The Ultimate Guide on How to Use a Portable Jump Starter

Jump starting your car with a portable starter is easy and safe, as long as you know what you’re doing. First, understand the dangers present when using a portable jump starter in order to avoid possible hazards. This is the ultimate guide on how to use a portable jump starter safely and effectively.

Cars aren’t the only battery-powered thing that needs charging from time to time. A portable jump starter is perfect for outdoors enthusiasts of any kind. Portable jump starters are, simply, battery packs designed to deliver an electric current through its attachments.

The hallmark attachment for a portable starter is the jumper cables. The unit provides enough current to get your engines crank turning on its own. Once the engine is running it will power your car battery on its own.

Most portable jumpers are not designed to charge a car battery-only to crank the engine. But many portable jump starters can charge your phone, radio, lights, and other small electronics.

Portable Jump Starter Safety

Even lithium-ion batteries drain, malfunction, and fail from time to time. A portable jump starter is a great tool to have in a pinch, but only if you use it safely.

Most portable jumpers feature built-in safety precautions, like spark-proof jumper clamps. As long as you use your jumper properly, you can avoid short circuits, overvoltages, and sparking.

No matter the piece of equipment or vehicle you are jumping, practice the following safety protocols when using your portable jump starter:

Ensure the Jump Starter is Turned Off

Even though the battery is dead on your car or recreational vehicle, it still carries an electric charge. Your battery can fry, spark, and explode, in the event of an accidental interaction between the jump starter cables and the battery of your car.

Before you connect the positive and negative lead ends of your jumper to the battery, be sure that the power to your jump starter is off.

Turn Off the Equipment

In kind, before you use a portable jump starter, turn off all power to that which you are jumping. If you are jumping a car, turn off the AC, lights, and radio before you take the keys out of the ignition.

Keep the Jump Cables from Touching

Do not allow the jumper cables to touch each other at any time when the unit is turned on. When the battery of the unit is on then power is passing through the jumper cables. When electrical current is passing through the positive and negative ends of the cables they will spark if they touch.

Also, keep the positive and negative ends of the jump cables away from any kind of electrical conductor.

Stay Away from Combustible Substances

In the event of an accidental spark from your jump cables, you do not want to be around anything flammable. Even in the normal process of jumping your car, a spark can be emitted.

Make sure that there are no combustible or flammable materials in the immediate vicinity of where your jump is taking place. If you are at a gas station, push your car behind the building, as far away from the pumps as you can. 

Lead-Acid Battery Precautions

Car batteries are lead-acid and prone to exploding in the event of an overload. The reason why the wrong end of the jumper cable makes sparks when it touches the wrong lead of a car battery is that of an overload. If a lead-acid car battery overloads, it can explode and cause serious injuries.

The chemical reaction occurring in a lead-acid battery produces hydrogen gas in an overload. When too much hydrogen gas builds up in your car battery, it is prone to combustion.

So, be sure that the correct jumper cable end is connected to the corresponding battery lead.

The positive and negative ends are colour coordinated between the cables and a car battery. All you have to do is make sure that the negative jumper clamps onto the negative battery lead, and the same with the positive ends.

Do not touch positive to negative, and keep the cable ends from touching each other.

Portable Jump Starter Features

Portable jump starters carry more utility than meets the eye. They feature a range of life-saving tools and functions. In the event of an emergency situation, a portable jump starter acts as an all-in-one power kit.

Since a portable jump starter is, essentially a compact power storage source, most units come with additional functions.

Most portable jump starters include a built-in emergency light and a 12-volt outlet. The best units, also feature USB ports and a three-way charging system including solar inputs for off-grid charging.

Portable jump starters are an essential piece of gear if you are a frequent driver. You won’t use it until you desperately need a jump in the middle of nowhere, at night, with no one around for miles. Then, you are glad you have a jump starter in the boot or glovebox-charged and ready to save the day.

For those who enjoy the outdoors and taking camping trips, a power source can mean the difference between life and death. Your portable power source fits in your bag and is your lifeline in an emergency.

Hook up solar panels to ensure that your jump starter is never drained when you need it most. Take the whole family camping with solar, mobile, renewable electricity on-site.

Just hook up your solar panels to the jump starter and you can recharge your phone, tablet, or computer.

Of course, if the kids accidentally kill the car battery with the radio, you can use your portable jump starter for its main function.

How to Use a Portable Jump Starter

Even if you know how to jump-start a car, you will have no trouble using a portable jump starter. But, familiarize yourself with the controls and function of your model before attempting to connect the unit to a live power source.

To use your portable jump starter, follow these instructions:

1. Portable Jump Starter Setup and Connection

Perform this step with the power off to your power source and vehicle. Make sure that your portable jump units power is off. Do not attempt to connect the jumper cables to the power source if the power of the unit is on.

All batteries and jumper cables are colour coordinated at the negative and positive connection points. The positive jumper cables and battery terminals are red. The negative ones are black.

Always connect red to red, or positive to positive. Never connect positive to negative, or red to black.

With the unit turned off, connect the jumper cable extends into the corresponding port on the power source. Some units feature cables that are built-in to the unit and cannot detach.

With the positive jumper cable, connect it to the positive battery terminal. Connect the negative cable to the chassis of your vehicle.

2. Connecting Your Jump Cables

With the power turned off to your car and the power unit, make sure that the positive jumper clamp is securely fastened onto the positive car battery terminal. If it shakes loose when the vehicle starts it may cause a power short in the jumper.

Take the negative jumper cable off of the vehicles chassis, or stable point. Clamp the negative cable on the negative battery terminal, making sure that it is secure and not touching any other conductive surface.

3. Turn on Your Jump Starters Power

With, both the positive and negative clamps connecting to their corresponding battery terminals, turn your jump starters power on. Be sure to do this without power to the vehicle, and with all the vehicles functions turned off.

Also, be sure that the jump starter unit is securely positioned so that it will not fall upon starting the engine.

4. Starting Your Car

Climb into the driver seat of your car, and put the keys in the ignition. With the air conditioning, radio, and lights turned off, turn the ignition and see if the motor turns over. If you do not hear the motor cranking right away, stop and let the power source give more juice to the battery.

Do not turn over the motor for more than five seconds at a time. Give at least two or three minutes of rest between attempts.

When you try to start the car, your jumper source pumps its power into the car battery. If you turn the motor for too long it drains the power on your jump starter. And, it can overload the car battery, increasing the risk of an explosion.

If your car still won’t start after a few attempts, turn off the car and the power supply to the jumper. Double check that all the connection points are correctly and securely in place. If all connections are correct your car will start almost immediately.

5. Recharge Your Portable Jump Starter

The power supply of your jump starter suffers drain during a jump. After every use makes sure to recharge the battery. Get a portable jumper unit and solar panel kit, so your jumper never leaves the car. Also, make sure you charge your jump starter every three months to ensure its battery does not flatten completely and is ready in the event of an emergency.

Final Thoughts

Once you jump your car make sure to turn off the power to your portable starter unit, as not to waste the battery. Follow these instructions and your jump starter will reliably get you out of the toughest jams.

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