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Battery Boosting Basics

By Rob Chernish
Published: November 18, 2014 | Last updated: November 12, 2018 10:09:10
Key Takeaways

Battery boosting safety moment.

Source: MartinGreen/

"One day I had a couple of work trucks that I had to boost, as the batteries had died. I realized that I didn't have any cables, or a trickle charger, so I decided I was just going to have to improvise. I saw some scrap lengths of rebar, so I thought I could make that work in place of the cables. Just run through the metal. Same concept as the clamps in cables. I wrapped each end of the rebar pieces in a rag and propped the pieces to each end of the batteries. I jumped into the cab of the truck and went to start it, but one of the pieces must have slipped because when I fired it up, I heard a loud bang. When I went out to look, the battery had exploded and the rebar was on the ground. It was a close call, and I was lucky that no one was injured." - Glen (age 36) Parts Truck Driver


There are many ways to charge a battery, but using rebar and rags should never be used. This is an improper and dangerous method that can cause batteries to short circuit and explode. The most common ways of boosting a vehicle battery include:

Booster Cables

You can boost your battery using booster cables, which you can get from many different retail shops. These are typically used when a battery dies on the side of the road, or to boost a neighbor when their battery has died because an interior light was left on.


Emergency Battery Charging Kit

This is a battery pack that can be charged using a 12V wall plug in and carried in your vehicle for emergency boosts. They have a built-in battery and come with cable attachments to link directly to your battery. Just connect, start, and you are back in action. In today's market, battery charging kits are priced affordably and can usually be purchased for around $50.

Home Battery Chargers

You can charge your car or truck battery using a plugin or trickle charger A trickle charger is a machine that takes electricity from the wall outlet and feeds a small current to your battery to charge it. They can often have multiple current setting to adjust charging amps for different batteries.


Some generators, particularly those used in welding, have booster cables attached, which can be used to charge batteries.

Solar Panels and Wind Panels

These can charge batteries with an inverter that controls the amount of electricity that goes into the battery, and many camping setups like the Coleman Solar Pack and Coleman Wind Generator have these included in their products. So you can just set up a panel, or a windmill, and let nature feed your battery until has enough juice to start.

Use your block heater on your vehicle when it gets below -10, by plugging it into an outlet. This feeds a circuit and helps keep your vehicle warmer, enabling easier starting. Ensure that your lights are off and your door is properly shut to avoid dead batteries.

When boosting a battery, always ensure the cables are connected NEG(-) to NEG (-) / POS(+) to POS(+)


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Written by Rob Chernish

A writer from Canada with firsthand experience in Oil, Gas, Mining, and environmental safety.

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