What to Consider When Buying Portable Power

Written by: Start Pac

If you’re in the market for a portable power supply, you’re probably aware there are many variables to consider before you make a purchase; technological advances have filled the market with a multitude of portable starting units and ground power units that are lightweight, highly efficient, easily maneuvered and, above all, competitively priced. On one hand, this means the average consumer has more choices than ever; on the other, there are more headaches for the more selective buyer. Here are a few suggestions and reminders to help get you started on your hunt.

Environment Is Crucial

Should you use portable power for aviation, it’s critical you consider the local environment: temperature and extreme weather can drastically affect the battery’s longevity and usefulness. Hot environments are kinder to lithium batteries, which have stable life cycles until temperatures routinely exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Lead acid batteries, however, perform better in cold environments, where many aircraft batteries tend to supply insufficient power when turbine starting. Turbine starting planes exist from the hobbyist level up to commercial airliners, so it’s important for a field to have reliable power supplies at the ready.

Life Cycle and Longevity

While using your portable starting unit, you should pay close attention to the rate at which the battery plates deplete. A battery’s life cycle is drastically shortened when it is cycled from fully charged to almost depleted; draining a battery in this way can reduce its total number of cycles by two-thirds. Instead, battery operators should try to deplete as little of the battery as possible whenever using it. To prevent battery-killing sulfation, batteries should be recharged with a ground power unit or other power supply immediately after use.

Lead Acid or Lithium?

The oldest form of rechargeable battery, lead acid batteries were invented in 1859 by Gaston Planté and have been used widely ever since. In comparison, lithium batteries are in their commercial infancy (they were conceived in the 1970s and began proliferating in the early 1990s), but consumers are rapidly adopting the technology for its particular advantages over lead acid batteries. Lithium batteries, for example, have a significantly higher life cycle than lead acid batteries, whose DoD (depth of discharge) must be significantly limited to yield a comparable number of cycles. Lithium batteries are also incredibly lightweight, often weighing only one-fourth of a standard lead acid battery. Lead acid batteries, however, are inexpensive, offer high discharge rates, and do not age while inactive.


Start Pac produces reliable power units for aircraft and other heavy machinery. To order a portable power supply, contact Start Pac today.