A dry cell battery is essentially a sealed household type, in voltages between one volt and nine volts. These are the common batteries that come in sizes of AA, C, D, and several others. They are all made with a paste type of powdered chemical electrode, have a positive pole button on the top and a flat negative pole on the bottom. They are self-contained and have chemical compositions ranging from zinc-carbon and alkaline, to rechargeables such as nickel cadmium (NiCad) and nickle-metal hydride (NiMH) for short.

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Virtually any dry cell battery can be tested with a multimeter or a battery tester.

Step 1

Set your multimeter to read direct current (DC) voltage. Many multimeters have a specific battery testing function built in, in which case they can be set to this function. If you are using a battery tester, just turn it on to measure whether a battery is good or bad.

Step 2

Touch the red or positive lead to the top button of the dry cell battery. Touch the negative or black lead to the flat bottom on the battery. If using a battery tester, insert the battery positive side up into the unit. The tester will show which way the battery should be inserted.

Step 3

Read the voltage on the multimeter. A 1.5 voltage battery must read a solid 1.5 volts for it to be in good working order. If there is a 10 percent lower deviation in the voltage reading, the battery is bad and must be replaced. Most battery testers are simplified multimeters; with either a simple meter that swings either good or bad or a pair of colored lights (green is good, red is bad), they will only show whether the battery is functional or not.