Maintaining the health of your vehicle’s battery is necessary to ensure that your transport is available whenever you need it. It takes very little time to run a test and even the most untrained auto enthusiast can do it, with the right equipment that is.
There can be few things worse than jumping in the car on a cold, snowy or wet winter’s day to find that the battery is flat. And worse still, knowing that it could have been prevented by following a few simple steps.
Checking the condition of your battery need only be carried out a few times a year, results will give you an idea of the length of life in your battery and if you should be thinking of replacing it sometime soon.
Comparison Table of 10 Best Battery Tester for Small Batteries
If you own a fleet of vehicles, bikes, boats, and RVs included, then it is worthwhile keeping a tester to hand to guarantee every battery remains fit for use.
For those of you who work with batteries all day long, well this guide will help you too.
Take a look at our choices for the best tester for small batteries to help you make an informed choice.
1. Schumacher BT-100 100A Battery Load Tester and Voltmeter
This battery tester from Schumacher works on all of your 6V and 8V batteries, so not just your car, but also motorbikes, lawn tractors, RVs, ATVs, and light trucks. It is ideal for marine use too.
It tests the load, starter motor draw, and battery condition. Additionally, it will test the whole charging system, checking that the correct amount of amperage is being sent through the vehicle’s electrical system. This will indicate if the alternator is working to full capacity and how much voltage it is producing.
The device uses copper wiring as this is more conductive.
The clamps are different colors for easy recognition, the handle is rubber insulated, for comfort and safety.
The tester looks and feels very robust. Constructed from steel in an enamel casing it seems indestructible. It is well ventilated as the initial use will cause high-heat and a little smoke. This is to be expected and is totally normal, the design has allowed for it and will remain safe.
The safely mounted rocker switch at the top of the unit has a fail-safe mechanism to stop it from being left on for long periods.
2. FOXWELL BT705 Automotive 100-2000 CCA Battery Load Tester
If you prefer an LCD digital display screen to test your 12v battery then you should consider this one from Foxwell.
Without the need for disconnecting your battery, this device can diagnose the health of your battery in an amazing 2.5 seconds.
The large screen displays the battery, cranking and charging results clearly, it is easy to use and to understand. The 7.8 ft long cable is perfect too, you can sit inside the vehicle as you run the test.
Metal clamps and copper wires supply strong connection throughout the test period, they are spark-proof and protect you and the machine from short-circuiting damage. No heat, light or spark is generated from the tester.
The results are very fast and reliable, you can even test the starting and charging system of any 24v battery.
3. SOLAR BA9 40-1200 CCA Digital Battery and System Tester
Solar’s battery tester is small and lightweight, perfect for keeping in a tool or glove box.
It has a 7-15v operating range which allows it to accurately check both charged and undischarged batteries as low as 7v.
It can be used on most major batteries, including GelCell, AGM flat plate and spiral wound, and Flooded Battery.
We love the digital display screen, it is LCD which allows you to read the 4 lines of plain English whether you’re beneath the hood or out in bright sunshine.
The screen walks you through the testing method, you just enter a few details and within seconds you will have the CCA status of your battery. It will also analyze the alternator and starting systems and the results will be displayed clearly.
It is pocket-sized, well-priced, safe, and accurate.
4. ANCEL BA101 12V 100-2000 CCA 220AH Load Battery Tester
If you’re new to battery testers then it couldn’t have been made any more simple than Ancel have.
The compact machine has just 4 easy to navigate buttons and an LCD display screen for all of your data. It also has a USB port so it can be plugged into a PC to store and print off information.
The screen is simple to read and gives you lots of data on the health of your battery along with starting and cranking systems.
The screen will show data of voltage, cranking power, charge and remaining life in AH or CCA, whichever type your battery is. It is written in simple to understand percentages and values. The device will tell you clearly if your battery is good, needs charging or totally replacing.
It is for use with a wide range of 12v batteries including most found on cars, motorcycles and, boats.
You don’t need batteries to power it, it will use the power from the 12v battery that you connect it to.
The battery tester is well designed, simple to operate and tests for common faults quickly and accurately. Within seconds you will know the health status of your battery and alternator.
5. OTC 3181 130 Amp Heavy-Duty Battery Load Tester
This OTC battery tester does simply that, tests the health of all 6v and 12v batteries. It is analog so results will be shown on the device with a pointer.
It is heavy-duty, it feels like a serious piece of kit, it’s substantial. We particularly loved the handle which allows comfortable operation.
The voltage test range is up to 16v and right the way down to zero, so you will get an accurate reading even if your battery is on the verge of death!
There are 3 conductor cables to prevent over-heating, and the clamps look like full-size jumper lead ones so once they’re clipped on, you can be assured they’re going nowhere.
It can take as little as 10-seconds to perform a test on your battery health, perfect for busy drivers who need to stay on top of their vehicle’s performance.
6. SOLAR BA7 100-1200 CCA Electronic Battery and System Tester
This is the second battery charger from Solar that we will look at, and it is equally impressive, if not more so.
It may be pocket-sized but it certainly acts like one of the big boys.
Simply by clamping it onto the terminals of your car battery, either on or off the vehicle and pressing a couple of buttons, you will get an extremely accurate and reliable reading.
The 4-digit digital display will not only give you a numerical result but color-coded too. You will know the status of your battery, starter, and alternator within seconds.
It will tell you the voltage, which is the percentage of the power remaining in the battery, but more importantly, the CCA. This is the capacity of the battery that provides power.
Unlike some other testers, this gives a true reading even if the battery hasn’t been fully charged.
It is portable, exceptionally easy to use, and the large LCD numbers can be seen in darkness or brilliant sunlight.
7. Performance Tool W2989 Battery Tester
Here’s something a little different. If you’re wary of opening the hood and messing with the battery terminals then this could be worth your consideration.
Performance Tool has designed a battery and alternator tester that simply fits straight into your 12v cigarette lighter inside the truck.
Now it might not give you readings of exact facts and figures regarding the exact status of your battery, however it will tell you whether the problem is with your alternator or battery.
Either side has 3 led lights and which order they light up in signals the issue.
The battery lights will indicate that it is dead, needs a recharge or is charged.
On the alternator side, the lights will tell you if the voltage is normal, too low or too high.
Thoughtfully designed to twist within the lighter so that shift-stick won't obstruct it, small enough to throw in the glove box, and cheap enough to have one on stand by.
8. SUNER POWER Digital 12V Car Battery Tester
This battery tester from Suner Power tells you everything you could possibly need to know about the status of your battery.
Simply clamping it to the corresponding terminals on your battery and waiting a few seconds will reveal in-depth yet simple to understand results.
The large LED screen will show
- Life remaining as a percentage
- Battery voltage
- Internal resistance
- CCA value
All of this information is supplied on a pocket-size, easy to operate device within seconds.
It is heavy-duty, has a CCA testing capacity of 100- 9999! It is also very safety conscious, over-voltage protection and reverse polarity are included.
It is quick and reliable and will be very cost-effective if it saves you the high price of being broken down and recovered.
9. KONNWEI KW600 Car Battery Load Tester
This Konnwei tester does more than just test the status of your car battery. It tests starting and charging systems, and gives detailed data of voltage, internal resistance, and CCA and AH capacities.
All results will be displayed on a large LCD screen and shown as easy to understand graphs and text. But it doesn’t stop there, included is a USB lead which allows you to connect to your computer so that the results can be studied. They can then be stored for later comparison or printed off. There will be life-long free updates to the app so you will never own an out-dated version.
This tester is compatible with most main battery types, flooded, AGM flat plate and spiraled, and Gel. You don’t need to input the type of battery, the onboard computer will recognize it.
The results are fast and accurate. The health of your battery is shown as a percentage and text will simply inform if it’s good, needs to be recharged or it’s time to replace.
Both CCA and voltage are measured so you get a full and accurate picture, all this can be done with a battery that is on or off the vehicle.
10. ANCEL BST500 12V/24V 100-2000 CCA Automotive Battery Load Tester
The first thing you notice about this tester is it has an in-built printer. This is perfect if you like to keep up-to-date records or if you are a mechanic and like a visual copy to give to your customers. It is a thermal printer so you need never worry about running out of ink.
This will test all 12v battery life and find regular faults in both generator charging and starting systems. Though it can’t check battery status in 24v truck batteries, it can still test their charging and starting systems.
It feels like a substantial piece of kit, even the greasiest fingers will hold onto it.
The screen is large, bright and easy to understand, it couldn’t be plainer than battery full/low or replace. A quick 2.5 seconds is all it takes to get the data you require.
This is a safety conscious tester, the clamps have reverse polarity so they won’t generate heat or spark.
The job of a battery tester
Whichever device you choose will have 2 leads with clips at the ends. Once these have been connected to the corresponding terminals on the battery your battery tester is ready to go.
Positive/red cable to red terminal
Negative/black cable to black terminal
The conductive properties of the wires allow current to be passed from the battery to the device where it is measured. The figures displayed depend upon the model you have chosen, but all will, at the very least, tell you if your battery is healthy or in need of replacement.
Types of battery testers
Carbon pile/load testers: These are old school and will be found lurking about at the bottom of many mechanics toolboxes. They work by passing a large load across the battery and the way it is handled denotes the condition of the battery.
Digital voltmeter: Most car enthusiasts will have one of these. Whilst they are useful, they are not perfect for telling the life of a battery.
In ideal conditions, a fully-charged car battery should hold 12.6v – 12.65v. This can increase slightly as the car or the conditions get warmer. The battery’s voltage can still read capacity volts even when the internal plates have ‘sulfated’ and it’s only holding 640 cranking amps instead of the expected 800 for example.
Conductance tester: This does the job of the voltage meter and also measures the resistance across the plates INSIDE the battery cells.
This will give you a reading in milliohms. The lower the number, the better condition your battery is in.
Around 3 milliohms of resistance mean your battery is in optimum condition and will not have begun to sulfate. If the number goes above 7 you should keep a close eye and test the battery regularly.
The conductance tester measures CCA and often alternator and starting systems too.
It gives a truer reflection of the status of your battery.
What is CCA?
Cold Cranking Ability.
It is the measure used within the Battery Industry of a battery’s ability to start a vehicle in cold weather.
It is the number of amps a 12v battery can supply at 0°F for 30 seconds while keeping a minimum of 7.2 volts. This just means how much available power there is to start your car on a cold morning.
Some chargers ask me to input the CCA capacity of my battery, I don't know it!
No need to panic. All of the information you need will be on a label actually on your battery. If for some reason it has worn off, a very simple internet search will tell you.
Is a digital or analog battery tester better?
It is down to personal choice. Traditionalists often prefer the analog needle on a scale but it is believed that a truer more accurate reading of a battery’s health can be gained from a digital tester.
Can I only test my car battery?
Read the instructions. Most testers will work on most 12v batteries, so 1 tester could keep your car, light truck, RV, motorcycle, boat and even your golf cart in optimum condition!
It’s a fact that batteries will lose power and performance over time. Owning the best battery tester for small batteries will enable you to quickly and easily keep track of the health of your battery and in some cases, the condition of starting and charging systems too.
It is surely much more cost-effective than an expensive trip to the auto shop where you can be pretty sure they will try to convince you that your battery is dying. Upselling you a new battery can be pretty expensive, and also needless if you know the true data of your battery’s status via an easy home test.