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Old 01-24-2021, 08:52 AM   #1
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Jumper Cables

According to my wife I am an old man. In my lifetime I have had to use jumper cables maybe 10x, at the very most. I now have a truck with a Cummins 6.7L Diesel engine, and I pull a TT with solar and lithium batteries. I am going to buy new cables, maybe one of the following:
The Spartan 20' 1/0 AWG 0 Gauge 600V solid copper (according to the Spartan website) jumper cable costs $189.00.
Harbor Freight has 20' copper coated aluminum 410 amp 2 gauge cables for about $42.00 and
Amazon has NoOne 0 Gauge 25Feet (0AWG x 25Ft), copper coated aluminum 1000Amp cables for $84.00.

Which to buy? I know the theory; thicker and solid copper is best, but I probably won't use the cables more than 1x per camping season, if that. Would the much cheaper aluminum cables suffice?
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:02 AM   #2
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I would go cheaper, as like you say you might never need them. I doubt there's any meaningful difference in ability to jump. Maybe even shorter than 25'.

If you ran a roadside assistance business I'd go top shelf.
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:18 AM   #3
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Don't go cheap on jumper cables. I've seen cheap ones that worked poorly to jump a regular vehicle with.
Some years back I built a set of jumper cables as I was disgusted with the cheap Walmart style jumper cables.
The clamps that I used were like $60 a set back then. Since I had a lot of welding cable on hand, I used 1/0 welding cable.
I built those jumper cables more than 10 years ago and still have and use them now.
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:19 AM   #4
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I won't use jumper cables, it's a good way to burn up an alternator. Spend your money on a battery charger if you feel the need to be able to charge a dead battery. My real questions is why do you think you'll need them?
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:26 AM   #5
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Vehicle Jump Start Kit

I asked a guy who works for a local semi truck tow outfit what he would recommend. He used a heavy duty jump start kit that works fine for semi engines, RVs, or cars. They cost about $160 on Amazon. Search for “ Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry JNC770B 1700 Peak Amp Premium 12 Volt Jump Starter - Blue w/Cover”

We bought one and have had to use it on the RV a couple times. Supposedly safer than jumper cables, no risk to your alternator, and no waiting for the battery to charge. Just connect, wait a minute, and then start the RV.
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:30 AM   #6
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Wont address jumper cables vs "battery charger [assume the new self-contained battery type vs 120v?]...there are a number of voltage calculators on the internet....not much diff between alum and copper with 2-0 cable, 25 feet, and 100 amps...but over a 1 volt drop with alum #2 vs copper #2....so like 10.75 volts with alum....you don't have a lot of margin when working with only 12volts....drop gets way worse with more than 100 amps????
Like many--have only used jumpers 1-2 times in 20 years of RVing....during the first couple years while learning about tow vehicle bats and house vs chassis bats [smile] and once with an alternator fail on the Cummins--that time, simple jumpers saved my bacon!!!!
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:38 AM   #7
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While I agree that cheaping out on jumper cables is a poor choice, we need to distinguish between "cheap" and "less-expensive". You can get decent quality cables with adequate size wire gauge and reasonable alligator clips without buying the most expensive models.

For a large vehicle with heavy-duty battery(s), I'd set 2 gauge wire as the minimum and 1 or 0 gauge as Best. However, 2 gauge wire should deliver 800 amps over a 20 ft cable. Fine stranded copper wire is more flexible and resistant to kinking at bends than thicker aluminum strands, but for once a year use it may not make much difference. Solid copper alligator clips are better too, but plated ones serve well-enough if not used regularly. You aren't going to wear them out!

Note that 1/0 gauge and 0 gauge are the same size. 1/0 simply means "one zero".


You can get a decent quality 20-25 ft jumper cable these days for $40-$50. Amazon has this one that is 25 ft and 1 gauge wire for $42:

https://smile.amazon.com/Heavy-Boost...dp/B078WLYNFT/

The 2 gauge 20 footer from HF isn't shabby either.
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:44 AM   #8
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Don't forget you probably get what you pay for.
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:52 AM   #9
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Buy 2 cheap sets and double them up when jumping.
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Old 01-24-2021, 10:05 AM   #10
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Make your own from welding cable leads.
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Old 01-24-2021, 11:32 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arcaguy View Post
I won't use jumper cables, it's a good way to burn up an alternator. Spend your money on a battery charger if you feel the need to be able to charge a dead battery. My real questions is why do you think you'll need them?
Since he stated that cables might be needed maybe once a year, my guess is that the OP boondocks a lot and wants to have a back up plan in case the truck battery(s) get low for some reason. Maybe wanting to be able to connect the cables to his camper batteries to make the jump?

I certainly would not pay big money for jumper cables. A set with 2 gauge wire and decent clamps would be fine for an occasional jumping.

Too add,,, I believe there are lithium powered jump starters out there that have a high enough capacity to do the job. Might be something to look into although I figure the cost for a good one may be a bit on the high side.
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Old 01-24-2021, 12:05 PM   #12
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So someone stated that jumper cables is a good way to destroy your alternator. I've used cables a dozen times and never had a problem and I've never heard anyone say this. Is this one of those rare occasions (like being struck by lightning) sort of events? How and why does it / can it happen. Just like to understand it better to learn something.
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Old 01-24-2021, 12:55 PM   #13
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I'm with and would welcome an explanation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RoadEyePie View Post
So someone stated that jumper cables is a good way to destroy your alternator. I've used cables a dozen times and never had a problem and I've never heard anyone say this. Is this one of those rare occasions (like being struck by lightning) sort of events? How and why does it / can it happen. Just like to understand it better to learn something.
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Old 01-24-2021, 01:29 PM   #14
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Buy a good/expensive set. There are sometimes the savings isn't worth it.
If the less expensive cables won't get you started, were they really a bargain?
Buy the set that will get the job done without fail.
If for some reason you cannot get the truck to jump start, buy a set that won't leave you questioning the cables.
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