Wagan_Ion_Boost_Kit.jpgCan the Wagan Tech Ion Boost V8, a portable emergency roadside kit that claims to jumpstart a dead car battery all on its own help protect your loved ones?I asked an aircraft structural mechanic to check out the device and give me her professional opinion.

(Check out the video of the test below.)


Small but mighty

The Wagan Tech Ion Boost V8 is very small. When I took it out of the package and saw the size, I thought it willl be the perfect emergency roadside kit — if it performs as promised.

It’s been designed to be ultra portable tucked into a zippered pocketbook that is 16.5 x 7.8 x 3.8 cm (6.5 x 3.1 x 1.5). It resembles a first aid kit, which I guess it is for anything that requires power. It’s got three voltage modes — 12V, 16V, and 19V so it can power a variety of handheld devices (tablets, smartphones etc). A handy mode button easily changes volts. Plug your device into the 2.1 Amp output and power up your iOS and Android smartphones to your tablet, laptop, cameras and GPS systems.

The Ion Boost V8 also has a built-in LED flashlight with three lighting modes to look under the hood of your car on a dark night or signal for help. I put a picture at the top of everything that came in the kit I was sent to test: sturdy car jumper cables, a USB adaptor with octopus head incudes a mini USB and Apple 30-pin connector tips all fit neatly into their own little pouch. It’s a one stop charging station for prettty much anything

Wagan_Ion_Boost_compacy_kit.jpg

Quick charging

I found that the Lithium Ion Boost V8 battery took about two hours to fully charge using an AC wall sockets.  The device says it should take about four to five hours using your vehicle’s cigarette lighter. When fully loaded it has 300 amps of power.  When the battery is fully charged you see four LED lights turn on.

The kit can be left in your car during cold weather because lithium batteries, while more expensive than alkaline batteries, perform well in most extreme temperatures, especially in sub-zero weather when most alkaline batteries die. The Wagan Tech Ion Boost V8 claim to stay fully charged for two months in the winter and for one month during the summer.  I only have the device for a couple weeks so I won’t be able to test that claim.

 

Portable roadside assistance

What really sets the Ion Boost V8 apart from other products is its claim to bring a dead battery back to life. I admit to being sceptical when I opened the package, especially when I saw those stumpy jumper cables.

Wagan_Ion_Boost_Recharge_Car_Battery.jpgI’m used to those long jumper cables that reach from car to car. But with the  Wagan Tech Ion Boost V8 you don’t need a second car; so there is no need for long cables that get tangled and dirty taking up space in your trunk.

My main questions: Could an emergency pack small enough to put into my purse really be do the trick when my car was dead on the road?

I decided to turn to a specialist who knows a lot about engines. Jeannie Scott is an aircraft structural mechanic who builds planes for a living. She knows her stuff when it comes to heavy equipment, electricity, batteries and powering up large machines. Jeannie also has a long commute to work into airports and terminals off the beaten track.

She loved the compact feel of the Wagan Ion Boost V8 and the idea of an emergency kit that was small enough to fit into the glove compartment. However, due to its compact size, she  too was skeptical that it could jumpstart the engine of a car or truck.

Jeannie agreed to run it through its paces and started off bringing the Wagan Tech Ion Boost V8 to her work team. Structural mechanics handle some fairly sophisticated equipment and are a tough crowd to impress. The Ion Boost V8 passed the first test by keeping the teams’ cellphones and laptops charged. They gave it the thumbs up. Jeannie then had the chance to test it out on her car when it wouldn’t start one cold winter morning. Scroll down for the video of our test!

BOOSTING INSTRUCTIONS

The Wagan Tech Ion Boost V8 was easy to use. Just follow these instructions:

Before starting:

  • Make sure the battery is fully charged for the best results. If the Ion Boost is below 20% power, don’t use it to recharge your car. Check the battery status indicator on the unit. All four lights will light up when it is fully charged.
  • Jumpstart connection is ALWAYS live! Never allow the clamps to touch together or contact the same piece of metal or you will receive a nasty shock.
  • If your vehicle has an on-board computer it may be affected if the car is jumpstarted. Check your owner’s manual before proceeding.
  • To reduce the risk of a short-circuit burn remove any metal jewellery such as rings, bracelets and watches.

Jumpstarting the engine

  1. Turn off the vehicle ignition and all radios, lights, air conditioners and disconnect electronic devices.
  2. Make sure the vehicle is in park and set the emergency brake.
  3. Place the Wagan on a secure surface away from any moving parts of the engine.
  4. It’s important to connect the right battery terminals. Don’t reverse jumper cables. The positive battery terminal (POS, P, +) is usually red and larger in diameter than the negative (NEG, N, -) terminal. Remove the clamps from the kit’s pouch.
  5. Insert the blue plug of the jumper cables into the battery bank’s jumper terminal. NEVER ALLOW THE TWO CLAMPS TO TOUCH!
  6. Hook up the Wagan’s positive (+) red clamp to the positive (POS, P, +) terminal of your vehicle’s battery or the remote positive (+) terminal.
  7. Find an unpainted metal bolt or bracket to use for the negative (NEG, N, -) terminal that is as far away as possible from the dead battery. This gives a solid ground to reduce any possibility of igniting hydrogen gas.
  8. Turn the Wagan Booster on.
  9. Start your engine.
  10. As soon as the engine starts, disconnect the clamps in the reverse sequence. First disconnect the black negative (NEG, N, -) clamp and then the red positive (POS, P, +) clamp from the engine.
  11. Turn off the Wagan Boost and unplug the cables.

Troubleshooting:

If engine doesn’t start up:

  • Stop immediately if your car doesn’t start after 4 to 5 seconds.
  • Disconnect the cables and wait 3 to 4 minutes before trying again.
  • If the engine doesn’t start after a second attempt, stop and call for roadside assistance. Excessive cranking can damage your vehicle’s starter motor.
  • If the battery bank gets overloaded while jumpstarting mode, quickly disconnect the clamps and let the unit rest for ten minutes then plug it into a power source for a few minutes to reset the unit.

So we were both skeptical, but it worked.  Jennie had no reservations recommending this technology. And the same goes with me.

I think the Wagan Tech Ion Boost V8 makes a perfect gift for loved ones. Give them the gift of roadside security and yourself peace of mind.

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Shelagh McNally
I’ve been covering technology since 1992 and I’ve seen a lot of technology come and go. I enjoy following the trends, spotting the winners and losers and teaching consumers how to get the best products and services for their needs. My work has been published in the National Post, Reader's Digest.com, Yahoo, Miami Herald and other North American publications and websites.

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