Buying a Jump Starter: Look for Peak Amps or Cold Cranking Amps?

Buying a Jump Starter: Look for Peak Amps or Cold Cranking Amps?

Buying a jump starter could be a confusing affair. When buying a jump starter: do you look for peak amps or cold cranking amps? What’s the difference? Which one should be your basis in buying a jump starter?

Peak Amps or Cold Cranking Amps?

cold-cranking-amps

Some jump starters will put 900 peak amps like the JNC300XL, 2200 Peak Amps for the Schumacher PSJ-2212 and everything in between. Most buyers will be attracted to the products with the highest peak amps, but you should avoid that temptation. That is a bad criteria to assess your options.

What you should look for, instead is the jump starter’s Cranking Amps and Cold Cranking Amps. This is the actual power that the jump starter will supply to your car’s battery.

What if you have several vehicles with different engines? Say you have a 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder car, will you need separate jump starters?

The good news is NO. You just need to choose the jump starter with the highest Cold Cranking Amps that you can afford. This way, if the battery of your car is totally dead, your jumpstarter has enough juice to bring it back from the dead. Just make sure to keep the jump starter, either at home, or in the trunk of the vehicle with the weakest or deadest battery.

What is Cold Cranking Amps

If you’re wondering, a battery’s Cranking Amps (CA) refers to the amount of power that a battery can discharge for 30 seconds at 32° F (0° C). It really is the amount of power you need to start your engine on any weather except winter.

On the other hand, Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) refers to the number of amps that a battery can push out for 30 seconds at 0° F without dropping under 7.2 Volts. Remember that a jump starter is really another battery supplying power to your car’s battery. It’s more difficult to start an engine during cold weather, that’s why batteries tend to have both the CA and CCA ratings.

If your battery reads 660 CCA, that doesn’t automatically mean that you need a jumpstarter with the same CCA rating. A product with a lower rating can power it up. A jump starter with at least 500 CCA can power up a car equipped with a 660-CCA battery.

But remember: if your battery is dead, a jump starter with high Cold Cranking Amps has better chances of reviving it and starting your engine.

This also does not mean that a battery with a lower CCA rating will be damaged by a jump starter with a higher CCA rating. Keep in mind that whenever you use a jump starter, it will only provide the power needed to start a battery. So even if your jumpstarter has 2200 Peak Amps, and you power up a 660 CCA rating battery, you won’t overload the car’s electrical system.

 

So here’s the bottom line…

Be more discerning in buying a jump starter. While peak amps may be a good measure of the maximum power output of a product, you should be considering Cranking Amps (CA) and Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) primarily.

 

image credit: Flickr