Can You Jump a Car with a Battery Charger? All You Need To Know Before You Try

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can you jump a car with a battery charger

Can You Jump a Car with a Battery Charger? We answer this query and look at the ins and outs of using a battery charger to start a car.

We’ve all been there: you hop in your car, turn the key, and nothing happens. Your car battery is dead, and you need a quick solution to get back on the road.

You might wonder if you can jump-start your car with a battery charger. The answer is no.

We all understand the frustration and urgency of a dead car battery.

But, it’s important to know why using a battery charger alone is not a viable solution. In this blog post, I’ll explain why you cannot jump-start your car with a battery charger alone. And we’ll look at providing some alternative ways to solve your problem.

And, many motorists tend to confuse these two devices or assume that they are identical. But, apart from both aiding in starting your car, they are different tools with different use cases.

So using a charger for a jump won’t give the best results.

A battery charger provides a sustained low-amperage charge for longer, charging the battery slowly.

On the other hand, a jump starter delivers an instant high Amp charge necessary to crank the engine.

Let’s dive deeper into the differences

Key Takeaways

  • Battery chargers cannot jump-start a car due to their low amperage output over a long period
  • Jump starters provide a high-amperage burst needed to start a dead battery
  • Recognizing when to use a battery charger and when to use a jump starter is essential for effectively solving battery issues
Field Car Battery Charger Jump Starter
Purpose Charges battery Starts dead battery
Use Cases Maintenance Emergencies
Charge time 2 to 48 hours Full Charge Immediate Jump Start Partial Charge
Jump-start capability No Yes
Charges/recharges battery Yes No
Overcharge risk Yes No
Portability Yes Yes
Wireless/cordless No Yes
Power source Electrical AC socket Rechargeable Internal battery
Recommended use Home / Workshop Anywhere
Key functions Recharge battery Jump-start vehicle, USB charging, flashlight
Typical amperage 2 to 10 amps Continuous 400 to 2000 amps 2/3 Short birsts
USB output No Frequently
Lifespan Long Long
Weight Moderate to heavy Very light to moderate
Important Considerations Amperage and voltage Battery capacity, cold cranking amps, Peak current
Price range Moderate to high Low to moderate

Battery Charger vs Jump Starter – Can You Jump a Car with a Battery Charger

A 12-Volt battery charger is designed for a slow recharge of your car battery. It plugs into the mains electricity and connects to the battery terminals. The charge can take hours, sometimes days, depending on the Amperage of the charger. But it ensures the battery is fully charged and ready to go.

Whereas a portable jump starter is a compact, high-powered device that provides an instant boost to the battery. You connect it to the battery terminals, and within minutes, your car starts. Unlike battery chargers, jump starters give your car a one-time high-power jolt to get the engine running. But the charge in the battery remains low and it will still need charging going forward.

So, when do we use each of these devices? If our car battery is completely dead and we need to get going fast, a portable jump starter is our best option. It’s also great for roadside emergencies or if we don’t have access to a wall outlet.

When we have the time and access to electricity, a battery charger is the better choice. The low charge is better for the long-term health of the battery. And when you remove the cables you’re done. The battery is full and it isn’t necessary to drive around to charge it.

What is a Charger?

We talked already about the differences between these two tools. But let’s look more closely at the charger.

It provides energy to your battery. It does this by forcing an electric current through it. Usually, it plugs into a wall outlet.

It converts the alternating mains current (AC) to the direct current (DC) needed by your battery.

Using a battery charger is simple enough. Connect the charger to the battery, positive to positive and negative to negative. Then, plug the charger into an electrical outlet. The charger sends a current into the battery, replenishing its charge.

So, a battery charger plays a crucial role in maintaining our devices and keeping them alive.

What is a Jump Starter?

A jump starter brings your car back to life when its battery goes dead. They’re portable and use their own power to jump-start the engine. Jump starters are super easy to use.

How They Work

We call them “jump starters” because they give your battery a “jump” or a jolt. They connect to your car’s battery with jumper cables. When it connects, the jump starter provides a short, powerful, burst of energy. This energy gets your vehicle started up again.

Key Features

A jump starter is portable. They’re about the size of a book and have a built-in battery. Most of them have USB ports to charge your phone. Their size makes them easy to store in the trunk of your car, or even your glove box.

Jump-starting a car is simple with a portable jump starter. Attach the jumper cables to the terminals on your car’s battery. Clamp the red one to the positive side and the black one to the negative. Turn on the jump starter, and your car should start up when you crank the engine.

When to Use a Battery Charger

A battery charger is a great tool for keeping your battery in good shape. Let’s look at when you should use them.

Maintaining a Healthy Battery Charge

Use a battery charger when your car battery is low on power or even dead. A charger can replenish the battery’s energy, extending its life. This is sometimes referred to as a trickle charge.

Reviving a Dead Battery

If you have a dead battery, a charger might not be the best option if time is a factor. A jump from another vehicle or a jump starter is usually more convenient if you’re in a rush. But, once your car is running, you can use a charger to recharge it, if you don’t want to drive around for half an hour.

Long-Term Storage

If you store your vehicle for a long time without driving it, it’s smart to keep the battery connected to a charger. A float charger or a smart charger with a float function is best for this. It prevents the battery from draining completely, which can damage it and is annoying.

Safety Precautions

Don’t use a charger if your battery is damaged, leaking, or showing signs of wear. It’s better to be safe than sorry when working with batteries. And knowing when to use a battery charger or a jump starter is a significant part of that.

So, use a car battery charger to maintain a healthy charge, revive a dead battery, and during long-term storage. Remember to focus on safety while using battery chargers. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consult your vehicle manual for more guidance.

When to Use Jump Starters

We all know how frustrating it is to find our vehicle’s battery dead. In those situations, using a portable jump starter can be a lifesaver. But when should we use a jump starter? Let’s see.

Dead Battery in a Remote Location

If we have a dead battery when there’s nobody about, a portable jump starter is a great solution. They have enough power to jump-start an engine, getting us back on the road in no time.

Frequent Battery Issues

Do you often experience battery problems with your car? A portable jump starter will save us a lot of calls to roadside assistance. Keeping one in the trunk is a great proactive measure. But with constant battery problems, consider swapping your battery out for a new one.

Cold Weather

Cold weather thickens the electrolyte inside the battery, impeding its ability to start your engine. If you live in an area with harsh winters, a portable jump starter is a valuable tool. When the engine doesn’t start, we can use the jump starter to recharge the battery and warm up the engine.

Battery Charger Pros and Cons

As with any car equipment, battery chargers and jump-starters have their own advantages and disadvantages. Here are the pros and cons of traditional battery chargers.


  1. Versatility. Battery chargers can charge a variety of batteries. These include car batteries, marine batteries, and motorcycle batteries.
  2. Prolong battery life. Battery chargers can help prolong the life of your battery by maintaining its charge.
  3. Multiple charging modes. Many battery chargers come with several charging modes. These include trickle charge, fast charge, and maintenance charge. You can choose the best mode for your battery.
  4. Cost-effective. Battery chargers are often more cost-effective than jump starters. This makes them a good option for those on a budget.
  5. Unlimited Charge. As the battery charger is plugged into the wall at home, there is theoretically unlimited electricity. A jump starter has a handful of tries before it is dead.
  6. An all-in-one charging solution. It will fully charge your battery. A jump starter will only start the engine for you and leave the alternator to do the rest.


  1. Limited portability. Battery chargers aren’t as portable as jump starters. They are often designed for use in one location or wherever there is a wall outlet.
  2. Need a socket. Cannot charge without an electrical point.
  3. Longer charge time. Battery chargers take longer to charge a battery to the point that it can start the vehicle. Jump starters are instant. This can be an issue if you need to get back on the road quickly.
  4. Compatibility issues. Not all battery chargers are compatible with all types of batteries. So, choosing a charger designed for your specific battery type is important.

Jump Starter Pros and Cons

Here are the Pros and Cons of Jump Starters


  1. Convenience: Jump starters are portable and fit in your trunk, making them a convenient solution for jump-starting your car when you’re on the go.
  2. No need for another vehicle: With a jump starter, you don’t need another vehicle to jump-start your car. This is handy if you’re stranded in a remote location or if there are no other vehicles around.
  3. Easy to use: Jump starters are easy to use, even for those of us who are not technical. Most jump starters come with clear instructions on how to use them.
  4. Quick start: Jump starters provide a quick start to your car, allowing you to get back on the road quickly.


  1. Limited battery life: Jump starters have limited battery life and need recharging after use. So if you forget to recharge your jump starter after using it, it may not be available when you need it next. You also will have only one or two attempts to start the car before the jump starter has drained itself.
  2. Limited jump-starting ability. Jump starters have a limited ability and may not be able to jump-start larger engines or diesel engines. It’s important to choose a jump starter with the appropriate rating for your vehicle.
  3. Cost: Jump starters can be more expensive than traditional battery chargers, and the cost can vary depending on the brand and features.
  4. Not a charger. While the jump starter will get your vehicle going again, it won’t charge the battery for you. You will need driving time to let the car’s alternator charge the battery.

Popular Battery Chargers

Let’s look at some popular battery chargers.

NOCO Genius G3500

The NOCO Genius G3500 is a 6V and 12V battery charger and maintainer and a great budget option. It is designed to charge and maintain a wide range of lead-acid batteries, including AGM, GEL, and WET. It can be used for cars, boats, motorcycles, and more.

It has a 6-step charging process that includes desulfation and maintenance mode, as well as a built-in microcomputer. The computer monitors and adjusts the charging process for optimal performance. The G3500 also has a compact and lightweight design for easy portability and storage. Its range of safety features, including spark-proof technology and reverse polarity protection.

YONHAN Battery Charger

The YONHAN Battery Charger is a 10-amp, 12V and 24V fully-automatic smart car battery charger. It operates as a battery maintainer, trickle charger, and battery desulfator with temperature compensation. It is designed for charging and repairing all 12V and 24V lead-acid automotive, marine, and deep-cycle batteries.

It uses precision charging with an LCD screen that displays the charging status and battery status. It has a built-in advanced battery repair mode, 8 charging protection, and an intelligent memory function. It cannot jump-start a car and requires a power connection to a wall outlet.


The BLACK+DECKER BC15BD is a fully automatic 15 amp 12V bench battery charger/maintainer with a 40A engine start, alternator check, and cable clamps. It is designed to maintain and charge any AGM, GEL, or WET automotive or marine 12V battery. It features a 40 amp engine start that can re-start most vehicles in up to 90 seconds.

The BC15BD also has a battery reconditioning feature to extend battery life, reverse polarity protection, and an LCD screen that displays the charge status and battery status with easy-to-understand icons. It also has a patented alternator check that indicates if the alternator is maintaining battery level. It is ETL certified for performance and safety.

These chargers can be found at popular auto parts stores and online marketplaces.

So, make sure to invest in a reliable battery charger to avoid being stranded during an emergency.

Popular Jump Starters

Let’s take a look at three popular jump starters that can be found at auto parts stores.

NOCO Boost Plus GB40

The NOCO Boost Plus GB40 is a compact and efficient portable jump starter. This model is perfect for gas engines up to 6 liters and diesel engines up to 3 liters.

With 1000 amps of peak current, the GB40 provides enough power to jump-start your car multiple times on a single charge. Its built-in LED flashlight and USB charging port make it a useful accessory for emergencies.

Hulkman Alpha 85

The Hulkman Alpha 85 stands out for its impressive display, making it straightforward to use. This portable jump starter is suitable for gas engines up to 8.5 liters and diesel engines up to 6 liters.

Not only does the Hulkman Alpha 85 deliver 2000 amps of peak current, but it also acts as a power bank, allowing you to charge your phone or other devices during a crisis.

Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry JNC770R

With a reputation for reliability, the Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry JNC770R works well in shops and garages. This jump starter features 1700 peak amps, making it powerful enough for larger engine vehicles.

The JNC770R also includes a 3A automatic built-in charger and a digital display, making it easy to monitor the battery status.

Devices That Do Both

There are currently no devices available that perform both functions. The closest equivalents are battery chargers that have an engine start function.

These are battery chargers that have the ability to produce a boost of 70-100 Amps in order to crank the engine.

This is considerably lower than the boost capabilities of a jump starter, This is because a jump starter can deliver up to 3,000 Amps of power to a depleted battery and start it from dead.

Whereas a battery charger with a boost will charge your battery before you operate the function. The battery will be close to full charge and the extra boost is to get it over the line and start the engine.

FeatureBattery Charger Engine Start FunctionJump Starter
PurposeTo help start a vehicle if the battery is charged enough to turn the engine over, but not enough to turn it with the speed needed to start the engineTo start a vehicle with a dead battery
PowerSupplies a strong current of 75-100 ampsProvides a high level of power, usually in the range of 700 and 3000 amps
Charging TimeTakes many hours to chargeCan bring the engine alive with just a jolt
PortabilityNot portablePortable
UsageNot designed for depleted batteriesDesigned for depleted batteries

When it comes to battery chargers with engine starters, the Schumacher SC1281 is a standout product. This powerful 100A 6V/12V battery charger, engine starter, and maintainer is designed to charge lead acid, AGM, gel, and deep-cycle batteries.

The SC1281 is also equipped with advanced diagnostic testing, including battery and alternator testing.

With a 30A boost maintainer and auto desulfator, the SC1281 is a simple connect-and-forget solution. Schumacher is a giant in the battery charging industry, and the SC1281 is an example of their powerful and reliable battery chargers.


Remember I mentioned safety earlier? Before using a battery charger or a jump starter, be aware of certain precautions. Following these steps will keep you safe

First, identify the positive terminal and negative terminal of your battery. They are marked with “+” and “-“, respectively. Always connect the positive cable (usually red) to the positive terminal. The negative cable (black) goes to the negative terminal or a grounding point in some cases.

Doing this right cuts the risk of sparks which can damage electrical components or even cause a fire. Vehicle batteries can produce flammable gas, so be cautious.

Inspect your battery first. If you notice excessive corrosion, clean the terminals before proceeding.

Battery Maintenance

Car batteries are essential to our vehicles. We need to maintain them to avoid problems like a dead battery. We can do simple maintenance tasks ourselves, or visit a mechanic or auto repair shop for help.

First, keep the battery terminals clean. Dirty terminals can cause poor electrical connections and lead to battery discharge. Use a brush to clean the terminals and prevent corrosion.

A new battery usually has a voltage of about 12.7 volts. We should regularly check the voltage to ensure it stays above 12.4 volts. A voltmeter will help with this task. If the voltage drops below 12.4 volts, it’s time to use countermeasures.

We should also keep an eye on discharge rates. A battery that discharges too fast might be nearing the end of its life. In this case, it’s a good idea to visit an auto repair shop for advice.

Proper maintenance extends the life of our car batteries and avoids costly breakdowns. By keeping an eye open for warning signs and addressing problems early, we can keep our vehicles running.

Before You Go…

Now that you know you need a jump starter for an immediate start, it’s important to understand what to do next. Driving your car after a jump start is critical to ensure that your battery is fully charged and ready to go.

But how long should you drive? And what happens if you don’t drive long enough? In our next article, “How Long Should You Drive After a Jump Start?”, we’ll answer these questions and more.

Don’t risk getting stranded again – read our article and drive with confidence!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s the FAQs

How long does it take to jump-start a car with a charger?

There’s really no such thing as a jump start with a traditional charger. It is often possible to start your car after an extended charge from the charger, but this wouldn’t be a jump.

Jumpstart vs. charging: which is better?

Both methods have their advantages. Jump starting is a quick solution to get your car running while charging takes longer but can restore the battery’s health. So, it depends on the situation and your needs.

How to stay safe when using a portable jump starter?

Portable jump starters are convenient and easy to use. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring proper connection and safety measures are taken. Keep it charged and away from water or heat sources.

Jumper cables or battery charger?

Jumper cables are great for a quick jump-start from another vehicle or a portable jump-starter. A battery charger helps bring the battery back to its full capacity. Assess your needs: if you need a temporary fix, jumper cables are your friend. For a long-term solution, consider a battery charger.

How to jumpstart without another vehicle?

A portable jump starter can be used in this situation. Connect the device to the battery terminals, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and power on the jump starter to jump-start your car.

Can a jump starter charge a battery?

Jump starters are designed to provide a quick jolt of power to start your car, not to charge the battery fully. For a complete charge, you’ll need a battery charger.

Can you charge a car battery while it is still connected?

Yes, you can charge a car battery while it’s connected. However, it is important to ensure the charger is properly connected and the car is turned off during the charging process.

Can you leave a car battery charger on overnight?

Many modern chargers have an automatic mode that stops charging once the battery is full, allowing for safe overnight charging. Still, it’s essential to consult the charger’s manual to confirm that your device has this function.

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Steve Brown


Steve is a gadget enthusiast who's always been intrigued by batteries. The founder and editor of Battery Chargers Info, he's assembled a group of like-minded experts to cover every facet of portable power His aim is to help you learn more about your favorite gadgets and their batteries so you can maximize both their performance and their life. Follow him on Twitter: @batterycharge1

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