Get Winter Road Ready with Jump Starters and Power Inverters
The most important part of making sure your vehicle is winter road ready is to prepare for different situations: check the tires, all lights, the defroster, the wiper blades, and the cooling system. Make sure that you have a blanket, flashlight, cell phone, and other essentials with you. But how else can you make sure that you're safe on the road and able to keep in touch with the people who need to know where you are if something happens? Portable jump starters and car power inverters can provide you with the extra assurance you need when you're on winter roads.
Get Moving with a Portable Jump Starter
Having jumper cables or a portable jump starter in your car is important any time of year, and they're on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's list for winter driving safety. Jumper cables are great, but they aren't going to help you when there are no other cars around to help you get your battery started. Carrying a portable jump starter, like one from Cobra, can be a lifesaver when your battery is dead.
Using a jump starter is safe and easy, and it can be done wherever you are. Exact instructions will vary by device, but the general process is similar: to start your vehicle by connecting directly to the battery, you'll attach the jump starter's cables to the correct post – usually red to positive and black to negative – check the device to confirm that it's ready, and then start your car. Some jump starters are even designed to work from within the vehicle itself, jumping your car through the 12V port (CLP) inside. It's important to always read the manual for your specific jump starter for exact instructions on how to use the device correctly.
Can you leave a jump starter in the cold?
Storing a jump starter in the car is perfectly fine, especially with the newer lithium-ion batteries that are much more compact than the older, bigger lead-acid jump starters. There's no safety risk, although extremely cold temperatures may weaken the battery, so make sure that you check your jump starter regularly. – if you're stuck with a dead battery away from home, after all, you need to have the right tools with you – and keeping the jump starter in the car eliminates the chance that you might forget and leave it at home. Ideally, it's best to keep the jump starter in a location with temperatures between 50˚F and 70˚F for maximum performance; however, storing it in your car is still an acceptable option. If you live in a very cold area and your car isn't kept in a garage, you might consider making a "winter readiness" bag to take with you, with your jump starter, flashlight, non-perishable food, and other essentials inside. Keep it by the door so you can grab it whenever you're ready to go.
And don't forget to keep it charged – a jump starter won't do you much good if it's out of power. It's best to recharge your jump starter after every use and check it before you leave home. If you don't use your jump starter frequently, it’s recommended to charge it every 3 months or so to prevent the jump starter from completely draining, which can shorten the lifespan of the device.
Is it bad to jump start a car in the cold?
Cold weather is a one-two punch for your car: not only does your battery power drop, it also takes more battery power to actually get your cold engine started. In most cases, jump starting a car in the cold is safe, as long as it is done with caution and according to safety guidelines. You can find directions for how to jumpstart a car in many places online, including in this article from Consumer Reports, although it's best to let a professional help you if you are not familiar with the process.
Keep Important Devices Charged with a Power Inverter
If you're driving farther than the corner store during the winter, having a trusted power inverter in your car can help make a serious situation safer – and maybe a bit more comfortable. A power inverter uses the electricity from your car's battery to power a range of devices, including cell phones, laptop computers, and small TVs; larger power inverters can be used for other small appliances, including mini refrigerators and microwaves. Power inverters are great for people who enjoy camping and road trips, since they can power small electronics to make your trip easier. But when bad weather strikes and you're
There are many benefits of a car power inverter, but keeping your most important devices powered can be a savior during an unexpected situation. While many newer cars have built-in USB ports for powering a cell phone, most don't stay on when the car isn't running. The battery in your laptop, whether you're using it for contacting family and friends, doing work while you wait, or watching a movie that you've downloaded, isn't likely to last very long, especially in cold weather. A car power inverter can give you the power you need to keep your electronics working.
Can a power inverter damage my car?
When used correctly, strictly following the manufacturer's guidelines, the risk of a power inverter damaging your car is extremely low. Power inverters are safe to use and are designed with integrated safety features to minimize the risk of damage to your vehicle, your devices, or the inverter itself. The Cobra PRO 1500W, for example, has built-in protection for over temperature, reverse polarity, over voltage, a low voltage alarm, and a low voltage cutoff.
It's important to always use a power inverter according to the manufacturer's guidelines to avoid draining your car's battery, damaging the alternator, or causing a situation that could cause injury. If your power inverter connects directly to the battery, it must be installed correctly. Choose a power inverter that can handle a load that's higher than what you expect to need, just in case, and never try to power a device that requires a higher load than the unit can supply. All Cobra power inverters have over voltage protection, which can help protect you and your vehicle.
Does a power inverter drain a car battery?
When used correctly in a vehicle with the engine running, a power inverter should not drain your car's battery. The battery in your car is rechargeable; once the vehicle is running, the alternator charges the battery and helps it keep up with the power demands of the car. However, there are some circumstances in which the inverter can drain your battery quickly:
- Using the power inverter without the engine running: Depending on how much power the electronic device you're using needs, you may be able to use your power inverter in the car for up to an hour with the engine off. When the car is not running, however, the alternator isn't recharging the battery and it can quickly be drained by the inverter. Make sure that you're running the engine for at least 10 minutes every hour to keep power flowing.
- You're powering devices that need too much electricity: It's important to always know the capacity of your power inverter and make sure that you're not using devices that require more energy than the inverter – or your car battery – can provide. This could overload your power inverter, causing it to shut down. If your alternator isn't strong enough, your battery can quickly drain.
- Your battery is old: While most small devices like phones and laptops shouldn't put undue stress on your battery when they're being charged with a power inverter, if your car battery is nearing the end of its life, that power draw could be enough to kill the battery. You should always have your battery checked as part of your car's routine maintenance, and this is especially important when preparing your car for winter driving. Car batteries usually last from three to five years, so make sure yours is checked before the cold weather sets in.
Winter driving doesn't need to be a challenge if you – and your car – are prepared. Carrying a jump starter and power inverter with you when you're on the road can give you the extra power you need to keep moving forward and keep your devices charged so you can have a safe and fun trip.