The Solar Battery and System Tester BA9 by Clore Automotive is an excellent battery and charging system tester to help diagnose automotive electrical problems.
Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5
The Solar Battery and System Tester is a handy automotive tool that checks your battery and charging system for problems for professionals and enthusiasts. Not to be confused with sun powered, Solar is a brand of Clore Automotive that sells a wide variety of automotive charging and test products mainly dealing with batteries and charging systems.
The Solar brand manufactures battery and charging system testers and battery chargers for the automotive repair and trucking industry for both professional and amateur car repair. The Solar Battery Tester model BA9 is an easy to use tester for Starting Lights Ignition Wet Cell, Absorbed Glass Mat and Gel Cell batteries.
The BA9 tester has two main tests with the automobile off and testing the battery itself and the vehicle on to test the charging system. The battery test simply checks the battery voltage and after entering battery type and cold cranking amp capacity analyzes the ability of the battery according to the battery capacity.
Once you check the initial battery state you then go to the charging test which checks the system after cranking the engine to test the charging system. During the starting and charging system tests you do need to make sure all high draw items like your headlights, heaters and air conditioning are off otherwise tests will not read correctly.
You should also test the vehicle in a warmer climate like a garage if it is extremely cold outside as this will affect test results. The instructions state the recommended ambient temperature should be between 32 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit but I have used in colder weather.
To check your alternator you enter battery type and cold cranking amps of the battery and then go to the test of the battery by hitting the enter button. If you have entered the cold cranking amps from the same battery this should already be set so you only need to hit enter again.
It is extremely important to read and follow the directions because a false reading can result as well as damage to your tester or automobile. The tester reads the electrical system while devices like the heater, air conditioner and headlights may interfere with a proper reading if they are on.
When testing in the cold of winter the tester worked fine as long as you let the car warm up some to allow the engine to idle at a lower speed. I did check out three vehicles using the Solar BA9 tester and did find two of the vehicles should be getting a new battery soon.
I found when testing the battery without the engine running using the up and down arrows you can check the state of charge and state of health for the battery. The State of health is also a good indication if you need to replace your battery and is a simple percent along with the CCA or cold cranking amps indicated.
I was originally looking into the tester because my minivan was having some problems and I wanted to make sure it was the alternator or battery before removing either. I found the tester on the internet at the Clore Automotive website and wanted to get my hands on one.
The tester showed my alternator was having problems with one of its diodes by having a high ripple voltage reading during my initial testing. Taking the alternator to my local Napa store they confirmed the results on their tester with the same bad diodes that also gave them a high ripple voltage reading.
I installed the new alternator and the minivan has been running just fine without any problems and the tester shows good starting and ripple voltage. The instruction also warn that you should clean the battery terminals and clamps before testing the system to ensure a good solid connection.
Looking at the clamps of the tester I am very impressed with the double secure connection with two wires going to each clamp and the wires attaching to two points of each clamp. This type of double connection with two wires ensures proper testing and a good connection so I can easily see the quality of the simple tester just in looking at the clamps.
The newer digital testers are also much faster and more reliable so this type of digital tester is sure to become a standard not only with professionals but at home users and car enthusiasts. I did have a bit of a difficulty with the tester but not because of the Solar tester but due to the weather conditions here in cold Minnesota.
You should try to test a vehicle when it is warmer or in a garage but you can use the results to help diagnose at least some of the vehicle problems. If your ripple voltage is bad it is more than likely a bad alternator as this test checks out the diodes inside the alternator.
When it is cold the engine is running faster with a high idle which does make the alternator run faster as well so that is why I was seeing higher voltages when it was cold out. The tester did confirm my bad alternator with a specific failure for the diodes which was confirmed by my local Napa auto parts store.
I highly recommend the Solar Battery and System Tester form Clore Automotive as an excellent tester for both professionals and home repair enthusiasts. The Solar BA9 tester costs about $90 but is not widely available probably because it is such a new product.
Easy to use
Low cost compared to other testers
Dual wiring and connections at clamps
Cold weather may affect results