AA batteries are common in almost every household, office, school, and hospital. They are used to power the simplest devices from wall clocks
to TV remotes
, even toy remotes, alarm systems, compact digital cameras
, and more. There are two types of AA batteries: rechargeable and disposable.
Disposable batteries are typically more common due to their cheaper price and ease of storage for those unforeseen emergency situations, whereas rechargeable batteries, though growing in popularity, tend to be more costly and are not ideal for storage, seeing as they must be kept charged in order to remain reliable. Each type of battery has its own pros and cons and we’ll cover those factors and more to ensure your ability to find the best choice within your budget.
The best thing about AA batteries is that they aren’t expensive. They’re affordable and, depending on where you shop, you can get great deals on them when buying in bulk.
One factor in pricing is the battery’s chemistry. For example, when it comes to disposable batteries, lithium batteries cost more than alkaline batteries and alkaline batteries cost more than zinc chloride/zinc carbon batteries. Rechargeable batteries, on the other hand, are initially more expensive than disposable, but because you can use them repeatedly, they cost less over time. While the chemistry of rechargeable batteries affect their performance, it does not have as much of an impact on price as it does for disposable batteries.
Lastly, the size of the pack of the batteries you're buying will also determine how much money you'll end up spending. You can purchase as few as 2 per pack to as many as a 48 per pack for disposable batteries, whereas rechargeable batteries tend to be sold only in the smaller packs Price-wise, you may spend anywhere between $5 to $50. You’re likely to come across cheaper AA batteries but it’s best to go with the better quality ones as a 2-pack for $5 will last longer than a 4-pack for $1.50.
If you ask anyone about the perfect AA battery, they would probably tell you that it doesn’t exist. After all, the perfect battery would be one that never loses its power - rechargeable or not; it would perform the same in sub-zero temperatures as it does in regular temperatures; it wouldn’t leak. The list could go on and on, but sadly, that battery does not yet exist, and, though not perfect, they’re still pretty great, and continuing to improve.
Here are the features to consider so you can be sure you’re getting quality AA batteries:
- Type - AA batteries are either disposable/single use or rechargeable. Disposables are ideal for storing in preparation of emergencies, while rechargeable ones will save you money in your day-to-day operations.
- Shelf life - when it comes to disposable AA batteries, you want to buy those with a high shelf life so that if you buy bulk, the ones not in use still give you a great performance when you do decide to use them.
- Self discharge rate - this represents the how quickly a battery loses its ability to maintain full charge. It affects all batteries but the rate differs among different types of batteries.
- Temperature resistance - one thing that many people don’t know is that temperature affects a battery’s performance. It’s good to consider where you’re going to use a pair of batteries to compare its resistance to heat and cold when purchasing it.
- Leakage - another feature many people fail to consider, purchasing batteries which leak little or none at all is not only good for your devices but also your health and the environment.
- Chemistry - this refers to the element(s) in the battery such as alkaline or lithium, since the battery’s chemistry is the determining factor of its overall performance.
- Voltage - it’s also very important to note the voltage of a battery to avoid frying the circuitry of the device you’re going to use it in.
- Recharging cycle - this refers to how many times you can recharge a battery before it can no longer be used and needs to be replaced.
- Capacity - a rather technical feature, the capacity of a battery refers is measured in milliamps per hour(mAh), which represents the maximum amount of energy that you can get from a battery. The capacity of AA batteries ranges from 200mAh to 8000mAh.
As we said, no battery is perfect but if you pick a AA battery’s features based on your needs then it can at least be perfect for you.
Construction and Design
As we’ve said before, the chemistry of a battery is what gives it its performance and power. The chemicals used in rechargeable batteries are different from those used in disposable/single use batteries with each type of battery having its own individual pros and cons.
Let’s start by taking a look at the different types of disposable/single-use batteries:
Alkaline - this is the most commonly used type of battery. It contains an alkaline electrolyte and is usually best for low-drain devices such small toys, remote controls, LED flashlights, and more.
Lithium - this type of single-use battery is more advanced, and typically more expensive, than alkaline batteries, but the increased performance and lighter weight makes them worth their price. Keep in mind, however, that lithium batteries tend to carry a higher voltage, which can cause them to fry certain devices, so be cautious when using these.
Zinc chloride/zinc carbon - these batteries are known as either heavy duty/general purpose batteries and they tend to be the cheapest, but also worst quality, of all of them, causing them to typically be best suited for low drain devices.
Here’s what rechargeable batteries are typically made of:
Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) - these batteries have positive electrodes of nickel oxyhydroxide and negative electrodes that use a hydrogen absorbing alloy. These have come to be favored by many over nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries because they perform better, are lighter and better for the environment. NiMH batteries also come pre-charged, which are known as LSD NiMH or hybrid batteries, which have a lower self-discharge rate than standard NiMH rechargeable batteries.
Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) - these batteries use nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium as electrodes. On one hand, NiCd batteries offer a good number of recharging cycles and perform well even in cold temperatures. On another hand, cadmium is a highly toxic element and these batteries have less capacity than NiMH batteries.
Alkaline - these rechargeable batteries are not as common as NiMH or NiCd as they offer far fewer recharging cycles, are more costly than the others, and are more prone to leakage, however, the shelf life of an alkaline rechargeable battery is longer than a NiMH battery
Nickel Zinc (NiZn) - not as common as NiMH batteries, NiZn rechargeable batteries use nickel oxide hydroxide and zinc as electrodes to power your devices. They work well for high-drain devices but don’t have a long life. You can get between around 30 to 50 recharges out of them before they die.
Performance and Ease of Use
As we had mentioned before, the performance of your AA batteries will depend on their chemistry, environment, life cycle, and discharge rate. Another factor that will affect the performance of these batteries is the device they are used in. When talking about battery performance, there are what are known as low drain and high drain devices. Some batteries work well in low-drain devices while others perform better in high-drain devices.
Low-drain device - a low drain device uses a little bit of power over a long period or uses power only sometimes. Examples of low drain devices are remote controls and alarm clocks.
High-drain device - high-drain devices, on the other hand, use a lot of power in short time span, such as a digital camera, MP3 player, and so forth.
For a low drain device, a disposable/single use alkaline or lithium battery would work well, whereas with a high-drain device such as a digital camera, you’d be better off with a rechargeable battery.
If you’re storing batteries in case of an emergency, it’s best to go with disposable batteries, as rechargeable batteries lose their capacity to store power if left unused for too long. NiMH batteries are most affected by this because when left idle, they have a high self-discharge rate but they work wonders when used frequently and are great for high-drain devices. Another important thing to note about NiMH batteries is that they should not be stored in warm areas as this can affect their longevity.
If you’re worried about the self-discharge rate of your NiMH AA batteries then go for LSD NiMH or hybrid batteries with are pre-charged NiMH batteries. Not only are they precharged but they have a lower self-discharge rate than the standard NiMH battery and are great for high drain devices as well. The main disadvantage of LSD NiMH AA batteries is that they have fewer charging cycles than NiCd batteries. However, one of the many things the LSD NiMH batteries have over NiCd batteries is that they don’t suffer from the memory effect.
The memory effect causes your batteries to last for less time than they should due to recharging them before they are fully exhausted. You can correct this by fully draining them and then recharging them.
If you’re not going to use your rechargeable batteries regularly, charge them every few months. Standard NiMH batteries need to be recharged every 1 to 2 months if not in use while precharged/LSD NiMH batteries need to be recharged every 6 to 9 months. NiCd batteries, on the other hand, need to be fully drained before they’re recharged to avoid issues with the memory effect.
As far as temperature is concerned, you would need to check the packaging of your battery to see the limits. If you’re going somewhere really cold or really hot, it could affect your battery’s performance but manufacturer’s try to mitigate this as much as possible by including that information on the packaging.
We’ve covered everything you need to know about AA batteries such as shelf life, chemistry, and more. Now, let’s look at the five brands’ batteries which made our list to see which ones you’d like to store or use around your home.
Amazon is the most popular online store in the world. It provides a great way for people to shop online for just about anything, but they provide more than just that through their brand, Amazon Basics. Whether it’s their Fire TV device, wireless speakers or battery packs, Amazon is more than just an online store; they’re a creator and a provider for numerous items that are not just well-made, but affordable too.
For this review, we’re looking at the Amazon Basic AA Batteries. These come in a large pack of 48 which costs $11.02. Great deal, right? But it’s not just the price but also the construction of these batteries as well that make them such a high-value product. They’re built to work well with both high- and low-drain devices. Plus, they’ve got anti-corrosion elements too, along with a new zinc composition which allows them to stay on shelves for up to 10 years without any leaking.
Other great features include unique technology which allows it to work even better after storage, in high temperatures and over-discharge. It comes back stronger after each obstacle. On top of that, it works well with just about any device: cameras, toys, games, clocks, you name it.
Panasonic has long been a brand synonymous with quality. They offer numerous appliances and gadgets that we use in our everyday lives such as television sets, digital cameras, stereos and more. So, it’s no wonder that they produce batteries of all shapes and sizes too to help you power up your devices on the go.
The Panasonic battery which we’re looking at for this review is the Eneloop Pro. These are rechargeable batteries which are available for a one-time purchase of $35. But while we were doing our research on these batteries, we found them for significantly less on Amazon. These batteries are quite the investment because they can be recharged up to 500 times and are fully charged before packaging. They also have no memory effect, so it doesn’t matter whether you charge when they’re fully or partially depleted.
If they’re not being used, they maintain up to 85% of their charge for 1 year. Plus, they can work in some serious temperature conditions down to -4F. What’s even better is that they have a “low self-discharge” feature which allows them to last longer than many other batteries. They’re also very durable and recyclable too.
The Eneloop Pro is just one battery in Panasonic’s amazing Eneloop Line.
Duracell is one of the world’s most well-respected battery brands. Their products are used the world over in just about everything, from remote controls and digital cameras at home to heart monitors and more. No matter where in the world you go, you can find Duracell batteries, and that’s because of how great they are.
The Duracell batteries which we researched for this review are the tried and true Coppertop AA Batteries. You’ve more than likely seen these either in stores or your house or your relatives’ homes. That’s because these batteries are among the most trusted in the world. Their power is long lasting and used by millions of people around the world.
The Duracell Coppertop Batteries retail for $12.72 for the 24-pack, but they are also available in packs of 2 through 48. They’re built with Duracell’s signature Duralock Power Preserve which seals the power in the battery, giving you more use out of it. The Coppertop works perfectly with numerous devices; in fact, some devices were made especially for coppertop batteries. It’s guaranteed for up to 10 years in storage, making it perfect for disaster preparation. The date is also stamped on each battery so you see how long they’ll last.
Added bonuses of the Coppertop Batteries are that they’re free of mercury, plus there’s little-to-no leakage. They also work well in nearly any climate, meaning they’re perfect for both those blazing hot summer days and the blistering winter. The AA Coppertop Batteries are only one size in the Duracell Coppertop line. Duracell also offers AAA, C, D, and 9V coppertop batteries.
AA batteries sure have come a long way with more options now than ever before. Technology keeps improving, as do the batteries that power it. We hope our review helped you find the batteries that will fit your needs.