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Archive for September, 2019

In one of my older posts, Nickel Metal Hydride batteries and chargers! I mentioned about some good rechargeable batteries and chargers. I have noticed that there’s still stores packed with alkalines. Some places like Amazon you could buy them in bulk for up to 5,000 batteries! That’s a lot of batteries!

Now I get why some people still use throwaway batteries, they get lost, stolen or you forget about them and you cant charge them anymore. Is that really that big of a concern though these days though?

Some guys happen to like the rechargeables though…

I remember when I first got into using rechargeable Ni-Cads they had some AAs that I used in a walkman for a period of time. I got maybe a year or 2 out of those batteries before they stopped working correctly but they managed to save me some money. I don’t really recall seeing replacements, as I thought they just came with the charger and you’d have to buy another charger to get the batteries so my collection of rechargeables were quite low.

Yes, over time they did stop working right and I went back to alkalines for a period and then I got some new Rayovac Nickel-Metal Hydride cells that worked quite well for awhile anyways. I got maybe 3 or 4 years out of those before they stopped working so I just quit using those. Got a friend into them as well since we both liked to listen to the same music. But again for awhile i went back to alkalines but I didnt really use them that often. It was until in 2005 I started using them again since Duracell and Energizer had them and they even sold the batteries separately. I still have working AAA Energizers and AA Duracells that gets used in string lights or those Duracell LED flashlights. I use a few in my noice canceling headphones still. And these are the batteries that lose their charge over a course of a month or 2. If they dont get used much they wont work as well either.

When those batteries were not working in a USB charging device I decided to check out what they had and found Eneloops. I also got into using more sophisticated chargers such as the Power Ex C9000 mentioned in the other blog, I posted in the beginning of this article. Because, well I like to get what I can out of these batteries.

The simplest and cheapest way to get into recharge AAs and AAAs is to buy the Panasonic/Eneloop charger that comes with 4 AA batteries. Find a device you use most often and use the Eneloop batteries right out of the package and you’ll see they work like regular alkalines (unless your device is weird and requires the higher voltage) when you need to recharge them keep a set of alkalines handy or if it’s a 2 AA or 1 AA you can cycle out the 4 AA Eneloops you have. This is a great way of starting out and you’ll see the savings within 4 or 5 recharge cycles.  I’m going to list a few problems people might have with rechargeables..

1. They’re more expensive than alkalines.

Yes they are, but after 2-6 cycles depending on what brand of batteries you get you might see savings sooner. Keep using them and you’ll see the benefits.

2. They don’t last as long and they won’t charge.

Most alkaline AA cells have over 3,000mAh but most of the time you can only get half that amount. It depends on your device but it may cut off before you use up all the energy out of your rechargeables. Don’t give up if it doesnt work well in one of your devices. That may require a higher voltage where your rechargeable batteries may not function as well. More devices these days are more rechargeable friendly and can operate on that 1.2v battery. You have to try a different device. Most flashlights will work on rechargeable batteries. That’s the easy way of seeing if your batteries are faulty.

Additionally you can always pick up a multimeter. If its 1.23v or higher you should be ok. If it charges normally in your Panasonic/Eneloop charger then it passed the internal resistance check and should be working well. If you are using a different charger than the ones I’ve mentioned there is no guarantee they’ll charge your batteries adequately.

If they appear to be charged and wont work well in your device, always try a different device such as a flashlight. Get a Fenix, Coast or Maglite. I’ve used rechargeables in those lights and they work well. The 1 AA or AAA lights are good to where you can check the batteries individually. A multimeter however is the best way to check voltage. Also check the contacts. If you are using a battery where the wrapper is blocking the negative terminals on some devices they wont work. I never seen any issues using Eneloops though.

Also, sometimes you just end up with a bad batch of batteries. It happens, sometimes the charger isn’t working correctly. You will have to contact the manufacturer or just get it exchanged where you bought them. Just make sure not to tell them you’re using a different charger. Don’t mention the charger you are using. If they ask for the model number, tell them you don’t have it with you, you are calling from work or you are out somewhere. If you are buying Eneloops and have the charger then it’s as easy as getting the batteries replaced.

3. My family tosses these rechargeable batteries in the garbage.

Its inevitable. They’re AA or AAA batteries. Some people are used to toss these batteries into the garbage. The easiest way is to stop tossing out alkalines and get a bin to put them in. If your family does this then chances are they’ll do the same for rechargeables. If not, leaving notes on the devices or by the trash cans to not toss out batteries may be needed. If that doesn’t work then you’ll simply have to take the batteries out period and they’ll have to ask to use them. At least they’ll be charged ready to go.

Here are some other tips to get you started.

1. Avoid buying large quantities of rechargeables for your first time. There isnt any need to replace all 60 of your devices with rechargeables. There is the problem of alkalines ruining devices so if this is a common problem for you, buy a set of these EBL batteries.

16 Pack EBL AA 2300mAh Rechargeable batteries
12 Pack EBL AAA 800mAh Rechargeable batteries

They are a little too much for beginners and they may not work as good for you as they do for me but there are positive reviews for these batteries and I haven’t ran into many issues with them. The AAAs are a better deal where you could use them in an AAA to AA adapter. They sell those on Amazon as well. The batteries should work fine in the Panasonic/Eneloop charger as well. No need to charge them for first usage either. Just stick them in your devices and use them. One thing to note, the low drain devices such as a clock or tv remote they wont get much use. So to avoid premature death I suggest they get charged at least once every 6 months but you can do every 3 months. Just swap them out for another set.

They seem to be low self discharge but I’d buy the lower capacity cells just to be sure. Eventually though I suggest to replace every device with Eneloops.

2. No need to drain them fully before recharging. Just dont recharge them constantly. You can use them until the device starts showing signs of the battery dying or as I mentioned earlier, every 3-6 months. Also once they do show signs of being near death, quit using them until they are recharged again. Excessive draining of the cells can cause a waste of cycle usage and the cells can reverse charge or overdrain which can make the batteries permanently weak and potentially die.

3. The only reason for using higher capacity cells is for additional run time. If it’s not critical to get an extra 5 minutes of run time get the lower capacity cells. 1900mAh AA Eneloop batteries and the 750mAh AAA Eneloops are just fine for any device. You get more charge cycles and less battery waste.

4. Rechargeable nickel metal batteries can be recycled at most any place. Check your department or hardware stores. I have noticed its more difficult to recycle alkalines then rechargeables, as I’ve seen they have recycling in some stores. Usually I toss out the non working batteries in a container but I dont have many dead rechargeables yet.

Overall I hope this will encourage people to buy rechargeables again, if not for the environment but for your wallet and hopefully less stores will be selling 60 alkaline battery packs. I know some like businesses may be hard set in using alkalines, I know my job uses them but I put rechargeables in my lights so I dont use their alkalines. I’ve had people say that I dont need to use mine and I should use the company’s batteries but well, my light, my rules..  I dont use alkalines anymore. Theres no point when it costs less than a penny to recharge a pair of AA batteries.

Also, I forgot to add here are the best rechargeables you might get including some that are ok. In both AA and AAA size.

01. The best!

Eneloops 1900mAh/750mAh, Fujitsu; white, 2100 charge cycles – Made in Japan

02. Good

Eneloop Pro 2450mAh/900mAh, Fujitsu; black, 500 charge cycles – Made in Japan
Duracell; 300-500 charge cycles – Made in Japan
Energizer; 300-500 charge cycles – Made in Japan
Amazonbasics; same as white or black Eneloops may be made in China (not verified if same or similar quality as Japan)

03. Ok (may be Chinese and of lesser quality)

Tenergy is in the middle of the road as I haven’t tried their AA/AAA cells but I got 2 9V cells with their charger that so far has been running strong.
EBL, Goal Zero, Sunlabz, Rayovac, and some other brands I don’t have names for currently. Avoid AA batteries that claim higher than 2900mAh capacity and AAA higher than 1100mAh capacity. I haven’t tested the AAA EBLs 1100 mAh cells but the AA 2800mAh cells they have got came in around 2600mAh I think. I dont recall.

The La Crosse cells are terrible and haven’t been upgraded from the older high self discharge Nickel Metal batteries. I currently have a set of AAs and AAAs that come with their BC-1000 charger, they are ok but I wouldn’t buy them regularly. Avoid Enercell and RadioShack batteries, they don’t last long in storage.

Maha/Power Ex chargers tend to be the best or the Panasonic/Eneloop charger. La Crosse chargers are not bad but do not have the internal resistance check that the Eneloop or Power Ex C9000 charger has. I have not tried any other charger and the Sky RC 3000 charger doesn’t keep the batteries secure enough for me.

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