The car battery jump starter of today is an amazing appliance. In addition to having the power to start a car with a dead battery, many of these devices have additional features. These extra features can change a jump starter into a true survival tool.
Some of the extra features found on car battery jump starters are:
1. A light attachment. You might have to use the jump starter in the dark. If the light source is LED, then the power consumption is low. If you have other extra features, you may be using the jump starter for something along getting a car started.
2. An inverter or AC power source. The energy in a jump starter is DC (Direct Current) energy. Our home appliances are AC (Alternating Current). European AC is 50 cycle and North America is 60 cycle. These are not compatible. Check the owner's manual for the type of AC produced.
3. DC power outlet. Cell Phones and computers may need recharging if power is out.
4. Air compressor attachment. The emergency problem may not be a dead battery, but rather a tire that needs inflating or inflating an air mattress on a camping trip.
5. Polarity warning alarm. If you try to connect the battery improperly, a warning will sound.
6. Full Charge indicator. There are several kinds of displays, from a red-green light, to gauges or a digital display to tell that the unit is fully charged.
7. Jump start through a cigarette lighter rather than under the hood. These devices take longer to get a charge into the battery, but raising the hood may not always be an option. Some devices have the ability to recharge the unit through the cigarette lighter with DC power.
8. A carrying handle. Handling a device in less than ideal conditions could be a big obstacle.
9. Recharge Time. Depending on the technology used, the recharge to full power can vary between devices.
10. A two stage recharger. This allows the battery to be continuously plugged in when not in use. The unit will stop charging when it is fully charged
These extra features can have a negative effect on the amount of power a jump starter can produce. Compact size is an important attribute for the jump starter. Extra features take up some space at the expense of the battery size.
The individual unit should have a chart about how long and how much continuous amperage is provided. That will help define the value as an emergency device. Most jump starters are sold based upon cranking amperage and not continuous amperage. In an emergency situation, continuous amperage may be more important than cranking amperage. Short term limited electrical power for an essential medical device, a cell phone or computer network can be lifesaving.
Future versions of the car battery jump starter will reflect new technologies that will improve the product dramatically. Rapid technological change is going to have the same effect on these products as it has on other electrical devices. Energy storage is a rapidly evolving technology, and the type of battery storage in most of the current devices on the market will soon be obsolete. Most of the present models rely on the environmentally unfriendly lead-acid battery technology.
Newer battery technologies are beginning to find their way into jump starters. These new technologies are expensive at the present time because they have not achieved the manufacturing scale required to bring about lower prices.
Most of the new battery technologies use rare earth metals. Many of these metals are mined in either difficult or politically unfriendly locations. This is not true of the rapidly evolving super capacitors. New words like Graphene and nano technology are destined to become a part of our everyday vocabulary. The main ingredient of these super capacitors is environmentally friendly carbon. These new technologies will replace the battery in many applications in the very near future.
The word capacitor is not exactly a household word. The capacitor of today is an extremely short term energy storage device. The devices are commonly used on electric motors and flash cameras to give a fraction of a second burst of energy to get the motor running or create the flash. The capacitor of tomorrow may replace the battery for electrical storage.
Two different technologies will revolutionize energy storage. The term Ultra Capacitor is used instead of Super Capacitor in the nano technology developmernt, but the concept is the same. This technology holds the promise of environmentally friendly energy storage on a much larger scale than today's batteries.
Graphene is a new environmentally friendly material that is also allowing the ordinary capacitor to invade the battery space in the form of a super capacitor. This new material is a very promising technology in many industries, and especially in electrical storage. In the car battery jump starter market, it also holds the promise of improving the performance of traditional devices by several orders of magnitude.
Either nano technology or Graphene based super capacitors require the rare earth materials needed by many new battery technologies. In moving into the battery space, a super capacitor has several performance advantages over batteries. They can be charged and discharged many more times than a battery. A super capacitor can also be recharged in a fraction of the time it takes to charge a conventional battery. The amount of energy that can be stored in a super capacitor has not yet reached the level of the battery. The simple physics of a super capacitor suggests a huge storage advantage is possible compared to current battery technology.
The effect on the car battery jump starter will be amazing. Newer devices will be able to store much more energy and discharge it much more quickly than today's devices. The value as a short term emergency energy source will be exponentially greater because of additional storage, discharge and recharge capacities.
This raises the question should I buy the present technology when I know these new technologies are just over the horizon?
In an emergency situation, the technology must be immediately available. A consumer must accept that electricity storage technology is just in its infancy. A purchaser of a jump starter will see the device become obsolese very quickly.
Just as with other electronic devices, a strong consumer market can be the engine that makes these devices into a robust market segment and encourage constant product innovation. A car battery jump starter is a durable good, which means it lasts more than one year. Just as with other appliances, a secondary market will absorb the older devices. The life cycle of technology pricing is that new and innovative products cost more. The initial purchasers of these new products are providing needed capital to create mass production capabilities that will bring prices down quickly so the latest technology can be enjoyed by more consumers. It will also encourage the research and development needed for rapid product improvements.
About all that can be said is get ready for amazing improvements similar to other electronic devices. The energy storage technological advances are not slowing down, The pace of technological change in general is accelerating. It will take some imagination to picture how these advances will affect the market segment of car battery jump starters.