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Battery System

Car Battery Charger vs Jump Starter: Which is Better?

Written by Nick Steiner

The primary consideration when choosing between a jump starter and a battery charger is whether you need to carry the device in the vehicle for emergencies or you just want to charge and maintain a battery at home or in the garage.

Pure car battery chargers usually plug into AC outlets to operate. This means they’re not really designed to be carried in your car for emergencies.

Let’s dig deeper to know more about their differences.

Car Battery Charger vs Jump Starter

What Are Battery Chargers for Cars?

What Are Battery Chargers for Cars

**Photo Courtesy: YouTube

Most batteries we use in our everyday lives are rechargeable and your car’s battery is no exception.

Even so, the regular outlet of your house isn’t capable of charging your car battery. The battery also doesn’t have any specifically designed charging points.

That’s why we need a special medium between the power source and the battery. Regular household power sources provide 120-volt AC-type current where a battery can be charged with only 12-volt DC current.

The battery charger converts this current and supplies charges to your battery.

To sum up, a car battery charger is a handy little device that can jumpstart a seemingly dead car battery by recharging itself.

When to Use a Car Battery Charger?

It’s not possible to connect your car’s battery with your home outlet every time it needs recharging. If you leave your car unused for a long time, the battery will discharge naturally and won’t be able to start the engine.

That’s the perfect time to use a car battery charger to recharge your battery. You can also use a jump starter, but the battery charger offers more stability.

Modern-day battery chargers come with a few perks. They can automatically stop charging when full and preserve charges for longer. If you want to ensure healthy battery life, you should probably try out one of the battery chargers.

Pros of Chargers

Extended battery life

Battery life depends on the usage and the charging quality. The more consistent your charging process is, the longer your car battery will last. Especially if you have a car that you don’t use every day, the battery can die out sooner than you think.

Using a car battery charger provides a consistent power supply to the battery and helps it complete healthy charging/discharging cycles. As a result, the battery runs for longer.

Healthy regulation

One thing a car battery charger will do is make sure that your battery goes through a healthy charging/discharging cycle. Some modern models come with automatic controls so whenever your battery gets full, the charging will automatically stop and keep that power level steady.

Even if you have a broken alternator, a battery charger will make sure that your batteries are healthy and packed with charges every time you use them.

Battery restoration

Some newer models of a car battery charger come with some additional perks that can make your life much easier. Not only can advanced battery chargers charge your battery but they can restore the batteries with a process named “Desulfation.”

What it basically means is the charger creates low-level energy pulses that can remove sulfur deposits from the baseplates, making your batteries alive again.

Money saver

No one likes to change their car battery every season. The number of dead batteries usually increases in the cold weather or after a long vacation. Investing in a car battery charger can help you reduce the cost by a fat margin.

With a charger, your car battery will live longer and perform better. You’ll need fewer car batteries and that will save you money in the long run. A charger is usually expected to last for at least 4-6 years.

Wide use

Modern car battery chargers are versatile. They come with a series of additional and advanced features that can make your life much easier. Some of the most prominent features include USB ports, multimeter, and float indicator.

For instance, if your charger comes with USB ports, you can charge your other devices while your battery is charging. Some versions also feature a “jump/boost” mode for convenience.

Portability

Some of the charger models can fit inside your pocket. Updated models are pretty lightweight and easy to carry. You can almost compare a charger with a portable power station for your car battery. All you need to do is plug and play.

Whether you want to maintain your battery between uses or want to ensure that your car battery stays safe for longer, a tiny portable charger probably has the solution you seek.

Cons of Chargers

Time-consuming

This might be true that chargers can restore your battery, but the process is painfully long.

If you notice your car’s engine not turning on on a cold workday, a charger won’t be able to help you since it takes 24-48 hrs or more depending on the battery size/capacity and power output.

The solution here is to get a charger that has higher output. The higher the output is, the faster your battery will be recharged. This may harm your battery though.

Expensive

Car battery chargers are usually more expensive than the jump starter. However, this is a one-time cost as you’ll be able to use your charger for a long time.

If you want to charge your batteries faster, you’ll have to spend even more money. The faster you want your batteries charged, the more output you’ll need and the higher the price will be.

What Are Jump Starters?

Jump Starters

If you compare the work process of a car battery charger with treating an ill person back to health, the jump starter would be the emergency CPR.

Just like the name suggests, jump starters are used to kickstart a battery so that you can start your engine instantly.

Jump starters provide strong electrical signals that can even bring back a dead battery to life, but the solution isn’t sustainable.

They’ll help you out in a sticky situation, but you need to check on your battery ASAP. Standard jump starters can charge almost anything that requires a 12V connection.

Pros of Jump Starters

Quick

Jump starters can give a temporary surge of power to your battery. If your battery dies on the go or you need to jumpstart the car instantly, jump starters are your best bet.

These nifty devices are especially useful in a time-responsive situation. Think of jump starters as a portable power bank. It takes only a few moments to jump-start a car with jump starters whereas chargers take much more time.

More power

The power outage of a jump starter is much higher than a battery charger. Despite lacking consistency, jump starters provide an intense impulse of power. That’s why they run on their own power sources.

However, the more outage/amperage a device provides, the bigger and heavier its battery will be.

Every jump starter has a “peak” power that marks the highest possible amperage it can produce.

The power impulses are called “cranks”. The number of cranks that a device can offer is limited.

The more “boost/cranks” you want from your device, the costlier/bigger it will become

Convenience

Most models are compact-designed and can easily travel in your glove compartment. Some may even fit in your pocket. They are easy to use and you can use them anywhere.

With jump starters, you no longer need to wait for other cars to come by and rescue you.

Even so, The smaller ones may not have a wide range of functionalities. The more you want from your jump starter, the bigger, heavier, and costlier it’ll get.

Additional features

Bigger and advanced jump starters offer some pretty handy features like a bright LED flashlight, USB port, air compressor, radio, and micro USB hub. The basic ones just provide a boost.

Cons of Jump Starters

Temporary

Jump starters are for emergencies only. It would not be wise to rely on them for a permanent solution. If your battery is dead, jump starters will kick-start the engine, but your battery will still remain dead and need replacement.

We suggest you use a car battery charger for a more permanent solution, but keep a jump starter nearby to overcome sticky situations.

Heavy

Jump starters may look smaller, but they are a bit heavier than their counterpart, the car battery chargers. Chargers don’t need to store charges, so they can be smaller and consistent.

On the other hand, the more power “cranks”  you expect, the more charge has to be stored in your jump starter beforehand. Heavier jump starters are impractical for small cars.

When to Use a Jump Starter?

Jump starters are portable but temporary solutions. They can’t bring back the dead batteries. They just provide enough power to start the engine. If your alternator doesn’t work and charge your battery, the battery will remain very dead.

Jump starters are especially helpful for a quick way out. People that can’t wait too long or need to go somewhere can easily rely on jump starters to give you enough “boost” needed. Always try to keep a charged jump starter in your car to get out of sticky situations.

How Are Chargers Different From Jump Starters?

Characteristics Car Battery Charger Jump Starters
1. Function Charges the battery Kickstarts engine, USB charging, flashlight, radio.
2. Time needed 24-48 hours Instantly
3. Portability Less portable More portable
4. Price Comparatively cheap Expensive
5. External power Plug-in Required Not always needed
6. Charging capacity Fully charges the battery Only starts the engine
7. Output power Low but consistent High but temporary
8. Multiple Uses No Yes
9. Weight Medium to heavy Light to medium
10. Wireless/Cordless No Yes
11. Risk of overcharging Yes No
12. Place to use Near an electric socket Anywhere
13. Can recharge the battery Yes No
14. Can kick start the engine No Yes
15. Best Use Charging batteries Emergency jumpstart the engine

Car Battery Charger vs Jump Starter: Which One to Choose?

Jump starters are super compact and convenient to use. It is portable and packs some serious punch. The intensity of power is much higher on jump starters, but they lack consistency. Jump starters are the perfect device when you need a little juice for your car’s engine.

On the contrary, battery chargers will recover your battery’s full health consistently but the power outage is much lower and takes a lot of time. Chargers are good for your battery’s health as quick charging/discharging can damage the cycle and reduce its lifespan.

If possible, we recommend a portable jump starter along with a basic battery charger. Use the charger to maintain your battery’s health and the jump starter in case of emergencies.

Quick fixes come in handy but we should also find a sustainable solution.

FAQs

Q. Can I start the car while the battery is charging?

Yes. you can. However, That’s probably not a very good idea. Your battery will take more time to charge, but that’s the least of our concerns. If your battery doesn’t have enough power to start the car, the additional demand for power can blow some fuses and/or damage your battery.

Q. Can I use a battery charger to jumpstart a car?

No, and the same goes for vice versa. The battery charger will slowly charge your battery whereas the jump starter will power the engine. You’ll get no results switching the devices.

Q. How long does it take to charge my car’s battery?

It depends on your battery size and the output of the charger. The more the output, the quicker the battery will charge. However, charging/discharging a battery too quickly can hamper its lifespan.

Q. Can I leave a car battery charger on overnight?

Only if you use a smart charger. The older models don’t have a safe charging option and overcharging can damage your battery beyond repair.

About the author

Nick Steiner

Nick has been a car nut for his whole life as far as he can remember. His father was a car dealer who used to change and repair his cars himself. As a result, Nick had the opportunity to get around all sorts of cars and learned to get his hands dirty repairing vehicles from an early age.

Nick is a great fan of Japanese quality and German preciosity. His deep passion lies in older models that he believes have a flair that takes him back to his childhood. He also loves their durability and reliability when compared to the modern models.

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