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Now here’s something …

Earlier this month I blogged about getting a lithium-ion jump starter for Old Blue after accidentally running the battery down.

I was very happy to have that gadget even if the instructions were in inscrutible Engrish. Worked just fine, too.

But in that blog I mentioned liking to have backups for my backups (“two is one and one is me stranded on the roadside on a dark and stormy night”). And whaddaya know, this handy-dandy gadget just showed up.

This is NOT a jump starter:



Nope, not a jump starter. It only looks like one — while also being quite the elegant alternative-slash-backup solution.

It’s a Stanley Simple Start (Amazon link) battery booster. You will note the negative reviews from people who didn’t read the instructions, then complained that it didn’t work when they tried to use it to jump their car. That’s because this gadget doesn’t jump your car battery. It recharges it. Supposedly takes 15 minutes or so to power your battery back up to the point where it no longer needs a jump.

Best of all from the perspective of a female who doesn’t approve of being outside on said dark and stormy nights, particularly not on lonely roadsides, it can boost the battery from inside the vehicle. Just plug it into the politically incorrect cigarette lighter (aka wholesome and environmentally friendly 12-volt port), wait until it tells you the battery is ready … then go.

You can also hook it directly to the battery if you prefer to get out and get under the hood with the dirt, bugs, oil, sleet, snow, rain, serial killers, and all. Or, in a hurry, just use a regular lithium-ion jump starter. You know; the one you got this to be a backup for.

Although this didn’t come with USB cables like the other device did, and its light hasn’t got multiple fancy flashing modes, it does have a USB port and a small but strong and steady light.

This is very cool. Because it functions differently (as well as being of a different make and having a manual in actual English) it’s a particularly nice backup. If the packaging tells the truth, this will also boost most any vehicle battery, from an ATV to a big truck. The jump starters have to be chosen according to the size of the vehicle; I got one suitable for a small four-cylindar car, but it might not start my neighbor’s big diesel Dodge. This says it will. It also appears to be solid and well-made. And oh, I do love English language instructions that can actually be read by actual English speakers without inducing either fits of laughter or trips to YouTube. (The manual is the usual thick and dire mass of GOVERNMENT WARNINGS (which never, oddly enough, warn about the dangers of government), but there’s a much easier quick-start guide with friendly colored pictures.)

So now I am a happy camper, with backups for both my tire-filler and my battery fixer. Thank you, Dear Reader! All I have to do is remember to keep both devices charged up. I’ve already made note of the dates for that on my year-at-a-glance calendar (thanks, P!)

This gadget is particularly welcome because in a couple of weeks I must take Old Blue on its first longish trip.


  1. John
    John January 23, 2017 11:50 pm

    These solutions are basically batteries in a package with assorted external hook ups. If you like the connectivity for devices you use, these are good if sometimes pricy. If you cannot replace the internal battery in it when it dies, you’ll then be out the whole package.

    Those who can do it themselves, or connect with a knowledgable friend to help out, might think of just getting one (or two) reserve purpose batteries they can maintain, and employ the plethora of external connectors to meet particular needs and preferences.

    Lead acid is cheep but low energy density (power to weight). Lithium is evolving, lightweight, but pricy.

    I’ve been running about nine months with a vehicles starting battery and two of these:

    (These UPG batteries come in many sizes)

    Design has 250 watts of solar for recharge, but given clouds and rain since November, the solar is now just for decoration and bird bombing targets. They are clean though, because rain. And more rain. Plus extra rain.

    Plan “B” is engaged and the generator powers a 45 watt charger which can run at capacity as these batteries will take a higher charge rate than standard flooded lead acids.

    Plan “C” sucks. But, someone asked today; “(when) will the rain stop?”

  2. Arthur Murray
    Arthur Murray January 24, 2017 1:01 am

    A goodly number of years ago, the “farm truck” had two identical batteries, both connected to their respective cables with high-amperage manual switches. Since the winch was both large and electric, one switched off the auxiliary battery so if one dragged battery voltage below that necessary for starting while winching out fence posts, or trees for firewood (which could occur even with the engine idling to keep the still-connected battery charged), one had the means to restart the engine if it stopped.

    I’ve occasionally wondered if there was a way to incorporate a second small battery into a car’s electrical system just for that purpose. I suspect with lithium-ion batteries becoming cheaper, and more powerful, there may be. Connection through a diode, and some simple electronics, could keep it charged and allow a manual switch to connect it temporarily for the purpose of restarting the engine.

  3. AG
    AG January 24, 2017 1:42 am


    What will they think of next?

  4. M
    M January 24, 2017 8:12 am

    Arther, that’s a great idea, and DIY-able.

    Saw this video a couple of days ago, and thought that it would make a pretty awesome back-for-the-backup option.

  5. jed
    jed January 24, 2017 9:34 am

    > I’ve occasionally wondered if there was a way to incorporate a second small battery into a car’s electrical system just for that purpose. I suspect with lithium-ion batteries becoming cheaper, and more powerful, there may be. Connection through a diode, and some simple electronics, could keep it charged and allow a manual switch to connect it temporarily for the purpose of restarting the engine.

    Be wary of “simple” when it comes to LiIon batteries. The charging profile is different from that required for SLA batteries, in particular regarding float, which is dangerous for lithium chemistry.

    With a proper isolation setup, you won’t be using a diode. You’ll need a proper charge controller for the lithium cells. You’ll need multiple lithium cells, so your charge controller will need to accomodate this as well. Note that the nominal voltage of a lithium cell is 3.7V, with a charge-to-voltage of 4.1V or 4.2V. Note also that:

    3 x 3.7 = 11.1
    3 x 4.2 = 12.6
    4 x 3.7 = 14.8
    4 x 4.2 = 16.8

    And only one of these figures is close to the nominal voltage of your vehicle’s electrical system. 14.8V is pushing it. And the 12.6V is “charged” voltage, which will quickly drop under load.

    You might be better off using lithium ferro phosphate cells, which have a nominal voltage of 3.2V, and are far less hazardous. These require different chargers than LiIon batteries, due to the lower voltage.

    Also consider other LiIon chemistries. The typical LiIon is a lithium cobalt oxide cell. Other chemistries, such as lithium manganese, are much safer, though with tradeoffs.

    This isn’t something I’d DIY. The cost of buying proper components is lower than replacing your car due to a lithium fire.

    There are now lithium starting batteries available for passenger vehicles. I haven’t looked into this in detail, but I assume that proper charging and protection circuitry is incorporated into them, for connection to vehicle electrical systems.

  6. Todd
    Todd January 24, 2017 10:48 am

    Back when there was space under the hood, having a camper or trailer was handled by having 2 full sized batteries. There is your 2 is one! An isolator would charge both, but keep the camper load only on the second battery. You can still do that, plus add a simple switch to bring in Battery 2 for starting load if needed.

  7. Scott
    Scott January 24, 2017 5:19 pm

    M stole part of my thunder-I saw that video of capacitors being used to start a car (I wonder if you could replace the battery with a bank of capacitors? I *think* some electric city buses use capacitors-the buses that charge at each stop). Back in the early ’80s, you could get a jumpbox of sorts that used 16 D alkaline batteries in series-parallel, It was plugged into the cigarette lighter plug, and charged the battery enough to start (in theory). I saw them in stores, but never had one.
    Connecting two batteries is fairly easy-you need an battery isolator (two high amperage diodes potted in epoxy within a heat sink). 30 years ago my uncle lived in a cabin for a few years that was powered by such a system(very rural eastern Kentucky). The cabin( “Batteryhaus”) was wired with stranded 10 gauge wire, 12 volt marker lights, a couple cigarette lighter plugs, and AG type car fuses/fuse block. Total cost for everything, including battery? About $35(1983-ish prices)..the whole project got started because I found an old RV battery isolator at a flea market for $2.
    Batteries have improved by leaps and bounds over the last decade or so. The amount of energy that can be shoved into a small space is amazing.

  8. Arthur Murray
    Arthur Murray January 25, 2017 3:04 am

    @Todd – that’s how the Farm Truck was originally built – with the camper option which included not only a second battery, but a larger alternator, heavier springs, etc. We got it very well used (read: 20 years old and beat to crap) but it was mechanically sound if visually quite unattractive inside and out.

    @Jed – I’m not contesting Li-ion batteries are the ideal project for shadetree mechanics, nor do I think they may be the best choice for benign neglectful installations (See: Samsung Note 7). But I think there’s an opportunity for some form of electron storage, be it lead acid batteries (heavy and bulky), capacitors (technically complex and potentially fragile) and Li-ion (incompletely understood in some applications). It might be as simple as a small (motorcycle) lead acid battery in the vehicle charging system connected to a capacitor bank – use the small battery to charge the caps in a minute or so, start the car. There’s also a plethora of small, portable battery packs on the market, intended to be used to recharge cell phones, iPads, Kindles, etc. (Amazon had a 22600 mA unit on sale last week for $35, and, yes, all these units use Li-ion batteries) that – potentially – could be used to charge a capacitor bank (assuming one remembers to: a) keep it charged, and; b) bring it along. Both are single points of failure, and life has just too many moving parts for some people). (Incidentally, the portable power packs – with Li-ion batteries – charge through a USB connection; my current vehicle has two USB ports just for doing that.)

    The alternative, however, is so simple no one ever seems to think about it: Automotive batteries have a definite service life; replace the battery before it fails. (This, of course, ignores both the “lights left on” problem and the “it failed a year before the warranty ran out” issue so some form of Plan B is warranted).

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