You’re running late. You go to turn your ignition, and click, click, click. Or worse, nothing at all. That is the sound, or lack thereof, of a dead battery. Leaving your headlights, stereo or interior lights on are the biggest culprits to drain your vehicle’s battery. This never happens at a convenient time. You need to fix this quickly and go on with your life. With a little planning, you can be on your way shortly. There are two ways to fix the problem. One option, is a good set of jumper cables. Option two is a portable vehicle jump starter.
Old School Jumper Cables
Jump starting your vehicle with jumper cables is tried and true. Stay away from the cheap ones with thin wires. The thicker the wire, the faster the charge. Also, I’ve noticed the cheaper cables are typically shorter which could make it challenging to hook up. If the clamps are rusty or corroded, they may need to be cleaned or replaced. The downside to jumper cables is you need a donor vehicle to make them work. Everyone is doing their own thing, so a donor vehicle can be difficult to find. Especially, in a timely manner. Lets say you found a good Samaritan, the next hurdle is the proper application of the cables.
How to Use Traditional Jumper Cables
- Make sure both engines are off and both vehicles are in park.
- Clamp the red jumper cable (positive) to the dead car’s positive battery terminal, which is marked with a plus symbol (+). The clamp should be firmly connected to the battery post.
- Clamp the other end of the red jumper cable to the donor car’s positive battery terminal, also marked with a plus symbol (+). The clamp should be firmly connected to the battery post.
- Clamp the black jumper cable (negative) to the donor car’s negative battery terminal, which is marked with a minus symbol (-).The clamp should be firmly connected to the battery post.
- Clamp the other end of the black jumper cable to a bare, metal surface in the engine bay of the dead vehicle. This grounds the connection for the jump.
- Ensure that the jumper cables are not touching any engine parts.
- Start the donor car’s engine and let it idle for a few minutes.
- Start the dead car’s engine and let it idle for a few minutes.
- Disconnect the black jumper cable from the once-dead battery. Then disconnect the black jumper cable from the donor car.
- Remove the red jumper cable from the donor car. Then remove the red jumper cable from the once-dead car.
There are lots of things that can go wrong. The donor car’s power can surge and damage your vehicle’s electronics. If the jumper cable ends touch, they will spark like crazy. It’s a time consuming process that doesn’t always work.
There Must Be Another Way.
Good news, there is. For the past 3 years I’ve had a small battery pack in my vehicle specifically designed to jump start a dead battery. This is great for emergencies, especially when no one is around, because this method doesn’t require a donor vehicle. All you need is a fully charged portable vehicle jump starter.
The JumpPlus (shown above) is a new product that will replace the older portable vehicle jump starter I have in my Jeep. My original jump starter is a 12,000 mAh Powerall. This portable vehicle jump starter has replaced my need to carry traditional jumper cables. Over the years, it has been used many times on my wife’s car, co-workers vehicles and strangers stranded in parking lots. My Powerall jump starter helped start 10 dead batteries over 3 years. I’ve never needed it for my Jeep. But, it’s good to know it’s there if I do. A portable vehicle jump starter has been a great product to enhance my emergency preparedness. This brought peace-of-mind when we drove our Wrangler from Missouri to Colorado as well as to Big Bend National Park. If you’ve ever driven through West Texas, you know that it is a remote area that doesn’t see a lot of traffic. Being self-reliant is important. The portable vehicle jump starter has the added benefit of being able to charge phones and other electronic devices.
JumpPlus Portable Vehicle Jump Starter
The folks at JumpPlus sent me a brand new unit to evaluate. I’ll touch on the features of the new product and share some photos as well. I’ll also compare it to the Powerall I’ve been using for 3 years. The JumpPlus arrived quickly and well packaged, which I’ve come to expect from Amazon.com. After removing the cellophane wrap the product’s box was exposed. It’s a nicely printed matte box with full color photography and highlights of the product’s features. The unboxing experience felt very high-end, like I was opening up an new Macbook. It didn’t look or feel cheap, which is something I consider when purchasing a gift. As a graphic designer by trade, I appreciate this attention to detail–it elevates the product and it’s perceived value.
I remove the box lid to reveal an nice 7″ nylon zippered case. This was unexpected, my Powerall didn’t come with a case and I had to purchase one to hold it and all it’s accessories.
When the zippered case is opened, the product and it’s accessories are well stored. The battery pack is secured and protected by a molded foam insert made specifically for this product. This is an added bonus. The Amazon Basics case I purchased 3 years ago holds the older battery pack, but I can’t say it does it well.
A small instruction booklet is included. It covers:
- Important instructions
- product layout
- parts list
- switch button and indication instructions
- How to charge the device
- How to jump start a 12v car
- How to charge a digital device whose input in 5v
- Product Specifications
- Trouble shooting
- Toxic & harmful substances (which there are zero)
- Warranty information
The booklet is written in english and is fairly concise. There are a few spelling/grammatical errors, but my writing isn’t perfect either. Illustrations help provide clarity and the format is small enough to keep it with the nylon zippered case. It’s worth noting that no other languages are included with the instructions.
I removed the JumpPlus and unpacked the case. My first impression is the product is well built. It weights just under 16 ounces and has a quality feel.
Included vehicle charging cable shown below. A wall charger is also included.
Included 4-in-1 USB cable shown below.
Anion air purifier, Input port, USB (type A) port (shown left to right below).
USB type C port.
The JumpPlus Emergency Battery Charger has a 15v/1A input that works with the home charger and car charge (both are included). There are three output ports. The first is a typical USB (type A) port that allows for a 5V/2A output, this is for most current digital devices. It can easily charge an iPhone, Android or GoPro device. The next port is a USB type C which offers a 5V/3A output and is suitable for newer technology like Apple’s new Macbook. JumpPlus recommends using Apple’s USB type C cable to charge your laptop. Otherwise, a 4-in-1 USB Charging Cable is included for both these ports. The third port is the 12V Output for starting a vehicle, they include a cable with clamps.
The JumpPlus also has a anion air purifier. This is a unique feature that makes this device useful when it’s not an emergency. It won’t get much use from me in a topless Jeep but I can see how a car owner could use it. The air purifier is activated by pressing the power button for 3 seconds, an led light next to the anion air purifier will turn on.
An LED light is on the end of the device. To activate, press the power button twice. This provides a continuous beam of light. Press the button again and the light changes to a steady burst sequence. If you press the power button once more the burst sequence changes to an SOS pattern. With a 13,500 mAh battery capacity and a full charge, the low power draw of an LED light will allow it to operate for a long time (almost 50 hours).
The battery clamps and boost indicator are shown below.
12V Output Port for starting a vehicle
How to Jump Start a Vehicle Using JumpPlus
- Connect the battery clamps
- Insert the blue plug into the JumpPlus, wait for the green light
- Start the engine
- Disconnect the plug
- Remove the clamps
Pretty easy, especially when you compare it to the process for traditional jumper cables. After the vehicle is started, JumpPlus recommends removing the plug within 10 seconds. The device has several built in safety features if you don’t get there in time:
- Over-current protection
- Over-voltage protection
- Over charge protection
- Short-circuit protection
- Over-discharge protection
Basically, they’ve thought of everything. The JumpPlus has an operating temperature between 0°F–140°F which is perfect for my Jeep Wrangler. My Jeep’s outside temp gauge read 103°F yesterday. The top and doors were off, so it was probably that hot inside too.
- The JumpPlus needs two indicator lights lit to start a vehicle (it has 4 indicator lights total).
- If the vehicle doesn’t start within 3 tries, stop and disconnect the JumpPlus. The vehicle might be damaged with continued attempts
- Check the the power once per month. A charge usually last 3-12 months. JumpPlus recommends the device be discharged and recharged every 3 months.
- The JumpPlus is meant to be used for emergencies, not a way to regularly charge your phone or digital devices. If used as intended, it will be ready when you call on it.
How Does the JumpPlus compare to the Powerall?
I haven’t used the JumpPlus in an emergency situation. Whereas, the Powerall has been utilized on 10 different occasions. My Powerall is 3 year old but still sold new on Amazon. The form factory of the Powerall is slightly smaller than the JumpPlus. But, the JumpPlus carrying case makes the overall package easier to contend with. The Powerall has a 12,000 mAh capacity and the JumpPlus has 13,500 mAh capacity. So, they are pretty evenly matched. Powerall does make/sell larger capacity units. When this review was posted the Powerall shown here cost $72 on Amazon, the necessary travel case at $10.50 gives you a total of $82.50. The JumpPlus includes a case and cost of $87 on Amazon. So once again, they are fairly evenly matched.
In my opinion, the JumpPlus has two killer features not present in the Powerall. The first is the boost cable that connects the device to the vehicle battery (shown below).
When I’ve used the Powerall to jump a vehicle it’s a guessing game on how long the device needs to be connected. In my estimation, it’s between 10 seconds and 5 minutes. I suppose it depends on how depleted the battery is. But, there is no indication when you should turn the key. That isn’t the case with the JumpPlus. It has two indicator lights to provide feedback and an audible beep when something isn’t right. When that green light is lit you know that everything is working properly and you can confidently start your vehicle. To me, that is a big difference. The USB-C is the second feature that is a game changer. This future proofs the device. The type-C port has a high power output and as our devices get more power hungry this port keeps the JumpPlus slightly ahead of technology trends.
The last point of difference I’ll call out is a simple one, but makes a difference when checking the device’s charge. My Powerall and Amazon Basics case (shown below) fall short of the ease of use and protection that the JumpPlus offers.
JumpPlus, case and accessories (shown below).
The way the JumpPlus lives in this case makes it easy to check the device’s charge capacity. I’d have to complete remove the Powerall from my other case to do that same. It’s a little thing, but it seems more thoughtful and makes for a better experience.
Like I said earlier, I haven’t used the JumpPlus in an emergency situation. But, when I do, I’ll report back and let you know how it did.