Lead Acid vs. Lithium-Ion Jump Starters

Whether you’re trying to get to work early, about to pick the kids up from school, or just looking forward to some casual cruising, finding out your car battery is dead can put a real kink in your plans. Sure, jumper cables can get the job done, but sometimes you don’t want to wait around for a good Samaritan who can take the time out of their day to give you a jump. That’s where jump starters, or jump packs, come in.

These portable battery booster packs hold a charge which they can deliver to your car battery’s terminals via clips that look like the ends of jumper cables. This lets you jump your car without needing another vehicle to supply electric current. That means you can keep one in your car so you’re always ready if you need a jump.

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The jump packs of the past have always utilized lead-acid batteries, but now jump starters are turning to lithium-ion batteries for their ability to deliver the same amount of power in a much smaller and lighter product. Here are some of the ways these two different batteries stack up against each other:

What are the Pros and Cons of Lead Acid vs. Lithium-Ion Jump Starters

1. Energy Density in Volume

Lithium-ion delivers up to 4X more power than lead-acid for the same amount of space.

2. Energy Density in Weight

Lithium-ion provides up to 6X more power than lead-acid for the same amount of weight.

3. Less Self-Discharge

All jump packs lose a bit of their charge while they sit on a shelf; it’s inevitable. However, some jump packs discharge faster than others, and when you call on yours in a time of need months later, it may not be able to deliver:

  • Lithium-ion discharge rate: 3 to 5% of charge/month
  • Lead-acid discharge rate: 5 to 15% of charge/month

4. Cycle Life

A battery’s life cycle refers to the amount of times a battery can be fully charged and discharged before needing to be replaced. A longer cycle life means an extended lifespan. Lithium-ion jump starters have nearly double the cycle life of lead-acid ones. Exact numbers will vary depending on the precise models in question since each has varying types of chemistries.

5. Level of Maintenance

In general, lead-acid jump starters are more high-maintenance than lithium-ion ones. They lose charge quickly and degrade easily, whereas lithium-ion options are more of a Steady Eddie. Lithium-ion requires a lot less attention and can go longer periods without maintenance.

6. Power and Capacity

The smaller physical size, but powerful chemistry composition, gives lithium has a great advantage in power and capacity than lead acid.

7. Cost

The tradeoff of higher power and smaller size means that lithium has more cost advantages than lead acid.

8. Cold Weather Performance

Our lithium technology’s cold weather performance is superior to lead acid jump starters.

While there are tradeoffs for each, it’s easy to see where most jump-start needs can be met with the lithium-ion alternative. From energy density in volume and weight to self-discharge rate, cycle life and maintenance, lithium-ion has a lot of advantages.

If you need a jump pack or anything else for your car battery, head to AutoZone: America’s #1 car battery destination. If the job is too big for you, seek out one of our Preferred Shops to help you do the job.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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