This power bank also jump-starts your car
Product test

This power bank also jump-starts your car

The Noco Boost GB20 is the Swiss Army knife of power banks: gadget charger, flashlight and jump starter. Too much of a good thing? This test has the answers.

I have a family member who doesn’t use his Volkswagen Golf for months at a time. To keep it well protected, he leaves it in our back-up parking space in our underground garage during these periods. So what happens if a vehicle stays put for long periods of time? The battery goes dead. This usually happens at the worst possible moment and involves me resorting to a jumper cable.

Frankly, the whole ordeal is a total pain in the behind: driving my Skoda, which I use every day, up to the front of the Golf, opening both bonnets, connecting the jump starter cable, starting up the Skoda, starting up the Volkswagen, leaving the engine running, switching off the Skoda, removing the starter cable and driving the Skoda out of the way.

Now that’s frustrating: all the warning lights are on in the cockpit, but the engine won’t start.
Now that’s frustrating: all the warning lights are on in the cockpit, but the engine won’t start.
Source: Lorenz Keller

At last the Volkswagen Golf can be moved again. But I have to drive it around for at least half an hour before I can stop and switch off the engine. This should be enough time for the battery to recharge enough (article in German) and to prevent it from breaking down again.

According to automobile associations Touring Club Suisse and German ADAC (pages in German), problems with the starter battery are the most common cause of breakdowns, accounting for around 40 per cent. This also applies to electric cars, which also have a 12-volt starter battery that feeds the battery management system.

Which of the 12 jump starters is right for me?

I’m done with this painstaking procedure, so I’ve ordered a battery booster. There are around 70 models in our range. The Noco jump starters immediately catch my eye. Why? Because the ratings from our Community are excellent, and because the whole system’s small and compact.

However, Noco has a dozen models to choose from. Prices vary from 90 to over 1,000 francs. So which model is right for you?

Noco GBX55 Fahrzeug-Starthilfe 1750 A (1750 A, 3834 mAh)
Jump starters
201.– CHF

Noco GBX55 Fahrzeug-Starthilfe 1750 A

1750 A, 3834 mAh

Noco GB250+ Genius Boost Max 5250A (5250 A, 20000 mAh)
Jump starters
1348.– CHF

Noco GB250+ Genius Boost Max 5250A

5250 A, 20000 mAh

Noco GBX55 Fahrzeug-Starthilfe 1750 A (1750 A, 3834 mAh)
201.– CHF

Noco GBX55 Fahrzeug-Starthilfe 1750 A

1750 A, 3834 mAh

Noco GB250+ Genius Boost Max 5250A (5250 A, 20000 mAh)
1348.– CHF

Noco GB250+ Genius Boost Max 5250A

5250 A, 20000 mAh

As a layperson, it’s hard to keep an overview. There are three product lines available. Boost is the entry-level series, Boost X offers better battery technology and a quick-charging function. Boost Max is the name of the models which are also suitable for trucks, but also cost over 1,000 francs.

Within a series, the models differ in terms of amperage. For example, the entry-level model GB20 has 500 amps, the GB70 2,000 amps. In the Boost X series, the amperage ranges from 1,250 to 4,250 amps.

The manufacturer provides guide values that help me determine what amperage will do to start my Golf, in each case with regard to cubic capacity. According to the manufacturer, the entry-level model GB20 is enough for small cars with a 1.6-litre engine. It’s the one I ordered for just under 90 francs. If you’re unsure which one to get, the overview on the manufacturer’s website should have you covered.

Honestly, the amount of research required before buying is quite something. Fortunately, using the booster is much easier.

The Noco GB20 Booster comes with clamps, charging cable and a bag.
The Noco GB20 Booster comes with clamps, charging cable and a bag.
Source: Lorenz Keller

Hook up, start, ta-dah!

Using the Noco GB20 is practically self-explanatory. The two terminals need to be connected to the positive and negative terminals on the battery. Once that’s done, you press the button on the booster. After a few seconds, the light turns white, which mean you can start the engine. In my case, it starts on the very first attempt. Next, you switch off the jump starter, remove the clamps and the job’s done.

A single battery charge manages about 20 jump starts. I wasn’t able to test this, but did manage to bridge it over five times without recharging. After that, the battery indicator still showed four out of four bars.

Please note: if the white light doesn’t light up before jump-starting your car, the Noco hasn’t recognised the car battery. This is the case when it’s completely empty, for example. There’s always manual start mode; however, it deactivates the fuses against sparking and incorrectly connected poles. By the way, this protection is something standard jump starters don’t feature.

If in doubt, it’s worth checking the user manual of your car. It will tell you whether and how to jump-start your car.

This booster’s also a flashlight and charging station

The GB20 and starter cable weigh around 900 grammes. Both can be stowed away in the bag provided and stored in the boot. Just remember to check the battery once or twice a year and recharge it if necessary.

The power bank’s also a pretty bright flashlight.
The power bank’s also a pretty bright flashlight.
Source: Lorenz Keller

In addition to jump-starting your car, the battery booster’s generally a great help in an emergency. For example, you can recharge your mobile via a USB-A port. With a capacity of 2,000 mAh, the battery in the GB20 isn’t huge, but should have you covered for a few hours on your phone. A bright flashlight with 100 lumens is also built in. This can prove very handy to light up the engine compartment if you need to jump-start your broken-down car in the dark. You can even leave the light on during the process or switch the two LEDs to flash.

I overlooked one detail

The manufacturer is offering a solid all-round package with this product. The battery and technology are well protected against knocks and falls. And thanks to plastic caps for the connections, the GB20 booster’s waterproof and dustproof in line with the iP65 standard.

However, I did overlook one detail when ordering. The GB20’s charged via an outdated micro USB port, which also only allows slow speeds. That’s annoying. Noco also has models equipped with a more up-to-date USB-C port, but only in the Boost X series. If that’s what you’re after, you’re looking at a price tag of around 150 francs for the Boost X45.

If I had the choice, I’d give the micro USB port (left) for charging a hard pass.
If I had the choice, I’d give the micro USB port (left) for charging a hard pass.
Source: Lorenz Keller

In a nutshell

Verdict: well thought out emergency jump starter

The Noco GB20 Booster jumpstarts a car with a dead battery simply and easily – no need for a second car to help. The built-in fuses mean this booster is ideal if you’re concerned about connecting a conventional jumper cable to two batteries.

This jump starter’s rechargeable and has a short cable, so it takes up less space than a jumper cable. It also doubles as a flashlight and a charger – two features likely to come in handy more often than the cable.

Make sure you find out beforehand which model has the right amperage for your car.

Pro

  • easy system with good instructions
  • compact and portable
  • sturdy and waterproof case
  • useful additional functions including a flashlight and charger
  • reasonably priced

Contra

  • micro USB port for charging
  • some research required to find the correct model
Header image: Lorenz Keller

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Gadgets are my passion - whether you need them for the home office, for the household, for sport and pleasure or for the smart home. Or, of course, for the big hobby next to the family, namely fishing.


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