The last time you were miles from anywhere, turned your boat’s ignition key and heard nothing, what did you do?
No, I mean after you ran through the appropriate part of your vocabulary.
I used to carry a set of jumper cables in the bottom of a rod box, and the only time that happened to me I jumped my cranking battery with one of my trolling motor batteries.
That boat had easy access to all of its batteries so the jump start was easy, but that isn’t always the case. And, some boats store the trolling motor batteries up front and the cranking battery at the transom, requiring fairly long jumper cables.
An easier solution is to carry a compact jump-starter/battery pack.
Some of these units are almost as big as a marine battery, but they don’t need to be that cumbersome to do the job. A company called Weego makes three models that are small enough to store in the glove box of a vehicle or boat.
They aren’t waterproof, so those stowed in boats need to be stored in dry bags or other waterproof containers. My metal tools, bulbs, fuses, volt meter and other emergency items (like the Weego battery) that need to be kept dry are stored in a plastic box shaped like a small ammo can with an O-ring seal around the inside of the lid.
The Weego emergency battery packs use Lithium-ion batteries for an exceptional power-to-weight ratio and for long standby service without recharging. Stored Lithium-ion batteries only lose about 2 percent of their power per month.
Three Weego models are offered. The model JS6 Standard ($99.99) is capable of starting gas engines up to 4.6 liters and diesel engines up to 2.4 liters; the JS12 Heavy Duty ($129.99) can start gas engines up to 6.4 liter and diesels up to 3.2 liters; the JS18 Professional ($189.99) can start gas engines larger than 6.4 liters and diesels up to 4.8 liters.
Weego jump starters feature built-in circuitry protection, a power-saving auto-off feature and jumper cables with a fuse and diode to protect both user and unit.
Their internal batteries are designed to last for 1,000 charge/discharge cycles. They can operate safely between -4 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lithium-ion batteries and extreme heat do not play well together, and subjecting the battery to heat above 140 degrees can be dangerous.
These light, compact battery packs have USB ports for charging phones and tablets and for powering speakers, external disk drives and other USB devices. Two power ports output different voltage levels for charging laptop computers, and eight adapter/connectors help you charge the batteries of popular brands like Acer, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.
Easy-to-follow jump-starting instructions are printed on a vinyl label on the bottom of each unit.
When jump-starting your boat, first turn off everything powered by the cranking battery (you don’t want to waste any jump starting power running accessories). Make sure the battery’s posts are clean enough to make good contact with the Weego unit’s jumper cable clamps.
With the jumper cables unplugged from the Weego battery pack, connect the red cable to your cranking battery’s positive post and the black cable to its negative post. Be careful not to cause a short between the battery posts. Make sure the clamps are securely attached to the posts because the better their connection the easier it will be to start your engine.
Make sure the ignition key is off, the shift lever is in neutral and your kill switch clip is in place. Ensure the Weego unit is turned off (no lights illuminated).
Turning everything off in the boat and Weego unit ensures there will be no spark when the two systems are connected.
Now, insert the plug connected to the two jump-starting cables into your Weego unit and look at the two lights on the plug: If the red light is on and an alarm sounds you have the clamps connected to the wrong terminals and polarity is reversed. Unplug the jumper cables from the Weego unit and then connect the jumper cable clamps to the proper battery posts.
Insert the plug back into the Weego unit and proceed.
If the green light is on, the battery is at a healthy level and you don’t need to press the “Boost” button next to the lights on the side of the jumper cables’ plug. If the green light is blinking and the alarm sounds the battery is at a low, unhealthy level and you need to push the Boost button. If no light is on you either have an extremely low battery or you have a bad connection somewhere; check your connections and if they are good press the boost button.
It’s important to position the Weego unit where it won’t fall and possibly cause a short circuit between the clamps or disconnect itself during the starting procedure.
Finally, press the button on the side of the Weego unit to turn it on, and then crank the engine. When the engine starts, quickly unplug the Weego unit from the clamps and remove the clamps from the battery terminals.
Limit engine cranking time to about three seconds. If the engine doesn’t start in that time, turn off the ignition key and unplug the jumper cables from the Weego unit. Wait 60 seconds before starting the whole procedure over again.
The Weego battery can be recharged with its wall plug where AC power is available or with its vehicle accessory power (cigarette lighter) plug as you drive.
The standard model takes about an hour and a half to completely recharge, the heavy duty takes about three hours and the professional takes approximately five hours.
A series of green lights on the case indicate the charge level of its internal battery.
Weego Jump Starters also have a built-in LED flashlight with three operating modes: constant-on, strobe and SOS. Charging phones, tablets or other USB devices is as simple as plugging the included three-way USB cord into the unit and then plugging up to two devices into the cord; press the power button and you’re in business.
Charging a laptop computer requires that you select the right outlet for your laptop (12 volts or 19 volts) and then choose the correct adapter to plug into your computer’s external power input. Turn the unit on and you’re charging.
Perhaps the best aspect of the Weego Jump Starter is that it’s completely portable rather than permanently hard-wired to your boat. It can jump-start your tow vehicle in the launch ramp parking lot. At home it can start your car, motorcycle, ATV, garden tractor and riding mower.
Visit myweego.com for more information and myweego.com/videos to see these devices in action.