A portable power station may be your first choice for when you’re away from regular energy sources and still need lots of power, but a car jump starter may be an alternative to consider.
Portable power stations of different sizes are a photographer’s best friend when away from energy sources and there is a need to recharge batteries, smartphones or other devices. We’ve shared some suggestions with ProVideo Coalition readers before, from the Suaoki G500, introduced as the ultimate portable power station to the SuperTank Pro, a pocket-sized mobile power station from Zendure.
The Suaoki G500 is a solution for campers, RV’ers, sailing enthusiasts and other outdoor lovers. Photographers and videographers will appreciate the options it offers to power different equipment. Featuring a Li-ion battery offering 500Wh / 137,700mAh capacity, the Suaoki G500 is able to power a Mavic Pro drone for nine hours, a GoPro camera for six hours, a LED light (20W) for some 20 hours, a laptop for 45 hours and a phone for 90 hours. Although there are other solutions in the market in this segment, the G500 offers some extra versatility, with its USB/AC/DC outlets and mega capacity.
The other alternative is the Zendure SuperTank Pro, which the company says is “the Ultimate Mobile Power Solution that allows working professionals to set up workstation anywhere they need”. With this new accessory, “it doesn’t matter where you are, SuperTank Pro gets your smart devices charged. Have a peaceful mind and stay productive all the time.”
Power stations and jump starters
Featuring a massive 26,800 milliamp-hour battery capacity that lends stamina to your devices, even when you’re far away from power outlets, the SuperTank Pro has up to 100W output from a single port, meaning it quickly charges most USB-C laptops, so you can leave the traditional power brick at home. What’s more, it can charge 4 portable devices in 1 time – the SuperTank version charges only two – thanks to 3 high-powered USB-C ports and 1 USB-A port, taking the charging experience to a brand-new level, charging laptops, tablets, gaming consoles, and more.
The Suaoki G500, with a weight of 6 kgs, is not what you would call portable, while the Zendure SuperTank Pro, at 566g, is a portable solution easy to take along anywhere you go. Somewhere in the middle sits the third solution in terms of power station, a mid-sized car jump starter YABER YR400, which weighs 1.18 kgs. With dimensions of 25 x 16.4 x 9.8 cm, it’s easy to carry in a backpack, if needed, although it is designed to be transported and kept in a car trunk, to be used for… jump start your car, if your battery is not working.
Car jump starters range from heavy-duty professional-grade products that you probably saw being used by mechanics to portable units that can be extremely compact and lightweight, making it difficult to choose the one most adequate for you. The number of options available in some of these accessories is also something to consider when picking one: some allow you to charge electronic devices, others also work as emergency lights and some even include a built-in compressor, important if you need to inflate your tires, something jeep owners are familiar with.
Power to jump start your car, wherever you are
The specific brand I picked from Amazon in Europe may not be available in North America, but more than a brand it’s the versatility of the accessory that’s the reason for this hands-on review. I’ve, for a long time, wanted to buy a car jump starter for my old Jeep Cherokee XJ, whose battery suffers drain due to the weather, which has been rather cold this Winter. Jump cables are OK, if you’ve a car to use them with, but are not of much use if you can’t connect them to another vehicle. That’s when a car jump starter can make you get back home safely without trouble if it’s just a battery not working.
It’s not easy to choose one of these accessories, and the comments online are, many times, not helpful. After browsing through some of the options I picked the YABER YR400, which seemed adequate to my needs. It’s a 12-volt, 1600 A device that is presented as capable of function with all gasoline engines and seven-liter diesel ones. With a 20000mAh lithium battery, the accessory is more than a simple engine starter, and that’s, for photographers and videographers who need lots of power, a good reason to pick it.
With USB A and USB C connections, the YABER YR400 supports fast charging, being compatible with Qualcomm QC 3.0, meaning it charges devices up to 85 % faster than with a standard charge, according to Yaber. With it you can charge your phones, cameras, laptops and other devices in no time. The jump starter comes without a charger, but both a Type-C cable and a micro-USB cable are included, so you can use any adapter (5V / 1A, 5V / 2A, 5V / 3A) to recharge the device. One complete charge should be enough to provide 30 jump starts, according to Yaber. Users should always confirm that the LEDs that indicate charge of the power bank light up before starting the vehicle. At least three of the four blue lights should be visible.
My mechanic’s advice
The YABER YR400 doubles as a portable LED flashlight with 3 lighting modes; normal, SOS, strobe, so it is very useful for emergency situations. It is also waterproof (IP68) and its rigid exterior design, means it is scratch resistant, dustproof and shockproof even in bad weather conditions.
The device comes with its own storage case that includes the jump cable with smart and safe protection clamps, one EC-5 cigarette lighter adaptor (enabling the use of 12V devices), and the USB Type C and USB Micro cables. The manual included explains how to use the jump starter safely, and this is probably, as happens with other manuals, something many users decide to forget. That may explain why some of the comments online suggest car jump starters do not work. Let me explain.
Before going ahead with the acquisition of the YABER YR400 I decided to ask the mechanic that does maintenance of my Jeep Cherokee XJ, a reliable professional who also leads jeep tours in Africa, if this type of car jump starter would be enough and if it was a good acquisition. His reply made me go ahead without doubts. He told me that this type of jump starter is something he always carries in his cars and uses not only for when batteries go dead but also as a power bank for charging devices. The explanation came with a warning, though: treat the jump starter as a spare tire, making sure it is always ready for when you need it.
Buy the one that suits your needs… and your car
That’s the most important piece of advice regarding these devices, I believe. Reading many comments online makes me wonder if people simply dropped their jump starter inside the trunk of the car and left it there for months, expecting that, as if by miracle, it was charged when needed. Well, it’s not going to be, so remember to charge it regularly. The manufacturer suggests the device should be recharged each 3 or 4 months, to maintain the efficiency and prolong the life of the internal battery, even if the unit has not been used.
If you’re a photographer or videographer who does a lot of work outdoors and in places where there is no other way to charge your equipment, the YABER YR400, or any other similar device is a good solution, both as a jump starter and power bank. Just buy the one that better adapts to your needs… and your car.