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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 12:17 PM Thread Starter
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Battery drain

We have a 1999 Subaru Legacy which often sits for 3-4 months at a time without use. When we put it in service again, the battery would be drained, so I've been removing the cable from one side before it sits. I've recently installed a new battery.

Now I have a meter that measures amps, but have almost no experience using it. It's a PT (brand) meter. (pic)

One of the YouTube videos I watched says all you need to do is put the meter in line on the [I]positive[I] side and read the 10 amp scale. I did that and the meter read 0.00, showing no draw. Is it really that simple? Does that really mean there is no significant draw? Thanks.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 12:58 PM
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the standby drain for a lot of vehicles will probably be around 10 mA. the 10 amp scale will not show anything that small, switch the DVM down to the 200 mAmp range, it should then give you a reading in the 5 to 20 mA range.

Worst case, go to the lowest scale, but I think that will peg out as "Over Range"

~ John


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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AZgl1800 View Post
the standby drain for a lot of vehicles will probably be around 10 mA. the 10 amp scale will not show anything that small, switch the DVM down to the 200 mAmp range, it should then give you a reading in the 5 to 20 mA range.

Worst case, go to the lowest scale, but I think that will peg out as "Over Range"
Thanks, John.

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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On the 200mA scale the amp reading is .02.

Does that seem normal?

Do you think that would drain a fully charged battery over, say, 4-5 months?

Thanks.

Pete

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PAPete View Post
On the 200mA scale the amp reading is .02.

Does that seem normal?

Do you think that would drain a fully charged battery over, say, 4-5 months?

Thanks.
That is exactly what I expected, yes, that is normal.

that is 20 milliAmps and over the space of 4-6 months, will kill the car battery.

So, I advise you to do one of two things.

Lift the Negative Terminal ( far safer, if the wrench touches the car chassis, no sparks )

Or, install a huge breaker like we use on airplanes and big diesel trucks.

turn it to OFF, and the battery is disconnected.

My gl1800 has a Voltmeter wired HOT to the battery terminals.
That VM has a small drain of about 3 milliAmps.

but, the bike already has a Standby drain of about 10 milliAmps.

I noticed immediately, that if I did not keep a Battery Tender on the bike, that in six weeks time, it would not start.

-------------------

To put this into context, I used to work for a rural telephone company in Utah.
We covered the whole state servicing little tiny communities and mining camps.

The miles to get from the NW corner to the SE corner of the state is astronomical, so we used airplanes to get around. We had two of them, one for the boss, and one for me.

at each of the little airstrips we used, we had an older car, usually a Ford Ranchero because of the inline six, and the PU bed can be used to haul stuff.

We removed the batteries, and locked them up in a storage unit on site.
There would be times that the cars sat for 6 months or more, before we had to use the car again.

Install the battery, spray a whiff of Ether in the air filter housing, click, varoom!!!

those batteries held up over the winter months at -59 degrees, so we had to use Ether to keep from ruining the battery trying to pump gas from the tank up to the carb. the Ether allowed the engine to crank immediately, and the high RPMs made the fuel pump work great.

~ John


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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
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[QUOTE=AZgl1800;5861209 that is 20 milliAmps and over the space of 4-6 months, will kill the car battery.[/QUOTE]

John, thanks for the explanation. I need a little more education:

1. On the 200 mA scale, isn't a reading of 0.02 two one hundredths of a milliamp?

2.What would a reading of 1.00 be? Not 1 mA?

3.Or does the reading mean .02 of full scale, which would be 4mA. I'm confused.(Obviously)

In any case, I think I'll just pull the cable from the negative terminal, as you suggest. I've been using a breaker that apparently died, and I've been advised by a couple semi-knowledgable people to scrap it. Thanks for your help.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 10:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PAPete View Post
John, thanks for the explanation. I need a little more education:

1. On the 200 mA scale, isn't a reading of 0.02 two one hundredths of a milliamp?

2.What would a reading of 1.00 be? Not 1 mA?

3.Or does the reading mean .02 of full scale, which would be 4mA. I'm confused.(Obviously)
I would need a picture of the meter while it is showing you that display.
IF, it actually shows a period in front of the '02', that would be in the MicroAmp range, and if that is true, you should be able to switch down to the 200 MicroAmp scale and then you would see 20.0 or close to it.

on the 200 mA scale, 20.0 would be 20 mA
I never saw a DVM that displayed 0.02 on the larger ranges.
maybe some do now?? mine is 20 years old now.

~ John


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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 11:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PAPete View Post
John, thanks for the explanation. I need a little more education:

1. On the 200 mA scale, isn't a reading of 0.02 two one hundredths of a milliamp?
Back to question #1.

you are correct, if the display is showing 0.02

2/100 of 1 mA is 20 uA

0.02 actually means 0.020 as the scales go by a 3 digits at a time,

you want to keep switching the meter down scale until you are getting a display in Positive digits.

e.g. use the 200 uA range to cause it to display 20.0 or 20 microAmps
that will verify your thinking.

~ John


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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-23-2019, 11:25 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, John.

.02 amps doesn't sound like much to me. I'll try the scale that has the next higher resolution in the morning. Won't change the parasitic draw, but will be more accurate. Sure do appreciate your help.

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-24-2019, 12:29 AM
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if it is actually 20 uAmps,

it should not make a difference if the battery is left connected.

was the top of the battery clean and free of corrosion?
and are you using a protective battery terminal paste to coat the terminals to prevent corrosion? I use an old toothbrush to scrub it good.

I do... usually it is red in color. I first take the terminals apart, clean every thing in a baking soda solution, rinse, and do it again until no fizzing can be seen.

Dry it off well, put on a light coat of terminal grease on the battery post.



tighten it all up, and liberally coat the whole thing with the protector coating.

https://www.crcindustries.com/produc...-oz-05046.html

most auto parts stores carry it, as well as Home Depot.

~ John


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