Nothing is more frustrating than a battery that is on the fritz — maybe it’s the one powering your weekend weapon that sits for 80 per cent of the year, or maybe you’re lucky to have one of those ‘special’ Euros that drains the battery any time that it rains heavily. Either way, jumping in the driver’s seat to find the battery dead is frustrating, and will always happen if you have no jumper leads on hand, you’re running late, or there’s no way of getting another car anywhere near to jump-start it. A handheld jump starter is something that any toolbox would benefit from. However, for many, this brings up memories of super-heavy plastic boxes housing 20kg lead acid batteries — not exactly the kind of thing you’d call portable in any sensible use of the term, and certainly not something you want rolling around in the boot.
This month we’ve been trialling a solution to this problem with Projecta’s latest range of handheld lithium battery–powered jump starters. There are two in the range: the smaller 900A (IS910E) unit, which weighs 610g, and the larger 1200A (IS1210E) unit, which is seriously no larger than our iPhone 8 Plus and weighs only 760g. That’s light enough to carry in your toolbox or in a glovebox for emergencies. The bigger of the two advertises up to 24 jump starts with a petrol engine capacity of up to 7000cc.
This is a completely redesigned product for Projecta, with safety the main focus of the rework, and for all intents and purposes the units are now what we’d call idiot-proof. A two-stage safety system protects from any conceivable event, including short circuit, over current, under voltage, voltage surges, battery and switch-over temperature, and the classic stitch-up of reverse polarity.
Our first thoughts when opening the box of the IS1210E was how rugged the construction of the unit feels. A solid plastic outer case with rubber edging and base is perfect for sitting in the engine bay while you ‘kick it in the guts’. The clamps — which on this unit deliver 330A to the battery posts — are shrouded in plastic and feature a sturdy spring for clamping force, hefty eight-gauge wire, and the Smart module built into the connector.
When jump-starting, always connect the positive terminal first, followed by the negative. This ensures that you don’t short the unit and throw sparks. Once grounded, press and hold the Jump Start button and the clamp LED should turn green, indicating that you’re good to flick the ignition.
One feature that we found handy was the troubleshooting. If jump-starting fails, then the clamp LED will indicate the issue through a series LED colours and flashes. In more serious cases, such as reversed polarity, the siren also sounds.
Both units feature a battery indication LED showing how much juice the unit has left.
Charging is handled through a USB connection, with a USB accessory for charging phones, laptops, and the like. We used it to power our tablet while working on the race car out in the wild.
Another feature we liked is the dual LED floodlight for those late-night jump starts.
Overall, this is by far the most advanced jump-starting unit we have played with, packed with so many safety features that it’s ideal for anyone — even those not car savvy.
For more information or where to buy, checkout www.griffithsequipment.co.nz.