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Last Minute Gift – Review of InstaBoost Car Battery Jump Starter

With the holidays sneaking up on us, it’s time to check your list twice and make sure you got everyone covered. If you’ve got some gaps there, we like to think the Dadand gift guides are a good place to start. Almost all of the stuff on the gift guides are things Pete and I bought and used throughout the year. Some of it is stuff that gets sent to us—but only the awesome stuff we really, really like, use and would buy anyway makes it to the list. And I can’t think of anything that made the list that we didn’t actually own and use.

Until now.

The Instaboost from Pilot Electronics.

Win an InstaBoostSo I felt the need to review it while the holiday guide was still fresh.

My old jump start battery pack will no longer hold a charge. And walking through Lowe’s during the black friday weekend, I thought this one would make a good replacement. Plus my wife is like…

“tell me what you want for Christmas dummy.”

And I never do. I leave her hanging.

Kinda like when someone is in a parking lot with a dead car battery.

Or waiting on that text of groceries to pick up on the way home and your phone dies.


Oh, anyway. I was going to tell my wife about the InstaBoost, but then Lowe’s drops us a line and says “blah blah blah blah InstaBoost blah blah something or other “ and I said “you must have ESPN cause you read my mind.”


So Lowe’s sent me an InstaBoost to try out. Awesome. And consider this the FCC disclaimer that we received something for free—but that doesn’t ever mean we guarantee a review, that we will like it, or that we won’t try to break it.

Dad blog reviews InstaBoost car battery jump starter for gift guide

The InstaBoost is a lot of power in a small package that is sold in a big package.

instaboost jump start pack comes with accessories to charge a phone and devices

Unpackaged, the InstaBoost is just a little larger than an external hard drive for your computer. It comes with nylon carrying bag, some cables to jump start a car battery and various cables to charge devices and the InstaBoost itself.

A quick look at the manual says it needs to charge for 4 hours using the wall charger before using. It also has a 12V auto charger, so you can plug it into your cigarette lighter to charge as well.

review of the instaboost from lowes by dad blog has indicator lights to show charge

It’s got a series of indicator lights on the side. They flash during the charge cycle while also displaying the battery level. All 4 lights mean 100% charged. 3 lights is 75% and so on. When 1 light is flashing it is under 25% and time to recharge it.

First, I thought I’d try the USB port (5V, up to 2.0 A output) to charge my phone.

charge phone ipad adn other devices with the instaboost reviews

I started with my phone at 30% charge. After a little over an hour I was at 92%. I wanted to see how long it would take to fully charge, but I needed to use the phone and this gave me a good idea of what it takes to charge it. Oh and the phone totally works when plugged in to the InstaBoost.

holiday gift for dad instaboost car battery jump starter

According to the indicator lights, charging my phone didn’t even register on the InstaBoost scale of available power.

Sooo…can I charge my laptop with this thing?

The InstaBoost auto socket puts out 12V up to 10A. Using Ohm’s law, 12V at 10A would be 120 Watts. My little 12V power inverter requires 12V at no more than 8A to provide 80 Watts continuous of 115VAC.

This looked good until I realized my MacBook uses an 85 Watt charger. Looks like my inverter is the weak link here (and probably over rated at 80 Watts). So I think the InstaBoost would charge my laptop if I had a better inverter, but I’m not going to risk messing anything up.

Jump Starting Your Car

So the whole idea of this InstaBoost thing is that it can jump start your car. And since I have fairly new batteries in both my daily drivers, I’d have to fake it.

I disconnected the positive battery cable and then connected the InstaBoost cables, powered it up and this is what happened next:


So I actually did that two times before I took the video. I kept turning the video off by mistake so it took three takes. Apparently that means that I can at least start my car three times with the InstaBoost.

Oh, and I haven’t charged the InstaBoost since the initial charge during my testing.

instaboost charge indicator shows three lights for 75 percent power after jump starting car

Kinda hard to tell in the photo but I have 3 of the indicator lights lit, so it’s somewhere around 75% power after charging my phone and jump starting my car three times.

Instaboost in carrying case

Like my toolboxes, I want stuff in it’s place. This is probably the only thing that bugs me about the InstaBoost—where does each thing go in the carrying bag? At least there’s enough space for all of it even it you get it wrong.


I was a little surprised that I’d get three consecutive jump starts from this little thing. After all, it’s like a quarter of the size of my previous jump start pack, and the old one struggled to get three attempts at starting. So the InstaBoost already is a winner for me. Add the compact size, the ability to charge devices via USB (or charge/run most any accessory that uses 12V socket) and a flashlight and I think it’s worth the $79 price tag.

I really wanted to try and charge my laptop though. And maybe I’ll take it outside and try to run some holiday lights with it or something.

Is there anything you can think of?

With that, I’m glad I got an early present. But now this dummy has to think of something else I want for Christmas.

If you want one for Christmas, Hanukkah, or whatever you celebrate, get the InstaBoost at Lowe’s.



Lowe’s gift to us is our gift to you. If you want to win an InstaBoost, courtesy of our good friends at Lowe’s, leave a comment with something you want me to try and power or charge with the InstaBoost, no matter how ridiculous, let’s hear it. I’ll tally up all the comments and randomly pick one lucky commenter to receive an InstaBoost.

Contest Rules: Contest runs from Sunday December 14, 2014 until 11:59 PM, Friday, December 19, 2014. A winner will be chosen randomly from comments posted to this page. One comment per user per day. Include a link to any social share of this page in your comment and we’ll give you an extra entry for the day. (One comment = One entry; One Comment with a link where you shared this page = Two entries). Other rules and restrictions apply.


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