How to Store Batteries So They Last for Years. Alkaline battery fire

USI 10 Year Sealed Alarms Take Advantage of Hassle Free Alkaline Batteries Instead of Lithium-ion Like Other Competitors

Universal Security Instruments has always prioritized the overall safety and well-being of its customers by releasing a continually growing collection of USI branded Smoke and Fire Alarms, Carbon Monoxide Alarms and Combination Alarms that prioritize performance and longevity. Efficiency and convenience have been bolstered to an even further extent as all USI 10 Year Sealed Battery Operated Detectors feature the utilization of alkaline batteries. The advantages of implementing alkaline batteries in place of lithium-ion batteries are numerous and further distance USI Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms from competing models. All USI 10 Year Sealed Alarms come with Alkaline batteries.

USI 10 Year Sealed Alkaline Battery Alarms Feature:

  • Permanent Power batteries feature the revolutionary Duracell® Duralock Power Preserve™ Technology.
  • Permanent Power batteries are safer than lithium batteries.
  • Permanent Power batteries are a greener alternative and more Eco Friendly than lithium batteries.
  • Permanent Power models do not require special hazmat shipping, handing or special recycling.

Environmentally Friendly, Efficient and Easier Disposal

Alkaline powered smoke and CO alarms also afford owners that much sought after peace of mind when it comes to the operation of their detector. Smoke and CO alarms that utilize lithium powered batteries exhaust a tremendous amount of power. This results in a shorter lifespan that will restrict owners into following a replacement schedule. Lithium-ion batteries are also responsible for a decreased low battery warning to alert the surroundings. In comparison, alkaline batteries feature a gradual drop-off that results in prolonging the low battery alert and greatly increasing the odds that the surroundings will be properly alerted. Another advantage to owning an alkaline powered USI detector can be observed in the disposal process. Lithium powered smoke and CO detectors require a spare means of disposal.

No Shipping Restrictions or Potential Surcharges

By incorporating alkaline batteries into their selection of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms, Universal Security Instruments has eased the process of acquiring a superior smoke or carbon monoxide detecting solution. USI Alarms that utilize alkaline batteries fulfill all of the necessary requirements needed to ship via air. This translates to a much smoother and convenient process for purchasing a USI detector through the USI Store. Lithium-ion powered detectors are hindered in the delivery process and require additional travel restrictions that are altogether absent in alkaline powered models. Not only is the USI MI3050SB 2-in-1 Smoke and Fire Smart Alarm with 10 Year Sealed Battery an ideal addition for combating the many threats posed by smoke, carbon monoxide and natural gas; it features an alkaline battery that allows for seamless delivery. The USI Store offers an expansive selection of smoke and fire alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and combination alarms that implement the usage of alkaline batteries. Selections such as the 2-in-1 MI3050SB Smoke and Fire Smart Alarm and the MCD305SB Carbon Monoxide Smart Alarm offer optimal levels of safety. For additional USI detectors that feature alkaline batteries, visit the USI store today.

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usi ionization smoke and fire alarm with battery backup available for online purchase at USI Store. Purchase USI hardwired and battery operated smoke alarms at the USI Store. Read

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How to Store Batteries So They Last for Years

Battery technology has come a long way in recent years. Some types of batteries can last for up to 20 years.

But there’s a catch: The batteries must be stored properly or risk losing their charge, getting shorted, or having capacity permanently diminished.

This guide covers everything you need to know about storing batteries, including shelf life and long-term battery storage for power outages or disaster preparedness.

Jump to: Instructions for Specific Types of Batteries

General Instructions for Storing Batteries

Regardless of type, there are some general rules for storing batteries.

Don’t Let Batteries Touch Each Other or Metal Objects

Got a bunch of batteries hanging out in a drawer? This is a very bad way to store batteries because their ends can touch each other. Or, there might be metal objects like paperclips or coins in the drawer.

If the batteries touch metal or each other, they could short. This could result in FIRE, BURNS, or even an EXPLOSION.

store, batteries, they, last, years, alkaline

This is no joke. The London Fire Brigade even warns about it, saying they get called to 24 fires per week started by batteries, chargers, or cables.

Even if they don’t get hot, the metal could still affect the batteries’ polarity. So keep them neatly organized, so their ends don’t touch metal.

Beware of Fire Risk

Batteries can explode in a fire, making a bad situation even worse. I recommend getting a fireproof battery storage case.

This one (Amazon link) is also waterproof and holds up to 182 batteries.

It’s affordable and worth it to keep your batteries stored neatly.

Keep Batteries Cool

Heat is terrible for battery chemistry. Generally, most batteries need to be kept around room temperature (50-70F).

It varies by battery type, but the self-discharge rate generally doubles for every 18F increase in temperature. In other words, the battery will drain faster even when not in use.

You might think that this doesn’t matter with rechargeables – you can recharge them to regain the lost capacity, right? Wrong. Heat can permanently affect how much charge the battery can hold.

But Don’t Freeze or Refrigerate Batteries

Contrary to common belief, you should NOT store batteries in the freezer. The condensation can cause the batteries to corrode and permanently ruin them.

Extreme cold also causes the electrons in the batteries to slow down, preventing them from getting excited and doing their job. With some types of batteries, the cold can permanently shorten their lifespans.

It might be wise to refrigerate batteries if you live somewhere very warm. However, it’s then vital that you keep them in an anti-condensation (aka vapor-proof) container.

Zip-able Mylar bags are suitable for this, so long as you put the batteries in another layer, so they don’t touch the Mylar.

Keep in Low-Humidity Area

In high humidity, condensation can build up inside the batteries and cause them to corrode. Ideally, batteries should be kept at a humidity of around 50%. If you don’t have a low-humidity area in your home, you might want to keep them in the fridge in an anti-condensation container.

Avoid Quick Charge

This doesn’t have to do with battery storage, but it will affect battery lifespan. Quick charge causes batteries to overheat, permanently damaging them and reducing their capacity.

Unless you have to, stick to trickle charge. A good quality Smart charger will prevent overheating and overcharging.

We recommend the Opus BT charger. (Amazon Link)

Storage Instructions for Specific Types of Batteries

If you are unsure about the different types of batteries, read our guide to battery basics for beginners.

NiMH (Standard)

  • Maximum Shelf Life: 2-3 years
  • Charge Cycles: 500-1,000
  • Ideal Temperature: 40-60F
  • Charge Level for Storage: 40% or above
  • Recharge every 1-2 months

Standard NiMH batteries (as opposed to the newer LSD ones) aren’t designed to be stored for a long time. They drain quickly even when not in use, and if allowed to drain too much, they will be permanently destroyed. Here’s how to keep them working.

Recharge Every 1-2 Months

Standard NiMH batteries have an insanely high self-discharge rate, which means they drain even when sitting idle.

The numbers vary, but generally, you can expect that a NiMH battery will lose 20% of its charge within 24 hours and 10% each month after that. That means that within 8 months, the battery will be completely drained. At high temperatures, the battery will drain even faster.

Don’t Let NiMH Batteries Drain Completely

NiMH batteries don’t have a memory like NiCad batteries do, so there’s no need to drain them completely before recharging. You shouldn’t let them drain completely.

If the battery is allowed to drain too much, it can go past the recovery point. This is why you need to recharge them every 1 to 2 months. The more you use and recharge a NiMH battery, the longer it will last.

Store Charged

Some batteries (including NiMH LSB and Li-Ion) shouldn’t be stored when they are completely full. They discharge faster when fully charged. It’s unclear whether this applies to standard NiMH batteries or not.

However, because NiMH batteries discharge so quickly, they should never be stored while near empty because they could discharge beyond the recovery point.

Keep Cool

NiMH batteries can withstand temperatures of.4F to 95F. However, it’s best to keep them cool (around 40-60F). If the NiMH battery is stored at high temperatures, the rate at which self-discharge occurs will be accelerated.

At 70F, they will lose up to 40% of their charge in a month! Additionally, the longer the storage period, the more the cell capacity decreases.

Use a Good Battery Charger

NiMH batteries are susceptible to overcharging and overheating. Prevent this from happening by investing in a good battery charger. This will help you get the most lifespan out of the batteries.

Conditioning NiMH Batteries

Sometimes NIMH batteries can suffer from voltage depletion. This occurs when older batteries have been charged many times, and crystals start forming in them. You can revive the batteries with a process called “conditioning.” Some battery chargers will have a conditioning setting.

NiMH LSD Batteries

  • Maximum Shelf Life: Up to 10 years
  • Charge Cycles: 500-2,000
  • Ideal Temperature: 40-60F
  • Charge Level for Storage: 40%

NiMH LSD (low self-discharge) is the newer alternative to standard NiMh batteries. They don’t have high self-discharge like standard NiMH batteries and are suitable for long-term storage. This is what we recommend for disaster prepping.

Store at 40% Charge

Some batteries have a weird behavior: if you store them while full, they start to self-discharge rapidly. However, if they are stored at 40%, they somehow know to “sleep,” and their self-discharge slows drastically.

This applies to NiMH LSD batteries. When stored at 40%, they will retain 70% of their charge after 5 years. If stored at 100%, they might go near dead within a year.

Choose Lower Capacity for Life Cycles

Another weird feature of NiMH LSD batteries is that high-capacity ones get fewer cycles. For example, a 2500mAh battery might get 500 charging cycles, whereas a 2100mAh battery could get 2,100 cycles.

Li-Ion Batteries

  • Maximum Shelf Life: 2-3 years
  • Charge Cycles: 500-1,000
  • Ideal Temperature: 32-77F

Lithium-ion batteries are great for electronics or devices with high energy requirements that get used daily. However, Li-ion batteries are not suited for long-term storage. They quickly lose their charges and can go beyond the recoverable level.

If you do need to store lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, make sure to follow these guidelines.

Don’t Let Charge Fall Below 20%

When the charge of a Li-ion battery falls below 20%, it can enter sleep mode. After entering this mode, it might never recover and be able to charge normally.

So, be sure to charge your li-ion batteries frequently. If not in use, recharge often so the battery charge doesn’t drain too much from self-discharge.

Store at 40% Charge

Like NiMH LSD batteries, li-ion batteries should be stored at 40% full. If stored when empty, they can self-discharge beyond the point of recovery, meaning they will be completely ruined.

On the flip side, you also shouldn’t store them completely full either. They actually self-discharge faster. When full. Some of this capacity will NOT be recoverable (meaning the battery will never get its total capacity back).

Recoverable Capacity of Li-Ion Batteries after 1 Month of Storage

Temperature40% Charge100% Charge

Store at Cool Temperatures

Like any battery, li-ion batteries should be stored at a cool temperature. However, they can be susceptible to heat. The table above shows that they will permanently lose some of their capacity when stored at high temperatures.

Likewise, higher temperatures increase the discharge rate, as shown in the table below. Remember, if a li-ion battery gets completely drained, it can go past the point of recovery.

Self-Discharge Per Month at Various Temperatures

Temperature40% Charge100% Charge

Never Let Li-Ion Batteries Get above 140F

Li-ion batteries can EXPLODE or CATCH FIRE if stored in high temperatures. That means they should never be left in your car on hot days, nor in places like your garage.

Check Date When Buying Li-Ion Batteries

Even when stored properly, li-ion batteries only have a shelf life of around 2-3 years. So, if you buy Li-ion batteries that have been sitting around on the manufacturer’s shelf for a while, you have already lost some of their usable life.

Lithium Batteries (Including button cell batteries)

  • Maximum Shelf Life: Up to 20 years
  • Ideal Temperature: 60F
  • Charge Level for Storage: 40%

Lithium batteries aren’t rechargeable, but they have the benefit of very low self-discharge rates of just 1-2% per year. After 15 years, they can retain 85% of their charge. This makes them suitable for long-term storage, assuming you store them properly.

Keep Cool

Even though lithium batteries can handle extreme temperatures well, high temperatures will still cause them to self-discharge faster. Ideally, you should keep them at 60F or below.

Don’t Put in the Freezer

While keeping lithium batteries at very cold temperatures will, in theory, help them last longer, the benefit is negligible. However, the risk of them getting wet or condensation is high. So, it’s not worth it to put lithium batteries in the freezer. If your home is hot or humid, refrigerate them in a vapor-proof container instead.

Buy from Reputable Sources

Lithium primary batteries are expensive, so you might be tempted to buy cheap lithium batteries from generic sellers (like those in China). The problem is that these batteries are often sub-par quality, old, or stored in hot warehouses.

It’s not worth it to buy cheap lithium batteries. Make sure you are getting batteries that you can rely on. Only buy from reputable brands and sellers; check the manufacturing date when you purchase.

Alkaline Batteries

Are you still using alkaline batteries? While they may be the cheapest in the short term, alkaline batteries are an inferior choice. They have a very short lifespan and cost much in the long run.

Alkaline batteries are also very sensitive, so you’ve got to take care to store them properly. Here’s what to keep in mind:

Don’t Leave Them in Devices:

Leakage is a considerable problem with alkaline batteries. If you leave them in devices for a long time, the battery will leak (causing that crystal-like coating on everything). The leaked acid can short the device.

Keep At 70F

Alkaline batteries are very sensitive to heat. Ideally, they should be kept at 70F. At this temperature, they will lose about 2-3% of their charge per year. At 100F, they will lose about 25% of their charge each year.

NiCad Batteries

  • Maximum Shelf Life: 3-5 years
  • Ideal Temperature: 70F
  • Charge Level for Storage: Close to 0%

NiCad batteries are also becoming obsolete because of their very high self-discharge rate and poor performance. If you still have these, then be sure to follow these storage guidelines.

Never Short NiCad Batteries

You shouldn’t short any battery, but it can be hazardous with NiCad batteries. They contain toxic cadmium inside them. When the battery ends touch metal, the batteries can explode and send all that toxic material everywhere.

Higher Temperature Increases Self-Discharge

NiCad batteries already have a high self-discharge rate of about 10% per month at around 70F; if you increase the temperature even slightly, the discharge rate skyrockets.

Memory Effect – Empty before Recharging or Storing

NiCad batteries are the only rechargeables that still suffer from the “memory effect.” If you try to recharge them when they are half full, they will “remember” the previous discharge amount and wouldn’t give more than that.

You must discharge them completely before recharging. It’s also recommended to empty them before storage.

Recharge Frequently – Not for Long-Term Storage

NiCad batteries can form crystals inside them when stored for an extended period. This permanently damages the batteries, and they will have to be thrown away.

Because of this issue, NiCad batteries are not suitable for long-term storage. They must be recharged and used frequently if you want them to last their full lifespan.

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Leave a comment

GODS! There’s about a billion things to know and split hairs about to use and store batteries, optimally. It’s not worth it. They should just price all batteries as low as possible so the user can afford to just take the quick and dirty approach instead of going nuts over all that stuff. Reply

I have purchased eneloop NiMH LSD AA and AAA batteries as well as the Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA and AAA batteries for long term storage. I see that you recommend to store both kinds of batteries at 40% capacity in order to achieve the longest shelf life possible, but I unsure how to bring the batteries down to a 40% capacity. Can I use the Opus battery charger you recommend in this review to discharge the batteries to this optimal 40% capacity? Also, because the Energizer Lithium batteries are not rechargeable, I will never get that 60% charge back, so does it really make sense to discharge these? Thank you for your very detailed and informative article! Reply

Don’t discharge non-rechargable lithium batteries. Yes, you will need a good charger so you know when the batteries are at 40% capacity. The Opus one recommended will display the charge level for each batttery. Note that I don’t bother with the 40% rule for batteries which I use frequently. The recommendation is for batteries that you will put in storage to have in case of emergencies. Obviously, you’ll also need a way to recharge those batteries during an emergency too, such as a solar charger. Reply

Every on gives advice of safe storage of batteries but where is a cool dry place in a house. All the rooms have Windows and bathroom Kitchen has moisture. Where is a good cool, dry, non moisture place In the closet or drawers? Frustrated 51yr old. Reply

Lithium vs. Alkaline Batteries: What’s the Difference?

Undoubtedly, lithium and alkaline batteries are the best options available in today’s market. Both battery types have a reliable power output, but they are made of different materials. Therefore, you need to be careful of their strengths and weaknesses to ensure you buy the most ideal.

For instance, if you want a battery with a consistent power supply, lithium batteries are the best option. However, the big challenge is the hazardous process of recycling them.

On the other hand, alkaline batteries have easier recycling options and are budget-friendly, but you will have to cope with their poor energy-holding capacity. So, before you decide on one option, it would be best to go through our lithium vs alkaline batteries comparison to help you choose the ideal battery for your needs.

Lithium vs. Alkaline Batteries: Side-by-Side Comparison

Lithium BatteriesAlkaline Batteries
What it is Lithium batteries are one of the best batteries with modern technology and use lithium-ion as the main component in their chemistry Alkaline batteries are reliable batteries that use alkaline potassium hydroxide (KOH) electrolyte
Charging cycles A 4.2 voltage cell allows about 300 to 500 charging cycles, more than any other battery offers today They have about 10 recharge cycles
Rechargeable Yes Traditional alkaline batteries are non-rechargeable; however, there are modern rechargeable alkaline batteries available on the market, often called “alkaline rechargeable” or “alkaline nickel-metal hydride (NiMH)” batteries
Price Very expensive Relatively cheap
Energy density Have a high energy density of 260-270 wh/kg Standard energy destiny of 50-100 wh/kg
Voltage 3.0 nominal voltage (up to 72 volts or more can be produced by creating lithium battery packs) 1.5 nominal voltage
Shelf life 10-12 years 5-10 years
Fire hazard Highly flammable Less flammable
Size Size can be customized They come in fixed sizes

Lithium vs. Alkaline Batteries: What’s the Difference?

Lithium and alkaline batteries have critical differences you should understand in order to find the most appropriate battery for your device. In our comparison, we look at crucial aspects such as durability, overall performance, and energy output to ensure you understand how each one works. Let’s get started.

Charging Cycles

The lifespan of batteries depends on many factors, but what really counts (for rechargeable batteries) are the charging cycles. Looking at lithium batteries, they offer 300 to 500 charging cycles for 4.2V/cells, 600-1,000 charging cycles for 4.1V/cells, 1,200-2,000 charge cycles for 4.0V/cells, and 2,400-4,000 charge cycles for 3.9V/cells.

It’s worth noting that lithium batteries have a higher number of recharge cycles than any other battery available today. In the case of alkaline batteries, most are designed for single use, so they have a few recharging cycles. Typically, they only have about 10 recharging cycles, but that doesn’t mean they have a short lifespan.

Shelf Life

Check on the battery’s shelf life if you intend to install it on a device that isn’t often powered on. Shelf life determines how long the batteries can remain in storage without losing their value.

The good news is that you will never go wrong with either lithium or alkaline batteries, as they both have a lasting shelf life. There are claims that some models of lithium batteries can last up to 20 years if you store them in recommended temperatures.

  • Withstand temperatures from.40 degrees F to 140 degrees F
  • Leak-proof
  • Last up to 20 years in storage
  • Perfect for digital cameras, game controllers, and smoke detectors

On average, alkaline batteries will remain usable for about 5 to 10 years, while lithium batteries usually have a shelf-life of 10-12 years. Although lithium batteries have a better shelf life than alkaline batteries, the difference doesn’t create enough impact to help you make a solid decision. That is why it’s best to check on the other aspects below to ensure you don’t miss out on essential points.

Energy Holding Capacity and Energy Density

We can’t deny that lithium batteries are way better than alkaline batteries when we compare their energy density. While alkaline batteries offer between 50-100 wh/kg, lithium batteries promise double energy density that ranges from 260-270 wh/kg.

In terms of their energy holding capacity, an AA alkaline battery provides a capacity of up to 2850 mAh. We shall compare the AA alkaline battery’s capacity with lithium-ion 14500 because they share almost the same properties. Depending on the model, the lithium-ion 14500’s capacity is rated at 1000 mAh to 3,000 mAh.


The voltage will help you determine the electrical potential of the battery you intend to buy. If you seek to find a battery with high voltage, lithium batteries will undoubtedly fulfil your needs. They have a nominal voltage of 3.0 volts, whereas alkaline batteries offer a nominal voltage of 1.5 volts.

The difference is clear; lithium batteries beat alkaline batteries by half. But there is more to add to lithium batteries’ victory; you can combine the batteries to create a 72-volt battery pack or even higher. Therefore, you can fully depend on lithium batteries to power up devices that consume a lot of electrical energy.


Although the weight of batteries isn’t a critical aspect, it’s best to understand their weight to know which fits your device. Alkaline batteries are usually heavier and bulkier than lithium batteries, making them unfit for portable devices such as laptops, cameras, and communication devices.

Alkaline and lithium AA cells weigh about 23g (0.81 oz) and 15 g (0.53 oz), respectively. Despite alkaline batteries having more weight than lithium batteries, they do not offer the best energy density, which is a turn-off for many buyers.

Fire Hazard

While these battery cells are not prone to explosion, it is worth knowing which one, between alkaline and lithium batteries, poses more danger. Lithium batteries are more flammable than alkaline batteries when faulty or exposed to extreme temperatures. They burst into flames easily because of the flammable electrolyte.


As we had mentioned before, alkaline batteries are designed for single use. However, you can still recharge a dead alkaline battery. We don’t recommend recharging the alkaline cells, as they may overheat and cause an explosion.

  • Ten-year shelf life
  • 48-count value pack of 1.5-volt AA alkaline batteries
  • Single-use alkaline batteries
  • Good for devices like clocks, toys, and flashlights
  • Easy-open packaging

But if you really must recharge your alkaline batteries, note that you need to control the charging cycle to avoid the problem of overheating. In other words, you should turn on the charger for about 30 minutes, then turn it off to allow the battery to cool before restarting the recharging process.

Unlike alkaline batteries, most Lithium batteries are rechargeable. It is easy to charge lithium cells, but the big challenge is charging them safely. This is because the batteries are highly flammable when overcharged or wrongly connected.

If you buy lithium batteries, always observe the manufacturer’s safety instructions before starting the charging process. Additionally, ensure the battery isn’t damaged and don’t overcharge it to avoid an explosion.

Consistent Output

You should be extra careful about the battery’s consistent output if you seek one that doesn’t grow weak during its operation. Lithium batteries are very reliable as their power output is consistent, whether fully charged or nearly empty.

This is possible because the lithium ions can move back and forth between the two electrodes. That way, lithium batteries can maintain the same electrical output, irrespective of their charge level.

On the other hand, alkaline batteries’ voltage falls off significantly with use. It doesn’t offer a consistent output; therefore, we don’t recommend using it on devices that require a consistent power supply such as medical equipment.

Customized Size

A major difference between these batteries is that alkaline batteries come in a standard size, whereas lithium batteries can be customized depending on your needs. So, if you can’t find a battery that fits your device, you don’t have an option with alkaline batteries.

But in the case of lithium batteries, one can be designed and built to meet your specific requirements. Also, you can ask for a lithium battery with unique or advanced features, such as the ability to withstand extreme heat and robust vibration.


We can’t wrap up the difference between lithium and alkaline batteries without considering their prices. Alkaline cells are more budget-friendly than lithium batteries. Well, that is to be expected considering the fact that lithium batteries are made of expensive metal, which costs roughly 80,000 (price expected to go up in 2023).

Although lithium batteries are more powerful than alkaline batteries, they won’t be an option if you plan on a tight budget. But if money is not a challenge, lithium batteries are cost-effective as they have more recharge cycles and last longer. Therefore, you can use a lithium battery for an extended period without purchasing another.

Lithium vs. Alkaline Batteries: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

Overall, lithium batteries are the best. However, there are instances when alkaline batteries will be more suitable than lithium batteries. It all depends on the equipment you plan to use.

If your device demands a constant power supply and high-voltage electricity, you should use lithium batteries. A big advantage of lithium batteries is that they have a consistent power output and deliver high voltage. In addition, they have many charge cycles so you can use them for an extended period.

On the other hand, alkaline batteries are more suitable for electronic products that aren’t power beasts, such as remote controls, MP3 players, smoke alarms, toys, and wireless microphones.

Remember that alkaline cells pose lower fire hazards than lithium batteries, making them best for home devices. Also, they don’t contain toxic chemicals, so you can quickly dispose of them.

  • Withstand temperatures from.40 degrees F to 140 degrees F
  • Leak-proof
  • Last up to 20 years in storage
  • Perfect for digital cameras, game controllers, and smoke detectors

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  • Ten-year shelf life
  • 48-count value pack of 1.5-volt AA alkaline batteries
  • Single-use alkaline batteries
  • Good for devices like clocks, toys, and flashlights
  • Easy-open packaging

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Lithium vs. Alkaline Batteries: What’s the Difference? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What battery type is best?

Undoubtedly, lithium batteries are the best today. No battery can match lithium cells’ chemistry and power output. They have the highest number of charging cycles, high voltage, and more than twice the energy-holding capacity of regular batteries.

Which lasts longer, lithium or alkaline batteries?

Lithium batteries last longer than alkaline batteries. They are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, so they aren’t damaged like other regular batteries.

Typically, lithium batteries last about 10-12 years, whereas alkaline batteries will serve you between 5-10 years. Some experts claim lithium batteries can last up to 20 years, making them more durable than any other battery on the market today.

Are lithium and alkaline batteries rechargeable?

Both batteries have rechargeable and non-rechargeable options. Most alkaline batteries are non-rechargeable, whereas a good number of lithium batteries are rechargeable. The charging process of both batteries is easy, but you should be careful not to overcharge them as they can explode.

Which battery is hazardous?

All batteries are hazardous, but lithium batteries are the most dangerous. They are highly flammable when exposed to extreme heat or when they’re damaged. Also, lithium batteries can easily explode during charging.

Therefore, you should connect them properly and ensure you don’t overcharge them. Finally, if you don’t dispose of lithium batteries properly, they will negatively affect the environment as they contain toxic chemicals.

Can lithium and alkaline batteries be used interchangeably?

No, lithium and alkaline batteries cannot be used interchangeably because they have different chemistries and different voltage outputs. Using the wrong type of battery in a device can damage the device or cause it to malfunction.

About the Author

Jane Wangui

Jane is a versatile writer who loves research and writing content that connects with readers. Since 2016, she has been helping businesses market themselves online by producing high-quality, engaging, and informative content. With a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences, Jane specializes in writing about science and technology topics. She especially enjoys writing about science fiction, EVs, video games, GPUs, the history of technology, space, programming, personal tech, cybersecurity, VR/AR, and cryptocurrencies. When not writing, you will find her motorcycling, belly dancing and roller derbying.

Yes, You Can (and Should) Recycle Batteries. Here’s How.

For most of my young adulthood, I kept an empty pretzel container in the back of my closet that I filled with spent batteries. As my collection grew, I made myself feel better about this battery boneyard by imagining it as a tiny cabinet of curiosities—with corroded AAs, an assortment of button-cell batteries, and an old smartphone standing in for precious objets d’art and reticulated skeletons—but in reality I just didn’t know what to do with them.

I wanted to spare my spent batteries from the trash can (where they could potentially catch fire or explode) and keep them out of the landfill (where they could leach harmful chemicals into local ecosystems), but I wasn’t sure how to recycle them. I was also skeptical that recycling would actually do anything, having spent decades dutifully recycling plastic with seemingly little impact (from 1980 to 2018, just 7% of all plastic generated was recycled in the US).

Fortunately, the landscape of options for battery recycling has evolved significantly as I’ve eased into my thirties. Unlike plastics, which are notoriously difficult and unprofitable to recycle, recycling the metals found in most batteries is simpler and often legally mandated, and it has become more lucrative as demand for electronics continues to rise. After reporting on batteries and charging accessories over the past few years, not to mention recycling batteries of all types, I’ve found that these are the best recycling methods—they’re easy to do and easy on the environment.

Drop them off

A growing number of municipalities, as well as several private companies, provide designated drop-off sites for battery recycling. Some offer this service for free, while others may charge a fee (usually based on the type and quantity of batteries you want to drop off). Either way, it’s a convenient option.

You can find electronic-waste recycling facilities in your area using these searchable databases:

  • Call2Recycle specializes in battery recycling and lets you narrow your search by whether you’re looking to recycle rechargeable batteries, single-use batteries, cell phones, or e-bike batteries. It has an extensive list of public and private collection sites (including its own, which collects batteries weighing up to 11 pounds apiece).
  • Greener Gadgets lets you search for facilities that recycle many types of e-waste, including televisions, monitors, computers and laptops, printers, and mobile phones. You can filter by the latter category to find facilities that also accept batteries, since most recyclers that collect battery-containing items such as phones take batteries as well. (Nevertheless, you should independently confirm that your preferred location accepts the kind of batteries you want to recycle.)
  • Earth911 and GreenCitizen have nearly identical interfaces that allow you to locate recycling facilities for household waste of all kinds. Both let you search by keyword or by selecting a common type of waste listed on the left side of the page. I recommend selecting “batteries” then the most-specific category that appears in the drop-down menu (such as “alkaline batteries”) for best results.

Once you decide on a drop-off site, you may want to call ahead to confirm that it accepts the specific type(s) of batteries you have, just in case the website isn’t up to date. You should also see if they have any requirements on how to prepare the batteries, like sorting them by chemical composition—such as alkaline, lithium, or nickel metal hydride—or sealing them in a clear plastic bag.

Mail them in

If you’re homebound or simply prefer to recycle by mail, you have several good options.

First, see if your local recycling provider has a mail-in service. Just like buying local produce, it’s generally more sustainable to minimize the distance your batteries must travel from your home to their final destination (even though your local provider might very well ship them to an out-of-state or overseas materials recovery facility, anyway). Earth911’s database is the most useful tool I’ve found for addressing this concern, since it has a filter to zero in on mail-in programs.

If you don’t have a mail-in program in your area, the database shows results for national programs that accept batteries from your zip code as well. It also labels municipal programs and locations as such, which is helpful if you want to differentiate between public and private recycling services. If you still can’t find your provider in the database you’re using (none of them are comprehensive), you may need to do an old-fashioned Google search to find the main number for your local sanitation department, which should be able to point you in the right direction.

These are the mail-in services for battery recycling that I’ve tried and can recommend:

  • Call2Recycle’s smallest Battery Cellphone Recycling Kit (55 at the time of publication) holds as much as 25 pounds. It accepts cell phones, coin and button-cell batteries, and batteries up to 300 Wh (the size of our budget pick for portable power stations), including both conventional alkaline batteries and others made of carbon zinc, lead acid, lithium, lithium ion, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride, and nickel zinc. The exterior is a basic cardboard box, but it has a flame-retardant interior liner, and it comes with 50 small bags to sort and seal up your batteries to prevent sparking or leaking. A pre-addressed shipping label and recycling fees are also included in the cost. In dollars per pound, this is the least expensive mail-in option I’ve tried.
  • The Big Green Box “Mini” (about 35 at the time of publication) holds up to 10 pounds of batteries (including alkaline, carbon zinc, lithium, lithium ion, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride, and silver oxide) as well as a variety of household electronic devices (such as cell phones, laptops, tablets, power tools, gaming systems, and wireless earbuds). A roll of packing tape for covering battery terminals, a pre-addressed shipping label, and recycling fees are included in the cost of the box.
  • The EasyPak Micro Battery Recycling Container from TerraCycle Regulated Waste (80 at the time of publication) holds up to 10 pounds of batteries (about the weight of a miniature pinscher). It’s easy to use—simply fill it with batteries and ship it to a recycling facility—and a pre-addressed shipping label, home pickup, and recycling fees are included in the cost of the container. You can use it to send in a wide variety of battery sizes (including AA, AAA, C, D, and 9-volt) and chemical compositions (including alkaline, carbon zinc, iron, lithium, lithium ion, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride, and silver). The container itself is made of a sturdy plastic—it’s a glorified bucket—so you don’t have to worry about it getting damaged from rusting, corroding, or leaking batteries.

Leave them out for pickup

Very few places in the US allow residents to put batteries out with their weekly recycling, but if it’s permitted where you live, it’s a great option. For instance, in some California cities you can recycle a wide variety of battery types this way, including both rechargeable and single-use AAA, AA, C, D, and 9-volt batteries. To take advantage of this service, residents must simply tape up their batteries’ exposed terminals (so they don’t short-circuit and start a fire), seal them in a plastic bag, and set them on top of their recycling bin on their regular pickup day. Taping and bagging your batteries might seem like a chore, but it’s worth doing: Minneapolis recently ceased all residential battery-recycling pickups after a vape pen started smoldering in a local library’s e-waste collection bin.

Usually, though, pickup has a few more stipulations. In some parts of Colorado, residents can call to schedule a pickup or wait for an annual collection of household hazardous waste. In Los Angeles, where I live, I can call the city’s sanitation department to request a curbside pickup. And people living in the Pennsylvania township of North Fayette have one of the cushiest setups I’ve seen: After registering and scheduling a pickup online, they receive a bag in the mail to fill with their batteries and other accepted waste, which they can then seal up and leave on the curb.

If you don’t know whether a government department or private contractor handles recycling in your area—let alone if they’ll pick up your used batteries—I’d start by checking Earth911’s searchable database. In addition to labeling each search result to indicate whether it’s a municipal or a private provider, the database has a color-coded list of the various items accepted during routine pickups. (But again, none of the databases I’ve used are entirely up to date or exhaustive, so you may need to confirm your findings with a phone call.)

Why bother recycling batteries?

If you’re jaded about the recycling industrial complex—and perhaps rightfully so—you might feel unmotivated to spend your time, energy, and possibly money on battery recycling. But you have several good reasons to do so.

For one, it’s safer than just dumping them in the trash. Improperly disposing of batteries can cause fires or explosions. Not only are you putting your own household in harm’s way when you toss batteries in the garbage, but you could be unwittingly risking the safety of sanitation workers who come into contact with your trash after it leaves your doorstep.

Even though some municipalities allow residents to put certain types of batteries in the trash, such as alkaline or carbon-zinc batteries, the EPA still recommends that you recycle them. It’s simpler than trying to remember which batteries go where, and (even with this handy guide) it’s easy to misread the fine print and confuse one battery type with another.

Trashing your batteries is also bad for local ecosystems. When batteries and other items containing heavy metals or other toxic materials end up in a landfill, they often leach harmful chemicals into local soil and water systems. But more often than not, nonferrous metals—the kind commonly used to make batteries and other electronics—are destined for the trash. For example, in 2018, about 3.4 million tons of aluminum, nickel, zinc, and other nonferrous metals were landfilled, whereas just 2.4 million tons were recycled.

Likewise, batteries may contain metals that can be salvaged and made into new electronics, reducing the overall need to mine more raw materials. This is good for consumers, since bottlenecks in the metal-mining industry can lead to shortages that hike up the cost of consumer electronics. Furthermore, the metal-mining industry has a long track record of human rights violations and is by far the biggest source of toxic chemicals released into the environment annually in the US.

Fortunately, it takes far less energy to recycle most metals than it does to produce them. Metal is highly energy-intensive to mine and process for manufacturing, but it’s generally one of the easiest materials to recycle. And unlike plastic and paper, which degrade each time they’re handled, metals can be recycled indefinitely.

Another great reason to recycle your batteries? It might encourage you to visit a new small business in your community. For example, until I saw it listed on Call2Recycle, I was unaware of a store near me called The Dinosaur Farm that specializes in dinosaur-related toys, books, and other paleontological paraphernalia. Lesson learned: Recycle your batteries, and avoid missing out on dinosaur-themed toy stores.

This article was edited by Ben Keough and Erica Ogg.

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