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Test Batteries With a Multitester

Updated: Jun. 30, 2017

Find out fast if a household battery is still good

FH02MAR_MULTIT_01-2Family Handyman
Not sure about your smoke alarm battery? Wondering about the mystery batteries in your kitchen drawer? Check them with a multitester to find out instantly if they still have juice.

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Testing procedure

Photo 1: Set voltage selector to battery size

Set the voltage selector to the 1.5V setting (1.5 volts) and touch the red probe to the (+) end (with the nub) and the black probe to the (-) end of 1.5-volt batteries.

Multitester readout for 1.5V battery

Read the battery test scale. Red is bad and green is good. This battery is bad.

Photo 2: Testing a 9V battery

Set the voltage selector to the 9V setting (9 volts) and touch the red probe to the smaller (+) connector and the black probe to the larger (-) connector (as marked on the battery label).

Readout for a good battery

The indicator is in the green area, which means this battery is still good.

Multitesters have many uses, and one of the handiest is testing common household batteries. A weak or dead smoke alarm battery in a fire, or a dim flashlight bulb during a blackout, can be downright dangerous. Pull out that multitester and check those vital batteries so they're ready when you need them.

Insert the black probe into the (-) terminal, and the red probe into the (+) terminal. Rotate the voltage selector switch until it points to the voltage you're testing, and then test batteries as shown in Photos 1 and 2.