Anyone who has been driving for any length of time has been there before. You hop in your vehicle, turn the key and hear a faint click, click sound before nothing at all. You know that sound means only one thing: your battery is dead an you aren’t going anywhere. Maybe someone left the dome light or door open all night. It doesn’t matter why. You need to get your car started in a hurry. If you’re lucky this happens at home and you have a battery charger with a hot start feature or another vehicle and jumper cables ready. If you’re fast you might be able to get it all done and started in time before you’re late for work. That’s the best case scenario.
In the real world Murphy’s Law applies and things like this seldom happen in the comfort of your own driveway. No sir. Instead your battery will likely inexplicably be dead far from home in foul weather, at night with no jumper cables and few helpful strangers in sight. Even if you have jumper cables, the hassle and embarrassment of finding someone to loan their vehicle and 5 minutes of their time is seldom fun. In today’s technological world there has to be a better way. Fortunately there is! Compact portable jump starters have hit the market and they just might change the way we approach a dead battery. Do these little guys actually work? We’ve often wondered the same thing and when the folks at Anker offered to send over one of their units for testing and evaluation we happily agreed.
We received Anker’s ultra compact 10000mAh(37Wh) 400A Jump Starter and portable charger, Model #A1501. When we say compact, we mean it. The jump starter and charger unit itself measures approximately 7 inches long by 3.25 inches wide and about an inch tall. It would easily fit in most glove compartments and center consoles without much issue.
With your purchase you receive:
- One Portable Jump Starter/Charger Unit
- Jumper Cables
- Micro USB cable
- Welcome Guide
- 15 Volt/1 Amp Wall Charger
- 15 Volt/1 am Car Charger
- 18 Month Warranty
- Everything stows inside a compact zippered storage case measuring about 4 inches tall, 5 inches deep and 9 inches long.
- Welcome Guide/Instruction Manual
Using the Anker Portable Jump Starter:
Using this device really couldn’t be easier. The days of lugging heavy, long and cumbersome jumper cables and finding a willing donor vehicle may be over. Thanks to these portable jump starters you hold a donor battery and jumper cables in the palm of your hand!
The process to jump start a vehicle is as simple as following the easy steps clearly outlined in the instruction manual:
- Press the power button to turn on the jumper and ensure the battery is charged over 25% (More than one LED must be lit)
- Next pull back the rubber dust cove over the jumping port and connect the jumper cable assembly that was provided with your unit. (There should be no worries here because the plug is shaped so you can’t plug the cables in backwards) The red and green lights on the jumper cables should flash to confirm connection.
- Connect the red jumper cable clamp to the + battery terminal (red) and the black jumper clamp to the battery’s negative terminal or post.
- After 5 seconds the light on the jumper cable assembly should turn green indicating you can start your vehicle.
- Start your vehicle. (An alarm may sound and a red light will flash.)
- Finish up by removing the jumper cables from the jump starter and then disconnect the clamps from your battery. The portable jump starter should be disconnected from the vehicle within 30 seconds of the vehicle starting to prevent the chance of damage.
Does it Really Work?
We have to admit we were skeptical. We almost judged this bright yellow book by its cover. It turns out this little guy is capable of starting gasoline engines of 3.0L or less and 2.5L or smaller diesel engines.
Naturally we had to test this unit’s claims out. We ran the battery down on a 2.0L SOHC Mitsubishi overnight to the point where it wouldn’t start the next morning. This Anker unit was able to get the vehicle started in seconds. We experienced similar results with a 2.5L VW Jetta. While this unit may lack the “oomph” to start your 5.7L V-8, it does seem to work just fine for engines of the stated capacity. We plan on testing the unit in a long term study and will report our findings at a later date. For now this thing seems to work as advertised.
This thing isn’t just good for cars. We also used it to jump start a riding lawnmower and we can definitely see this being used for boats, personal watercraft, ATV’s, motorcycles and more.
More Than Just a Jump Starter:
These handy little device doesn’t just jump start vehicles with dead batteries. That would be cool enough, but Anker ups the ante and adds even more value to this product. One of the most useful features is a bright white LED flashlight. This handy light is just the ticket for fixing a flat or other issues in the dark. The flashlight has 3 modes: normal, S.O.S. and strobe so it can be used as a signal or warning light too.
In addition to the flashlight, Anker added two USB charging ports to allow you to charge smartphones or other devices. The ports charge with either 2.1 amps or 1 amp depending on your device. The portable jump starter’s “PowerIQ” technology automatically detects and senses the connected device’s charging protocol and adjusts charging output and speed accordingly.
Of course we felt obligated to test the USB charging speed so we ran a smartphone battery completely dead and hooked it up to the Anker jump starter. Within seconds the phone had enough charge to allow us to power it on and begin using it while charging. We left the phone charging and came back to find it fully charged 2 hours later. The Anker jump starter managed to charge a 3.8V Min 7.6Wh 20000mAh smart phone battery in just under 2 hours. Not too shabby. This USB charging feature is handy in an emergency and just for everyday use when the kids are panicking due to low battery notifications.
Overall we were very pleased with the Anker charging unit. It works as advertised and the flashlight and USB charging features only add to the convenience, value and peace of mind this small unit offers.
What We Loved:
- Arrived fully charged and ready to go!
- The unit charges quickly and is completely charged in just 3 hours.
- Charges via either the AC Wall Adapter or the car charger (both of which are included with your purchase!
- The portable jump starter only needs to be charged about once every 3 months for optimal results.
- According to the manufacturer, this unit can jump start your car up to 10-15 times on a single charge.
- Very convenient. Jump start your own vehicle without long cables and without the need to access another vehicle battery.
- Could be used with a variety of vehicles such as lawn mowers, ATVs, Motorcycles, personal watercraft etc.
- Built in white LED flashlight features 3 modes: Regular, S.O.S. signal and strobe
- 2 USB charging ports with PowerIQ technology
- Safety features help protect the user and their devices from short circuits, inverse current and power surges.
- Available in two different colors: Yellow/Black or Gray/Black
- Comes in a convenient compact zippered storage case measuring about 4 inches tall, 9 inches long and 5 inches deep.
- Easy to use and extremely portable.
- Very Compact Size: The jump starter unit measures approximately 7 inches long, 3.25 inches wide and 1 inch tall.
- Great ANKER customer service!
- 18 Month Warranty
What we Didn’t Love so Much:
- The charge level LED doesn’t seem to light up while charging. It would be nice if the charge level LED light would stay lit or maybe confirm when the unit is fully charged. The current design for this unit means you need to time about 3 hours or occasionally tap the power button to turn on the charge level LED in order to see how charged the unit is.
- This unit needs to be kept from exposure to extreme temperatures. The manufacturer lists the operating temperature as -4 to 140 °F. There is a good chance this unit may occasionally be exposed to temperatures beyond these extremes if stored in a vehicle. Here in the midwest it can definitely dip below -4 degrees Fahrenheit on exceptionally cold winter days.
Final Rating: 4.75 / 5
Overall we were very pleased with the Anker 400A Peak current jump starter. While it isn’t perfect, it’s pretty darn close and we wouldn’t have any qualms about recommending it to friends and family.
LONG TERM REVIEW UPDATES:
In late July 2017 we pulled the Anker portable Jump Starter out of our trunk to check the charge level as we do every couple months. This is typically an uneventful endeavor. Unfortunately this time we noticed the unit was completely dead with no charge. Upon further inspection we noticed the internal battery had apparently bulged. We noted no leakage but the cell had evidently bulged to the point where it was causing the plastic case to separate.
We’re not sure whether the issue was simply a defective battery, temperature related or something else. We’re certain we only used the unit as instructed and followed all precautions.
As luck would have it, this was very close to the end of the normal warranty period. We reached out to Anker customer support and they promptly worked with us to resolve the issue. They sent out a replacement unit and even requested we send back the old jump starter via a prepaid return label so they could investigate for quality control issues. Stellar customer support is just one of the things we love about Anker products.
Would we still recommend this product? Absolutely. This device pays for itself with a single use or two in an emergency situation. We’ll continue to update this review in the future if and when we encounter any issues with the new replacement device.
It’s been over a year and a half since we posted our original review and the compact portable Anker Jump Starter is still going strong. Don’t think this device has sat idle in our trunk either. This product has been put to use 5 times and performed flawlessly each time. We’ve rescued friends, relatives and strangers.
Have we experienced any issues? Honestly we’ve experienced no major issues. Our biggest problem has been a dead AC wall charger. For some reason the wall AC charger decided to stop working and we’ve never gotten around to ordering a replacement. Charging via the cigarette charger of a vehicle is still possible but isn’t as convenient since the unit only charges while you’re driving around in that scenario. The fix is as simple as finding and purchasing a suitable replacement wall wart.
We’ve left the unit sitting in our vehicle’s over cold midwestern winters with Wind chills down to -20 °F and in the summer with in vehicle temperature in excess of 100 °F. No issues there.
We’ve noticed the yellow color does tend to show dirt and grime more than black would. The good news is the plastic seems to wipe clean easily.
Other than the wall charger, durability has been better than expected. We treat this device with reasonable care and we’ve had no issues with broken or loose connectors etc.
Based on our experience we still highly recommend this device. It would likely pay for itself with a use or two. We have tow and emergency services included with our automotive insurance coverage but we’ve used this over calling for help in several situations. The Anker Portable Jump Starter is much more convenient than trying to flag down a stranger or waiting 45 minutes or more for help to arrive.
We’ll continue to update this review if there are any new developments.
Q: Dan asks: “How do I get another set of these jumper cables for my anker jump box? I’ve looked for hrs online and can’t seem to find them for purchase by themselves?….”
A: Hi Dan! Thanks for visiting and thanks for taking the time to ask your question. I don’t believe Anker offers replacement jumper cables for purchase separately. Based on my own personal experience Anker is very good about honoring product warranties. If your cables are damaged or defective you might try contacting Anker support directly if you haven’t.
The good news is these are basically the same generic type cables used on many other portable jump starter products. I’m confident you can locate a suitable replacement online. Amazon is a great place to start and I’m 99% sure these cables will work just fine: http://amzn.to/2o1IVcZ. They look nearly identical to the cables that came with our charger. The seller also mentions Anker as one of the brands these cables should work with
You can also try using search terms like “Booster cables”, “Portable Jump Start Cables” or “EC5 Jump Start Cable” since these specific cables use an EC5 connector. Be sure to closely examine pictures and technical specifications for the replacement cables. It’s best to get something as close as possible to the original to ensure safety and compatibility with your specific product. I hope this helps and good luck!