If you’re a parent who lets your kids play with toys, you need rechargeable batteries.
Because we’ve all be there, and dealt with the ensuing meltdown when your batteries die mid-action, and you’re the loser without a replacement set. Kids do not take this lightly, and neither should you. It’s a wise rule that you should never get caught without enough juice. Today’s rechargeable batteries are affordable enough so that you can buy many, ensuring that you’ll have enough to get you where you need to go.
Plus, rechargeable batteries produce far less waste because they can be recharged with a simple charger and reused tons of times, instead of winding up in landfills. Regular batteries contain one or more of the following eight metals: cadmium, lead, zinc, manganese, nickel, silver, mercury, and lithium, as well as acids, and when you throw them out in the trash, they can leach and contaminate groundwater. Not good.
For those diving in or for those re-entering the rechargeable battery market, there are a few considerations with rechargeable batteries, the chief of which are how many charges you’ll get and how long they’ll last between charges. But don’t fret; our guide breaks these down, balancing performance with price, gently guiding you toward the model that’s best for you.
It's a nice plug-in all-in-one device. The handy little battery charger charges all Energizer Recharge AA or AAA batteries in one hour or less.
Pros: The battery charger automatically shuts off when its done and the batteries are fully charged. It has temperature and overcharge protection so the batteries don’t get damaged. And it has a battery power gauge to indicate the amount of charge a battery has.
Cons: Buyers complain that the charger can be unreliable.
Amazon is the go-to place for saving a few bucks on essentials, and its house brand, AmazonBasics, lets you save even more with its AA rechargeable batteries. But buyer beware: While we found their performance consistent and dependable, a small number of this product’s verified buyers reported leakage or early degradation
Pros: While Amazon doesn’t confirm this, customers’ sleuthing says that this is simply a relabeled Sanyo XX—but at a much more affordable price. In fact, this eight-pack averages about half the price of a similar battery from category-favorite Panasonic Eneloop. Rated officially at 2400 milliamp hours (mAh), intrepid users have measured it higher at 2500, while noting its ability to maintain its ability to charge with little falloff over its lifetime.
Cons: Our biggest ding against is the oversized nature of these AAs. Get them out of the package and you’ll realize that the size is far from standard and more like a general guideline. It’s hard to say whether they will or won’t fit in your device (odds are they will), but you can rest assured that Amazon has a great return policy.
We’re a big fan of Panasonic’s Eneloop batteries, but then again so is everyone else. These are the gold standard for rechargeables, and as such, they usually come with a price to match. We’re thrilled to report that they’re available at a killer deal right now, so if you’re on the fence, the only impediment is time.
Pros: Rated to a solid 2000 mAh, what you really get with the brand is its recharge capacity, which is guaranteed for 2100 cycles. They’re also guaranteed to fill up to a minimum 70 percent of their new capacity for 10 years, ensuring that they’ll last through multiple devices. Two more things we loved: They arrive pre-charged, and they take that charge from the sun thanks to the company’s solar stations in Japan.
Cons: Normally there’s a cost associated with this great battery. There’s not now. But unless you’re willing to risk it jumping back to the MSRP of $27, you’d better snap these up with your own high-capacity energy.
This battery-charging beast powers up batteries in as little as two hours, depending on the type of battery you're using. It has a LED lights to indicate the level of charge your battery has. And when it's done, it shuts off.
Pros: The Panasonic battery charger can quickly, and individually charge any combo of up to four AA or AAA eneloop batteries in just three hours. And if you put in a disposable battery, it simply will stop the charging process. It works on any brand that’s rechargeable.
Cons: There are repeated complaints that it won’t charge AAA batteries.
If you’re a rechargeable neophyte and are looking for an entry-level starter kit, look no further than the EBL AA AAA Batteries Combo. But if you’ve already got some knowledge and experience, by our estimation there’s a lot to love here, and the company’s product is a hidden gem among the bigger, more recognized brands.
Pros: Including eight AAs and eight AAAs, this kit is already a great value when compared to the name brands. The stated 2300 mAh for the bigger batteries and 800 mAh for the AAAs is, admittedly, smaller than its competitors, but it’s a negligible amount. Other details, like included storage cases, seemed to pull reviewers and customers alike beyond the latter detail.
Cons: For those who want every drop from a single charge, that “negligible” difference in power capacity may come back to bite you. If you’re engaging on long road trips with the kids, you’ll appreciate other premium storage batteries for eking out an extra 15 minutes.
Including four Panasonic Eneloop Pro batteries and a charger, you admittedly don’t get a lot for your dollar. But you do get the top-of-the-line battery from the company who arguably makes the baseline top-of-the-line batteries. This is the cherry on top, and with its included charger, you’ve got everything you’ll need to get going.
Pros: The largest-capacity batteries on the market, these hold a max 2550 mAh, allowing you to get more juice from every charge. They’re also guaranteed for 500 cycles, allowing you to get more juice over their lifetime. Of course, the charger itself is worth noting. While you’d have to buy one anyway, the including unit is especially great. Four indicator lights show you when each battery is full, ensuring that you can rely on its performance and longevity with every use.
Cons: Adapting that famous phrase, on a long-enough timeline, the life expectancy of every battery drops to zero. One mechanically inclined Amazon reviewer pointed out that when compared to the degradation of the regular (and cheaper) Eneloop batteries, these only hold more juice for the first 250 cycles. Therefore, a choice must be made: Are you willing to pay more for a capacity advantage for the first half of their life? If not, go with a cheaper option.
The equivalent of a well liquor or a session beer, Duracell rechargeable AA batteries are a solid option with middle-of-the-road performance at an affordable price. There are no surprises, either good or bad, with its trusted name.
Pros: Duracell spits a good game—400 charge cycles guaranteed while holding a charge for up to a year when not in use. But we would have liked some specifics about their actual power. The best we can tell is a mid-grade 2000 mAh, which is good and fine. What you’re really buying is the name, which is one of the industry leaders.
Cons: Shouldn’t we expect more from an industry leader? We think so. These batteries seem to lean heavily on the company’s reputation, whereas other batteries live and die by their performance. The number one battery brand should have done more. Still, for their price, they’ll do the job.
This handy, universal battery charging station has an LED display so you can monitor the charging process of the batteries directly. Thus, you'll never wind up with dead batteries.
Pros: This battery charger is compatible with any brand, which is definitely a boon. It takes less than five hours to fully charge AA/AAA/C/D batteries, and less than 12 hours to fully charge 9V batteries. You push a button and the batteries pop out.
Cons: The construction is not all that great, meaning it can be too flimsy for some.
This ultimate eneloop power charging pack lets you recharge up to 2100 times, and batteries maintain up to 70 percent of their charge after 10 years.
Pros: Another winner from a brand we love, this eneloop power pack is a four-position charger with worldwide voltage and charges from one to four AA or AAA batteries in any combination.
Cons: The batteries have low voltage, and the charging process can be slow.
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