Are Rechargeable Batteries Better Than Alkaline? Most of the Time. Alkaline battery inside

Are Rechargeable Batteries Better Than Alkaline? Most of the Time

In some cases, single-use batteries are still the better option.

Ms. Witman is an associate staff writer at Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times Company.

Many of my favorite things as a child — like my Walkman, for example — required AA or AAA batteries. Batteries back then weren’t always reliable. Sometimes I’d flip open the battery slot of a rarely used toy to find a crusty, whitish discharge from a leaky AA inside, or I’d leave the ’90s-era rechargeable batteries juicing up on a bulky charger for an entire day only to have them die after just a few hours of use.

Since then, rechargeable batteries have become less expensive, more reliable, and much longer lasting. As Isidor Buchmann, chief executive and founder of Cadex Electronics a battery technology company based in Canada, explains on Battery University, the company’s educational resource site, many of today’s rechargeable batteries are made of nickel-metal hydride (NiMH), a more efficient material than reusable alkaline, and are chemically sealed to prevent battery leakage from crusting up your electronics. They hold a charge for much longer than the rechargeable batteries that were available in the 1990s — or even a few years ago — and you can recharge them hundreds of times over.

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In most cases, today you’re better off using rechargeable batteries over disposable ones. They’re safe and reliable, they create less environmental waste, and as we explain in the Wirecutter guide to rechargeable batteries, they pay for themselves after about six recharges, even with the added cost of a wall charger (for which we also have a recommendation).

Going by a 2012 case study for the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, we can estimate that about 4 billion disposable batteries are shipped to the US each year. That means the average US household burns through about 47 batteries per year. But you could buy just 12 rechargeable batteries every four years (the average life span of some popular rechargeable batteries) instead of the 188 disposables you would otherwise need. And you wouldn’t lose much performance: The best rechargeables can power your devices on a single charge for just as long as most high-quality single-use batteries can, but at a fraction of the cost over time.

However, single-use batteries are still the better option in a few instances:

Low-power devices

Electronics that constantly draw low amounts of power—such as some wall clocks, headlamps, or bike lights—work better with disposable alkaline batteries. Alkaline batteries start with a slightly higher voltage that in many conditions decreases faster than that of rechargeable batteries. Whereas an alkaline battery may drop from “powering” to “dead” pretty quickly, a rechargeable battery may hang on at a lower voltage for slightly longer, resulting in unexpected behavior such as dimming lights or a clock that can’t keep time.

Smoke alarms

Most alarm manufacturers recommend against using rechargeable batteries to power a smoke alarm. Smoke alarms that are not hard-wired into your home’s electrical system get power in one of two ways: a built-in battery designed to last up to 10 years, or a disposable 9-volt battery that you should replace once a year. No matter what kind of smoke alarms you have, according to the US Fire Administration, you should test the battery monthly and replace the entire device every 10 years.

“Kind of like when your cellphone tells you when its battery is low, a smoke alarm should beep or chirp to tell you when it’s time to replace the battery, and it should continue to chirp for at least seven days,” said Richard Roux, a senior electrical specialist for the National Fire Protection Association. “If you’re not using the recommended type of battery, the smoke alarm might stop chirping before you realize it needs to be replaced.”

If you’re not sure what type of battery the manufacturer recommends and you don’t have the instruction manual handy, said Roux, you can always look it up online using the serial number printed on the smoke alarm.

Emergencies, emergency kits, or where power is scarce

Disposable batteries are also your best bet for emergency preparedness kits because, as Mr. Buchmann explains on Battery University site, they have a much longer shelf life than rechargeables — up to a decade, versus a few years. Just be sure to check the expiration date on your single-use batteries so that you know roughly when to replace them.

“When you buy milk in the store, there’s a date on it, but when you buy alkaline batteries you don’t usually check the date,” Mr. Buchmann said in an interview.

Disposable batteries can also come in handy when it’s inconvenient or impossible to recharge, said Mr. Buchmann, such as on backpacking or camping trips. He added, “The materials and chemistry of alkaline batteries are more rugged than rechargeables, so they can take more abuse.”

rechargeable, batteries, better, alkaline, most, time

Regardless of which type you’re using, no battery lasts forever. To find out how to safely dispose of worn-out batteries of all types, check Earth911, or your local recycling center.

A version of this article appears in print on. Section B. Page 8 of the New York edition with the headline: Are Rechargeable Batteries Better Than Alkaline? Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Battery Shelf Life: What You Need to Know

It’s a fact. Battery shelf life is something you need to consider. You might know that batteries can deteriorate while they are in storage. Both rechargeable and disposable batteries need to be stored under special conditions. Don’t let expiring batteries short circuit your warehousing and fulfi

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It’s a fact. Battery shelf life is something you need to consider. You might know that batteries can deteriorate while they are in storage. Both rechargeable and disposable batteries need to be stored under special conditions. Don’t let expiring batteries short circuit your warehousing and fulfillment practices.

Battery shelf life has many considerations. Battery aging is influenced by three factors: the chemicals in the cell, how long it remains idle and storage temperature. From type of battery to storage temperature, there’s a lot to keep in mind.

Types of Batteries

Different types of batteries require different storage options to help preserve shelf life. You’ll find a number of different types of batteries on the market available to today’s consumers. Before we delve into battery shelf life, let’s discuss the types of batteries and their applications.

Batteries generally fall into two categories:

Primary Batteries

Primary batteries cannot be recharged. You dispose of primary batteries when they are depleted. You’ll find primary batteries in many different forms. Everything from small watch batteries to the AAA batteries in your TV remote are primary batteries. These batteries are commonly used in applications where charging might not be practical.

Alkaline batteries are the most common kind of primary batteries. These batteries are generally friendly for the environment, affordable and do not leak even after they are discharged. Primary batteries have a shelf life of several years and have a good safety record.

Secondary Batteries

Rechargeable batteries are known as secondary batteries. They can be charged again after depletion. Secondary batteries are typically used in situations where primary batteries might not be practical. You’ll find secondary batteries in devices like smartphones, electric vehicles and other high-drain devices. Secondary batteries can be more expensive up front, but cost-effective over the long term.

Secondary batteries are made of four main chemistries:

  • Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd)
  • Lithium Ion (Li-ion)
  • Nickel-metal Hydride (Ni-MH)
  • Lead Acid

As technology evolves, we’ll need more batteries to power more devices. Part of using batteries is choosing the right battery for your needs. Here are some factors to consider when you’re selecting batteries:

  • Temperature: High temperatures can cause exothermic reactions in batteries. To keep things safe, it’s best to follow safety guidelines. Research the types of batteries and find the best battery to operate the at the temperature you need.
  • Power density: Power density is the maximum rate of discharge per unit mass or volume. Some devices require a low power density, like laptops and smartphones. Other devices, like power tools, require a high power density.
  • Energy density: Energy density is how much energy can be stored in the battery. This can determine how long the battery will last between charges.
  • Lifecycle: A battery needs to have stable power density and energy density over its lifecycle. This is important for long battery life between charges.
  • Cost-effectiveness: It is important that the cost of your battery is aligned with its performance.
  • Shelf life: How long will your battery be in storage before you need it? It is wise to select a battery with a slow discharge rate.

Choosing the right battery for your application or project is important. With knowledge about the different types of batteries, it is time to delve into more information about storing batteries. GET A QUOTE

What is an Expired Battery?

When you think about expired battery, don’t think about expired food. When a battery has expired, it just means it has past its shelf life and the manufacturer can no longer guaranty how effective the battery will be. Battery expiration dates are based on the date when the self-discharge rate will be more than 20%.

The self-discharge rate is the rate at which a battery’s charge goes down as it remains idle. All batteries start to lose their charge as soon as they roll out of the manufacturer’s plant. The rate of this discharge, though, can vary based on the type of battery. Another contributing factor in the self-discharge rate might include the battery’s storage temperature.

In most cases, you can find a battery’s expiration date on the box or plastic packaging. Rarely will you find the expiration date printed on the battery itself. You’ll likely find the date printed near the chemical composition of the battery. Many times, the date will be obvious. It may be in highlighted from other text in a colored box or with another stand-out feature. GET A QUOTE

Storing Batteries

All batteries self discharge during storage. However, proper storage can slow the discharge rate.

Battery shelf life is the length of time you can store a battery before it starts deteriorating. When it comes to battery shelf life, how you store the batteries is very important. Batteries and their content do best when stored in a cool environment. In fact, the ideal storage temperature for batteries is 59 degrees Fahrenheit. If cool storage isn’t an option, don’t worry. Many batteries can withstand temperatures up to 122 degrees.

Lead acid batteries should be stored at full charge. Other batteries, like lithium ion and nickel-based batteries, should be stored at a state of charge around 40 percent. Storing batteries like this can help reduce capacity loss while allowing for some self discharge. Storing batteries at the recommended state of charge can keep the battery operational.

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries have a longer life cycle when they are stored at the right state of charge. Additionally, the state of charge can help make the batteries less volatile. This can ensure safe storage and transport.

Other types of batteries have different recommended states of charge. GET A QUOTE

Battery Shelf Life

The shelf life of a battery depends on the kind of battery. Primary and secondary batteries have different kinds of shelf lives. Let’s explore the different chemistries of batteries and how long they can survive in storage.

Alkaline Batteries

Alkaline batteries are the most common kind of primary batteries. An alkaline battery’s runtime can vary based on the device in which it is used. Though it can vary by brand, alkaline batteries generally have a shelf life of 5-10 years when they are stored at room temperature. Alkaline batteries don’t have a life cycle because they can’t be recharged.

Carbon Zinc

Carbon zinc batteries aren’t as common as alkaline batteries. They are a kind of non-rechargeable battery. They can be cheaper than alkaline batteries. However, they have less capacity. Shelf life for carbon zinc batteries is 3-5 years. There is no life cycle for carbon zinc batteries because they can’t be recharged.


Non-rechargeable lithium batteries are the longest lasting primary battery. They can have a shelf life of 10-12-years when stored at room temperature. The shelf life can be determined by the battery’s manufacturing process and chemical composition. You might find that in some cases, non-rechargeable lithium batteries have lasted up to 20 years. Like other non-rechargeable batteries, there is no life cycle.

Nickel Cadmium

Nickel cadmium is an older rechargeable battery technology. They are still useful in some applications, though. You might find that nickel cadmium batteries are more tolerant to temperature changes than other batteries. This means they perform better in colder and hotter climates than other rechargeable batteries. The shelf life for nickel cadmium batteries is typically 3 years. Nickel cadmium batteries have a long lifecycle. They can typically last up to 1,000 charges.

Nickel Metal Hydride

Looking for a battery high in energy density? Meet nickel metal hydride.The high energy density capacity means the batteries don’t have to be charged as often. The life cycle for NiMH batteries is approximately 700-1,000 charges. Because they have a high energy density, nickel metal hydride batteries don’t deplete as quickly. As a result, they have a shelf life of 3-5 years.

Lithium Rechargeable

There are many kinds of rechargeable batteries on the market today. These include:

  • Lithium cobalt oxide
  • Lithium ion
  • Lithium iron phosphate
  • Lithium magnesium oxide
  • Lithium nickel magnesium cobalt oxide
  • Lithium polymer

Because of differing chemistries, lithium rechargeable batteries perform differently. You might find that many manufacturers choose battery chemistry based on how the device is used. For most consumer electronics, lithium batteries last 600-1,000 life cycles. Lithium batteries have varying shelf lives. It depends on the battery’s chemistry and how it is used. Battery shelf life for a lithium battery can be between 2 and 4 years.

Lead Acid

There are also many types of lead acid batteries. Acid batteries include pure lead acid, sealed lead acid and advanced glass mat (AGM) batteries. You might find that a security system runs off a lead acid battery. UPS (uninterrupted power supply) batteries are often lead acid. For the most part, lead acid batteries have a shelf life of 6 months. Pure lead-acid batteries have a shelf life of 8 years. Most lead acid batteries have a life of 200 charging cycles. GET A QUOTE

Tips for Handling Batteries

There are a few things to keep in mind when handling batteries. Some batteries, like primary and alkaline batteries, require minimal precautions. Others, like spillable acid and lithium ion batteries require extra care.

When handling batteries, it is important that you use proper packaging. Battery terminals also need to be protected. The inside components should also be protected from metal objects like tools.

Other rules to follow when handling batteries include:

  • Keep batteries safe: It might seem like a no-brainer, but it is wise to keep batteries from being damaged or crushed during storage. You can keep batteries safe by using insulating packaging and prevents shifting.
  • Protect all battery terminals: Terminals are where batteries release their energy. Protecting the terminal is essential. Unprotected terminals can lead to short circuits and even fires. Terminals should be covered by a non-conductive material.
  • Take precautions for battery containing equipment and objects: If you’re warehousing electronics or tools, you’re warehousing batteries, too. Battery-containing equipment and tools should be stored with the same precautions as batteries by themselves. It might be wise to make sure batteries are removed before storage. The battery can be separated from the device and packaged within the larger package. This can prevent safety hazards and keep the device or equipment from overheating.
  • Keep metal objects away from the batteries: Don’t cause a short circuit. Keep all metal objects away from the battery and the battery’s terminals.

Following these guidelines when storing batteries in your warehouse or fulfillment center can help keep batteries safe and secure.

Warehouse Battery Storage

Fulfillment warehouses that store and ship batteries need to be careful. You know that batteries have a finite shelf life and can only be in the warehouse for so long.

You’ll find it is wise to have a strategy when you are storing batteries in a warehouse. You might consider choosing a warehousing system like FEFO (first expiring, first out) or FIFO (first in, first out) when storing batteries. This will help keep things moving smoothly and ensure batteries have a maximum shelf life when they reach consumers.

There are a few protocols to follow when storing batteries in a warehouse. A climate controlled environment is a must when warehousing batteries. Heat and high temperatures can cause damage to batteries.

Here are a few of the common battery types and how they should be warehoused:

  • Primary batteries are disposable batteries. They need to be stored properly in a warehouse. Primary batteries are not rechargeable. This means that any power loss during storage is detrimental to how efficient the battery can be. It is essential that primary batteries are not exposed to high temperatures.
  • Nickel-cadmium batteries are secondary or rechargeable batteries. They can be stored at a wider range of temperatures that primary batteries, but high temps should still be avoided. Any temperature under 100 degrees is safe to store nickel-cadmium batteries.
  • Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries are another kind of rechargeable battery. Their storage requirements are very similar to nickel cadmium batteries, which means they can withstand higher temperatures than primary batteries. You might find that climate controlled warehousing is not as important with NiMH batteries.
  • Lithiumbatteries require more precautions than nickel cadmium and NiMH batteries. Lower storage temperatures are ideal. For prolonged battery life, warehouse storage between 59 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Lithium batteries should also be stored at a state of charge between 30 and 50 percent. The same storage rules apply to lithium battery containing products and equipment.

Household Battery Storage

Storing batteries at home is a little different than storing them in a warehouse or distribution center. Storing batteries at home is just as important, though. Storing batteries in the correct way can help you make the most of your batteries’ shelf life.

Here are a few tips for household battery storage:

  • Consider storing batteries in the refrigerator: Batteries do best when stored in a cool, dry place. This can include the fridge. Store batteries in their original containers in a plastic bag to avoid condensation. Do not store batteries in a warm place or in the sunlight. This can shorten their lifespan.
  • Be careful with how the batteries are positioned: When you’re storing batteries, it is wise to make sure positive and negative terminals are pointed away from each other. This prevents batteries from discharging as they remain in storage.
  • Practice proper packaging: Keep batteries in their original packaging when you are storing them.
  • Keep them capped: Many batteries, including (9V) come with plastic caps on the ends. Keep these caps on the battery until you need to use it.
  • Keep old and new separate: If new and old batteries are stored together, the old batteries can leach power from the new ones. This can shorten the batteries’ lives.
  • Use them or remove them: If you have a battery-containing appliance that you won’t be using for a month or more, remove the batteries. Store the batteries following the other tips on this list.

Make the Most of Battery Shelf Life with RL Global

Don’t cause a short circuit in your logistics process. RL Global Logistics can provide white glove logistics services to make warehousing and storing batteries simple.

RL Global Logistics can handle your battery storage and shipping needs. Our extensive fulfillment and distribution services include:

  • Fulfillment and distribution of batteries
  • Packaging and shrink wrapping batteries
  • Placing batteries on pallets
  • Preparing batteries for shipment according to U.S. DOT and other standards
  • State and federal compliance assurance
  • Tracking and reporting
  • Transportation
  • Warehousing

Figuring out battery shelf life and how to ship batteries doesn’t have to be a hassle. Let RL Global help with your battery shipment, warehousing, fulfillment and distribution needs. Call 866-989-3082 for additional information or to get started with logistics services. GET A QUOTE

One comment on “Battery Shelf Life: What You Need to Know”

I am purchasing an off-grid solar power system with multiplle lithium-ion batteries. Did this the future of availability and price for them may not be available or too expensive. The package is on the way, but not ready to assemble it as our grid is still working. Should we end upas spmeeuropean countries, i.e. black outsit would be too late to find such systems. In the mean time, I dont know whet is the best way to store the batteries at idle. Should I charge/discharge from time to time or doas your article states to store them at 30-5-% discharge rate.

DIY AA Batteries!

About: I am a tech maniac; from media, marketing and design to alternative energy and more. Check out my website for links to all my projects. About Drew Paul Designs »

Today we’re going to learn how to easily make our own batteries from very inexpensive household materials.

An AA battery is a standard size cylindrical battery commonly used in portable electronic devices. The exact terminal voltage and capacity of an AA size battery depends on the cell chemistry but are usually rated at or near 1.5 volts.

An AA cell measures 49.2–50.5 mm in length, including the terminal and 13.5–14.5 mm in diameter.

AA batteries account for over 50% of general battery sales and the average price of a quality AA battery can range from 0.59 to as much as 1.42 or more.

Think this would be helpful in an emergency? Is this a viable and renewable source of energy? Would this be a good way to teach kids about science?

Step 1: What You’ll Need

To get started, the materials you’ll need include:

You will also need the following tools:

Step 2: Prepare Copper Zinc

The Copper and Zinc Flat Washers are going to serve as your anodes and cathodes for your battery separated by an electrolyte. This battery will be constructed of 11 cells in series to create a robust 1.5 volts.

The Copper and Zinc washers should be clean, free of debris and roughened with 100 grit sandpaper and wiped until brilliant and shiny.

Step 3: Cut Cardboard

Next, we’ll be cutting our corrugated paper into 11 squares. These will serve as a tiny sponge to absorb and suspend the electrolyte between our copper and zinc anodes and cathodes.

When cutting the cardboard squares be sure they are precisely the size of the washers. If they are too large they will create a short; if they are too small they will not hold sufficient electrolyte.

When finished put them to the side.

Step 4: Prepare the Electrolyte

Voltage is a potential difference which we find with copper and zinc. The electrolyte is the medium through which this charge can pass.

To prepare the electrolyte, first stir the 4 Tablespoons of Table Salt into the 4oz. of Distilled Water until the water has reached it maximum salinity and the salt no longer dissolves. The water should have a milky white appearance. Be sure to mix thoroughly before adding vinegar.

Once settled, add 1 oz. of Vinegar, mix and allow to sit.

Step 5: Soak Paper

Once your electrolyte mix has been left to stand for approximately 5 minutes, you can insert your cardboard squares to let soak. Be sure to submerse all squares, stir and allow them to float until they are ready to use.

Step 6: Stretch Shrink Wrap

To ensure a tight fit we have selected a shrink wrap that is slightly smaller in diameter than our washers. We will need to stretch it temporarily in order to insert our washers and paper squares.

Insert the closed Needle Nose Pliers and open them slowly while working them around until stretched to 110% in diameter. Repeat on other side.

A washer should now fit snugly when placed in the tube horizontally.

Step 7: Test Components

As discussed, we will be building 11 cells consisting of Copper, Electrolyte and Zinc.

Before constructing our battery we will make one cell to test our components.

Simply stack one Copper Washer, one soaked Cardboard square and top it with one Zinc washer.

Next we will test it with our Digital Multimeter. The red wire should be in the Voltage slot, the black wire in the COM slot and the Multimeter should be set to at or near 20vDC. Then, contact the black lead to the Copper washer and the red lead to the Zinc making sure they are isolated and not touching each other or anything else.

You should now see a display of somewhere between 0.05 and 0.15 volts!

If your reading is higher than this, don’t worry, the voltage may climb but will then reduce. If you’re reading is lower than this check your components and try again. If your reading is zero, check your contacts and make sure your Multimeter is set correctly.

Step 8: Plan the Core Build

Before getting started, take a look at the image showing how the construction of the cells will make your battery.

Notice the order: Copper, Zinc, Electrolyte, Repeat.

Step 9: Build the Core

To build the core, we will be stacking the components making sure they are flat, without spaces and without compressing the electrolyte mixture out.

First insert a Copper Washer pushing it 1/4 from the end and making sure it is horizontally straight. Next, drop a Zinc Washer on top and then add one of your soaked electrolyte squares. It is helpful to have a pen or nail to push the cardboard down evenly, just be sure not to press too hard.

Then repeat, Copper, Zinc, Electrolyte, tap down, Copper, Zinc, Electrolyte, tap down. until the last zinc washer tops the stack.

Before sealing your battery, compare to a standard AA Battery to ensure the correct length. If necessary, add additional Zinc Washers until the correct length is reached. Note that the protruding nub on the positive side will be added later with solder.

Once the correct length is reached, begin heating the end that you started with, making sure to make a tight seal. Next heat the sides of your battery until the Heat Shrink Tube tightly contours to the ripples of the washers. Then, trim the excess leaving only 1/4 and heat until a tight seal is formed on the other end.

Step 10: Add Terminals

Now we’re going to add our terminals. Plug in your Soldering Iron and wait until hot.

Secure your battery copper side up (the side you started with). You will then apply heat to the solder while holding it above the hole formed on the end of your battery. As it melts, press solder into the hole until full and finish with a small bead of solder on top.

Once cool, flip your battery over so the Zinc side is up. If you added additional washers this side will require quite a bit more solder. Repeat the process until full and top with a large bead of solder to signify the positive side. or less solder can be added at this point to exactly match the correct length.

Step 11: You’re Done! Time to Test It!

Your battery is now complete!

If you’ve done everything correctly you should be able to attach your Multimeter (same settings as before) and get a reading at or around 1.5 volts!

rechargeable, batteries, better, alkaline, most, time

Compare it to a standard AA battery to see how you did!

Troubleshooting: It is normal for your voltage to be high at first and then level out. If your voltage is slightly low, try pulling the battery from the ends to stretch it slightly. If your voltage is very low you may have a short (electrolyte square misaligned) or you may have stacked components in the wrong order.

Step 12: Use Your New Battery!

Your battery will fit into any standard AA slot and will provide the voltage you need to power all your favorite gadgets!

This homemade battery can power LED Flashlights, Portable Recording Devices, your Computer Mouse or any other device that requires AA batteries.

Now that you can make your own batteries at home you’ll never need to buy expensive store-bought batteries again.

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I just want to give a special thanks to the Instructables community for your votes and support and to the Instructables staff and sponsors for awarding this project the Grand Prize for the Make Energy contest!This is truly the most innovative site on the net and I am proud to play a part in helping people all over the world to make their own energy! Stay tuned for more projects! I am honored and inspired! Thanks again.

WELL DONE SIR. It has been said that in the US. alone they use approx 40 Billion batteries every year. Gosh, what toxic waste they must make on this fragile earth. That’s apart from the nuclear waste.

It’s the little things we do every day that make the biggest impact. This is my little contribution. Thanks! to come soon so be sure to follow!

If you think that’s bad, have you seen how nasty the insides of a hybrid car battery can be? Using lithium cells is far more hazardous than lead acid batteries.

Congratulations! You deserved it! 🙂

Thank you, sir. Yours was fantastic as well!

how long do they last compared to store bought

Where did you get the notion that rechargeables actually drain out faster? This is simply not true anymore. This hasn’t been the case in years since most rechargeable batteries switched from NiCD to NiMH. You can easily do some research and find people that have run tests on this:

Alkaline batteries typically hold around 2,000 to 2,500 mAh. Here are some rechargeable Eneloops that are also 2,500 mAh:

Also the 1.2V vs 1.6V is also misleading. Alkaline’s voltage curve drops off very quickly. Only a fully charged Alkaline will show 1.5V or more. As soon as you start draining it the voltage falls rather quickly to levels at or below 1.2V. The NiMH (Rechargeable) battery on the other hand maintains very close to 1.2V throughout it’s discharge cycle. It provides a much more constant voltage which is much better than a fluctuating voltage for most applications.

This is partially due to the much lower internal resistance in the NiMH which also gives it the advantage of not having a much lower capacity (or voltage) at higher discharge rates. If you pull a lot of current from an Alkaline battery, you may only get 500 mAh from it instead of the 2,500 it’s rated for. The NiMH on the other hand will provide 2,500 mAH regardless of how much current you draw from it because very little energy is wasted as heat from the batteries internal resistance.

In real world use, about the only application that Alkaline lasts longer than NiMH in is storage. If the battery is not being used at all Alkaline has a self discharge rate of almost nothing. So they can sit on the shelf for years with no loss of capacity. NiMH has gotten better, but still need to be recharged about once a year or two to keep them topped off.

But any application where you are actually using the battery and drawing anything more than 100mAh from it, NiMH will last significantly longer than Alkaline plus you can recharge it instead of throwing it away which saves both money and the environment. (Especially if you’re not properly disposing of them.)

It also helps to store NiMH cells in the refrigerator to slow down the self discharge rate.

I agree with Stoobers, when I userechargeablebatteries they louse power prettyquick where Alkalinebatteries last much longer. I bought an alkaline battery charger thatworks pretty good.

MaximalPower FC999 Universal Rapid Charger for Alkaline, RAM, Ni-MH, Ni-CD,AA, AAA, C, D, 9V Batteries

@gene328. That’s what you get for using cheap rechargeables. Bite the bullet and buy some Eneloops. I usually buy the Sanyo ones since they are a bit cheaper than Panasonic, but here in Canada Costco currently has a starter pack with a charger, ten AA, and four AAA Panasonic Eneloops for just 55 CDN, which is a great deal even if it didn’t include the charger.

Unlike regular NiMH batteries, Eneloops have an advanced dielectric that reduces self-discharge so much that they are sold already charged, like Akalines, which is something just not possible with regular rechargeable batteries.

I concur, these batts are great! I use them in my 2m HT, my scanners, other radios and portable batt operated TV, also flashlights mp3 players (mostly the AAAs for those). I have enough that it may take me a year or more to cycle through all my batteries. The flashlights last forever since I hardly use them and the batteries do not self discharge at all quickly, they claim a 10 year shelf life meaning they will still have 70% of the initial charge after 10 years.

Just a couple notes to your otherwise good write-up: Somedevices (such as one Olympus camera we own) detect 1.2 volts as a cut-off andwill go on strike after 2-3 photos. This in addition to several testinstruments I own that want to see more than the 1.2-1.25V from NiCds or NiMhcells. For those I have tried several different brands of rechargeablealkalines and their performance is all over the map, some (Chinese) havevomited chemicals after a few cycles or faded while stored despite beingappropriately charged.

The last of Kirkland (Costco brand) AA alkalines cellsfinally died in a wall clock with a ‘stale date’ of 2002!

I salvaged some Burgess NiCad ‘D’ cells from an AirForce junkyard in France in the mid-60s which I used into the early 90s beforetheir capacity degraded too far to be useful.

Sadly, some devices require a minimum voltage to operate.

Consider a device with 4 AA’s in it. The Alkaline should be around 6 volts. But 4 NiMH cells will produce 4.8V.

So when using NiMH batteries, they dip from 1.2v to 1.1v, you get 4.4v, which is quite a ways below 6v. The chip inside the device turns off the device, or it goes into almost dead battery mode and doesn’t work well.

The is plenty of energy in the NiMH cells, but you can’t get to the energy, since the device is designed for 4 batteries at 1.5v per battery.

I have this problem with some walkie talkies and also a camera. If they just didn’t go into low power mode, there wouldn’t be an issue.

As has already been explained, this is simply not true. Any device that is meant to use Alkaline will be designed to accept much lower voltages because Alkaline batteries suffer massive voltage drops under load.

An Alkaline battery, with 50% of it’s capacity left, will be below 1.0 volts. A NiMH with 50% of it’s capacity left will still be at nearly 1.2V. So for most of their discharge cycle a NiMH will actually have a higher voltage than Alkaline, not lower.

Brand new out of the package Alkaline will read 1.5 volts, but as soon as you start drawing power out of it it drops very quickly. Read the links I posted, look at the graphs. Watch how quickly the Alkalines fall below 1.0V while the NiMH stay right at 1.2 until almost completely depleted. Even at only 100ma the Alkaline falls to below 1.2 volts before it’s even down to 70% remaining of it’s overall capacity.

So any device that was designed to be used with Alkaline batteries that shuts off once the battery gets below 1.1V would never be able to use more than 30% of the total energy available in an Alkaline. That same device would manage to capture 70% of the energy in a NiMH. So this would still be a case where NiMH comes out ahead. In fact devices that are designed for Alkaline batteries are generally much more tolerable of lower voltages because an Alkaline battery still has considerable capacity left even at 0.8 volts. if devices stopped working at lower voltages you’d be wasting a massive number of batteries by tossing batteries with plenty of charge remaining.

I do have devices that exhibit this symptom but it’s not really a problem. One example that comes to mind are my outdoor wireless sprinkler timer/controllers. I will put freshly charged NiMH batteries in around Feb/March and by May the low battery warning light will come on. But since the voltage of a NiMH takes so long to drop, the device continues working fine until I put the sprinklers away for winter time in November every year. I’ve never had a set of Eneloop AA batteries that didn’t last me all year on a charge. The Duracells I used previously would have to be replaced about half way through the summer every year.

How to clean and dispose of corroded batteries

Everyone has to deal with a leaky battery at some point. You open the battery compartment for a remote or other device you haven’t used in months only to find a crusty, chalky substance encrusted on the batteries and the surrounding area.

A leaky battery can cause skin irritation, so it needs careful handling. But why do batteries leak anyway? Can you recycle corroded batteries, and how can you clean battery corrosion when you find it?

Why do batteries leak?

Let’s get the most obvious question out of the way first: why do batteries leak? Alkaline batteries generate power through chemical reactions within the battery cell. These reactions create hydrogen gas, which is usually not a problem. If too much gas develops, the battery cell ruptures, releasing the white sticky substance we call battery acid.

Under regular use, an alkaline battery will not leak. Manufacturing defects can cause leakage, but by far, the most common reason for leaky batteries is a lack of use. When batteries sit in unused devices for long periods, hydrogen can build up in the battery cell until the pressure causes the battery’s insulating seals to breach. The gas is harmlessly released, but the rupture also provides an exit point for the battery cell’s chemical components.

What is Battery Acid?

Alkaline battery leakage is potassium hydroxide, and it’s an alkaline, not an acid. So why call it battery acid? The term comes from the sulphuric acid used in lead car batteries, which is much more toxic.

While you need to handle potassium hydroxide with care, the chemical is easy to neutralize, after which you can clean battery corrosion from your devices safely.

How to Avoid Leaky Batteries

Proper storage is the best way to prevent battery leakage. When batteries are stored loose they can come into contact with other batteries and metal items, causing power generation within the battery cell that leads to hydrogen build-up. The best way to store batteries is to keep them organized in a box like the Better Battery Company’s subscription box, where each battery is isolated in its own cozy compartment. You can also take the following steps to reduce the risk of battery leakage:

  • Alway use the same type and brand of battery for devices requiring multiple batteries. Mixing alkaline, recyclable, and lithium batteries — or even the same kind of battery from different brands — results in whichever battery is strongest discharging faster, increasing the possibility of battery leakage.
  • Remove batteries from any device you don’t use often.
  • Remove batteries from devices with AC adapters when the adapter is plugged in.
  • Avoid storing your batteries in areas of extreme heat and cold. Storing batteries in the refrigerator will not make them last longer. Instead, the cold reduces battery lifespan and increases the risk of leakage.
  • Do not put old batteries and new ones in the same device.

How to Dispose of Batteries that are Leaking

Leaking batteries are not safe to use, but you don’t want to throw them out. Too many batteries end up in landfills, where they leak their contents into the environment. Instead, put the leaky batteries in a plastic bag and drop them off at a recycling facility. For batteries greater than nine volts, you should put clear tape over the battery terminals to prevent the battery from generating heat, leading to fires.

Can you recycle corroded batteries?

Corroded, leaky batteries require special attention but can be recycled. The U.S. The Department of Transportation requires special packaging and handling requirements for corroded, leaky batteries. You can contact our recycling partner, Raw Materials Co. to help with advice on how to handle.

Defective and recalled batteries also require special handling and shipping requirements. Better Battery Company provides shipping services for batteries identified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission as defective and will replace such batteries at no cost.

How to Clean Battery Corrosion in Toys and Remotes

Knowing how to clean battery corrosion in remote controls, toys, and other devices helps you salvage electronics before battery leakage ruins them. To clean battery corrosion safely, you’ll need the following:

  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Cotton swabs
  • An old toothbrush
  • Vinegar or lemon juice
  • Baking soda

Choose a well-ventilated area for cleaning. Put on gloves and eye protection to prevent irritation caused by contact with potassium hydroxide and take these steps:

  • Remove batteries and recycle them properly.
  • Dip cotton swabs or the toothbrush in vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Scrub the corrosion with the swab or toothbrush to remove as much as possible.
  • For remaining corrosion, mix a small amount of water with baking soda. Put this mixture on your swab or toothbrush and scrub again.
  • Use a damp cotton swab to wipe away residual baking soda.
  • Let the device dry completely before inserting new batteries.

If some of the battery leakage does make contact with your skin, flush the affected area with water.

Fortunately, most batteries never leak, especially if they’re packaged and stored correctly. If one should leak, though, now you know how to handle it!

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