SOLVED: Cheap Calipers draining batteries

One of the most import tools to use with your forge is a set of digital calipers. I bought mine from Harbor Freight. I was working on a project last night and need to take some measurements and my battery was dead again. I eyeballed using the printed marks and got pretty close. But I was trying to hunt down tiny watch batteries.

Then I remembered a hack I had seen years ago.

I also learned why I was having the problem…

If you measure current, you will see that the power off state draws 90% of the current of the power on state. For some reason, all electronic calipers seem to be this way- power off is actually display (only) off. THIS is why the batteries go bad quickly.

I was able to 3D print a battery holder and was back in business in 30 minutes.

I have plenty of AAA batteries charged and ready to go.


Interesting. Not sure I’ve changed the batteries in either of my calipers more than once in several years.


That’s what happens when you buy quality tools.

I ended up just tossing the ones I bought from Amazon, and now “only” have the two Mitutoyo’s I got from my dad. That he’d had for decades.

edit: the ones I keep handy…


Or you can go with a “battery-less” dial caliper like I use! True, I need two—one metric and the other SAE. :sunglasses:


I don’t know how quality they are, they’re iGauging brand. The absolute origin is, I guess, a Mitutoyo knock off.

Strange - I’ve had a set of HF digital calipers for over five years and usually get at least a year on a battery. Great hack, though.


It pained me to toss the one I mentioned. I hate wasting stuff. As well as chewing thru batteries, it was unreliable (inaccurate) as well. I stripped it down and cleaned it twice but in the end just had to suck it up and get rid of it. It was highly-rated on Amazon when I bought it but the listing was deleted when I went back to write a review.

Why buy? Well, I only had the smaller Mitutoyo when I bought it, only got the 2nd on my most recent visit to my folks in 2018. It also had a nice feature that it turned on as soon as you moved it - which is likely why it chewed thru batteries.

Looks like I might have blamed HF too soon. I went back and saw that I had indeed ordered it from Amazon. The one I got from HF I gave to my daughter.

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I haven’t had this issue but I also hate leaving batteries in things I know will be weeks or months between uses so I always pull the battery.

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