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Rechargeable Batteries Test

Testing

To see how these rechargeable batteries compared to each other, I charged them according to each manufacturer’s instructions and then ran them down in two ways to simulate how batteries are used:

·        Using a Husky flashlight with a 2.4-volt Krypton bulb and a pair of AA batteries, I turned it on at the same time I started a stopwatch. When the light went out, I stopped the watch. The flashlight constantly drains the batteries until the cell’s output drops below about 1.2 volts.

·        Using a CD player that is powered by a pair of AA batteries I listened to a CD set to shuffle among its tracks with a stop watch running. To monitor the power drain, I connected a voltmeter to the battery terminals. Unlike the flashlight’s constant drain, the CD player uses power intermittently. The player’s motor is its biggest power drain and cycles on and off as needed.

I also measured how long it takes to recharge these cells by running a stopwatch while they were in the charger and measured how hot they were with an ExTech IR201 Pocket IR temperature gauge. At the same time I used a Kill-A-Watt power meter to monitor how much electricity the charger was drawing. 

This let me estimate how much power the charger would use over a year of weekly charging of two AA cells. I used the Department of Energy’s national average of 11.6 cents per kilowatt hour of energy in the estimate.


Energizer RechargeablePowerGenix NiZnRayovac Hybrid RechargeableSanyo EneloopDuracell disposable
Initial charged voltage1.46 volts1.79 volts1.46 volts1.41 voltage1.61 volts
CD player run time4:3214:059:2113:3512:30
Flashlight run time1:53DNF
3:414:055:03
Charge time2:35/0:17*1:24
7:404:45NA
Temperature of cells F100 degrees80 degrees F97 degrees F87 degrees FNA
Notes:DNF: Did not finish: bulb burned out after 10 minutes
NA: Not applicable for disposable batteries
*: Charge times are for desktop and 15-minute charger
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  • It's worth noting that Kill-A-Watt type meters may not give reliable numbers at extremely low power consumptions.

    After some extensive testing that I looked at from my work I went with PowerEx batteries for myself. They've got a 2700 mAh capacity, and they held up at high current (> 10A). They weren't the cheapest ($19/4 pcs)

    It's also worth noting that NiMH batteries all have the same chemistry, and can be charged by a standard NiMH charger.
    Reply
  • How does this article not point out the BIG difference between the regular nimh batteries and the new hybrid cells? The hybrid batteries, like the eneloop, will hold their charge when not in use. Regular nimh batteries will lost their charge quickly, even when not in use ( this is what allows them to ship the hybrid batteries pre-charged ).
    Reply
  • Fibrizo
    Sanyo Eneloops Are The Best Rechargeable Batteries. I Have Ever Seen.
    Reply
  • does anyone know if the chargers can be mixed-and-matched? I used a set of the rayovacs for a year with my digital camera, and they no longer work well. I am going to get eneloops now -- can I use my old rayovac charger?
    Reply
  • Shadow703793
    benbagginsdoes anyone know if the chargers can be mixed-and-matched? I used a set of the rayovacs for a year with my digital camera, and they no longer work well. I am going to get eneloops now -- can I use my old rayovac charger?Generally, you can do it. I'v been using an Energizer recharger on my Sanyo's.

    Just a little tip: Keep an eye out on Amazon deals for Sanyo rechargeable. I got a 48 pack for under $20 during a sale (with out charger).
    Reply
  • I forget the total price for my Eneloop's but it was under $40 for four AA's, Four AAA's, a charger, and both a C and D converter at Costco.
    They last ten times longer in my Digital Camera Compared to Disposables.
    They are the best.
    Reply
  • cadder
    There are a lot of differences from battery to battery.

    First the technology. Throw-away Alkalines have good capacity, reasonably good shelf life, and good voltage to start with but their voltage goes down a lot as they are used which is what causes flashlights to start going orange and dim after you use them a little while. NiMH and NiCad will usually maintain their voltage a little better until the end. LiIon is the best here but I don't think you can buy LiIon rechargeables in AA size. Also Alkalines don't work very well when cold, and their voltage will drop a lot under real heavy load. NiMh will maintain higher voltage and put out more current at the same time.

    Different brands of NiMh have different capacity ratings, in milli-amp hour (mAH), and even at the same capacity they will vary in actual use just like these tests showed. NiCad is the worst for self-discharge, but NiMh is not too bad. They will work OK for devices that you use reasonably frequently but not for a flashlight that you put in the closet and use once a year. Alkalines will work better for this, but if you leave the device for several years then when you get ready to use it the batteries might have leaked and ruined the device. Use Lithium throwaways for this.

    I haven't used the NiZn. I wonder what their voltage characteristics are under load.

    NiCad and NiMh usually require different chargers but some chargers have a switch for this. I don't know if the NiMh and newer NiMh can use the same charger. Unfortunately the good battery chargers can be pretty expensive. Slow chargers tend to be the cheapest but a good fast charger can be a lot more convenient.
    Reply
  • kravmaga
    Something the review also omitted is that eneloops are known for exceptional performance retention after 500+ cycles of use whereas some other competing low self-discharge cells will degrade much faster.

    I have also heard of nutty people discharging them at more than 12C inside home-built portable aircraft landing lights with no damage where cheaper cells literally melted down.
    Reply
  • NewJohnny
    I'm the guy adding +1 to all the eneloop comments, for good reason. These are almost perfect batteries. True, the voltage is a little lower, but like mustang1068 pointed out, they retain a charge of 80% after 12 months of no use. I have them in all the game console controllers and kids toys.
    Reply
  • starryman
    Hey great article minus the missing conclusion... I have both the Sanyo Eneloop and the Energizer rechargeable batteries with real world use for over a year. The Energizers are a pure waste of money. I bought 5 packs of 4 packs of the Energizers and have two of the chargers. After 3 months of use 6 of them stopped charging. Then 6 months later about half of them burned out. I noticed the Energizer batteries get realllllly hot when charging. The battery life on them drop significantly after 20-30 charges. The fast charging seems to kill them. The Eneloop batteries still work but the discharge rate sucks. I have a Canon 480EX camera flash and the Eneloops can't keep up. After 4 successive shots, it pauses for about 4 seconds. The Energizers can push out 9 successive shots before a pause but only good for maybe 60 shots and discharges to 20% if not used. Regular Alkaline batteries will give me 14 successive shots and give about 200 flash shots. Plus I can have them in the flash for months without worrying about them discharging to nothing. So at this point both the Eneloop and Energizers just sit in a tub and everyone once in awhile I have to pull out an Energizer that begins to corrode. At this point I've gone back to Alkaline batteries at Costco which is 48 AA for about $12. With Alkalines they have the perfect balance of longevity, discharge, and cost. I may try out the PowerGenix NiZn though... I just worry that it may toast my $400 camera flash.
    Reply