How much money do you spend on batteries every year? If you’re like a lot of people, the answer is probably “too much” — unless you’re using a battery tester.
So many everyday items — remote controls, toys and other electronics — require batteries to work. But did you know you might be swapping out those batteries too soon?
When our first child was born, my wife and I got a box full of batteries and a battery tester as a gift. We’ve used that tester hundreds of times since.
In this article, I’ll share what I’ve learned about household batteries and how using a battery tester has saved us money over time.
How Can Battery Testers Save You Money?
Battery testers save you money by helping you hang onto batteries that still have some life in them.
When a remote control or one of your kids’ toys stops working, your first instinct might be to replace the batteries. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the different batteries in those devices may not be draining at the same rate. If there are four batteries, it might be necessary to replace only one of them to get your device working again. You can determine this with a battery tester.
Household testers let you see how much “juice” is left in a battery. They allow you to test batteries of various sizes — including the common AAAs, AAs and 9-volts. Many even let you check the “button cell” batteries that you find in watches, key fobs and more.
Whenever a remote or toy in our house stops working, we pull the batteries out and test them. Almost every time, one or more of the batteries still has a good amount of juice left in it. So instead of replacing all of the batteries, we end up tossing only the dead ones. That saves us money.
How Do Battery Testers Work?
Battery testers measure the electrical current flowing through the battery. The most popular testers have adjustable clamps with conductive material attached that fit various sizes of batteries. When that conductive material touches the positive and negative contacts on a battery, the tester senses how much energy the battery has left in it.
The level of current is then displayed either electronically — showing how many volts remain in the battery — or with a needle indicating whether the battery is still “good,” needs to be replaced or is somewhere in the middle.
How Much Do the Best Battery Testers Cost?
The three battery testers with the highest average customer ratings on Amazon range in price from around $5 to a little over $10, according to my research in July 2020.
As you can see, the most expensive tester (the Gardner Bender) works a bit differently than the other two. It requires you to touch probes to the battery contacts to get a reading. However, it also works with more types of batteries than the others, including photo (or camera) batteries and lantern cells.
If you’re looking for a tester with a digital display like the one I have, you should be able to find one for less than $10.
With the most common AA and AAA batteries costing between 50 cents and a dollar each, I estimate that our tester has saved us about $60 dollars over the last six years. That may not seem like a lot, but those savings will continue to mount as long as we have battery-powered devices: not a bad return for an initial investment of less than $10!