Gear Review: ZTS MBT-1 Pulse Load Battery Tester

In the course of reviewing, I use rather a large number of primary and rechargeable cells. MyFenix generously sent Tactical Reviews a ZTS MBT-1 Pulse Load battery tester to help me keep track, and it has certainly proven its worth.

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Taking a more detailed look:

Unlike many blister packs, the MBT-1 has an easy to open blister pack as it is closed by moulded poppers. This means you can use to store the MBT-1 in if you want.
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There are two information leaflets included with the MBT-1.
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On the front panel are a set of contacts for the positive terminals of the various cells to be placed onto when testing them.
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Tucked away neatly along the side is a test probe and its wire.
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The probe pops out easily for use.
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A closer look at the probe tip.
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This battery tester, runs on 4xAA batteries fitted into a compartment on the back.
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There is a simple display showing percentages from 10% to 100% capacity.
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In case you misplace the instructions, there is a reminder on the front panel.
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I’m not going to list all the exact cells as they are in the picture, but the tester works with Li-ion, various button cells, NiMh….
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…loads more coin cells, Energizer L91 and L92, 1.5V Alkaline…
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…12V and 6V Alkaline and 9V Alkaline.
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Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

No issues were encountered during testing.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The MBT-1 in use

Even moderate battery users are going to appreciate the MBT-1. It is easy enough to lose track of which cells are which and then have to start again with new cells or recharging cells. Not so with the MBT-1 as it is so quick and easy to test a cell and find out its real condition. You can also check cells in remote controls, doorbells and other devices that would otherwise have no indication of the condition of the batteries.

Remember, this is not a voltage based tester, it is a pulse load tester. Cells can often recover their voltage when not loaded, so the reason this tester has so many test contact points for different cells, is because it is actually loading the cell to truly test how it responds when it will actually have to do some work (so needs to use the different responses at each contact point to work out the percentage).

Notice in this photo I have marked an X on the cell with a sharpie to indicate it has been used for a runtime test. Normally I simply discard these cells as I’ve taken the test light down to the ANSI cut-off, but as you can see here the MBT-1 has revealed that this cell still has 20% capacity left. Perfectly fine to use for some low output backup lights and not yet ready for the recycle bin.
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I’ve even found that it can be worth testing new cells as I’ve had some turn out not to be matched perfectly for use in multi-cell lights.

The testing methodology is that even during the first set of pulse loads the cell may have recovered and give a false reading, so the recommendation is to test each cell three times. That last reading is the most accurate.

No more guessing with straight voltage readings, simple quick and effective testing.

Review Summary

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Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
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Pulse load testing (not simply voltage). Relatively expensive.
Huge range of cells can be tested. Relatively bulky.
Very simple to use.
Allows for cells to be matched and graded.
Minimises wastage.

A big thanks to MyFenix for supporting Tactical Reviews with this ZTS MBT-1 Battery Tester (MyFenix is the Official UK Fenix Distributor).