Our family eats through batteries pretty quickly. Luckily the kids have graduated to hand-held devices with built-in rechargeable batteries, which save me some money and keep batteries from being disposed of prematurely. We still have devices that require the old AA and AAA batteries and my husband came up with a system that helps us maximize our usage of those batteries.
We use a Digital Multimeter whenever we want to check the power in a battery. This comes in very handy when we find batteries that have been sitting in a in a gadget for awhile. Or sometime we have a multi-battery device that isn’t operating and we aren’t sure if it’s because all of the batteries are dead or only one. Different gadgets require different power levels so just because the batteries don’t work in your digital camera doesn’t mean you should throw them away.
We set the multimeter on the “battery” setting which measures 1.5 volt and 9 volt batteries. Using the probes to touch the positive and negative poles of the battery you can measure how many amps are left in a battery. We categorize the 1.5V (4.2 amp) batteries accordingly:
- New (never used) 4.2 milliamps
- Almost new 4.1-4.2 milliamps
- Used 3.8-4.0 milliamps
- Marginal 3.5-3.9 milliamps
My old Canon digital camera won’t work with anything less than 4.1 amp batteries. Once the power goes under that it starts telling me to replace the batteries. Those batteries are still good enough to be used in my son’s Xbox controllers. My cordless mouse works fine with the marginal batteries and so will a flashlight.
Make the most of those batteries and invest in a multimeter. It’s easy to do. My twelve year old daughter’s been using ours for a couple of years now. You can buy the model pictured here on the Harbor Freight website for only $3.50. You’ll get your money back in in no time.