Best Jump Starter of 2020
Securing the top spot overall, the NOCO Boost Plus GB40 was our favorite model in the entire lineup. This top-tier power-pack performed exceedingly well in every category of review and was also one of the most compact and easy-to-use. Designed and engineered in the US, this portable contender has been around longer than nearly every other model we tested. NOCO has more than 100 years of experience making consumer electronics, and as evidenced by our testing, this model showcases an excellent degree of craftsmanship and performance.
Rated at 1000 peak amps (but claiming to handle 1200) and utilizing a 24Wh battery, this jumper does not appear as fierce by-the-numbers when compared to other lithium-ion models. However, our testing found that the GB40 punches out of its weight class when it comes to power performance and battery life — arguably the two most important factors to consider. Our testing proved it capable of cold-starting a 6.2L engine up to ten times before needing a charge, though you could conceivably get more consecutive jumps on a smaller engine. Aside from boosting over 1200 cold cranking amp batteries, it has a two amp USB outlet to charge electronics, a super-bright tactical LED light, and several built-in safety features, including a bypass mode that allows you to preserve vehicle memory when swapping batteries. Our only substantial gripes were the lack of an additional USB port and AC adapter for charging on wall outlets. Overall, the NOCO Boost Plus GB40 is a high-performing and reliable option for motorists who need power when it counts.
Performing respectably across all categories and available for less an exceptional price, the Tacklife T8 was awarded Best Value for day-to-day automobile use. Although it has lesser amperage compared to some models, we found it to be extremely useful for mid-size cars and even marine batteries with over 1000 cold-cranking amps. Equipped with dual USB ports and a 12v 10A DC port, this model is also a very functional power bank that is capable of charging an iPhone up to six times. The displays and controls are user-friendly, and the included "intelligent" cables include a boost feature.
However, this model may not be the best option for larger vehicles. Though it claims to boost gas engines up to seven liters, we found that the battery was considerably depleted after jumping batteries in excess of 800 cranking amps. But for the average motorist, it is a competent contender that should hold a charge for months and provide more than a dozen boosts when fully juiced. When you consider both performance and price point, the Tacklife T8 is tough to beat for consumer value.
If you're in-the-market for a multi-purpose model that stays at home or plugged-in at the shop, look no further than the Dewalt DXAEJ14. Boasting an on-board 120 PSI air compressor with digital controls and a built-in alternator test, this model has many features that would prove valuable to automotive professionals or contractors who need more than boosts out of their jump starters. In addition to supplying 1400 peak amps of potential current, it can also power accessories via its dual USB ports and 12V DC charging port. Though it isn't light and portable like some of the lithium-ion models, this unit can provide a boost to larger engines more effectively with enough power left to then charge your devices or inflate a tire.
This model isn't cheap, but we believe that you get what you pay for in this instance. One of our only frustrations with it is the lack of proper storage for the attached air compressor cable and accessories. That and the fact that you must recharge the pack after each jump (this is standard for sealed lead acid models, however). But when compared to other SLA models, the Dewalt DXAEJ14 out-performs the competition with a high-rated 21 amp-hour battery. That power performance, coupled with its versatility, has earned it an award for the best for use at home or in a shop.
If you frequently need portable power for your devices while traveling and only occasionally require a boost in emergencies, then you'll find a friend with the GOOLOO GP2000. This model comes with a 73Ah lithium-ion battery that is capable of delivering up to 2000 peak amps when jumping a car. Though the unit struggles to boost larger batteries, we found that it is capable of handling up to eight consecutive boosts on a 2.5-liter engine before needing another charge; however, what this model really excelled at was charging electronics via its USB ports. In testing, we found that when using the 5V USB port, we could fully charge an iPhone up to 15 times without needing to plug in the power pack.
While it's great for powering accessories on-the-go, we were a little underwhelmed by how it performed as a booster pack. It is fully capable of bringing mid-size batteries back to life but doesn't quite have the gusto to manage larger engines and higher cranking amps. However, due to the storage potential of its 73Wh battery, this contender will hold a charge for quite a while, allowing you to charge your electronics wherever you go. Because of this, we nominated the GOOLOO GP2000 as the best option for powering accessories.
Similar in design to other models, the Stanley J5C09 is a well-built contender that boasts similar performance at a lower cost. Rated at 1000 peak amps, it's stout enough to boost batteries large enough to power five-liter diesel engines. Additionally, it comes equipped with an air compressor and pressure gauge that allows you to accurately fill tires to the correct PSI. There is also a LED flashlight and USB charging port to power accessories.
Known for making quality tools and power equipment, it is no surprise that a model from Stanley would include durable features like heavy gauge cables and metal clamps. However, both the power cables and air compressor cable were the shortest among SLA starters. Additionally, this unit is only capable of charging via extension cord. If those aren't dealbreakers, then we'd recommend taking a look at the Stanley J5C09.
Utilizing many of the same design features found on higher-end lithium-ion models, the Topvision Power Pack offers a good range of functionality for a lower price point. Although it may not seem very high-quality at first glance, this model has several handy features, including an LCD voltmeter that is attached to the cables. With 2000 cranking amps and 1000 starting amps, this model had some of the most impressive tech specs out-of-the-box. However, we found that in certain applications, it was slightly underpowered when compared to similar models.
Though it comes with a 12V cigarette lighter adapter, its output is only rated to six amps, which is not enough juice for most DC accessories. Equipped with Quick-Discharge technology, this jump starter has enough power to boost gasoline engines as large as 7 liters. But because it lacks intuitive controls and certain features like a 120V AC adapter to charge, the Topvision Power Pack didn't score as highly as some competitors.
Often, the most straightforward designs are the most reliable. And while it may not be the most standout option in the lineup, we found the simplicity of the Clore Automotive JNC660 to be one of its best attributes. Other than a very simple charge indicator and a 12V DC outlet to power accessories, this model has virtually no fancy add-ons to speak of. With 46-inch #2 AWG welding cable leads and a very robust design, this unit seems capable of withstanding years of abuse. Despite the lack of features, we found this jump starter to be extremely user-friendly and well-powered for even larger vehicles. Simply put, it works.
While it won't win any awards for streamlined design or additional features, the Clore Automotive JNC660 is a proven workhorse that should provide enough power for even heavy machinery. Although it doesn't have an air compressor or USB ports like the other SLA jump starters, this model seems as though it would last longer simply because there are fewer onboard electronics that could potentially fail.
Remember when we said that you get what you pay for? Well, it still rings true here. The BeatIt B10 was the cheapest model in our lineup and perhaps consequently the weakest performer. Though it purportedly has a 78 amp hour battery (the largest in this review), our tests concluded that it has roughly half of its claimed storage capacity, effectively rendering it the worst performer in battery life.
It does have some redeeming qualities: for instance, it is the only contender in this review that has a 120V AC outlet. However, it supplies only a mediocre amount of power, enough to run an oscillating fan for one hour, but not enough to charge a laptop. Due to its lackluster performance, we would recommend avoiding the BeatIt B10, even if the price seems right.
Why You Should Trust Us
With an eclectic experience of operating machinery and a variety of engine types, our primary tester, Rob Woodworth, has a nuanced understanding of 12V systems and the batteries that power them. He is a Coast Guard Certified Captain that is routinely maintaining deep-cycle marine batteries and other sealed lead-acid batteries used to start heavy equipment. His practical knowledge of battery performance is fortified by his experience in off-grid solar power systems, which require more frequent and diligent maintenance. As such, his background in 12V applications is deeper than that of your average commuter.
After researching more than 50 different jump starters, we narrowed our selection down to the eight models found in this review. We chose to include units that were capable of delivering anywhere from 1000 to 2000 peak amps, though there are several brands that offer a higher output in other models. To be comprehensive, we examined models that had both lithium-ion and sealed lead acid battery types. They were each subjected to the same testing metrics and were scored accordingly.
Analysis and Test Results
We purchased the best models available on the market for a head-to-head analysis of performance in the field. We chose to examine products that utilized both sealed lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the functional capabilities of each type. Not only did we test how quickly each contender could revive a dead battery, but we also examined the various features of each models, including USB power ports, AC adapters, and air compressors.
To fully test each jump starter, we ran all the models through a series of tests designed to identify the limits of their performance. They were subjected to boosting a variety of battery sizes from a fleet of different vehicles, ranging from a 650cc motorcycle to a 6.7L V8 diesel to a 454 horsepower inboard boat engine. We monitored voltage and current during boosts and, when possible, would bypass the battery altogether to see how many cold-starts we could get out of each power pack.
Sealed Lead Acid vs. Lithium-Ion Batteries
Both sealed lead-acid (SLA) and lithium-ion (LI) batteries have distinct strengths, though you may prefer one type over the other depending on your needs. The most obvious distinction between the two is their weight; SLA's are much heavier and considerably larger than LI's. Additionally, LI batteries generally offer greater power per ounce and can hold more watt-hours of potential energy. SLA's are cheap, long-lasting, and reliable, but only if properly maintained. They will require a charge after each jump, whereas LI jump starters can provide consecutive jumps without a recharge.
In this metric, we considered the energy output of each model when used to boost a 12V battery. Electrical current is measured using amperes or amps, usually distinguished by a "peak amps" rating for each unit. However, a jump starter that is rated to 1000 peak amps won't necessarily perform at 1000 amps under various loads. Thusly, we sought to test how well each contender held up to a number of different boosting scenarios.
The NOCO Boost Plus GB40, Tacklife T8, and TopVision Power Pack were among the highest-rated lithium-ion units in this category. All three of these devices have peak amp ratings in excess of 1000A, giving them enough current to boost engines as large as seven L. Time and time again, these jump starters were able to deliver adequate power to a range of 12V batteries with differing cranking amps. By design, lithium-ion jump starters exceed at delivering quick pulses of energy rather than sustained current.
By contrast, the Dewalt DXAEJ14, Clore Automotive JNC660, and Stanley J5C09 deliver a constant current when hooked up to your battery terminals. At a full charge, they can deliver perhaps three boosts, although the manufacturers recommend charging after each use. This is because these models utilize SLA batteries, which discharge more rapidly than lithium-ion batteries. However, this does not mean they deliver an inferior boost; in fact, we found them fully capable of reviving even larger diesel and deep-cycle marine batteries. Among the SLA types, we were less fond of the Stanley J5C09 as it delivered slightly less current under load in our tests.
Without a doubt, the biggest under-performer for this category was the BeatIt B10, which was only able to accommodate smaller engines with lower cranking amps. Even then, the unit would become hot after boosting just one time, something that only happened after successive jumps using similar power packs.
The storage potential for batteries is usually rated using watt-hours (Wh). Occasionally, manufacturers will list milliamps hour (mAh) or amps hour (Ah), but this is an inaccurate measurement unless you factor in the voltage that you are requiring. So we designed our tests to examine watt-hours, not amp-hours, in order to reflect battery storage potential across a variety of voltages.
Through repeated use and testing, we found that the GOOLOO GP2000 had the best battery storage, clocking in an impressive 80Wh. Runners-up included the TopVision Power Pack and the TackLife T8, each producing more than 70Wh, enough to charge most cell phones eight to ten times. When comparing boost ability, the NOCO Boost Plus GB40 was able to provide as many or more jumps when compared to competitors. However, it comes with a much lower 24Wh when compared to other lithium-ion battery packs.
SLA jump starters like the Clore Automotive JNC660 have much lower watt-hour ratings when compared to the LI models. Simply put, sealed batteries are designed to provide larger currents for short periods and don't really excel at long-term wattage draw. But they do have enough juice to power 12V accessories for a few hours, the Dewalt DXAEJ14 and Stanley J5C09 even have USB ports to get a couple of charges on mobile devices.
Durability & Craftsmanship
To us, longevity is a necessary component of functional performance. We carefully examined each unit to determine how the various pieces would fare against long-term use and potential abuse. The NOCO Boost Plus GB40 was without-a-doubt the most well-built unit in the lineup. With hard-wearing materials, heavy gauge cables, and extremely secure port covers, it is clear that every little detail was considered with durability in mind. The TackLife T8 was another high-quality power pack, using durable materials and a very secure carrying case that is also fire-resistant.
Though it isn't the fanciest, the Clore Automotive JNC660 was arguably the most indestructible SLA type jump starter with welders grade cable and no extra bits to get broken. Whereas the Dewalt and Stanley models had more working components that could potentially fail and extra pieces that will quickly get lost if not stored somewhere. Among the lowest-scoring models were the BeatIt B10, TopVision Power Pack, and the GOOLOO GP2000. These models used thin plastic and cables, featured poor coverage on their power ports, and overall gave us the impression that they were off-brand bargain alternatives to more reputable units.
Ease of Use
When rating ease of use, we chose to award points for features that improved the user experience. Similarly, points were deducted if we found the interface to be confusing or inefficient. Without question, the Clore Automotive JNC660 was the most simple and easy-to-use model in our test. Simply connect to your battery, and you're good to go. Other models like the NOCO Boost Plus GB40 and the TackLife T8 were straightforward in application but come standard with certain safety features that may have a learning curve.
The Dewalt DXAEJ14 and TopVision Power Pack were less intuitive and required that we consult the manuals for proper use. Furthermore, both of these models had a propensity to drain the battery if we neglected to power them down, lacking the auto-off feature that other models came equipped with.
Sometimes, all you need is a jump. But in case you're looking for the Swiss Army knife of jump starters, we chose to score the contenders on their relative versatility, examining how effectively they can manage a variety of tasks. The Dewalt DXAEJ14 had an impressive list of features, including a 120 PSI air compressor with pressure gauge, multiple power ports, working lights, and even an alternator tester, making it a great option for those who need a do-it-all power pack at home or on the job site.
For most users, models like the TackLife T8 or Stanley J5C09 will provide more than enough versatility, allowing you to charge a variety of devices in addition to boosting a vehicle and providing more than one way to recharge the unit when depleted. The least versatile workhorse in our test was the Clore Automotive JNC660, which has no USB ports and can only be charged via extension cord.
We hope that this review has brought light to your search for the perfect jump starter. In a market flooded with cheap consumer electronics, we value the opportunity to help you narrow the options in picking a model that will work for your needs. A dead car battery can happen to anyone, and we hope that our testing can help you remain assured that you'll never be stuck without power on the side of the road, out in the woods, or wherever adventure may find you.
— Rob Woodworth