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When the technical questions get too technical, we head to our consulting electrical engineer, Lee Johnson. For an earlier update to this guide, we spoke with David Hobby of Strobist about the demanding battery needs of professional photographers. Even before you get to recharging and shelf stability, our top AA pick has two or more times the capacity of a cheap, disposable alkaline battery. Since Sanyo now Panasonic Eneloop batteries effectively launched the age of modern rechargeables in , that line has tripled the capacity and doubled the cycle life the number of recharges a battery can take without degrading too much.

For the past few years, the same factory that makes Eneloop batteries for Panasonic has been making similar batteries for other brands too. In addition to technology improvements, the price of rechargeables has come down considerably. Even after including the cost of a new charger, your first set of eight AA batteries will pay for themselves in five to six recharge cycles compared with buying most brand-name disposables.


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And the benefits go beyond your wallet: Around 4 billion single-use batteries are shipped to the US every year. Over four years of using rechargeables, that would mean 12 rechargeable batteries take the place of disposables—not a bad way to save some money and the environment. The only persistent drawback to rechargeables is that they still take a long time to recharge.

Properly charging batteries takes time—about eight hours for our AA pick—if you want to preserve their long-term performance. According to Battery University , a resource site maintained by the battery experts at Cadex, a rapid charger that charges at a C rate around 0.

Instead of getting a faster charger, we recommend buying an extra set of batteries. Figure out what device you use that takes the most batteries, and buy that many extra. Rotating batteries this way is like having a perpetually stocked supply without going to the store. We consider owner reviews of battery models to some extent, but only if we see an obvious pattern of failures or shortcomings.

There are so many mitigating factors that go into battery performance—the charger you use, how fast you drain them, and so on—that trusting owner reviews for batteries can be perilous.

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But we scan through the owner reviews with the lowest ratings looking for potential defects or common failures that may be worth testing more thoroughly. Mainly we use the following criteria to determine which models are worth testing:. The more energy a battery can hold when charged, the less often you need to charge it. Most trustworthy companies right now make AA batteries around 2, mAh.

The batteries we consider are rated to last 1, to 2, cycles, though every time you cycle a battery—charge and discharge it—it dies a little inside.


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  • Putting the macabre metaphors aside, that means that if you charge a battery hundreds of times, it will have a lower capacity than when you first bought it. Even when charging once a month, being able to reuse our picks for five years would bring your cost per charge down to less than a nickel, which makes rechargeables worth the high initial price compared with disposable alkaline batteries. Get it? Battery of tests? To test for capacity, we use four batteries from each brand. As soon as we unpack them, we drain them to zero. Then we charge and discharge them three times and average each set of results.

    That gives us an average of 12 discharge measurements, which we compare with the stated capacity.

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    For AA batteries, we charge at mA and discharge at 1, mA. For AAA batteries, which have less capacity and should be charged and discharged more slowly, we move down to mA for both steps. Each brand we test for capacity also goes through our tests of how well it holds a charge after repeated cycling. Using our average capacity test as a baseline, we cycle each battery nearly 50 times to see how it holds up to repeated charging and discharging. We know that rechargeables have a bad reputation for losing their mojo a bit too quickly, and this test is a good way to stress the batteries even more than you would at home.

    After 48 cycles, we do the capacity tests again. Losing between 1 and 4 percent a month, brand-name batteries still have more of a charge after six months sitting on a shelf than a discount, alkaline disposable battery has out of the box. Over longer stretches, though, a percentage point here and there can start to add up, so the lower the self-discharge rate, the better a battery is for long-term storage such as in emergency kits.

    For AA batteries, we tested eight brands in new, single-battery Coast flashlights. We sealed each one into a cardboard box with a video camera to monitor the light output over time. We recorded the time until each flashlight went out completely, but we also took into account batteries that dimmed prematurely.

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    We loaded four headlamps—one each for AmazonBasics, Energizer, Eneloop, and Duracell batteries—and set about draining them completely. Because it would take too long to stand around and wait for the lamps to run down, we strapped our headlamps to some stand-ins watermelons and let a camera observe them slowly dimming as the night wore on. As in our capacity and cycle tests, the AAA batteries all performed roughly the same, so we called this test a tie as well, and snacked on watermelon for a few days.

    Nothing drains a battery quicker than an electric motor, so we tried three top-performing AA brands—Eneloop, Energizer, and Powerex—in a high-stress situation. Trackside has an indoor RC race track that hosts national competitions in addition to its normal open-track practices. These cars are serious, regularly going 40 mph, with brushless motors powered by high-quality lithium-ion battery packs—far too fancy for our purposes.

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    Instead, Tennies soldered our sample batteries into a pack with high enough voltage to run our test cars around the track. Home Depot 1. Office Depot and OfficeMax 1. No Price Specified 2. Amazon 1. Duracell 1. Energizer 1. Tenergy 1. Popular Deal NEW. Frontpage Deal NEW. You have chosen to thumb up this deal. Great deal. You have chosen to thumb down this deal. Thumbs up.

    Save with Duracell rechargeables. Duracell's rechargeable AA and AAA batteries can be recharged hundred of times, and stay charged for up to six months when not in use. They're powerful and perfect for power-hungry and frequently used devices. These Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries last much longer than traditional batteries, and charge up faster too. Save even more with battery-and-charger packs. With four independent charging channels to suit any combination of AA and AAA batteries, the charger automatically detects the battery type and has a maintenance charge feature that keeps batteries fresh and emits less noise in the process.

    We've got everything you need to stay powered up on-the move, from batteries and portable chargers, to travel adapters. And our Duracell batteries keep all your gadgets and appliances powered up at home, providing reliable power for safety devices like alarms. Back to top. Title Mr. First name. Last name.