the power than the minimum power required for starting. If in doubt, it can also help to warm up the device before starting it.
Which jump-start battery for which engine?
It depends on the engine how much power the jump starter needs. Usually, the manufacturer specifies the volume of the motor that the device can start. Another clue is the number of cylinders. We use this as a guide, as this is easier to remember and also allows a rough indication. It is important to know that starting a diesel engine always requires more electricity than a similarly powered petrol engine.
Petrol engine minimum power:
Motorization Minimum amperage jump start
4-cylinder petrol engine 150 to 200 amps
6-cylinder petrol engine 200 to 250 amps
8-cylinder petrol engine 250 to 300 amps
Diesel engine minimum power:
Motor minimum amperage jump start
4-cylinder diesel 300 to 400 amps
6-cylinder diesel 400 to 500 amps
8-cylinder diesel 600 to 700 amps
As already mentioned, you should roughly double the minimum current strength if you want to use the device at very low temperatures below 0 ° C. In general, it never hurts to buy a device with the highest possible peak performance to be sure that the corresponding engine can be started.
Depending on the design and device type, the battery starting aids are provided with additional features that can also be of help. In the case of compact battery starters, for example, it is usually LED flashlights or additional USB ports for charging smaller electrical devices while you are traveling. Large power packs, on the other hand, often also have a compressor for inflating tires, can be converted to 24 volts if necessary, or offer various sockets for connecting other devices in an emergency. Depending on your needs and the vehicle for which you want to use the device, one or the other additional function makes sense or it doesn’t.
In any case, you should make sure that the device is adequately protected against overheating, polarity reversal, or short-circuits, otherwise you risk a defect in the device if something goes wrong or is accidentally connected incorrectly.