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7 Best Car Battery Testers and Analyzers – 2019 Edition

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I don’t know who worked out the math on that one, but I agree with the sentiment. If a small investment now can save me a bunch of aggravation down the road, I’m all for it.

Most of us are almost entirely reliant on our cars and when they fail on us unexpectedly, panic ensues (and if your car IS a Reliant, well, best of luck to you.)

At times like this, many folks have spent unnecessary money on having a mechanic perform a diagnostic. I say unnecessary because many times we could deduce the problem ourselves if we’d only taken the time.

One of the most common reasons a car fails on us is the battery. Without the battery, the vehicle is just a dead lump of metal, plastic, and rubber. A simple device can help determine if the battery is at the root of the problem and how severe the problem is. That device is a battery tester.

Analogue car battery tester being used to check a battery
In this article, we’re diving deep into the world of car battery testers and analyzers.

You’ll learn what they’re for, why you should have one, and what the best car battery tester is for you.

We’ve even narrowed the field to a few great options to choose from in our roundup section, where we detail 7 of the best battery testers for cars available on the market today, what makes them top choices, and who they’re best suited to.

Ready. Set. Test!

Quick Links to Our Top 5 Picks from Our Roundup of 7 Best Car Battery Testers

Clicking the links above take you to further information, customer reviews and current prices on Amazon.

What is a Car Battery Tester?

As the name more than implies, it’s a device for determining the amount of charge in a battery. Knowing this can help you decide whether your battery needs a charge, or possibly replacement.

Many battery testers can also assess the health of your alternator and charging system.

How Does a Car Battery Tester Work?

A battery tester comes with two cables, one for each terminal (positive and negative). After hooking the tester to the correct posts on the battery, one of two things will happen, depending on the model.

On powered units, a circuit is completed, allowing power to flow through the tester unit. On unpowered units, the tester draws a small amount of power from the battery to power itself.

In either case, the tester does essentially the same thing – it takes a reading of how much juice is flowing, letting you know whether it has what you need to get started and stay powered, or if it needs a charge.

For more details and a step by step guide on getting the job done, please check our article on how to test a car battery.

Why We Recommend Owning a Car Battery Tester

Knowing whether or not your battery has life left in it before you try to start your vehicle or switch on your electricals can keep you from getting stuck. This is especially important for older vehicles (whose batteries may not be up to modern standards), or anything that doesn’t get used often, like your winter beater, or your summer toys.

And just because you own a new vehicle, that doesn’t mean you’re immune to battery and charging system issues.

Modern vehicles are full of electronic bells and whistles (like GPS, DVD, power seats, heated steering wheels) that place a lot of strain on the electrical system.

Regular testing will keep you apprised of the battery’s health. You can then determine whether perhaps your driving habits are shortening its life, or if it’s just dying of natural causes.

By staying on top of your battery’s condition, you’ll be able to replace or recharge it before it dies, rather than simply waiting for the day it lets you down when you need it most.

Short Forms to Know Before Reading

Short forms and acronyms are great – if you know what they mean. Here are some common ones I’ll use throughout the article. I apologize if this section is old news to you.

  • AC – Alternating Current (what comes out of a wall)
  • DC – Direct Current (what’s in a battery)
  • CCA – Cold Charging Amps (draw available for a cold weather start)
  • Ah – Amp hours (capacity of a battery)
  • A – Amps
  • mA – milliAmps (thousands of an Amp)
  • V – Volts

How to Choose the Best Car Battery Tester

There are somewhere between oodles and scads of battery testers on the market. At first glance, many of them look remarkably similar. How do you choose from a field this large?

Here are some points of differentiation and features to look for in a car battery tester.

Type of Tester

Different testers test different aspects of your battery’s performance. Which type you choose will be dictated by your specific needs, or how interested you are in DIY under the hood.

Load Tester

A charger with a battery load test feature contains a large resistor. By engaging the resistor, the tester takes on a similar electrical load as the starter motor would while cranking. The tester can thus determine if the battery has the ability to start the car.

Performing a similar test on a running vehicle can diagnose the condition of the alternator, and let you know if it is still able to charge the battery.

Pro Tip: A battery must be fully charged to perform a load test.

Conductance Tester

The simplest type of battery tester, but still very useful.

This test lets you know how many volts your battery has in its present state. From this, you can determine whether your battery needs a charge or not.

Many can also tell you whether your battery is conducting efficiently between the plates, or if it has deteriorated (usually because of sulfation – the build-up of sulfur crystals on the plates) and needs to be restored or replaced.

Compatibility

Not all batteries are created equal. Is yours a Maintenance-free, Gel, Absorbed Glass Mat, etc.? It’s important to know that your battery is a compatible type with your charger.

Look under your hood and see what you’ve got. Then check the manufacturer’s specs before you make a purchase decision.

Voltage Range it Can Test

Most car batteries are 12 Volt. However, the actual range of voltage can vary depending on the state of charge. A fully charged 12V battery may read close to 15V. A severely depleted battery could read less than 1V.

A tester with a wide voltage range can tell you with precision if your battery is charged sufficiently, is over-charged, or if it’s very low. With a narrow range, you might get vague readings of LO or HI in extreme situations. While that’s somewhat useful, it’s not as precise as it might be.

Speaking of volts, you should also consider the types of batteries you might be checking. Do you have 6V batteries in smaller equipment such as lawn tractors or personal watercraft? Some antique cars also house 6V batteries.

If you have both 6V and 12V batteries around, you might want a tester capable of checking them all.

Data Output You Require

Digital

A digital tester gives you a clear and precise result every time you test. You’ll know the exact reading without guessing or estimating, right down to very low levels of charge. They are also easy to read under low light conditions.

Analog

With an analog display, you won’t get as precise a reading as with a digital. You will, however, get a very clear idea of whether the battery or system is performing within an acceptable range or not.

This is thanks to the conveniently color-coded zones the needle passes through. They aren’t always easy to read in low light, but they do offer a lot of information at a glance.

Special Features

Anything that makes the testing process easier might be considered a special feature. Some possibilities include:

  • Cable management/clamp storage
  • Lit display
  • Long cables
  • Carrying handle

Safety Features

A battery can be a dangerous thing if not treated carefully. While testing a battery isn’t quite as potentially harmful as charging one, it still pays to be cautious. Here are some safety features worth looking for on a tester to help reduce the risk.

  • Over-voltage protection
  • Reverse polarity indicator
  • Shock-resistant clamps
  • Rubber grips

Best Battery Tester and Analyzer Recommendations and Mini-Reviews

Now that you know what to look for, we’re going to review some of the top chargers available today.

We’ll tell you why they might be a good choice for you, and fully cover the specs, features, and benefits of each.

SOLAR BA327 Battery and System Tester with Printer

SOLAR BA327 20-2000 CCA Electronic Battery and System Tester with Printer

Sometimes when you’re working on a project, you need to jot down a few notes. Maybe measurements, maybe a tally of something you were counting. Wouldn’t it be nice to have those notes made for you, and not have to worry about finding a paper and pen?

If you’re taking multiple readings on batteries, or doing a full system check and want to refer back to the results, this tester with a built-in printer is the ultimate in convenience.

Overall Impressions

First thought upon looking at this analyzer unit: where do I insert my ATM card? Don’t say it doesn’t look like a debit terminal from the corner store!

The idea of having a built-in printer seems cool, but is it really that necessary? We’ll see… At least the printer rolls are easy enough to find online or at stores like Staples. And it does make you feel like a pro.

The user interface seems quite simple with just three buttons, and the large display screen is easy to read. Having nice, long 10’ cables makes us happy, too.

What’s In the Box?

  • Main unit, including cables and clamps
  • Storage case
  • Roll of printer paper
  • Side post adapter kit
  • 6 AA lithium batteries

Features

  • Integrated printer (uses thermal paper rolls, the kind used on cash registers and credit/debit terminals)
  • Temperature compensation
  • Replaceable clamps
  • Storage case
  • Last test memory
  • Backlit LCD screen

Specs

  • Tests 6V and 12V batteries
  • Tests 6V, 12V, and 24V charging systems
  • 5-30V range
  • 40-2000 CCA (cold cranking Amps) capacity
  • Compatible with Wet/Flooded, Absorbed Glass Mat (flat plate, spiral, start-stop, enhanced flooded), Gel Cel
  • Reverse polarity indicator
  • Over-voltage protection
  • Cable length: 10’
  • Weight: 5 pounds

What We Like

We totally like the 10’ cables, and the bonus storage case. The latter is especially important, as the open area where the printer roll goes seems like the kind of place that’ll get bunged up with assorted garage crud if left uncovered.

The way the Solar BA327 walks the user through every step of the process is terrific. It makes it very hard to mess things up. And such a wide range of applications! You will come across very few batteries and systems you can’t test with this unit.

Its range is also impressive. It’s so sensitive, even the most depleted batteries will give a reading. Combine that with a capacity to read up to 2000 CCA, and you’ll be testing every battery you can get your hands on.

What We Don’t Like

We’re still not 100% sold on the printer for casual users. At 5 pounds, it’s pretty hefty for such a small piece of equipment. It doesn’t come cheap, either – but you do get a lot of features and function for your money.

Who is This Model Best Suited To?

If you’re a serious gearhead, you’ll appreciate being able to keep a printed record of each test. This charger will likely work with every vehicle you’ve got, too. That’s important if you’re a major motoring enthusiast or collector.

Honestly, this is a great choice for anyone who perhaps has a side business as a mechanic. How great would it be to be able to offer your customers a print out of their test results? The Solar BA327 definitely straddles the line between amateur and professional gear.

Other Models Might Suit You If:

  • You are a casual motorist
  • You only own one or two vehicles
  • You’re on a budget

Final Thoughts

We really like this tester a lot, for its ease of use, and incredible versatility. While it may be a bit of overkill for some people, it’s also never going to leave you short and wishing you’d upgraded your purchase. If money is no object (not a feeling we know, but we’ve heard of it), this is the charger you want to buy.

To take a closer look, read what others have to say, and to order one for your garage, you’re just a click away.

 

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

 

Schumacher BT-100 100 Amp Battery Load Tester

Schumacher BT-100 100 Amp Capacity Battery Load Tester

You’ve got a bunch of 6V and 12V batteries kicking around in everything from your weekends-only classic, to your daily driver. Not to mention the riding mower, and the toys for up at the lake. With so many batteries, old and new, dry land and marine, is there just one tester that can handle them all? Funny you should ask…

Overall Impressions

The BT-100 looks every inch a serious battery tester. It’s big and solid, with a minimum of extraneous features. It certainly looks like it belongs in the garage of someone who knows his or her way around what’s under the hood.

As always, there is a pronounced intimidation factor when you look at that red, yellow, and green analog display and all its numbers. While it lacks the simplicity of a digital read-out, you can’t help but think it’s got every possibility covered.

What’s In the Box?

  • Main unit, including cables and clamps

Features

  • Test battery condition, load, starter motor draw
  • Full system diagnosis
  • Steel housing
  • Rubber insulated handle for carrying
  • Single On/Off switch
  • Large analog display
  • Partially rubberized clamps

Specs

  • Tests 6V and 12V batteries
  • Up to 1000 CCA capacity
  • Load test: 6V – 50A, 12V – 100A
  • Weight: 2.7lbs
  • Dimensions: 15.1” x 7.5” x 3.6”

What We Like

It’s always great to be able to test all our 6V and 12V batteries with a single unit. Beyond just battery testing, we also like being able to test batteries under load, and diagnose issues with the alternator, too.

The rubberized handle makes it possible to move this unit comfortably after use (it can become dangerously hot – not a flaw, just what happens to this style of tester under load), and we like the side pegs for clamp storage.

What We Don’t Like

Analog readings lose to digital displays in terms of accuracy every time, though it’s usually enough to know you’re in a particular range.

The cables are very short, and we can imagine situations where it would be difficult to position the tester conveniently. That’s important, considering how hot the unit can get under load.

While we know any Schumacher product is going to be a high-quality item, we still wish it came with more than a 6-month warranty. Many people won’t get much opportunity to use a tester during such a short span of time.

Who is This Model Best Suited To?

If you’ve used analog load testers in the past, you’ll have no trouble getting used to the BT-100. Even beginners shouldn’t find it too hard to use if they follow the clear instructions in the owner’s manual.

Anyone with a multiplicity of 6V and 12V batteries will find this useful, especially those with older vehicles that will benefit from a full system check.

Other Models Might Suit You If:

  • You don’t need to test 6V batteries (we’re assuming you have at least one 12V car battery)
  • You’re not comfortable with an analog display
  • You have a newer vehicle that’s unlikely to have alternator issues

Final Thoughts

This is another fine piece of gear from Schumacher. From novices who would like to learn a little bit more about the electrical system, to serious mechanics who know exactly what they’re doing, this is an excellent choice at a relatively low price.

It isn’t sleek or pretty, but it will get the job done every time.

Pro Tip: As called out in the manual, and confirmed by multiple users, the first time you use the Schumacher BT-100 it will start to smoke. This is normal! It will get hot when you use it under load, but it should only smoke the first time.

Check out the pics, specs, and reviews at the link below:

 

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

 

OTC 3181 130 Amp Heavy-Duty Battery Load Tester

OTC 3181 130 Amp Heavy-Duty Battery Load Tester

Sometimes you just want to get the job done without a lot of bells and whistles. Mind you, that’s not the same as a lack of performance. If you are looking for a no-nonsense battery tester (that makes you feel a bit like Dirty Harry), your search may be over.

Overall Impressions

So, it looks a bit like a cross between an airplane flight stick and a tri-corder from Star Trek. Still, you can tell this thing means business.

If the pistol grip with the thumb-ready on/off switch doesn’t make you feel badass, you don’t know the meaning of the word. (Or yours truly has no clue.)

There is a lack of 90-degree angles that give this a bit of a modern look, but the old school analog display largely undoes that.

What’s In the Box?

  • Main unit, including cables and clamps

Features

  • Ergonomic pistol grip handle
  • Analog display
  • Clamp storage on the unit
  • Brackets for wall-mounted storage
  • Fully rubberized clamps

Specs

  • Tests 6V and 12V batteries
  • Load test: 130A
  • 0-16V range
  • Weight: 2.75 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 7.9 x 5.1 inches

What We Like

This is one of the very few heavy-duty testers we’ve seen that you can hold in your hand while it’s in use. That means no searching for some place to hang or rest it in the engine compartment.

The sizeable analog display is easy to see, especially since you can get it close to your eyes since it’s in your hand, not on the engine.

The metal box and robust handle make this unit seem very durable, and more like a serious piece of garage equipment than some of the plastic competitors. With the thumb-accessible On/Off switch, operation couldn’t be more straightforward.

When you’re done using it, just attach the clamps to the side pegs, and use the rear brackets to hang it up out of the way until you need it next. That’s a thoughtful feature considering the peculiar shape of the OTC 3181 does not lend itself to easy storage in a drawer or tool chest.

What We Don’t Like

While it’s great to have a hand-held tester, the cables are frustratingly short. This shouldn’t be a significant problem, but it would be nice to be able to stand back a bit, maybe jot down results on your workbench, or something.

Analog displays are not the best choice for everyone, and while we have a slight preference for the more accurate readings of a digital readout, the zones are clearly color-coded for easy reading.

Who is This Model Best Suited To?

This is a pretty serious battery tester, and with a load capacity of 130A, it may be overkill for many people. For anyone with a variety of vehicles and battery types, a dual-voltage tester like this is a must-have.

Other Models Might Suit You If:

  • All your batteries are either 6V or 12V
  • You’re not comfortable being so close to your engine

Final Thoughts

It may not seem like such a heavy-duty tester would be for everyone, but isn’t it always better to have too much than too little? This unit has all your battery and system testing needs, both current (sorry) and future covered. And yeah, pistol grip. Get ready for lots of “Pew! Pew!” sounds in the garage.

To get a better grip (sorry again) on the coolness and usefulness of the OTC 3181 130 Amp heavy-duty battery tester, you can check it out at the link below.

 

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

 

SOLAR BA9 40-1200 CCA Digital Battery and System Tester

SOLAR BA9 40-1200 CCA Digital Battery and System Tester

So you’re not a hardcore autophile, but you do have plenty of battery power kicking around the garage, and maybe the boathouse?

For the occasional health check on the hearts of your fleet, maybe a mid-level tester is sufficient. Is there a tester that can handle most standard batteries and charging systems your average person might own?

There just might be…

Overall Impressions

To be honest, this charger looks more like a toy than a professional charger. It only has three buttons, and it fits in your hand. The design brings to mind a remote control for a cheap RC car. You know, the forward/reversing turn kind you get for little kids.

Still, there are plenty of good things to be said about simplicity, and there’s certainly nothing intimidating about the BA9.

The LCD screen seems large enough to read easily, so I suppose we’re willing to set aside our reservations about the appearance and judge it based on performance.

What’s In the Box?

  • Main unit, including cables and clamps

Features

  • Backlit LCD display
  • Pocket-sized
  • Numerical and pass/fail result provided
  • Step-by-step instructions given

Specs

  • Tests 12V batteries
  • Tests 12V charging systems
  • 40-1200 CCA capacity
  • 5-16V range of operation
  • Compatible with Wet/Flooded, Absorbed Glass Mat (flat plate, spiral, start-stop, enhanced flooded), Gel Cel
  • Reverse polarity indicator
  • Over-voltage protection
  • Weight: 9.6 oz.

What We Like

The Solar BA9 is easy to use, even if you’ve never tested a battery before. You’ll be walked through each stage, and the results are displayed clearly on a bright screen. Navigating through the results is easy with the up and down arrow keys.

To be able to test both the battery and the charging system is ideal for identifying where any problems may lie. The BA9s wide capacity for voltage and CCAs (Cold Cranking Amps capacity) makes it great for almost any lead-acid battery type.

What We Don’t Like

To say this unit is a lightweight is an understatement. Not in terms of functionality, mind you, but the actual weight!

While it’s great that you can move it around with ease and store it anywhere, it doesn’t seem especially rugged.

In particular, the connection between the cables and the main unit seems a bit flimsy. If you treat your stuff with care, this won’t be a problem. If you’re more the “toss it in a drawer” type, you may want to rethink your strategy.

It’s a shame it won’t test 6V batteries and systems, but that shouldn’t impact most car and truck owners. It may exclude certain antique vehicles, and maybe your lawn gear or toys.

Who is This Model Best Suited To?

For most automotive applications, this charger is perfectly suitable. It should serve casual motorists, who won’t be checking batteries often, nicely.

Other Models Might Suit You If:

  • You have a lot of 6V batteries
  • You’re a serious gearhead who likes heavy-duty equipment
  • You expect the tester to take a beating

Final Thoughts

We’re impressed with how many features and functions Clore crammed into the Solar BA9. It’s a solid performer that goes just beyond purely casual use, but stops short of being a tool for pros. Beginners should have no trouble figuring it out, and those who have been under the hood a few times will also love it.

For a bigger picture and to order yours now, please click the following link:

 

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

 

NOCO BTE181 100 Amp Battery Load Tester

NOCO BTE181 100 Amp Battery Load Tester

You know yourself and how well you take care of your gear. Not that you’re careless, but hey; your workshop or garage is a place for getting stuff done, not a showroom for gadgets that get treated like collectibles rather than serious equipment.

What you need is a durable, well-made tester that can take a few knocks and bumps. Feast your eyes…

Overall Impressions

Now, this looks like a battery tester! Simple boxy design, large leads, analog display – that all says “old school garage” to us. Everything about it looks like it was made to be functional, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Not going to lie to you, though: this looks strikingly like the Schumacher model we reviewed above. Not that that’s a bad thing! It appears to be a solid unit, favoring metal over plastic and has obvious convenience features like a carrying handle and spots for storing the clamps when they’re not in use.

The labels on the analog display are clearly color-coded, but there are a lot of them packed into a small space, and we can imagine this might not always be easy to read.

This seems like a rugged unit, with robust cables and clamps. The pictures don’t offer much sense of scale, but this is a large charger – large and in charge if you will.

What’s In the Box?

  • Main unit, including cables and clamps

Features

  • Analog display
  • Clamp storage on the unit
  • Carrying handle / hanger
  • Copper-plated clamps
  • Adjustable calibration screw
  • Tests within 10 seconds

Specs

  • Tests 6V and 12V batteries
  • Test 6V and 12V charging systems
  • Load test up to 100A
  • Compatible with Wet/Flooded, Maintenance-free, Absorbed Glass Mat, Gel Cell, EFB
  • Up to 1000 CCA capacity
  • Cable length: 16 inches
  • Weight: 4 lbs
  • Dimensions: 13.1” x 6.6” x 3.6”

What We Like

A garage can be a hazardous place for plastic, so we appreciate the durability of the steel housing. Despite its size, it can be tucked away conveniently with the clamps attached one to each side, and I dare say you could hang it by the handle.

One really great feature is the inclusion of complete operating instructions printed right on the back of the unit. No more hunting for the manual!

It’s great that you can test virtually any 6V or 12V battery and system with this one charger. For motorcycles, trucks, cars, RVs, SUVs, marine, yard applications and your boat, you’ll be covered.

What We Don’t Like

Why do the cables have to be so darn short? It isn’t hard to envision situations where it could be challenging to hook up correctly and still be able to read the display. We’d also like to have seen a rubber grip on the handle since it’s liable to heat up when the charger is under load.

The display is a tiny bit smaller than others we’ve looked at and could be tough for people with poor eyesight to read. Mind you, if that’s your situation, you really should have your glasses on. (Underneath your protective eyewear, of course.)

Who is This Model Best Suited To?

Honestly, just about anyone with multiple road and recreational vehicles will find this useful. It’s sheer versatility and durability makes it a one-stop shop for battery and charging system diagnostics. If you take your “fleet” seriously, you can’t go wrong here.

Other Models Might Suit You If:

  • You don’t have a variety of vehicle/battery types
  • You prefer a simpler digital display

Final Thoughts

We were very impressed with the NOCO Genius G4 battery charger, so we have high expectations for this tester. Weirdly, they don’t mention it anywhere on the NOCO website, but we assure you, it exists! This is a great choice for a multipurpose, heavy-duty battery tester.

For more information, pictures and customer reviews, all you have to do is click:

 

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

 

MOTOPOWER MP0514A 12V Digital Battery Tester Voltmeter

MOTOPOWER MP0514A 12V Digital Car Battery Tester Voltmeter and Charging System Analyzer with LCD Display and LED Indication - Black Rubber Paint

Inside your garage, you’ve got every tool and gadget a car fanatic could want, including a state of the art battery and alternator tester. Problem is, not all your batteries are in the garage, and it’s not always easy to lug your 5-pound tester to where you want it.

What you need is a compact unit that weighs next to nothing for tossing in the car, duffle bag, backpack, etc., for your next trip to the lake, cottage, or campground. This could be the one.

Overall Impressions

This tester does a good job of being small, without seeming like a toy. It looks fairly durable, despite being small enough to fit in your hand during use.

The unit is sparsely decorated and communicates with you through just 8 LEDs and a digital display. It gives every appearance of being very simple to use and understand, which is just what we want from a compact tester.

That cable-to-tester connection does not fill us with confidence, but we’re willing to overlook that thanks to the budget-friendly price. The clamps themselves seem a bit slight, also, but appear to open plenty wide enough to grip any posts.

What’s In the Box?

  • Main unit, including cables and clamps

Features

  • Microprocessor controlled
  • Reverse polarity indicator
  • Over-voltage protection
  • Short circuit protection
  • Rubber grip clamp handles
  • Rubber housing
  • Lighted digital display
  • LED indicator lights

Specs

  • Tests 12V batteries and charging systems
  • 4-20V testing range
  • Weight: 5.3 oz
  • Dimensions: 5.7” x 3.5” x 2.1”

What We Like

Having a large, lit display makes it quick and easy to get your results without squinting at tiny lines on a gauge. You can also read this display in low light conditions such as might be found under a hood in a garage.

It’s super compact, too, and really light, making it easy to store, and to take with you on road trips, camping, boating, or to the cottage.

Interpreting the readout is a snap with the color-coded LEDs and accompanying explanations. “Full,” “Medium,” “Low,” and, “Empty.” Not hard to figure out. It’s nice that you can test your alternator with this little guy – that’s a lot of functionality in a small unit.

What We Don’t Like

Again with the short cables! Would it kill all these companies to give us a couple of feet so we can stand back, or rest the unit on something other than the engine?

We do wish that such a handy little tester could test our 6V batteries, as well, but for such a low price we won’t fret too much over it.

Where the cables meet the main unit, it looks a bit flimsy, so you’ll want to store it with care and not stress this area too much.

Who is This Model Best Suited To?

This tester is great for anyone with a casual interest in monitoring their batteries and charging systems in a variety of applications. Such a simple display is just right for keeping an eye on things without getting too technical.

However, if you are really into precise readouts and maximum data, this unit gives you that, too. Therefore, someone who’s really into this stuff might appreciate having this unit as a travel companion. Take this low-cost solution on the road, and leave the big guns in the garage.

Other Models Might Suit You If:

  • You want an all-in-one for your 6V batteries, too
  • You prefer an analog display

Final Thoughts

After a lot of searching, we finally found the manufacturer’s website. That was a let down; there is zero information about this unit, or any of the other fine products of Hangzhou Yihan Electrical Appliances Co., LTD.

If Made in America is really that important to you, you might want to try something else. But, honestly, this is a solid buy for the price you pay.

To check it out a little further, and grab one for your glovebox, do that point and click thing you do:

 

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

 

Etekcity MSR-R500 Digital Multimeters

Etekcity Digital Multimeter, Amp Volt Ohm Voltage Tester Meter with Diode and Continuity Test, Dual Fused for Anti-Burn

The average home is chock full of batteries, electronics, and more, beyond what’s under your hood or hoods. If it were possible to have a one-tester-fits all solution for checking up on the health of all those gadgets and components, wouldn’t that be worth even a small investment?

This tiny multimeter might fit the bill.

Overall Impressions

I remember there being something somewhat like this in my dad’s tiny workshop/storage room. I had no idea what the hell it did, and I’m not convinced he did, either.

For such a small piece of equipment, it certainly has an intimidating interface. While the owner’s manual certainly helps, at first glance it sure looks like some basic understanding of electricity would be useful for operation.

It does have a reasonably large display-to-size ratio, so reading your results won’t be difficult. The tiny leads and contacts (no clamps) don’t look like something you’d go after a full-size car battery with. They do, however, look ideal for all kinds of household applications and hobbies.

What’s In the Box?

  • Main unit, including cables and leads
  • 9V battery (installed)
  • Rubber sleeve
  • 2 x probe guards

Features

  • Backlit LCD display
  • Overload protection
  • Data hold (reading stays on screen)
  • Kickstand for easier reading
  • Rubber sleeve

Specs

  • Measures resistance, current, voltage, and continuity
  • DC voltage range: 5 settings from 200mV – 500V
  • AC voltage range: 2 settings from 200V – 500V
  • DC current range: 4 settings from 2000 micro-amps – 10A
  • Resistance range: 6 settings from 200 ohms – 200 mega-ohms.
  • Weight: 7.2 oz
  • Dimensions: 5.1 x 2.9 x 1.4 inches

What We Like

This really is a whole-home battery and electronics tester, which is great if you dig electrical doodads, but you’re not strictly interested in internal combustion. It’s compact as heck, so when it’s not in use, it’s not taking up space.

It really is versatile, with a host of applications. This is awesome for the general hobbyist, whether you’re into RC, model railroading, or whatever. It’s also great for DIYers diagnosing issues with home electronics and basic items like lamps.

Because you have to hold a lead in each hand, you can’t easily run and grab a pen and paper (I never remember to get that before I start) to jot down your readings. You can, however, reach over and hit the hold button, thus storing the results until the next time you press it.

What We Don’t Like

There aren’t a lot of automatic features on the Etekcity MSR-500, meaning you need to understand enough about batteries and electronics (or be proficient enough with user manuals) to know where to set the dial.

You also need to know which port to plug the red lead into: 10A max., or 500mA max.

You won’t have a hand free while you use this tester because the two leads do not have clamps. Typical of multimeters, you just touch the probes to the terminals or wherever else you’re testing electrical flow.

If you don’t know a lot about electricity, the learning curve may be steep. In fact, there may be a lot this unit can do that you’ll never put to the test if testing and repairing electrical and electronic gear isn’t either your livelihood, or a very serious hobby.

Who is This Model Best Suited To?

There is a lot you can do with a multimeter, so anyone with electrical/electronic hobbies, including modelling and repair, will get a lot of use out this. If you work with small batteries a lot, and occasionally want to check on your automotive, yard, and marine batteries, too, this could be a convenient device.

Other Models Might Suit You If:

  • You really don’t have a deep knowledge of electricity (and don’t care to learn)
  • You aren’t a hobbyist, or into DIY electronics/small appliance repair
  • You just want to keep tabs on your automotive batteries and charging systems

Final Thoughts

Despite its intimidating countenance, this is a terrific multimeter. From checking on your supply of household batteries, to diagnosing faulty wiring and even Christmas lights, there is a whole range of ways to use this around the house, including under your vehicle’s hood.

You can study more images in detail, and even choose to drop a few bucks on your own brand new multimeter via the following link:

 

Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon

 

Which One Aced the Test?

While all these testers have their pros, we believe that one unit deserves to be singled out as the best overall choice. Our most recommended car battery tester for 2019 is the Solar BA327.

You can’t beat the versatility of a tester that checks 6V and 12V batteries and 6V, 12V, and 24V charging systems on almost any lead-acid battery. All this plus a digital display and a handy print out to refer to later? Count us in! It won’t come cheap, but we really believe it’s worth the investment if you take your vehicle’s electrical system seriously.

If you’re not ready to part with that much money, we totally get it. For that reason, we also highly recommend the OTC 3181.

There’s not much it can’t handle when it comes to automotive batteries. And speaking of handle, we’re in love with the pistol grip-style handle and thumb-ready rocker switch. This is money well spent.

Well, you’ve probably already run right out to get a charger already. But, if you are still here reading, thank you very much for checking us out!

Now it’s time to pay it forward and share this article, and the site, with your friends and family who have automotive concerns of their own. They’ll thank you later, of that we have no doubt.

Feel free to send any comments, questions, concerns, anecdotes, recommendations, etc., our way. We love to hear from our readers in the automotive community!

Until next time, be well and drive happy.

 

Product image credits: © Amazon.com

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Kyle Palmer

From childhood go karting and motocross, to collecting and obsessing over scalextric, matchbox and radio controlled cars, I've always had an obsession with cars. Learning through manuals, books, trial and error, and more knowledgeable family members, I've also enjoyed tinkering with the mechanics and electronics of any vehicles I've owned. Now, over 3 decades later, I've started this site as a place for me to share my knowledge, to teach others how to care for and maintain their vehicles themselves, at home, so they can get the most of their vehicles and save a pretty penny compared to always seeking out professional help.

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