Purchasing these essential emergency cables can come with more decisions than you may realize. Jumper cables are rated based on the amperage, or amps, of the wire. Car starter devices will also offer different amps. Learn more about amps, cable sizes and other features shopping for the best jumper cables for your vehicle.
How Many Amps Do I Need for Jumper Cables?
What Does Amps Mean on Jumper Cables?
Amps are defined as watts divided by volts. An amp is a measurement of the strength of an electric current. On jumper cables, this shows the amount of electric current the cables are capable of transmitting from one battery to another. On a car charger, it’s the maximum amount of amps that both the cables and the charger itself is capable of delivering to the dead car or motorcycle battery.
Most companies offer both amp ratings and wire gauges, but these two factors are linked. The amp rating is affected by the gauge, or thickness, of the wires, and the total length of the cables. A lower gauge number means a thicker wire with a higher amp potential, so an 8 gauge wire is thinner than a 2 gauge wire.
You don’t have to worry about overloading your battery with too high of amps. Battery chargers are specifically designed to deliver the ideal amount of amps, regardless of the available maximum. Jumper cables are rated based on the potential amount, so having a thicker set of cables is a good idea.
Choosing a set of jumper cables that are too small for your battery can prevent them from working properly. The amperage flowing through the cables will be insufficient to charge the battery.
What Size Jumper Cables Do I Need?
Just looking at amp ratings doesn’t tell you much about the best type of cables for your situation. Find out what size of cables you need by reviewing the vehicle or vehicles you have. Batteries come in a range of sizes. Find the cold cranking amps, or CCA, of your batteries to determine the ideal jumper cable amps for your project.
Most small cars only need about 400 amp jumper cables. Larger trucks can need as much as 1,000 amps. Look at the cold cranking amps and select jumper cables with at least the same amp rating.
Battery chargers also describe their power in amps. It’s important to remember that a charger isn’t typically designed to fully charge your battery. Instead, it just needs to give it enough power to activate your starter and turn over your engine. A vehicle alternator is capable of fully charging a battery that’s been partially discharged. If your vehicle continues to experience a dead battery, or if the correct jumper cable size doesn’t recharge your battery, you may need a new battery, alternator or starter.
Discover how to tell if car battery is dead, how to safely connect jumper cables and other helpful information before purchasing a set of cables for your vehicle. Keep an emergency set in your vehicle at all times to ensure you can recharge your battery with the help of any passerby.