Black & Decker's Jump Starter: CPR for Your RigPosted in Product Reviews on July 1, 2011
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It’s such a helpless situation: Your battery has died a silent death. You’ve left your lights on, you have an old 12-volt that was ready for retirement long ago, or you failed to heed any of the advice in our in-depth battery story on Page 64.
And now you have no juice left to turn your engine over. What are you to do?
Normally, we’d just ask a friend for a boost or call up the Auto Club. But what if you’re ’wheeling alone out in the sticks (which is never recommended) or your crew is beyond cell-phone-reception range without a pair of jumper cables in sight? The thought of facing such situations definitely makes us sweat a little.
But now that we have the Black & Decker 500-Amp Jump Starter, we’ll never have to face such worries again. This handy gadget is essentially roadside assistance in a handheld package.
Out of the box, the Jump Starter needs an initial charge time of 48 hours using a household extension cord.
The tiny flaw here is that the Jump Starter’s two-prong plug-in is in a fixed slot that might be hard to reach if your extension cord’s socket head is too big. Had the prongs been on a retractable cable, we would be able to pull them out to meet an extension cord or, even better, be able to plug it directly into a wall outlet. Perhaps that’ll be available in a future model?)
An LED display indicates when it’s ready to rock; it’ll last 20 jump starts before needing a recharge.
The Jump Starter can revive a dead juice box quickly. Simply connect its clamps to your battery’s positive and negative stubs then turn the knob. It’s like an automated external defibrillator for your rig.
And, fear not the flying sparks. If you’ve placed the cables incorrectly, a reverse-polarity alarm alerts you to switch them.
Another essential feature of the Jump Starter is the 120-psi compressor. The built-in inflator can get your tires highway-ready after a long day in the sand or on slickrock. Sure, it might not be as powerful or fast as a portable CO2 tank, but the fact that this compressor is a part of the Jumper Starter reduces the amount of gear you need to pack.
Plus, you can use it on recreational equipment, such as bicycle tires and basketballs.
Black & Decker had functionality and convenience in mind when it designed the Jump Starter. Though it is a couple of pounds heavier than we hoped for, it’s still less bulky than most other products out there; its relatively low profile means easy storage in your rig. There are rubber grips at all four corners to prevent it from sliding around and smashing into things. And it has a rubber handle for easy carry.
Additional features include an emergency light made of three LED bulbs and a USB port (so you can charge cell phones, GPS units, or cameras even if you’re nowhere near an electrical outlet).
Being a battery charger and an air compressor (and an emergency light and a USB port), the Jump Starter is a portable roadside assistant if ever there was one. The quality construction and functional design clearly make the Jump Starter an almost-indispensable tool for any driver — whether you’re a four-wheeler, a sand-railer, or a daily commuter.