If you’re going on a road trip or to where you expect road service would be far and few between, it’s always wise to bring a portable jump starter, more commonly known as a jump box, in case you or someone might need it.

But the question “How do you charge a portable jump starter?” is another story. To be honest, it is not too hard of a task, so read on to learn all about it and be an expert in no time.

A Portable Jump Starter

How To Charge A Portable Jump Starter

Portable jump starters come in all shapes and sizes, but in general, there are three main ways you can charge up your jump box. Each charging method will determine when and where you can top up your jump starter. That said, however, there is no superiority charging method, as each has its own advantages over the others.

Direct Charge:

This is the simplest and most straightforward charging method for a portable jump starter. You only need to plug the portable charger into a standard electrical outlet and you’re good to go.

The process is almost identical to how you would plug and charge your mobile phone: just find the included wall outlet charger and plug it into the corresponding port on your jump starter.

Then, find an electrical outlet and plug it in to begin charging. An adapter might be needed, but that should not be a big problem, as they are often included in the jump kit.

A/C Adapter Charge:

The A/C adapter charging method involves the use of the A/C adapter that is widely available in most vehicles nowadays. You can easily find this adapter in the cigarette lighter port.

A portable jump starter kit with A/C adapter

This is the optimal way to charge your portable jump starter on the go, as you don’t need to stop anywhere or worry over finding the right outlet.

To charge your jump starter this way, find the A/C adapter included in your jump starter kit, then connect the jump starter with the A/C port. Aside from being easily available anywhere, this method is also relatively fast, requiring less time compared to the conventional one.

A portable jump starter kit with A/C adapter

Do keep in mind, however, that while there are vehicles that can be used to charge the jump box regardless of the engine running or not, there are still vehicles that can’t do this, so read your car’s user manual closely to know about external device charging specifications.

It’d be a bummer to leave your jump starter plugged in for hours, only to return and found out that it stopped charging the moment your car was turned off. So make sure that your battery jumper is plugged in and charging before leaving it there.

Solar Charge

The solar charge is, as its name implies, the charging method that employs solar power to charge the jump box battery. Solar power has a number of advantages that set it apart from its competitors, such as the overall low cost and the ability to charge anywhere and everywhere.

solar panels
A portable jump starter kit with solar panels

Furthermore, solar power portable jump starters are extremely easy to charge, as you can leave them outside under the sun for a while and you’re set. There is no need for wires or adapters, so it’s a lot more convenient.

Charging speed depends on the current level of the battery prior to recharging, thus charging might vary. To learn more about the charging speed and capacity, consult each model’s user manual for more information.

Jump starters that are purely solar-powered come with a caveat, making them somewhat inefficient and take longer to charge, thus hybrid models exist, allowing for greater versatility.

Safety Precautions

Regardless of types, there are certainly a number of safety precautions that you must always follow to prevent unwanted accidents:

  • Always read the user manual of both the vehicle and the jump box before attempting to charge or use them.
    Each brand and model have their own regulations and specifications when it comes to jump starting, so familiarise yourself with them to ensure that you know what you’re doing.
    From our experiences, pay extra attention to hybrid cars, as they are relatively much more trickier to work with.
  • When jump starting, remove any devices that are still connected to the jump box or your car, as jump starting will create a surge of electricity that can easily shoot out and destroy your devices.
  • Alongside external devices, turn off any radio, AC or hazard light as well.
  • Make sure that your car is turned off and removed from its key socket before connecting the jump starter. Additionally, insulate yourself with gloves and if possible, rubber boots prior to this as well. Jump starting is relatively safe if you’re used to doing it, but it doesn’t hurt to be cautious.
  • The positive (red) clamp and negative (blue/black) clamp should be plugged into the corresponding terminal or car plug. Check beforehand and clean the clamps and terminals off any rust or dirt before starting for maximum conductivity.
  • Once connected to the jump starter, the positive and negative cables should never make contact. Doing so could out surge the cable and cause damage.
    Under no circumstances should you put your face directly above or near the terminals after they’ve been connected.
  • Refrain from smoking while you are jump starting a car. A stray spark could turn your Ford Fiesta into a Ford Hasta la Vista!
  • Check the car’s and jump starter’s fluid, if they are frozen, do not use them. The same goes for jump boxes that appear heavily damaged or broken.
  • If you jump start a car unsuccessfully, do not immediately try to do it again. Wait for 5 to 10 minutes between each jump start for maximum efficiency and minimise the risk of overload.

Miscellaneous Tips About Your Portable Jump Starter

Now that you’ve gotten the tips on how to jump start a car safely, we also have a few pointers to make the most out of your portable jump starter.

Portable Jump Starter

Things to look for when buying a jump starter

When buying a jump starter, you should also look for additional features that are included alongside the kit. Power inverters and LED lights for night trips should be highly considered.

Most commercial jump starting boxes have lights that are about 100 to 200 in lumens, so those are a good range to start with. Air compressors are very useful if you want to pump your tires in a pinch as well, but they are a rather expensive addition.

How long should a jump starter be charged?

As mentioned above, it varies greatly on how long it takes to fully charge a jump starter. Depending on the capacity and input, it can take up to 12 hours, with the current battery level not taken into account.

Furthermore, we highly recommend fully charging your portable jump starter when you’ve recently purchased it. Every 3 months or so, fully deplete the battery and then recharge again to preserve battery integrity.

How many jump starts can a jump starter handle?

On average, a 100% charged portable jump starter can complete 15 to 20 jump start sessions. However, when using the jump starter, you have to take into account your vehicle’s age, type, and battery status. A SUV will take up much more than a compact car, so we recommend trying out the jump starter a few times to get a feel for it.


And that’s pretty much it! Now the question “how do you charge a portable jump starter?” no longer bothers you, it’s time to start planning for those long trips without having to worry about anything. Safe travel, and good luck!