There are two primary types of batteries – primary and secondary. Primary batteries are also known as the non-rechargeable batteries and are the typical battery you buy in the local store. Primary batteries are typically made up of Alkaline, Lithium Cells, Silver Oxide Cells, Zinc Air Cells among other components. Secondary batteries are rechargeable and are what you find in most of your tech devices like mobile phones, laptops etc.
With the rise of portable devices, cordless tools and in general our more mobile and on the go world, the demand for rechargeable batteries has grown substantially. Rechargeable batteries have been around since 1859 when a lead-acid cell was invented by Gaston Plante, a French physicist. Rechargeable cells technology includes Nickel-Cadmium, Nickel-Metal Hydride, Lithium-Ion, Lead-Acid, rechargeable Alkaline among others.
This article will focus on providing knowledge about the rechargeable batteries and guide on choosing the best rechargeable battery.
What are Rechargeable Batteries?
A rechargeable battery is also known as storage battery and they consist of one or more electrochemical cells. This type of electrical battery can be charged, discharged into a load, and recharged many times, which is very different from primary batteries which are discarded after fully utilized. Rechargeable batteries are known as secondary cells because of the electrical reversibility of their electrochemical reactions which allows them to be re-charged.
Rechargeable batteries also come in various shapes and sizes, which range from a button cell to megawatt systems that are connected to stabilize an electrical distribution network. This type of battery has a lower total cost of use and environmental impact over time compared to disposable batteries. Some rechargeable batteries are available in the same size as the primary batteries. Although these types of battery have higher initial costs, they can lower overall battery cost in the long-run.
Why Choose Rechargeable Batteries?
Aside from saving money, purchasing rechargeable batteries also protect the environment and conserve resources. They also reduce the operating cost and hazardous waste disposal fees because rechargeable batteries can be used many times.
When to Use Rechargeable Batteries?
Devices that tend to deplete single-use batteries in under 90 days, high use devices, and high draw devices are the best candidates when it comes to choosing rechargeable batteries. Some devices that would be good examples to use rechargeable batteries include items like game remotes, game controllers, toys, headsets, and wireless computer equipment. These devices also present the best opportunity to realize the cost benefits and convenience.
If you’re going to make the choice and invest in rechargeable batteries, then it is important to invest in a quality battery charger. Even though a cheap charger would get the job done in short-term, many chargers do not include automatic shut-off features that prevent overcharging and potential damage.
Some electronic manufacturers may recommend specifically against using rechargeable batteries. So make sure you check your device manual for any guidance and recommendations on using rechargeable batteries.
Advantages of Rechargeable Batteries
Rechargeable batteries have been around for decades, and they are still a great deal in the market up to today. It’s no wonder when you think about the benefits this type of battery offer. Aside from being more environmentally friendly compared to single-use batteries, they can also be used repeatedly and generate less waste over the long-term. This is specifically true in the case of some devices like power-intensive devices which eat up batteries at an increased rate.
In addition, also to rechargeable batteries using fewer resources, this type of battery lets you save money over time compared to single-use batteries. When batteries die, this type of battery gives you the option of simply putting it back on the charger until they are back at full charge or a functional charge level.
Disadvantages of Rechargeable Batteries
There are also downsides of using rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable batteries often have a lower voltage rating compared to single-use batteries, which can affect the output and performance of a device. Another negative cited is that the up-front cost of rechargeable batteries, even though the battery itself may cost less than single-use batteries, the price of a quality charger, depending on use, may negate their value altogether.
Another problem with rechargeable batteries is that they become weaker with age and can become unpredictable in terms of reliability. Some rechargeable batteries are made to higher specifications that can extend lifespan, but at some point, their performance will still decline and eventually result in the need for replacement.
And of course, there is the inconvenience of managing the process of replacing and recharging. You need your charger with you and you have to swap out and track the batteries versus just disposing and replacing.
To help get you started with looking at rechargeable battery options, here are some of the more popular options available in the market:
Where to Buy
This rechargeable battery is considered as the best overall. There is a little capacity difference between this battery and top names like Energizer, Duracell, and Eneloop, because of its 2000mAh capacity for AAs and 800mAh. This rechargeable battery, compared to those brands, is generally cheaper and can last for up to 1000 recharge cycles.
Customer reviews recommend this type of rechargeable battery as an excellent budget pick. One reviewer even tested this battery by powering a fan and seeing how long the batteries lasted. It is endorsed for low-drain items because of its low price tag.
Pros: Cost-effective, excellent quality control, delivers on capacity ratings, one-year warranty
Cons: Exclusively available on Amazon
This is considered as the best rechargeable batteries when it comes to frequent recharging. The difference on this specific battery with other brands is that it advertises 2100 cycle lifespan. At this point, it is virtually impossible to test since the batteries have only been available on the market for about four years, but this brand has a track record of being durable.
The AA batteries have a 2000mAh capacity with a 1900mAh minimum, and the AAAs have 800mAh capacity with a 750mAh minimum. These batteries are pre-charged using solar power and can also maintain 70% of their charge even if left in storage for about ten years.
Pros: Holds charge after months of nonuse, can be recharged up to 210 times
Cons: Relatively expensive
When it comes to performance, this battery is on par with other brands. But what makes them better is that they are made of 4% recycled batteries, that’s why they are labeled as the most eco-friendly rechargeable batteries. Aside from that, this battery comes pre-charged.
The AAs have a 2000mAh capacity and the AAAs are rated 800mAh. They can last for up to a year in storage without losing charge because they are low self-discharging.
Pros: Made with 4% recycled batteries, pre-charged, five-year usable battery life
Cons: More expensive than some brands that perform better
This type of battery has the highest capacity of any batteries, that’s why they are labeled as the best high-capacity rechargeable batteries. The AAAs are 850mAh with an 800mAh minimum. These cells can keep 65% of their original charge after 3 years in storage since they are a low self-discharge battery. This makes them helpful when you use the batteries in an infrequently used device or find a screaming deal on a bulk purchase.
These batteries are made in Japan and Amazon backs this product with a one-year warranty, and the batteries come pre-charged by using environmentally-friendly solar energy.
Pros: Low self-discharge
Cons: May not fit all battery compartments
This battery is considered as a solid affordable battery and very effective. The AA Tenergy batteries are rated at a 2000mAh capacity, the AAAs have an 800mAh, but according to reviews of buyers who have tested the batteries out, it tends to be more like 900mAh.
Even though the mAh rating and charge cycles were on par with other standard capacity options, this type was among the least expensive and held on to more charge after a year.
Pros: Affordable, higher than advertised, retains 85% of charge after a year in storage
Cons: Can only be recharged up to 500 times
This pre-charged rechargeable AA battery is a great choice for all your gadget needs. The Energizer rechargeable batteries always have available power when you need it because they will retain their charge up to 12 months when not in use, due to its more than 1000 charge cycles. Energizer claims that one full AA battery will allow you to use 230 digital camera photos or play a game for around five hours before it will need to recharge.
Additionally, it has a five-year battery which is paired with the 1000 charge cycles, therefore offering a long-lasting power without breaking the bank.
Pros: Inexpensive, retain their charge for up to 12 months
Cons: May not fit all battery compartments
The brand EBL may not be as well known as some other household brand batteries, but they produce good quality batteries. EBL AA and AAA have 16-point, high-capacity 1100mAh battery. It is available in both AA and AAA 16-pack varieties. This brand is already a No. 1 bestseller on Amazon with a 4.3 out of 5-star rating.
Aside from having the capability for more than 1,200 battery recharge cycles over the course of the lifetime batteries, it also has a high capacity which helps devices last longer with each charge.
Pros: Good quality, cost-effective
Cons: Exclusively available on Amazon