Much Better Than an Electric Car

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Here’s a use for lithium-ion batteries that makes sense – economically as well as functionally: It’s a battery pack for jump-starting your car (as opposed to using a battery pack to run your car).

Because it doesn’t need to run your car, this one’s small and light – about the size of a cell phone and not much heavier. It fits easily in your pocket or purse and even more so in your glovebox.

Unlike the electric car’s bulky and heavy battery pack – which also costs a fortune. This small and light one only costs about $35 bucks.

It packs a 400 amp punch, too – enough to jump-start an old muscle car’s huge V8 (guinea pig for testing purposes, my ’76 Trans-Am) so it should be able to deal with anything new.

The other cool thing about this rig is that you can use it as a portable power pack for computers and other personal electronics, such as a laptop. I backpack a lot and – being a workaholic – take mine with me into the Woods. But the laptop’s battery is only good for about six hours or so, depending. With this unit packed along, I get triple the “range” out of my computer – which is much better than you get out of a Tesla!

. . .

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15 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve been meaning to get me a jump starter- but I really think I’m just gonna get me a top-O-the-line conventional one. Unless ya have to charge this thing for 9 days, I don’t see how USB charging gets 400W@12V DC into it, from c. 5V @ 2.5 Watts and 500mA.

    Don’t mean to doubt you Eric….but this is one I’d have to see to believe!

      • I’m probably going to have to try one of these, Eric- if for nothing else, just to satisfy my curiosity. Only caveat: Li-Ion fire fire hazard?

        • Hi Nunz,

          For $35, it’s hard to say no. I have beefy heavy duty portable jump starters, but they’re a pain to lug around. What I really dig about this one, though, s that I don’t have to find a seat near a 120V outlet at the coffee shop where I compose my rants!

          • It would be handy for a multitude of things, that’s for sure, Eric. Like when ya need 12V to test something; or running a 12V compressor instead of dragging out the big’un when a tire needs a little air, etc.

            Pretty hard to resist!

  2. Probably don’t want to keep one in the glove box. LiPO batteries don’t like extreme temps, so if you’re trying to jump on the cold morning it might not have enough charge available. And heat will greatly shorten the usable life of the battery too. But it will probably work in a low-voltage situation, where the SLA needs a little extra “umph” to get going. I doubt it would work more than once or twice in a no-voltage completely dead electrical system.

    One thing i would keep in a glove box is one of those Horrible Fright “free” multimeters. Sure, it’s about as accurate as sticking your tongue on the terminals, but it is better than nothing. And if it gets bounced hard enough to cease function you’re out the cost of hauling the thing around for a few years. If you really want to get fancy, pick up a Fluke Chinese grey market unit.

    • My Fluke 12 fell of the second step of a ladder(2 ft.)day before yesterday and the leads were sorta fouled up so it dropped slowly and hit the wooden floor really easy. I picked it up and no display. Took it apart and couldn’t find anything wrong and still nothing, battery was 9.69 V. Never could find a problem. It was my only capacitance meter. It’s had an easy life in a form fitted case of foam for sensitive instruments. Where is that Chinese gray market? It costs $120 26 years ago and mainly lived in the house and the UEI and Simpson 260 did all the heavy lifting. I’m really disappointed.

    • I bought a lower end Fluke once ($39 IIRC)…it was good for nothing. Piece of junk. I returned it to Lowes.

      Got one of those free HF ones…. They may not be super-accurate for electronics…but for just plain-old electricity, they’re as good as anything else.

      I went to test for voltage at an AC outlet once with it…forgetting to switch it out of the Amp andleaving the lead plugged into the Amp socket… 🙂 ….believe it or not, all it did was fry the lead. Put a new lead on (which cost as much as the meter is worth!) and the meter was fine….still going strong.

  3. How can this be? Charges USB? Those little thin clamp wires? I know you wouldn’t lie or exaggerate, Eric…but I can’t wrap my mind around this….. I’ve never even had good luck with the big’uns!

    • What it has to do to charge by USB is step up the voltage and go slowly. No issue there.

      The wire size for the jumper cables is concerning, but perhaps for the very short burst it is ok. A fair amount of sizing a wire for current is duty cycle. It does take time for the wires to heat up to the point where fire is an issue.

      • I can’t graps[sic] the wire gauge. Even with conventional jumper cables…. Ever try using cheap cruddy jumper cables with weak clamps and thin cables? They’re worse than useless. That’s why I bought a set of heavy-duty cables, that have thicbles, and clamps so strong that I can’t open them all the way one-handed!

        What a difference.

        I suppose I’d have to get one of these lithium things and try it, to actually believe it. I’m thinking it would have trouble turning over the Kohler V-twin on my ZTR if the battery was very weak….

        Question for Eric: Did you have the battery in your Pontiac disconnected when you tried this puppy; or was the battery really weak? Or was it just a hair shy from sitting?

        • I recall reading a review of several of them last year. There was a huge discrepancy in what each would do one in particular worked like a champ. I don’t recall any of the brands…sorry. Oh, it was a home mechanic sorta guy on YT.

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