Since I first reviewed the Micro-Start XP-1 kit (here), it has done nothing but continue to impress me. Besides seriously abusing it by setting up an in-the-field welding system using two additional units wired in series, I’ve started a giant 460-cubic-inch V8, and have demonstrated it numerous times. Yet it recharges quickly and holds its capacity for months with little loss. When asked about it I tend to gush uncharacteristically.
The only “failure” I experienced occurred when I tried to jump-start our old Mercedes 300D turbodiesel. The combination of amperage-hungry glow plugs and an 18:1 compression ratio finally defeated the XP-1—it groaned silently to a halt before the engine could catch. I put “failure” in quotes because that was expressly beyond the manufacturer’s design parameters and thus could hardly be considered the unit’s fault. (Antigravity Batteries also lists 400 cubic inches as the upper limit for starting gasoline engines, but I comfortably exceeded that.)
Recently the company sent me a new, larger unit called the XP-10. Still almost unbelievably lightweight (17 ounces compared to the XP-1’s 15), it’s claimed to be fully turbodiesel capable.
And indeed it proved so on the chilly 50-degree morning I tried it, first disconnecting the 300D’s battery cables, then hooking up the Micro-Start’s clamps. I turned the key, the glow-plug lamp came on and then went off, indicating readiness—and a farther turn of the key resulted in an immediate five-cylinder diesel rattle.
It’s difficult to overstate how significantly the Micro-Start changes the safety dynamics of backcountry travel, particularly for solo travelers. In the past you either relied on a single battery for both starting and ancillaries, perhaps in conjunction with a low-voltage cutout, and basically prayed not to have a problem, or you went to the expense, complexity, and weight of a dual-battery system. With a Micro-Start along it’s like having a second (or third) starting battery in your coat pocket. Even if you rely on a single-battery system and it dies completely, once you jump with the Micro-Start the unit can be recharged via a cigarette lighter outlet while the vehicle is running, and be ready to work again in a couple hours. (In fact it can normally accomplish four or five starts in a row with no recharging at all if the engine is in good tune.) That should get you back safely and easily from the most remote stranding.
Jeez, I’m gushing again. Just get one.
Antigravity Batteries is here.