Jump Start Batteries – a layman’s guide

Sealey Jump Start BatteryMany years ago Jump Start Batteries were only found in garages. They were big, heavy things usually mounted on a trolley or a sack truck. If you weren’t near a garage, you had to get a jump start from another vehicle.

Today, everything has changed.

A Jump Start Battery can, quite literally, fit in your pocket. With the introduction of lithium technology, jump start batteries are small enough to be carried by anyone whether in a lorry, car or on a motorbike.

You no longer need to be stuck in some deserted, wet and windy car park, in the middle of nowhere with a flat battery because you left your lights on or forgot to unplug your GPS. Just connect up the Jump Start Battery, start your car and you’re on your way again in minutes.

Why do I need a Jump Start Battery?

DBPower Jump Start Battery

DB Power Jump Start Battery

One of the major causes of a flat battery is leaving your lights on. Leaving your headlights on with the engine off, even just for a short time, can discharge your battery so it can’t start the vehicle.

We also use a lot of battery-powered accessories like GPS and we often power them or charge them in our vehicles. Sometimes we leave them plugged in when we’re not in the vehicle and, if left plugged in overnight or for the weekend, especially in winter, they can seriously drain a vehicle battery.

If we drive an older vehicle the battery may not have the same vigour as it did when it was new. A cold winter’s morning is all that is needed to leave you stranded unable to get to work asking strangers for a Jump Start or a push!

There are other benefits as well.Most Jump Start Batteries can be recharged from your vehicle’s accessory socket using a USB adapter. So, after jump starting your vehicle, you can charge the Jump Start Battery and the vehicle battery back up as you’re driving along.

Think of a Jump Start Battery as insurance only much, much cheaper. They can sit in your glove box or under the seat of your motorcycle ready to spring into action when needed.

Most Jump Start Batteries can be recharged from your vehicle’s accessory socket using a USB adapter. So, after jump starting your vehicle, you can charge the Jump Start Battery and the vehicle battery as you’re driving along.

What else can they do for me?

One benefit is they usually come with a USB socket so you can use them to charge your phone, tablet or other battery-powered devices when you’re not near a power source.

A good example is if you like hiking or camping. You can use the Jump Start Battery to recharge your phone, GPS or tablet while enjoying the wilderness.

They usually come with an LED torch if you need to locate something in your tent or campsite at night. On many models, the torch has an SOS mode which will flash either the morse code for SOS . . . – – – . . . or will produce a regular flashing pattern. This can be helpful if you become temporarily unsure of your position.

You can also be the Good Samaritan and help others who are having a problem starting their vehicle.

DB Power Jump Start battery next to Mobile phones

DB Power Jump Start battery next to Mobile phones

Which vehicles do they work on?

Virtually all 12-volt petrol or diesel engined vehicles.

Most of the smaller Jump Start Batteries like the DB Power 300A shown above will work on all petrol engined cars, vans and motorcycles up to 2-litres and most diesel engined vehicles up to 1.8-litres. So most family cars. I know of an occasion when it was used to start a 3.5-litre V8 engine, so it has the power you need.

For larger engined vehicles it is better to get a larger Jump Start Battery like the VicTop 500A or the RoyPow 800A Heavy Duty Waterproof IP66

How do I use one to start a vehicle?

Some vehicles require a special sequence before connecting another battery or charger to the onboard battery, so check your vehicle’s manual first.

There are a number of very easy steps to follow:

  1. Turn off the ignition in the vehicle.
  2. Open the bonnet (or take off the seat on a motorcycle) and locate the battery. If dark, use the torch on the Jump Start to help you.
  3. Do not connect the cable to your Jump Start Battery yet.
  4. Connect the Red insulated crocodile clip to the vehicle battery Positive terminal (usually marked with a + or red in colour).
  5. Connect the Black insulated crocodile clip to the vehicle battery Negative terminal (usually marked with a or black in colour).
  6. Double check that you have connected the correct insulated crocodile clip to the correct battery terminal. Use the light on the Jump Start Battery, if necessary, to help identify the correct terminals.
  7. Make sure that the insulated crocodile clips are not touching any other metal part of the vehicle.
  8. Now plug the cable into the Jump Start Battery and wait about 30 seconds.
  9. Turn on the vehicle’s ignition and start the vehicle normally.
  10. Once the vehicle is started, leave it running and disconnect the Jump Start Battery from the cables
  11. Carefully remove the insulated crocodile clip from the Negative terminal then remove the insulated crocodile clip from the Positive terminal.
  12. Close the bonnet (or replace the seat on a motorcycle). Using a USB adapter in the vehicle’s accessory socket put your Jump Start Battery on charge so it’s ready for the next time.

Note: If the vehicle doesn’t start within 5 seconds, switch off the ignition and wait about 1-2 minutes before trying again. If the vehicle still doesn’t start on the 2nd try, there is usually a different problem that will need to be resolved first. In that case, switch off the ignition, disconnect the Jump Start Battery from the cables, the cables from the battery (negative first) and call the Breakdown service.

It’s recommended that you drive your vehicle for at least 10 miles at over 40 mph (obeying the speed limits, traffic laws etc.) to charge the vehicle’s battery.

Remember, Jump Start Batteries are for jump starting your vehicle or for powering low-power devices like smartphones. They are not suitable to charge your vehicle’s battery – they’re only for starting the vehicle. To charge your vehicle’s battery you need a Battery Charger.


Charging is very easy. The smaller ones are charged by a USB port so you can connect them to your USB phone charger, your computer or via a USB adapter for your vehicle’s cigarette (accessory) socket.

The larger ones have a 12V plug for charging via the vehicle’s cigarette (accessory) socket and sometimes a 110v/240v plug for mains charging.

Which is Best for me?

Everyone’s needs are different but, here is a brief guide to help you decide which type of Jump Start Battery may be suitable for your particular requirements. A higher power Jump Start Battery is safe to be used on a smaller engine but, you shouldn’t use a lower power Jump Start Battery on a bigger engine. If in doubt, go the next size up.

Vehicle Type Engine Size Jump Start Battery Notes
Motorcycle Up to 2L DB Power 300A  Usually fits under the seat
Small Car Up to 1.8L DB Power 300A  Fits in the glove box
Small Van Up to 1.8L DB Power 300A  Fits in the glove box
Family Car Up to 3.5L Vic Top 500A  May fit in the glove box
Small Van Up to 3.5L VicTop 500A  May fit in the glove box
Large Car >= 3.5L RoyPow 800A Waterproof
Large Van >= 3.5L RoyPow 800A Waterproof
RoyPow 800A Camping and Hiking
 All types  All types Clarke JumpStart Very Heavy Duty 12/24v

If your main criterion is Waterproof, then go for the RoyPow 800A  (motorcycle, car or van).

If these aren’t suitable or you’d like to view a larger range, use this link to a large range of Jump Start Batteries.

Having a Jump Start Battery means never having to be stuck with a flat battery again. It’s so easy to use, taking just a few minutes to get you going again. You don’t have to ask strangers for help and hope that they are carrying jump leads or can give you a push. You can also use it to help other motorists who have got into difficulties – your good deed for the day.


I want to help you so if you have any comments about Jump Start Batteries, please leave them below.

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