The Best Rechargeable Batteries For Your Tools & Household – Top 2020 Models & Buyer’s Guide
In a world of a growing demand for technology, batteries are struggling to keep up with the energy needs of the various items and tools in a household. Despite advancements in energy-storing capacities, single-use batteries are still not an ideal option for people that use them on a daily basis. This is where rechargeable batteries come into play. They are just as potent, quite long-lasting, and modern models have a low level of discharge. Some of the best rechargeable batteries can even be recharged up to thousands of times making them a good long-term alternative to single-use batteries.
Whether you need them for your baby monitor, joystick, computer mouse, or power tool, this guide is guaranteed to have the best match for your needs. Below, I’ve reviewed some of the top models for this year and have compared their features in order to determine what is the best deal out there currently. Below that, we will go deeper into the technology used in these batteries and the features that define their quality.
Energizer Recharge Power Plus Rechargeable AA Batteries
It is a well-known fact that Energizer is at the top of the food chain when it comes to battery technology. Along with the rest of the premium competition, they make some of the finest single-use and rechargeable batteries out there. Their Recharge Power Plus AA batteries are quite unique in a few different ways.
The first thing that stands out here is their charge capacity. Each of the 8 batteries in this pack will provide 2300 mAh worth of power which is more than the industry’s average which is around 2000. On top of that, they have an extra protection layer on the inside which prevents the rapid self-discharge typical to NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries. Thanks to that, they can last up to 12 months without losing more than half their charge which is quite the revolutionary feature compared to other cheaper NiMH batteries. The Energizer Power Plus batteries can also go through 500 recharges without losing their charge capacity and up to 1500 charges without failing to charge the device you’re using them for.
These specific AA batteries are suited for energy-demanding devices such as digital cameras, PlayStation joysticks, a computer mouse, or something that needs recharging more often. NiMH batteries have the disadvantage of not being quite fitting for slowly-discharging items like clocks, fire alarms, and others.
One added bonus to these batteries is that they are one of the first ones to be made with recycled materials. Typically, NiMH batteries are hard (if not impossible) to recycle and re-use but Energizer managed to incorporate a supply-chain that works partially with recycled batteries. The main disadvantage of these batteries is that they are also one of the most expensive rechargeable ones on the market right one. In fact, after some Duracell models, these are the most expensive batteries you can get. Still, I think that the longevity and performance they provide easily justifies the big price tag.
- Very long-lasting
- Little to no self-discharge
- Made with 4% recycled materials
- Big capacity at 2300 mAh
- Perfect for energy-demanding devices
- Can charge up to 1500 times
- Very expensive
- Not suitable for low-demand devices and appliances
Duracell Rechargeable AA Batteries
Duracell has always been a household name when it comes to batteries and battery technologies. Recently they improved their rechargeable batteries and if you ignore the price tag, this might very well be your best bet. These AA batteries work best for devices that are power-hungry and need constant battery changes such as gaming controllers, wireless devices, baby monitors, and others.
The power capacity of these batteries is what really sets them apart from the competition. The 2650 mAh here will be more than enough for most appliances and is pretty much more than any other NiMH rechargeable battery out there.
The number of recharges these batteries can go through is 400. Typically, brands will tell you the number of charges your batteries can go through without losing more than half of their capacity and that is why their numbers seem huge compared to Duracell’s 400 charges. However, those 400 charges are guaranteed to still give you a battery that runs at 100% even then. While it will slowly degrade after that, it is important to know how many charges the company guarantees you to be safe for the battery’s performance before it starts deteriorating.
One more thing that I really like about Duracell’s new line of rechargeable batteries is that they come in a resealable package. That, paired with their low self-discharge rate makes them the ideal purchase for someone who doesn’t plan on using them all at once. Duracell claims that the batteries can be stored for up to 10 years without losing their performance potential but that can only happen if the right conditions are met.
- Most powerful NiMH battery out there
- Long-lasting stable performance
- Extremely low levels of self-discharge
- Come in a resealable package
- Can be stored for up to 10 years
- These are the most expensive batteries you can get
- Don’t come in larger more economical packages
Amazon Basics AA Rechargeable Batteries (2000mAh)
Amazon Basics products have slowly taken over Amazon due to their decent quality and a great price to value ratio. Their rechargeable batteries are a good deal if you’re looking for a large pack of batteries that has a solid long-lasting performance.
The most important thing to know about these batteries is that they are alkaline. Alkaline batteries are a good but dated alternative to NiMH batteries. They are more suitable if you’re going to use them for appliances that don’t consume a lot of energy. They have a better starting voltage than NiMH batteries but that Voltage goes steady down to 0 over time, while NiMH batteries maintain a steady voltage of 1.2V which might be important for the device you’re going to use them in. Apart from that, they pack enough juice to power up most appliances for a reasonable amount of time. The 2000mAh are just on par with the industry’s average and are good for most tasks.
The batteries are rated to last up to 1000 charges without a performance drop lower than 70% of their initial capacity. They do come pre-charged and as Alkaline batteries, they tend to hold their charge quite well over time so you can even store them for another time. The last thing I want to hit on is their price. These are one of the cheapest batteries on this list and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Amazon’s own brand has been quite successful in terms of quality, and these batteries are no exception.
- Minimal self-discharge rate
- Great for weaker appliances
- Very cheap
- Come in a pack of 16
- Can be stored away
- Come pre-charged
- Alkaline batteries won’t deliver steady 1.2V current
- Average capacity
- Take a lot of time to recharge
- Don’t perform well in cold weather
Panasonic BK-3MCCA8BA Eneloop Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries
Panasonic’s own series of rechargeable batteries the “Eneloop” has seen tremendous success mainly due to their solid performance over time and a large number of possible recharges. The BK-3MCCA8BA Eneloop AA batteries are an excellent 8-pack that is not only potent but also comes at a decent price for a premium product.
The standout feature here is the 2100 possible recharges with minimal power loss. While most NiMH batteries will lose at least half of their potential, Panasonic promises their batteries to hold at least 70% of their full charge even after 2100 full (or partial) recharges. Still, the batteries aren’t quite large in terms of their capacity, so you might need those frequent recharges, especially if you’re using it for power-hungry devices such as digital cameras, gaming controllers, or others.
While this particular pack doesn’t come with its own charger, there is an option to get Eneloop’s battery charger which is specifically programmed to charge up NiMH batteries according to their power needs. The charger also has 4 different led lights indicating any of the charging stages. It can charge these AA batteries to 100% in 3 hours which is really fast compared to the typical 6-10 hours charge time.
- Can be stored for 10 years
- 2100 recharges before a significant performance drop
- Come pre-charged
- Decent performance for energy-demanding devices
- Perform great in sub-zero temperatures
- Very expensive price per battery
- Could use more capacity than 2000 mAh
Powerowl AA High-Capacity Rechargeable Batteries
Powerowl was a relatively unknown brand a few years ago but their batteries and battery chargers really paved the way for their newest model on the market. The newest High-capacity rechargeable AA batteries from them are an extraordinary good value for the money you’re paying and are suitable for a variety of apliances ranging from low-energy demanding ones to devices with high energy needs.
These batteries are also the ones with the highest capacity on this list, clocking the whopping 2800 mAh. That, combined with their steady 1.2V discharge equals a solid long-lasting performance for anything you want to use them. They aren’t ideal for very low-energy demanding appliances such as fire alarms and clocks but will do the job. The reason behind that is that they are Nickel Metal Hydride meaning they benefit from being discharged frequently.
In terms of recharges, they are rated at 1200 times which is good enough but they are known for their self-discharging when left unused for a few months. Also, unlike other batteries, these do not come pre-charged which isn’t ideal for everyone since they will reach their peak capacity and performance after at least 5 full charge cycles.
- Great price per battery
- Highest power capacity on the market
- Good for all type of appliances
- Steady 1.2V current
- Can be recharged 1200 times before significant performance drops
- Relatively high self-discharge
- Don’t come pre-charged
EBL Ni-MH AA Rechargeable Batteries
The EBL AA Rechargeable batteries come in an 8-pack which is equally powerful as the Powerowl AA batteries with both models packing 2800 mAh of electrical capacity. On top of being environmentally friendly, these NiMH batteries are an excellent choice for energy-demanding appliances.
While the batteries have a 2800mAh capacity, they tend to self-discharge faster if you don’t use them regularly. To counter that, the company has guaranteed 1200 full or partial recharges before their performance levels start dropping. Unlike the Powerowl batteries, however, these come pre-charged and won’t need a few cycles to be worked in.
What I really like about these EBL batteries is that they come in an 8pack with 2 separate hard battery cases which are ideal for easy transportation. Since the battery shape is universal you can also use them for other AA batteries in the future. What I really do not like is their price per battery which equals the ones of Duracell and Energizer without having their anti-self-discharge layering technologies.
- Huge power capacity
- 1200 recharges
- Come pre-charged
- Environmentally-friendly construction
- Come with 2 battery cases
- Excellent for energy-demanding appliances
- Very expensive price per battery
- Self-discharge rate isn’t great
Rayovac Rechargeable AAA Batteries
In a list full of AA batteries, I also wanted to include a pack of AAA ones which are also one of the best in the market when it comes to recharging. Rayovac has been around for quite some time in the USA and their batteries have been nothing short of exceptional.
For a triple-A battery, these are quite potent, packing 600 mAh of peak capacity. They can be recharged around 1500 times before you see any significant performance drops but consumers have reported that they’ve seen capacity drops at a lower amount of charge cycles. Being NiMH batteries, these will also tend to last less time if you aren’t actively using them, compared to Alkaline AAA models. However, Rayovac gives you a 5-year storage warranty if they aren’t being used.
Despite their quality, I think that they are price slightly above their expected price per battery range and that is why I’ve put them low on the list.
- Come pre-charged
- One of the top AAA NiMH batteries
- 5-year warranty while in storage
- Rechargeable up to 1500 times
- 600 mAh capacity
- Kind of expensive compared to other AAA batteries
Bonai AA Rechargeable Batteries
Last and maybe least on this list are the Bonai 2800mAh High-Capacity batteries. This is the biggest battery pack on this list and is also one of the most power-dense ones. Right off the bat, the price per battery here is amazing but the brand itself isn’t known for their high quality so you can expect some power variations in those numbers. That goes for both their 2800 mAh and 1200 recharge cycle metrics.
Nevertheless, these batteries will bring you all the advantages of normal NiMH batteries with an excellent performance when frequently used and a relatively high self-discharge rate when stored on the shelf. They do not come pre-charged but with only around 20% charge meaning you will have to get them through a few charge cycles in order to reach their maximum output performance. if you want to store most of these, it is recommended to charge them fully at least once every 3 months.
As I mentioned, the selling point of these batteries is that they bring one of the cheapest prices per battery out of all AA models out there due to the large number of batteries in this particular pack. You can also get 8 and 16 packs but they have much higher prices per battery.
- Very good price per battery
- High power capacity
- Environmentally friendly
- Up to 1200 recharges
- High self-discharge rate
- Have to be fully charged every 3 months if you want to store them
Rechargeable Batteries Buyer’s Guide
There are quite a lot of variables in modern-day batteries. On top of that, companies report different numbers based on their individual testings. For instance, Duracell can claim that their batteries last up to 400 charges but some other companies will claim up to 1200 or even 1500 charges. While both of these are true, Duracell are guaranteeing you that the batteries will be at peak capacity and performance within those 400 charges, while other companies do not give you any such promises for their higher numbers. This is just one example of why you should always read between the lines and know exactly what you’re looking at. For that reason, we will go through the various types of rechargeable batteries, their features, and how to use them properly…
Types of Rechargeable Batteries
There are 5 main types of rechargeable batteries:
- NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride)
- NiCd (Nickel Cadmium)
- Lead Acid batteries
- Li-ion polymer (Lithium-Ion polymer)
- Li-ion (Lithium-Ion)
The most common ones used in domestic appliances nowadays are NiMH and Li-ion ones (both variations). Still, let’s take a closer look at each type and see what it is used for and how it stacks against the others.
NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride)
NiMH batteries typically far under the same category with the NiCd batteries with the only difference that they use Hydrogen as their active element. They are energy-dense and are non-toxic. They were a common choice for laptops and mobile phones a decade ago. Nowadays, they are mostly used as single-use or rechargeable batteries.
These batteries operate at 1.2V and are also much more long-lasting (in terms of longevity) compared to NiCd and lead-acid batteries. They are, however, slightly more expensive than both these types of batteries.
The main disadvantage of the NiMH battery is that it needs constant full charges in order to stay healthy. Low-energy consuming devices won’t be an ideal match for it since the battery is meant for higher discharge rates. It can be used ni razors, toothbrushes, cameras, automotive and medical equipment, and others. It certainly isn’t suitable for things like clocks, removes, or smoke alarms. They are also not suitable for long-term storage, as they have relatively high self-discharge rates.
Additionally, you will often see alkaline or non-alkaline batteries (such as NiCd). Alkaline batteries last quite a lot of time and are very power-dense, making them a suitable alternative to NiMH batteries when it comes to devices with low energy needs. While NiMH batteries discharge when not used, Alkaline ones won’t, or at least not at such a high pace.
Although NiMH batteries operate with an initial voltage of 1.2V, they have aa steady following discharge rate of 1.0V. Alkaline batteries, on the other hand, keep decreasing their energy outflow with every minute they’re used, despite having a higher initial voltage than NiMH batteries.
NiCd (Nickel Cadmium)
Nickel Cadmium batteries are the older, much less environmentally friendly cousins of the NiMH batteries. They have a relatively high discharge rate, last long, and are fairly cheap. The main issue with them is the environmental impact they have, along with not being fully recyclable.
Lead Acid batteries
Lead-acid batteries are the first type of rechargeable batteries invented almost two centuries ago. They are bigger, heavier, and more expensive than most other battery types. Despite being toxic, they are used in a variety of applications mostly automotive. They have a low energy-to-weight ratio but have the highest surge current from all the battery types here. They also work at 12 Volts, with some exceptions working at 6 Volts.
Li-ion and Li-ion polymer
Li-ion batteries have the biggest energy density out of all the rechargeable battery types. They are used mostly in electronics but are beginning to be used more and more in modern electric cars due to their density. Unlike standard Li-ion batteries, Li-ion polymer ones can be shaped any way you want in order to fit better but are also slightly more expensive to produce. Both li-ion batteries have a large shelf life and a very low self-discharge rate.
Now, let’s go through the different features that you need to pay attention to when you’re buying a pack of rechargeable batteries…
Features To Look For
While batteries are fairly simple at first look, there are quite a few things to look for when choosing a battery pack for your tools and devices. Here are the main features of any rechargeable battery:
- Charge cycles
- Price per battery
While there are Alkaline, Lithium, and other single-use batteries, NiMH remains the king for rechargeable batteries. Alkaline batteries were the standard a few years ago but NiMH has completely taken over due to their steady discharge rates and reliability. Alkaline batteries are still good for devices with low energy demands but they simply don’t last as much as some new NiMH models, giving them a worse value for your money.
To make things really simple, go for alkaline batteries if you don’t need them for some demanding tools and you are on a tighter budget. If you are going to change batteries often and want something that will last a lot of recharges, go for NiMH.
Typically, rechargeable batteries (both AA and AAA) last longer on average than normal single-use batteries. Capacity in batteries is measured in mAh. The majority of the rechargeable AA batteries out there have a capacity of around 2000 mAh with some models pushing the boundaries up to 2500+ mAh. Most rechargeable AAA batteries have a capacity of around 600-800 mAh. Anything less than those numbers will give you a subpar performance and won’t last as much as the industry’s average. If you’re going to use the batteries on devices that have higher-than-usual energy demands, look for mAh numbers higher than the market’s average.
Another important thing to remember is that Alkaline batteries typically have a higher mAh number (on paper). They do drain far quicker than NiMH batteries so those bloated numbers won’t mean much once it is down to their true discharge capacity.
Rechargeable batteries are defined by the amount of full or partial charges they can take before their performance deteriorates to a point where they’re unusable. With every charge, they will lose a small portion of their full potential until they can no longer hold any charge. That number of charges is defined by their charge cycles. A good NiMH battery can have anything between 600 and 1500 charge cycles before it dips below 70% of its initial potency. A battery set that is rated for 800 full charge cycles can easily last you way more if you do partial recharges only and trickle-charge it often. As I already pointed out, NiMH batteries tend to perform better and last longer when they’re used constantly.
Every battery has a certain level of self-discharge that its internal chemical structure conducts. The longer a battery isn’t used, the more charge it will lose and that is a universal principle valid across all battery types. NiMH batteries are far more vulnerable to not being used than other batteries such as Alkaline and Li-ion. Most premium brands like Energizer and Duracell have anti-discharge technologies in place which are meant to keep the battery at full capacity for longer periods of time. That is one of the many reasons their batteries cost more and typically come pre-charged at 100%.
Price per battery
When determining how much are the rechargeable batteries going to set you back, you will find that most models come in packs of 4, 8, 16, or even bigger. That’s where things get tricky – you will have to divide the price to the number of batteries in the set in order to get the price per battery which is the only true sign of how expensive or cheap a set really is. Anything above 2$ per battery is considered very expensive and can be found only in some of the top-shelf batteries coming from brands like Duracell, Energizer, and Panasonic. Other models with a more moderate performance have a price per battery of around 1.50$. Anything less than that can be considered a good deal only if the metrics are right and you trust the brand, otherwise the performance will most likely be inconsistent and subpar.
How To Safely Store Your Rechargeable Batteries
From the moment of manufacturing, batteries slowly degrade. However, there are methods to keep them at their optimal performance by storing them properly. For that to happen, you need to take ambient temperature into consideration. A good temperature to store your batteries in is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Even then, batteries containing Nickel (NiMH) will still self-discharge fairly fast. A NiMH battery will lose roughly 50% of its charge even if stored properly for around a year. Putting your batteries in the fridge is also a good way to keep them safe only if you live in a very hot climate where it is hard to keep 60 degrees inside all the time.
Another thing you should keep in mind is moisture. Dry air is perfect for storing batteries, as moisture will act as a catalyst to help them discharge faster. On top of that, make sure that your batteries are at around 40-50% charge whenever you want to store them. Storing them at full charge will drastically reduce their life expectancy. The best way to know how much charge is left is through a smart battery charger. Trickle charging is a hot topic and most people believe that it works in the battery’s favor but some experts aren’t completely sold on the idea, especially when it comes to Nickel-based batteries.
Charging Them Up
When it comes to charging, the first thing that I should mention is that you should always use chargers that are built for the job. Rechargeable battery chargers have specific charging protocols that work in different ways depending on the battery type. Some battery types benefit from trickle-charging (lead-acid, li-ion, etc), while others simply don’t (NiMH, NiCd) but can be still left charging. Most chargers have smart features and will automatically cut-off power once the battery hits 100%.
Chargers also use smart currents which are measured in mili-ampers (ma) and are based on the battery’s capacity divided by 10. So, a 2000mAh battery will charge optimally at around 200ma. The downside of smart battery chargers is that they will take quite a lot of time to fully charge a battery, especially if its bigger than 2000mAh.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which rechargeable batteries last the longest?
In terms of single-use charges, the battery with the most mAh will last you the longest. In terms of life expectancy, NiMH has a clear advantage over the other types since they can easily last up to 1500+ recharges over the course of 3-7 years.
Do rechargeable batteries go bad if you don’t use them?
Both Ni-MH and Li-ion batteries slowly self-discharge over time, gradually losing their capacity to hold a full charge. This happens over the course of years only if you don’t put them through a full charging cycle. If you top them up from time to time that will greatly expand their life expectancy and performance over time.
Should you leave your rechargeable batteries plugged in?
While most people leave their batteries to trickle charge in order to be ready for usage, this isn’t recommended by most manufacturers. With modern batteries, the amount of self-discharge over the course of a few days is near 0%, so you can just fully charge them and store them away without worrying they will lose some of their potentials.
What is the average life expectancy of NiMH batteries?
Typically, NiMH life expectancies are measured in number of recharges. This is due to the fact that these batteries last longer if you use them more. In other words, the more you fully charge them, the better they will perform after years of use. Still, there is a limit when it comes to recharges and that is around 1000-2000.
Finding the best rechargeable batteries won’t be easy mainly due to the abundance of seemingly similar models out there. What is important to remember is to look at the mAh of the pack that you want to get. The more mAh a battery has, the longer it will last on a single charger. On top of that, look for batteries that have the most amount of recharges possible before losing their energy-storing capabilities. The more recharges a battery can take, the less it is prone to self-discharging over time.