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Car tech: These portable jump starters can save you in an emergency

A dead vehicle can be frustrating when it happens in the driveway of your home. It can be flat-out dangerous if it happens when you’re out and about with no easy access to help. Does your car have a recall? Tap or click here for ways to find out.

Keeping jumper cables in your car to fix a dead battery is fine, but you’ll need another person around with a car to make it work. And that isn’t always a reality.

Luckily, there’s a better option. Portable jumpers are great to keep around for emergencies, and they’ve gotten better and less expensive over the years. If you’re worried about car troubles, you may want to keep one in your vehicle. Here’s what you need to know about these portable jump starters.

How portable car battery jumpers work

Unlike jumper cables, portable jump starters work without another vehicle to get the “jump” from. They’re not only able to get your battery up and running when it’s dead but are also basically a battery bank for your car battery, much like your cell phone. So, the benefits are two-fold.

They’re small enough to keep on hand, too. These devices are compact enough to fit inside your glove box, so you’ll have easy access to a jump start right in your glove box or trunk.

When you’re shopping for these devices, it’s important to understand that while similar, portable car battery jumpers aren’t the same thing as car battery chargers. Chargers can get your battery juiced back up when it’s dead, but they take a day or two to work.

Portable jump starters, on the other hand, are instant. You connect them and jump your battery back to life, just like you would with jumper cables.

There are tons of options on the market for portable jump starters. If you need a starting point, the options below are some of the best on the market.

1. Good all-around option that also works with diesel engines

If you're looking for one of the best all-around options, this NOCO Boost Plus GB40 1000 Amp 12-Volt UltraSafe Portable Lithium Jump Starter Box is a great place to start. It can jump-start a dead battery in seconds, but it won't take up a ton of real estate in your car. It's compact and powerful, with 1,000 amps worth of power.

You'll get up to 20 jump-starts on a single charge, so this car battery jump starter is a great tool to keep around if you have ongoing battery issues. It's also rated for both gasoline engines up to 6 liters and diesel engines up to 3 liters, so if you've got a diesel truck you're buying for, this is what you need.

It's a great option for car repair novices, too. The mistake-proof design features spark-proof technology and reverse polarity protection, so you won't have to worry about damaging your battery or vehicle due to complicated instructions. As a bonus, it also works as a power bank for recharging smartphones, tablets and other USB devices — which could be useful in emergencies.

Promising review: "So far this is an awesome find. 7,000 joules and 1,000 amps. Heavy duty clamps. The cords are short but the unit is so small and lightweight that I could put it right near the battery jump hookups. My 5.3L V8 had a very dead battery. Nothing would light up on the dash. ... The battery was so dead that I had to hold an elevated engine idle for a while. This shows how dead the battery was, but the NOCO did the job. Very impressive. It only weighs 2.6 pounds which is about one-tenth the weight of equivalent battery jumpers."

2. Jumps batteries and has an air compressor, too!

3. Good for those on a budget and with a smaller vehicle

4. More power than the other NOCO, capable of jumping a V8

5. Nice all-around charger and jump starter at an affordable price

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