Rechargeable batteries are more expensive than disposable ones and when you’re at the point of deciding which to buy, it’s often tempting to buy a multi-pack of cheaper batteries.
After all, you’re never quite sure how good the re-chargeable ones are and you may well have had a less than ideal experience with them.
Most people have had mixed experiences because not all rechargeable batteries are the same. It is important peruse through technical information on rechargeable batteries before going ahead with a buy. Although most companies push their own branded batteries on consumers, doing online research can lead to more affordable and more technically sound solutions. Large tech wholesalers like Premier Farnell, Maplin and RS components, for example, provide full spec disclosure on their products and run resourceful content hubs for educating consumers before and after the buy. If you buy rechargeable batteries from RS components, for example, you will have access to detailed resources on each product, more thorough than any in person consultation at a shop. Besides, consumers do not have to make a purchase to have access to these resources.
Nickel metal hydride (or NiMH) rechargeable batteries are currently the most economical and readily available rechargeable versions of everyday consumer batteries. These have become particularly popular in the digital photography market, mainly because they’re cheap to buy, they charge up very quickly, and have close to three times the capacity of their predecessors, the NiCad batteries. They also outperform alkaline batteries by a factor of ten, on average, during high-drain applications.
If we do a small calculation to help you decide whether or not NiMH rechargeable batteries, here are the basics:
You can purchase a basic charger and a set of four rechargeable AA batteries for somewhere in the region of about £15; equivalent to around three and a half sets of Duracell AA batteries. But the rechargeable AAs will be good to take around ten times the number of pictures in a digital camera than the Duracells, and can be recharged probably more times than you’re going to use them (somewhere between 500 and 1,000 times as a rule).
To conclude, even by buying one of the market’s top-end chargers and rechargeable batteries, the bill still comes in somewhere around £50 – the same as around 10-15 sets of Duracell AA batteries – so you’re in “profit” after just a couple of recharging cycles. Over the full lifetime of the rechargeable NiMH battery it runs into significant savings by anyone’s standards and is something of the proverbial no-brainer.
Of course, this is one specific example and NiMH batteries are by no means ideal for all situations. For example, their self-discharge rate of somewhere around 1% per day makes them poor choices for low-drain applications such as TV remotes. They also fade out quickly when close to empty which makes them less than ideal for safety applications such as smoke alarms etc.
Lithium-Thionyl Chloride batteries, on the other hand, are ideal for a high operating voltage, where low-to-medium current drain is needed such as backing up memory – plus alarm and security devices etc.
Leading online battery suppliers like RS Components, Premier Farnell and others have a huge range of rechargers and re-chargeable batteries available for different applications – and have sections on their websites explain which is best for the application you need.
But whichever one you’re going for, do make it rechargeable for the sake of your financial health!