How to Use a Multimeter to Check Battery Voltage

Written by kim lewis
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The most popular household battery is a dry cell. Dry cells are found in various electronics such as remote controls, radios and portable televisions. Dry cells come in various voltages, with 1.5 volts being the most common. Using a battery decreases the amount of available voltage, so in order to check what is left, use a multimeter. A multimeter is an instrument used to test electrical devices. Multimeters come with two probes---one is called positive and the other negative. A digital multimeter has a display that can show the amount of voltage being measured.

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Things you need

  • Digital multimeter
  • Dry cell battery, such as AA or C or 9-volt
  • Alligator clips (optional)

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  1. 1

    Turn the multimeter on. Make sure that it is on a DC voltage setting, which is usually indicated by a short line placed above three smaller lines that are side by side.

  2. 2

    Place the multimeter on the appropriate voltage setting. For example, if you are measuring a AA battery, the setting must be at least 1.5 volts, but if you are measuring a 9-volt battery, the setting must be at least 9 volts.

  3. 3

    Hold the red probe of the multimeter against the positive terminal or side of the battery, and the black probe on the negative terminal. You may need to use alligator clips to keep the probes from slipping.

  4. 4

    Record the voltage. If the battery is off by 30% of its rated value, it may need to be replaced.

  5. 5

    Turn the multimeter off.

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