Battery testing is one of the easiest things to do today, especially when there are equipment to aid the process. There are different kinds of batteries, and each of them requires different testing processes to know if they are still useful or not. Here, we are interested in how to test a AA battery; of course, it would be quite easy to do that using the drop test, but there are other ways too.
Simple Drop Test
AA batteries as known as penlite battery are cylindrical dry batteries used for a number of purposes. For instance, they are used for small devices like remotes, radios, toys, and small lamps. Battery life is almost perfect at the outset, but as time goes by, they run dry till they become useless.
As an alkaline battery, the drop test actually works on them. What you only have to do is drop them and see if they bounce or not; if they do, the battery is bad; if not, the battery is still good.
How to Perform a Drop Test For AA Batteries
There are three steps involved in this drop test for double A batteries. They include;
Hold the Batteries Vertically Downwards
Since AA batteries are small in size, it is very possible to hold them downwards. This means there should be a distance between the batteries and the ground level. The perfect distance to hold the battery above the ground is 5.0 to 7.5 cm; once you do this, you should have the drop test done seamlessly. For AA and AAA battery, the positive sides should face upward and the negative sides downward.
The reason why you are holding the battery in that position is that there is a possible buildup of zinc oxide. This happens mostly in alkaline batteries. When zinc oxide builds up in the battery, it gets bouncier – which accurately tells that the battery is bad and ready for replacement.
See What Happens
After you must have held the batteries in position, try to drop them and see what happens when they drop. There are only two things that could happen – bounce or not bounce. If it drops without bouncing and rolls sideward, then the battery is good and fresh; if it drops and bounces a couple of times before it eventually rolls sideward, then the battery is bad. This behavior differentiates between a new and an old battery.
However, there is something you should know – the bouncing battery could still be working; this doesn’t mean it is entirely dead, rather getting old. As a matter of fact, you would see a reduction in its performance on any device used on.
Make a Comparison
Just in case you need more clarity on the test you have just performed, an additional test is provided. Here, you would need an actually dead battery to compare. You would drop the dead battery and the AA battery to be tested at the same time; record your observations. You would notice that the dead battery would bounce even better than the tested one. This clearly shows that bounces vary from one battery to another depending on the condition.
The drop test is a very simple, yet effective test that can be performed almost anywhere. This test is great, especially when you have a collection of batteries that you are not sure if they are dead, fresh or old. So, you are subjected to a bounce/drop test; you wouldn’t even need to spend anything to get the batteries tested.
Asides the bounce/drop test, the two other ways to test a AA battery is using a Voltmeter and a Multimeter. The equipment is also very effective and there are methods for their usage.
Using A Voltmeter Meter To Test AA Batteries
Voltmeter is used to calculate the amount of voltage in a device or battery. Although, you need to get the device in order to do the test. A voltmeter varies in price; it ranges between cheap to expensive depending on the model/make.
Using a voltmeter to test battery is fast and super easy to do. In fact, you don’t need to perform a drop test before you know if a battery is good or bad. There are readings on a voltmeter that would give volt measurements of such a battery or device. However, while using a voltmeter, ensure the connection is stable or else, it wouldn’t read the right measurement or scal.
Below are steps used to test AA batteries with a voltmeter.
- Locate Terminals
The first thing you need to do if you are using a voltmeter on a battery is to locate the terminals. There are two terminals on every battery – the positive and the negative. Now, because you need an exact, accurate measurement of the charge on the battery, you need to align the terminals with the voltmeter. Majority of these aa batteries have a sign marked on their two ends stating the positive and the negative side. In the absence of the marked signs, the negative terminal is flat while the positive terminal protrudes outward. After locating terminals, you can then proceed to the next step.
- Set to DC Setting
A voltmeter works in two modes – AC and DC setting. AC, also called Alternate current is mostly used for higher devices while DC, also called Direct current is used by all batteries. Before you start, check if the voltmeter is not on AC; rather, it should be on DC. If it is on AC, chances are that the whole test process would be futile or readings would be wrong.
There is a knob on the voltmeter which can be used to switch in between currents. Once, it is in DC, readings can be taken when the test is being conducted.
As aforementioned, voltmeters vary in model/make; therefore, some would require you to choose a max testing level. Most of the time, the minimum testing level/setting is 20 volts.
- Connect Leads to terminals
This is the point where you introduce your voltmeter to the battery about to be tested. Every voltmeter comes with leads which will be connected to devices or batteries for readings. Without these leads, it is impossible to determine volts. There are two main leads on a voltmeter – positive red lead and negative black lead.
What you would do is: connect the positive red lead to the positive battery terminal and the negative black lead to the negative battery terminal. The moment you do this, the voltmeter starts taking readings. However, there is nothing hazardous going to happen if you mix up the leads with the terminals; only that readings would be negative.
- Hold the Leads in place
Those leads weren’t designed to stay stuck in a position; rather be held in place. The moment the connection becomes unstable, readings may be inaccurate. Now, the voltmeter would start reading immediately the connection is made, but it could fluctuate due to external factors. So, what you have to do is hold the positive and negative leads connected to the two terminals in place till a particular value becomes constant. This value determines the condition of an aa battery, i.e., fresh or old. A fresh AA battery has 1.5 volts – anything less means it is either old or dead.
- Do a Load test with AA battery
Once you have readings of the battery already, you may decide to subject it to a load test. This is a further way to test the efficiency of the battery. A load test helps in measuring a battery’s power when it is put to use. Before you do this, there is something else you must do – since AA battery has 1.5 volts, set the voltage dial at the mark. When you do that, place the battery on the loader, i.e., red probe on positive terminal and the black probe on negative terminal, then wait for readings. Anything between 1.0 to 1.49 is great; anything less than 1.0 is old or dead depending on the value.
- Perform a Simple Reading
Finally, see how the battery works with a tester. The tester performs a simple reading on the battery, such that volt is displayed for you to see. It is a very easy device to use, and all you need is to open the slide and insert the battery. It is an adjustable tester suitable for all kinds of batteries, including AA batteries. Only make sure the positive terminal of the battery is touching the slide, or else it won’t take any readings.
From these steps above, you obviously don’t need much technical know-how to use a voltmeter, especially for testing a battery. As long as you can locate the terminals, connect leads to the terminals and wait for readings, then you are good to go.
Using A Multimeter To Test AA Batteries
Similar to a voltmeter, a multimeter can also be used to test for the charge in a battery or device. It is the perfect alternative, only that it measures all kinds of charges. A voltmeter measures volt in DC and AC; on the other hand, a multimeter measures amps (current), volts (voltage) and ohms (resistance). Thus, it does more than a voltmeter.
A multimeter can be used on AA batteries in the absence of a voltmeter. The steps are somewhat alike, only that you need to change the dial for a volt measurement.
Briefly, this is how to use a multimeter on AA battery:
- Identify parts of the multimeter
It has an exotic look which makes it even necessary to check out its parts. There are quite a number of features you should get yourself familiar with before you make a move to testing a battery. For instance, the dial of the multimeter takes the read for your device; the selector switch or knob is to adjust settings like changing functions from ohms to volts or amps to volts; the test leads/probes are used for testing and measuring – they are connected to the positive and negative ends of the battery; fuse or battery compartment are power sources for the multimeter.
- Change function to Volts
For a new or used multimeter, possibilities are that the function is either off or another reading. It is your responsibility to change to volts, so accurate measurements could be taken. You can easily change the function with the help of a selector switch or knob. Each turning is marked by a “click” sound.
- Set meter at 1.5V for AA battery
Now, since you will be testing a aa battery, you may as well proceed to set a volt level on the multimeter. The volt level would have to be the highest known for that device or battery. For instance, the max volt level for aa battery is 1.5V; hence, the meter should be set at that limit, so that it can read anything below or up to that.
- Insert Probes
Next thing to do is insert the probes in its compartment. There is a positive red and negative black probe to be used. Similarly, there are two small holes on a multimeter where you would have to insert the ends of these probes into. The positive goes into the red hole while the negative goes into the black hole. Once you do this, you are ready for battery testing.
- Test on Battery
To the main thing on the agenda, test the probes on the AA battery and see what happens. Connect the positive probe to the positive end and the negative probe to the negative end of the battery. Make sure you hold in place for few seconds for an accurate reading.
- Read voltage scales
In about a few seconds, there should be a constant value displayed on the multimeter. This value is the actual charge on the battery; it shouldn’t be more than 1.5V. The amount of charge determines the life of the battery, i.e., dead or old or alive.
It is easier to test aa battery than any other kind of battery because it is simple and smaller in size. While there are simpler tests to prove battery life – drop test, there are also effective tests to prove and show the charge on a battery – voltmeter and multimeter test. Whatever test you carry out; it would certainly give an accurate description of a battery’s behavior.