Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Lithium ion jumper pack

Best jumper pack for jump starting your car

Lots of companies make jumper packs. Some use older lead acid batteries while others rely on lithium ion or lithium polymer technology. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, but it’s clear the market is moving away from lead acid and leaping into lithium ion jumper pack technology. Rather than discuss the pros and cons of older lead acid jumper packs, let’s talk about what the new technology offers.

Lithium ion jumper packs are where it’s at

Lithium ion jumper packs are much smaller and lighter than lead acid jumper packs. They also hold their charge longer than lead acid batteries, but the charge length if often nowhere near what the manufacturers claim. The longer charge retention time can be an important advantage when you consider that lead acid jump packs must be charged at least once every 30-days, even more often in bitterly cold weather. But don’t get sucked in by the unrealistic claims made by some jumper pack manufacturers—more on that later

The early lithium ion jumper packs were expensive, had barely enough power to start your engine and had short lifespans. But costs have come down and power has gone up. Plus, the latest generation is much more reliable.

How to shop for a lithium ion jumper pack

Don’t rely on peak amps ratings

There is no industry standard for peak amps. So one jumper pack manufacturer can short a battery through a meter for 0.5-seconds and record the ammeter reading, while a different manufacturer can short the battery for 10-seconds and get a much different reading. One manufacturer can test their battery at 70°F while another tests their battery at 0°F. With no standard time length, no standard temperature and no standard for maintaining a minimum voltage, peak amps is totally worthless as a battery rating.

Two jumper pack batteries with the exact same peak amp reading can perform differently in terms of delivering power to your car battery. The bottom line here is:

DON’T BUY A JUMPER PACK BASED ON ITS PEAK AMP RATING. It is a totally meaningless number and doesn’t bear any resemblance to the battery’s ability to start your car!

But there is a battery rating you can rely on: Cranking Amps (CA). There is an industry standard for cranking amps, so that’s the one you should look for.

What are Cranking amps?

Cranking amps (CA) refers to the number of amps a battery can deliver when the battery temperature is 32°F (0°C). It’s the maximum number of amps the battery can deliver for 30-seconds while still maintaining at least 7.2 volts.

Aside from being a recognized standard, cranking amps are important because people usually use a jumper pack to start their car in cold weather. Batteries produce power through chemical reaction and that chemical reaction slows when it’s cold. So you want a rating that actually tests the battery’s output when it’s cold.

In addition to temperature, you also want to know how long a battery can output the specified number of amps. Think about it, what good is a battery that puts out high amps but for such a short period of time that it can’t start your engine.

Finally, when a jumper pack’s battery voltage drops below a certain point, it can no longer operate the starter motor. That’s why cranking amps covers total amp output at a set temperature, for a set period of time, all while maintaining a voltage above a set minimum.

Cold cranking amps (CCA) is like CA except that the rating is based on amperage output at 0°F (-17.8°C).

Lithium batteries can be dangerous

Due to their chemical composition, lithium batteries can be very dangerous. In fact, Boeing discovered just how dangerous lithium batteries can be when, on January 7, 2013, a lithium battery started a fire on Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner while it was parked at Boston’s Logan Airport.

Investigators later discovered that lithium batteries can develop microscopic structures called “dendrites” that can short out two cells and start a raging fire. In addition to dendrite formation, jumper packs with lithium batteries can start on fire if they:

• overheat while charging

• overheat while discharging

• are connected with reverse polarity

• are left connected to the dead vehicle’s battery after the vehicle starts

• are charged at too high a voltage or at too high an amperage.

That’s why you should look at the safety features in a lithium jumper pack

As you shop for a lithium battery pack, make sure the pack has these safety features:

Overcharge protection. Reverse polarity protection. Short circuit protection. Temperature protection.

Also, because of the wide variations in lithium jumper pack construction, Underwriters Laboratories has come out with a new standard for jumper packs. The larger manufacturers are spending the money to have their packs tested to get the UL seal. Look for a pack that says UL 2743.

Other jumper pack features

In addition to safety and ratings, look for these jumper pack features

Jumper pack Pre-heat function

Some jumper packs incorporate a small heater to heat up the internal cells. That results in higher battery output. Of course it uses some power to heat the cells, but the boost in the chemical reaction provides more total output than a comparable battery without a heater.

Jumper pack cable length

To use a longer cable, the manufacturer must increase the wire gauge and that costs money. So the less expensive units have very short leads on their cables. Generally speaking, you want the longest leads possible so the jumper pack doesn’t fall into the engine compartment while in use.

Jumper pack USB ports

Many jumper packs include USB ports to recharge your cell phone. Double check the unit’s specs to make sure the USB will output enough amps for your particular phone or tablet. Some Apple products will not start the recharge if the USB only outputs 2.0 amps.

Jumper Pack Flashlight

A built in LED flashlight is nice. Some units have a built in S.O.S flash sequence. That flash sequence may get you noticed if you’re in a ditch.

Jumper pack storage temperatures

Most of you want to store the unit in your vehicle so you can have it on hand if your car or truck doesn’t start. Well Bucco, many units can’t be stored in cold temperatures. So look at the unit’s storage temps before buying. You may have to keep it in your house, bring it out the car in the morning, take it into work with you and then take it inside again when you get home.

With that in mind, lets look at some lithium ion jumper packs

Jump N Carry JNC318

This jumper pack is made by Clore/Solar automotive. They’ve been in the jumper pack, battery charger business for decades. There products are used by pros.

The Jump N Carry JNC318 is a professional grade lithium unit. Here are the specs:

12 Volt Peak Amps : 700
12 Volt Start Assist Amps : 330
Cable Length : 17″
Cable Gauge : #10 AWG
Charge Type : Automatic
Reverse Polarity Protection : Yes
Backfeed Protection : Yes
Over-Voltage Protection : Yes
Overheat Protection : Yes
Indicator Display : LCD Display
USB Outlet : Yes (2)
12VDC Outlet : Yes (10A)
Weight : 3.8 lbs.
UPC : 010271025824
Warranty : 1 Year Limited

Buy it online for around $100.

Wagan Tech lithium ion jumper packs

Wagan Tech offer three models, starting at $75 and up to $170.

The Wagan iONBOOST™ SLIM (#7504) sells for $75 and the Lithium-ion Polymer battery provides 200 cranking amps. The 8-in. 10-AWG cables have reverse polarity protection with an alarm to let you know if you’re connecting them backwards. The unit has built-in overcharge protection, overheat protection and overload protection.

It has one USB output port for recharging your smartphone or tablet (2-amp maximum), a built-in flashlight and a battery status indicator. The unit weighs just 1.3-lbs and comes with an AC charger. Recharging takes about 2-hrs.

Just so you know, the recommended storage temperatures are 32°F to 140°F. So you can’t leave this in your car or trunk when temps dip below freezing. Plan on storing taking the unit indoors at home or work.

The Wagan iONBOOST™ V8 TORQUE (#7505) sells for $150 and the Lithium cobalt oxide battery provides 400 cranking amps. jumper packThe 10-AWG cables have reverse polarity protection with a alarm to let you know if you’re connecting them backwards. The unit has built-in overcharge protection, overheat protection and overload protection.

It has two USB output ports for recharging your smartphone or tablet (one with QC3.o and 1-2-amp maximum), a built-in flashlight and a battery status indicator. The unit weighs just 1.7-lbs and charges through a USB C port.

Just so you know, the recommended storage temperatures are -4°F to 176°F. So you can’t leave this in your car or trunk when temps dip below -4°F. Plan on taking the unit indoors at home or work when it gets that cold.

The Wagan iONBOOST™ V10 (#7505) sells for $170 and the Lithium cobalt oxide battery provides 400 cranking amps. The 8-in. 10-AWG cables have reverse polarity protection with an alarm to let you know if you’re connecting them backwards. The unit has built-in overcharge protection, overheat protection and overload protection.

It has two USB output ports for recharging your smartphone or tablet (2-amp maximum), a built-in flashlight and a battery status indicator. The V8 unit also has one DC accessory outlet: 12-volt 10-amp. The unit weighs just 2.5-lbs and comes with both an AC and DC charger. Recharging takes about 2-4-hrs with the AC charger and 4-5 hours from your car’s power port (engine running).

What’s different about this unit, in addition to the higher CA rating is that it has much better storage ratings, so it be stored in your car in temps down to -4°F or up to 185°F. If you anticipate temps colder or warmer, take the unit inside.

©, 2019 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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