My van has been getting harder and harder to start, some mornings when I am off hookup and relying on solar I was failing to get started before the battery went flat. I had a new battery and alternator fitted last year so I knew it wasn’t those causing it. I had looked at other things but in the meantime I needed a way of getting started in an emergency.
I bought one of these. It is a Rav Power 500 Amp booster/Starter pack.
Now please note this will not start your vehicle if the battery is totally dead. For instance if you have left the lights on until the battery is flat and not noticed for 3 days. You will need to get a jump start or a charge the battery. However if it is just turning over too slowly then this will save you having to find someone to get a jump from. If you have a car you might be ok even if it doesn’t turn over at all. But for a large 2.8 L Diesel van engine I think you may be expecting a bit much out of it.
Anyway does it work? YES!!!. I couldn’t get my van started last week and the battery had flattened to 12.1V it is usually at this point I have to give in and get a jump or wait for the solar panels to do their magic. I dug the pack out of the van and connected it up. I left it for 2 minutes to put a bit of charge into the van battery then turned it over. It took a little bit of doing but it started. I checked the leads to see if were hot and although a little bit warmer than I would normally like they were not hot. I pressed the button to see the charge level remaining and it has used half the battery packs charge. If your vehicle normally starts on first turn you results will be much better than mine. I had to turn mine over for about 10 seconds before it fired up.
Needless to say I do recommend this product. It was a lifesaver on that cold morning. You can order it from here amongst other places.
In addition to be a handy starter device, it is also handy to charge phones and tablets up in an emergency. I tested this out at a rally 2 weeks ago and between Wednesday and Monday it recharged my tablet twice and my phone 3 times and still had 1 bar left. However I wouldn’t recommend using it for this as it will then not be fully charged should your van not start. I was just curious as to how well it would do.
By the way I also have a Battery Master and a little 12W solar panel connected up to the vans battery. The battery master works the reverse way that a battery to battery charger works. When my habitation batteries go over 12.8V is takes a little bit of the excess power to charge the van battery. When I am on hookup this additional charge comes from the mains charger. When I am off hookup it comes from the solar charge controller.
In addition I have a little 12w solar panel leaning on my dash and I try to park the van facing south where possible. This means late in the afternoon till sun down I get an additional boost charge to the Van battery.
When I get up in the morning my Van battery is usually at full charge as though it had been on a mains charger overnight. The combination of the Battery Master and the 12Watt solar panel are great. You can read more about the Battery Master here.