Good quality rechargeable AA/AAA batteries?
January 23, 2020 8:04 AM   Subscribe

Due to a variety of battery-dependent hobbies, my kids are going through a TON of AA/AAAs, and I need to stem the cost/waste. Can any MeFites that have done significant field testing recommend rechargeable batteries that are worth the extra cost?
posted by ryanshepard to Technology (24 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've had good luck with the Eneloop branding of batteries. They really do seem to "bleed" charge much more slowly than others I've had, and seem to last for more charge/discharge cycles.
posted by Drastic at 8:08 AM on January 23, 2020 [11 favorites]

Best answer: The Wirecutter has looked into this.
posted by bluecore at 8:10 AM on January 23, 2020 [6 favorites]

Seconding Eneloop batteries. I've been rotating through a small set for various Bluetooth peripherals, remotes, etc. for the last few years and they've always had good battery life.
posted by Transmissions From Vrillon at 8:14 AM on January 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've found Ikea's own-brand rechargeables to be pretty good, not to mention cheap.
posted by pipeski at 8:19 AM on January 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've been using 4 Energizer ones switching 2/2 for my Xbox controllers for at least two years now. They're still going strong. I'm kind of surprised by that... I use my Xbox for hours every day, usually.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:24 AM on January 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Investing in a battery charger and lots of rechargable batteries has been the best investment we ever made when we had kids. I'd suggest getting a charger that also charges D batteries because those are handy for emergency supplies like lanterns and flashlights. We really like the Eneloop batteries and have pretty much standardized on those. One note, if you find that something doesn't work with what you think are fully charged rechargable batteries, make sure to try standard batteries too. We've had the experience that some electronic items are finicky and won't work properly with the rechargeables. It's not very often but don't assume something is broken before trying regular batteries too.
posted by victoriab at 8:26 AM on January 23, 2020

Response by poster: Investing in a battery charger and lots of rechargable batteries has been the best investment we ever made when we had kids.

Any suggestions on a specific charger? The one I owned in the past was kind of crap.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:29 AM on January 23, 2020

When I tried Eneloop batteries maybe 5 or 8 years ago they seemed to lose their ability to recharge fairly quickly. I've had better luck with EBL batteries (both in terms of how long a charge lasts and how long before they no longer recharge) than with AmazonBasic, as a comment on that Wirecutter page admits - they only didn't recommend it due to some negative reviews, but I've had zero problems with them in the last few years.

I have a Sanyo charger that holds both AA and AAA batteries, it's worked fine for years.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:32 AM on January 23, 2020

Best answer: I have this LaCrosse brand charger and it works pretty well. You can set charge rate, there's a reconditioning function, it shows current voltage, etc. It even comes with some C/D cell adapters.

Also note that there are two kinds of NiMH batteries -- normal and low-self-discharge. The latter are the ones you want, although on paper they hold less charge (~2000 mAh instead of ~2500 mAh). The regular ones lose their charge quickly, which is fine if you're using them right away but not great for things that aren't getting constant use.
posted by neckro23 at 8:46 AM on January 23, 2020 [4 favorites]

We have this battery tester by ZTS:

It helps us weed out alkaline batteries that are gone for good, and identify which rechargeables need to be filled up.

Then we bought a bunch of Amazon's own rechargeables (which I believe are the same an Sanyos or Eneloops?), and we keep those around for day-to-day uses. (Smoke detectors still get alkalines, and my fancy-schmancy flashlights get lithium, while my newest light uses an 18650 with a built-in charger that seems to be witchcraft).
posted by wenestvedt at 9:01 AM on January 23, 2020

Best answer: This is the one I have it looks like that's lasted so long. Some weirdly bad reviews I see, but it's worked just fine for me.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:09 AM on January 23, 2020

I've also had good luck with Eneloops.
posted by jquinby at 9:19 AM on January 23, 2020

Came here to recommend Eneloop and the La Crosse charger as well. Was recommended to me by a friend with decent knowledge about 10 years ago, and I've had good luck with em. Only issue has been batteries in my razor left in the shower, which occasionally get corroded, but that seems like it's on me.

The batteries are supposed to discharge slower than typical rechargeables. They had awesome graphs on their website years ago. Since then I believe they've been acquired by one of the big guys, but they still seem quality to me.

The charger is great in that it charges slowly. This is what you want to fit the most charge into your batteries. But if you need to charge them super fast to use right away, that's just one button away. If you buy the batteries on amazon, keep an eye out, sometimes 4 packs are cheaper, and sometimes the 8 packs are.
posted by Phredward at 9:55 AM on January 23, 2020

Best answer: Also been happy with Eneloops. Worth noting that the Eneloop Pros have a higher capacity but can’t be recharged nearly as many times as the regular Eneloops. Like 500 vs 2000 I think.
posted by rodlymight at 9:57 AM on January 23, 2020

Same as onthelastcastle, energizer and continuous xbox usage.
posted by VyanSelei at 10:08 AM on January 23, 2020

Best answer: Eneloops aren't foolproof, but they are pretty good, especially if you use an individual charger and use them as directed. Basically, you don't want to mix new and older batteries in the same device, because the more strain you put on an individual cell, the faster it will degrade, chemically. We bought a cheap "Mr. Batt" charger off Amazon and have been very happy with our Eneloops. I wish Consumer Reports would do more than one product review a month (yes, they are a shell of their former self, check the issues, they only review a couple cars and one product type) because they don't have rechargageable battery ratings, just alkaline/lithium from over three years ago.
posted by wnissen at 10:13 AM on January 23, 2020

Watch out for devices that drain batteries even if they aren't actively used, as this can turn your expensive batteries into garbage. The remotes for a temporarily unused Nintendo Wii killed Eneloops by over-discharging them in a relatively short amount of time, no more than a couple of months. This happened on more than one occasion before I wised up.
posted by exogenous at 10:19 AM on January 23, 2020

Eneloop/LaCrosse. The Amazon Basics are supposedly white-label Eneloops; I'm cautiously trying them out now but haven't had time to put years of use on them.
posted by praemunire at 10:26 AM on January 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've got ten-year-old Eneloops which are holding up a lot better than their Panasonic and Energizer contemporaries. I own some Ikea rechargeables too but haven't owned very long. I'm charging them in either a Nitecore D2 or an Opus BT C700. These are both relatively slow and provide more information than is what's necessary. The Opus is a battery "analyzer" which means it can also discharge a battery and say how much charge it stores at full capacity (all batteries will degrade over time and usage cycles).

Rechargeable batteries do require more maintenance than primary (disposable) batteries. Don't run them until they are dead as it damages the batteries. Charge them on a regular schedule. Also, they have to be used occasionally (having them idle for years will also kill them), so don't buy a lot of extra batteries.
posted by meowzilla at 10:29 AM on January 23, 2020

Best answer: Amazon is rife with fake eneloops. I would recommend buying from a bricks and mortar store. Costco has great prices on big packs of eneloops.
posted by rockindata at 12:07 PM on January 23, 2020

I have Eneloops in AA and Amazon Basics AAA in constant use. It took a several years to burn out the last batch of Eneloop AAAs
posted by dws at 12:30 PM on January 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Haven't used Eneloops, but Duracells far outlast the Panasonics, and the off-brand ones I used to get online (Maha?) didn't last at all well.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:02 PM on January 23, 2020

Ikea rechargeable batteries are good and may be rebranded Eneloops. The design of the Ikea battery charger is particularly good, it doubles as a battery storage box which makes charging batteries much less of a hassle - this might appeal to kids.
posted by riddley at 8:19 PM on January 23, 2020

What hobbies? If it's electronics, you might try what I did and get an adjustable DC power supply (like, the typical plug-in brick charger with a cord sticking out) that goes from 1.5V to 12V. I cut off it's little weird electronic plug, stripped the wires, and put on alligator clips so I can clip them into a circuit wherever (I cut one wire 2" shorter so they wouldn't touch (as often Ha-ha))
posted by sexyrobot at 5:04 AM on January 24, 2020

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