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We’ve been travelling full-time for a while now. And some places we get to are really remote. We might not see anyone for days.
So you’d think a portable jump starter would be an essential item, right?
Wrong. For reasons unknown, I delayed the purchase. Luckily, we haven’t needed a jump start. Although, we’ve encountered others who have. Unfortunately we couldn’t help them.
We can now. We’ve just bought a portable jump starter (2 actually)… a NOCO Genius Boost HD GB70 to be precise.
So what did we get?
What’s in The Package?
It all comes in a neat box. You’ll get:
- The GB70 charger unit. The battery clamps are permanently wired to the unit.
- A USB to micro-USB charging cable for charging the unit from a standard 2.1A USB outlet.
- A cable and adaptor plug, which can be used to charge the unit from a lighter socket or to charge devices from the unit.
- A built-in LED flashlight that has a flashing emergency mode.
The GB70 is a big beast. It’s designed to start up to 8 litre petrol and 6 litre diesel engines. With a peak current draw of 2,000A this monster should start anything we encounter pretty easily. At over 200mm long, 150mm wide and 65mm high and about 2.5kg, it’s a big unit.
And the battery clamps have jaws a saltwater crocodile would be proud to call their own.
It’s for 12V lead-acid batteries only and despite its size, can be used to start vehicles with much smaller batteries. After all, the vehicle will only draw what current it needs.
Why a 12V Portable Jump Starter for a 24V Truck?
This might seem illogical at first. However, we wanted something we could use on any vehicle.
After talking with a couple of blokes from Isuzu, they assured me they regularly use these 12V units to start 24V trucks. You see, two things are most likely to happen.
The most likely is a cell will break down in one of our 2 starter batteries… especially since they spend most of their lives being pounded to death over corrugations and rough roads.
In this case, we’ll connect the NOCO Genius to the dead battery.
The other scenario? When someone approaches us with that slightly embarrassed hangdog look, asking if we have a portable jump starter. Now we can help them.
This has happened plenty of times, including being flagged down by a serial killer on an outback Western Australian road… okay, you need to watch the video!
And of course, there’s always a chance we’ll accidentally drain both batteries. In this case, we actually have a second Noco Genius GB70 for our 24V system.
You can buy a 24V-rated Noco Genius, but it’s massively over-rated for what we need… and it costs a fortune. Plus two 12V jump starters are more versatile as well.
We’ve used both jump starters together when both our truck batteries died at the same time. It’s simply a matter of connecting each unit to its own battery. Simple!
Charging the NOCO Genius
The NOCO Genius has a lithium battery. This can be charged in two ways. The first is to use the supplied USB to micro USB cable and plug it into any 2.1A USB outlet.
Our unit was about 50% charged out of the box. We charged it using a 2.1A USB socket in our cab. It took a couple of hours to fully charge via the USB cable.
At first, the micro-USB charging input looks ridiculously tiny when compared to the size of the portable battery charger. We were sceptical whether it would charge, but it does the job perfectly fine.
The second is to use the supplied cable to plug into a lighter socket. We haven’t tried this, but have no reason to suspect it wouldn’t work.
Strangely, there’s no option to charge the unit from 240VAC. I assume NOCO have decided nearly every vehicle has a 12V lighter socket (our truck only has a 24V socket) and/or a 2.1A USB outlet in their vehicle.
If you keep it in your garage or workshop, simply use a USB to 240VAC adapter plug.
A Charger for Devices
The NOCO can also be used as a charger for your devices. You can plug in a USB cable to charge any of the zillion electronic devices we all carry now.
Or use the supplied cable with its clever reversible plugs. Connect the supplied lighter socket to the cable and plug in any device with a male lighter plug. Clever!
On one end is a 400 lumen LED flashlight, which could double as a lightbar. Only joking, though it’s super-bright on the highest setting. There’s 3 modes of varying brilliance, 2 emergency flashing modes and one strobe mode.
The flashlight could be useful if you’re trying to jumpstart a vehicle in the dark. However, the unit isn’t exactly small and lightweight. So you wouldn’t use this as your go-to flashlight around the campsite.
Portable Jump Starter
Clearly the NOCO Genius is a battery jump starter, this is its primary role. And it works, every time. We used it to start a petrol car over a dozen times in one week, yet the charge hardly dropped.
It’s so simple to use… connect the clamps to the battery terminals, press the On button and start the vehicle.
There’s also a manual override button you can use to charge a completely dead battery. The User Manual explains how to use this mode. This is a “get out of jail” mode and should be used with caution. Nonetheless, the function is available if you’re really stuck.
I’ve only used this function once, when my son left his car’s lights on overnight. A quick check with a multimeter showed the starting battery at 0.3 volts.
So I very carefully connected the alligator clamps, checked and double-checked for polarity then turned the unit on and pressed the override button. And the car started straight away!
The manual override is invaluable in situations like this.. but be careful when you use it. There’s no reverse polarity or spark protection in this mode.
If nothing else, we now have peace of mind when travelling remotely. There’s nothing worse than turning the key and nothing happens, especially when you’re a long way from help.
With the NOCO Genius Boost we can get ourselves out of trouble, and help the occasional stranded driver (or serial killer!) as well. A worthwhile investment.
If you’re considering buying one, Supercheap Auto stock a wide range of NOCO products, including of course the GB70.
FAQs – Common Questions About Portable Jump Starters
We’ve put together a list of common questions about jump starters here. Have a look through these FAQs and let me know if there’s something else you’d like to know. Just leave a comment in the Comments at the end of this post.
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Note: We purchased our NOCO Genius Boost GB70 portable jump starters at retail price. We have no affiliation with NOCO.
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