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Which Rechargeable Batteries Do You Use? 176

Posted by Cliff
from the they-keep-going-and-going dept.
kramer2718 asks: "I go through a lot of batteries in my digital camera, remote controls, etc. I'd like to go to the rechargeable route for the environment and for my pocketbook, but I don't know which rechargeable batteries are the best. Can anyone out there give me some advice about which brand and types of batteries work well?"
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Which Rechargeable Batteries Do You Use?

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  • by CmdrPorno (115048) * on Saturday January 13, 2007 @01:32PM (#17592534)
    Lithium-ion ones made by Sony.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ScrewMaster (602015)
      I dunno ... I C4 of them in my charger right now.
  • MAHA NiMH. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @01:36PM (#17592582)
    MAHA NiMH from http://www.thomasdistributing.com/ [thomasdistributing.com] . I've had several that have been working perfectly for more than half a decade now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nek (534149)
      I can't agree more. Couple those high-capacity NiMH MAHA cells with a good MAHA charger and it's a match made in heaven. I have been using some 2500 maH MAHA cells in some wireless Clear-Com and radios and wireless mics for a year now and have saved $500 in battery costs. At home, I use them in my digital camera, iPod speakers and portable radios. MAHA kick ass. I recommend their new 8-bay AA/AAA charger: http://www.thomas-distributing.com/maha-mh-c801d-b attery-charger.htm [thomas-distributing.com]
    • Re:MAHA NiMH. (Score:5, Informative)

      by rvw (755107) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @03:34PM (#17594070)

      You should indeed buy NiMH batteries (not NiCd). I've used Sony and several B-brands, all of them working okay. But beware that not only the batteries are important, but the charger can make a big difference as well. All these batteries suffer from memory-effects (even if they claim NiMH does not). After a while they seem to wear out. At one moment, you charge them, want to use them, and they stop working after a second or so. Then you need to discharge (refresh) them completely. In fact, you should have done this long before. Special rechargers offer the function to discharge them completely before charging. This discharge draws them empty completely.

      I use a Sony charger, like the Sony BCG-34HRMF4 Super Quick Charger [amazon.com].

      • Re:MAHA NiMH. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @05:29PM (#17595438)
        I'm afraid you're mistaken about the "memory effect". There never was a memory effect in consumer-grade batteries, NiCd or NiMH. What people experienced, and what was called "memory effect" was in fact overcharging due to crappy timer-based chargers.

        When you put a partially-charged cell into a timer-based charger, the charging circuit won't shut off until well after the cell is cooked, thus the directions to fully discharge the battery before recharging.

        However, with modern electronically controlled chargers (Such as the Energizer 30 or 15-minute NiMH charger) this is no longer an issue, and the wear on the battery caused by deep cycling far exceeds any risk of overcharging the cell.

        My suggestion is to use NiMH cells in anything that tends to wear down the batteries fairly quickly (cameras, portable electronics, etc) and get a GOOD charger; a charger rated for 30 minutes or below will be electronically controlled and will maximize cell life. Be prepared to spend $50 on a charger.

        For any low drain applications such as remote controls, smoke alarms, flashlights etc, your best bet is to use the non-rechargable lithium batteries that have recently become available in AA and AAA sizes. Unlike NiMH, NiCd and Alkaline to a lesser extent, Lithium batteries do not self-discharge over time, so they're perfect for applications where you want a long shelf life between uses. Lithiums also perform well in high-drain devices, but other cell types are much less expensive for such uses ('titanium' alkaline or NiMH).

        (captcha on this post is 'loosing', no wonder nobody around here can spell 'losing')
        • by NekoXP (67564)
          We should loose a pack of wolves on them. That would be loosing, wouldn't it? :)
          • by SEWilco (27983)
            We should loose a pack of wolves on them. That would be loosing, wouldn't it? :)
            Sounds like a winner to me.
            Or is that a weiner?
    • The prices at Thomas Distributing are VERY high, in my opinion. The charger recommended is $70. The batteries are more than twice what they cost during a sale at Fry's.

      Overnight Battery Charger With 4 AA Ni-MH Batteries [outpost.com], $11.99, regular price.
      • by Simon80 (874052)
        An overnight battery charger != a one hour charger with a conditioning cycle. The OP was looking for recommendations, not for the cheapest thing he can get. (That said, I have no idea if the recommendations are well founded or not)
      • I bought this charger [thomasdistributing.com] about two years ago and I love it. The batteries last forever and the charger is perfect - very small, portable (charge in your car's lighter) and fast - I use the slow charge mode and it takes about 4 hours. Even better, it has trickle charge so the batteries aren't overcharged but will remain at full power. It's worth the $50 investment (with 4 batteries!), trust me. I was redeemed even further when I saw that HP has moved to using MAHA Batteries [hp.com] as well for their rechargeable AA
        • by acvh (120205)
          Gotta put in my 2 cents on Thomas Distributing. I've been using 3 sets of four AAs from Thomas for over four years now, and they work as well as the day I got them. Add up what I would have spent on Duracells and this was a bargain.

    • by Gulthek (12570)
      You are right on the money with thomasdistributing. I've used them for my rechargeable battery needs since 2000 and just bought my second set of batteries!

      But you have the brand names mixed a little. Poster wants the Maha C204f charger with PowerEX batteries. There is no other way to power your battery devices.

      My digital camera runs for two hours on energizers when I'm snapping away and using the screen to compose all my shots. The latest powerex batteries (2800 ma) allow it to run at least eight. I am *ex
  • NIMH here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @01:41PM (#17592640)
    18 pack of ray o vac NIMH's. Energizer charger.

    Further, I made an effort to simplify devices around them:

    1. My flashlights use them
    2. My mp3 player uses them
    3. The flash on my canon XT uses them
    4. I bought a bluetooth headset that uses them ( 1 x aaa ) Motorola H300
    5. My wireless mice use them ( both use 2 x aa )

    YMMV, but NIMHs are a good way to go. LiPo and LiIon I dont think are really as common or as inexpensive.
    • by Gryffin (86893)

      YMMV, but NIMHs are a good way to go. LiPo and LiIon I dont think are really as common or as inexpensive.

      Lithium batteries aren't a direct replacement, because they run at waaaay too high a voltage.

      The voltage of a battery is determined by it's chemistry. Different formulations give different voltages:

      • Alkaline (non rechargeable): 1.5-1.6V fresh, decreasing steadily with use; most devices quit when the voltage drops to ~1.0V.
      • Energizer Lithium (non-rechargeable): ~1.7V, dropping very little in use to per
    • Good job!

      I'm annoyed at the wide range of consumer products coming out with built-in propritary batteries. Ever run out of juice in your bike light and cannibalized batteries from your camera to make yourself visible on the way home? I have done things like that several times. Others buy a seperate propritary battery for everything, and then wonder why they have too many AC adapters in their lives, and often replace entire devices because its cheaper than replacing their wierd-o batteries.

      AA: 1970s techn
  • by Yooden_Vranx (758878) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @01:42PM (#17592652)
    I use Rayovac's nickel metal hydrides. I started out with Rayovac's alkalines, which were one of the first on the market, and just stuck with them since I don't want to buy new chargers. If I were just buying today, I'd go with Energizer over Rayovac because not everyone stocks the Rayovacs, but the Rayovacs do work pretty well. I don't have any actual experience with Energizer. I don't have a speed charger, so it does take a few hours to recharge them if they're pretty deeply drawn down. I haven't seen any alkaline rechargeable in a long time, but even if you do, definitely go NiMH. The alkalines don't have a very high peak power, and if you ever drain them completely, they can't be recharged.
  • Ni-Metal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stonefoz (901011) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @01:42PM (#17592666)
    I still don't trust lithium-ion for regular uses, the device really needs an onboard controller just to keep them safe. Can't overcharge, voltage spike, drain too far, temp ect. However any device will be happy with Ni-Metal. Ni-Metal has the closest performance next to lithium-ion with the only drawback is weight, nickel is heavy.
    • by Andy Dodd (701)
      "the device really needs an onboard controller just to keep them safe"

      In fact, in the United States, a manufacturer is legally required to include protection circuitry (against short circuit, overcharge, and over-discharge) in any Lithium Ion battery pack sold in the United States.

      If I recall correctly, manufacturers of Li-Ion cells are not allowed to sell bare cells to anyone who is not licensed to work with Li-Ions. Any company you see selling "bare" cells to the general public most likely has a disclaim
  • by holden caufield (111364) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @01:48PM (#17592728)
    I have no connection to this company, other than being a satisfied customer, but what you want to do is to purchase Powerex NiMH batteries, and a MAHA - MH-C204W Smart World Travel Conditioning Battery Charger.

    Then you will be a satisified customer too.
    • by Danse (1026)
      I have no connection to this company, other than being a satisfied customer, but what you want to do is to purchase Powerex NiMH batteries, and a MAHA - MH-C204W Smart World Travel Conditioning Battery Charger.

      Seconded. I bought these for my camera, and they've been great. The charger is the best I've used.
    • by leiz (35205)
      I bought nimh batteries from thomas-distributing as well and I'm happy with them. I also have a bunch of ray-o-vac rechargable alkalines. You should buy the right type of battery depending on your situation:

      The nimh batteries work great for items like mp3 players and cameras that draw a lot of power. Rechargable alkalines tend to die after half an hour in my mp3 player. Rechargable alkalines work better in items like graphing calculators and palmpilots, which does not drain the battery as fast. In these dev
  • You didn't specify what kind of batteries the camera takes. But I'll assume it is AA.

    I think the obvious choice will be some high capacity NiMH batteries. Now-a-days we have a wide choice of cells ranging from 1500 to 2700mAh. Obviously, higher capacity means longer run time.

    You can find more info here: http://www.steves-digicams.com/nimh_batteries.html [steves-digicams.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by berzerke (319205)

      ...cells ranging from 1500 to 2700mAh...

      Be warned that the manufacturer's cheat with the higher mAh batteries. They say they are a certain size, but actually the batteries are slightly bigger than their stated size. More chemicials mean more mAh, but more chemicals also need more space.

      The upshot of this is if the battery compartment is tight, the larger mAh batteries won't fit as they are not the standard size. There is an upper limit. For AA, it seems to be about 2000-2200 mAh from my experience. Th

      • by peterpi (585134)
        So that's what it is! I've had batteries in the past that didn't seem to fit into anything, whereas cheaper ones did. I had no idea that's why it happened.
  • Comparison site (Score:5, Informative)

    by ximenes (10) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @01:57PM (#17592856)
    http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/BATTS/BATTS.H TM [imaging-resource.com] has comparisons of various brands from a year or two ago. It seems like basically PowerEx is the way to go, particularly when you take into account that they are now available in 2700 mAh versions. The highest mAh AA NiMH battery that I could find is from Accupower at 2900 mAh. However, they don't seem to perform as well as Sanyo 2700 mAh batteries, and so I would guess that they are also inferior to the PowerEx 2700 mAh ones.

    The important thing to remember is that anything towards the top of a comparison list is probably going to work fine; you don't necessary need the very finest NiMH battery available on the market today. For instance, I have some Sanyo 2300 mAh batteries that work just fine.

    It seems like www.thomasdistributing.com is the place to buy batteries if you're looking for a reputable online store.
    • Those Sanyo 2700 mAH batteries, I take it you're refering to the "Superlattice Alloy [nimhbattery.com]" types? They been performing well for you? I bought 8 of them, but they lose their charge over a timespan of 2 to 3 weeks, while lying on the shelf. However, I assume it's because of the crappy Memorex charger I charged them in the first couple of weeks (didn't have a decent charger back then, and it said on the charger that it was suitable for NiCd and NiMH, so I went with that). Now, no matter what I do to them in my Ansm

    • by crossmr (957846)
      The site is a bit out of date though. Any tests of the latest batteries?
  • NiMh for me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thomasdz (178114)
    I'm a big fan of "middle of the road" NiMh
    I know I'm not getting the biggest bang for the buck, but lately, any of the Lithium batteries scare me and NiCad's have that memory effect (and Cadmium is a environmental baddie).
    They ALL have their good points and bad points... heck good old lead-acid is great for long-term, always topped up storage like emergency lighting and car batteries.

    And by the way, Offtopic I know...I really detest things that have four AAA cells instead of two AA cells... you don't get a
  • by Clueless Moron (548336) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @02:04PM (#17592946)
    A cheap-ass charger overheats your batteries and drastically shortens their lifetime. A negative delta-V charger (like a MH-C777PLUS or that ilk) detects the teeny teeny tiny little voltage drops that NiCd and NiMH batteries do when they reach peak charge and stop right there.

    I've always just bought whatever high capacity stuff I can find that's on sale and use a nice charger. I've had cells last nearly ten years by babying them this way.

    As for the batteries, NiMH have higher capacity but a pretty horrible self-discharge rate. NiCds are a bit better, but to get decent usage out of either you really need to make a habit of topping them up before going off on your little expeditions. And always, always bring some alkalines with you. Their shelf life is phenomenal.

    Oh, and don't forget that the NiCd memory effect is a myth [repairfaq.org]. Let it die, already.

  • Though I have no idea what's wrong with Joules.

     
    • Tension of batteries vary, so energy is not exactly equals charge * nominal tension. Consequently, using joules is confusing and leads to marketeers using weard measuring schemes, like they do with power of sound systems.

  • I picked up a Lenmar quick charger with 4 2700mAh batteries three years ago for $20. I can typically get 1000 shots (20% of them flash) or 45 minutes of video out of my old Canon Powershot A80. Plus it came with a 12v car adapter. I think they're relabeled sanyo batteries, which are pretty much the best on the market as far as I can tell. Charges in about 30 min (As advertised). I picked up a second set of 2500mAh batteries for about $12.

    oonly down side is that they lose 2-3% of their charge per day
  • Various NiMH cells + an Energizer 15 minute charger is what I use.
  • Rather then waste money and time on the pricey ones, I just but the really cheep ones from the local dollar store @ $0.50. That way I can put them into low drain and occasional use devices like remotes, alarm clock backup, flashlights, portable test equipment, etc.

    The ones I get now are made in china and are labeled as 600/300mAh for AA/AAA. I also go with older, but never used chargers from a local surplus store that go for under $5 each. I used to buy really expensive chargers and batteries, but found t

    • >low drain and occasional use devices like remotes, alarm clock backup, flashlights, portable test equipment, etc.

      Rechargeables are the wrong choice for those. They self-discharge while the unit is on the shelf. Rechargeables are less annoying, and better able to pay for themselves, in regular heavy usage.

      Cheap chargers, by the way, are destructive.
    • I just but the really cheep ones from the local dollar store @ $0.50. & portable test equipment

      Use them in only cheap flashlights. I've seen too many cheap Ni-Cad batteries turn the spring contacts and wires into green powder. I would not want that in my digital camera or test equipment.
  • I use NiMH (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grishnav (522003) <grishnav&egosurf,net> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @02:13PM (#17593052) Homepage
    To learn about the different chemistries:

    http://batteryuniversity.com/ [batteryuniversity.com]

    I've found NiMH to be the best balance for all my applications.

    I've had good luck buying NiMH in bulk from this company:

    http://www.shorelinemarket.com/ [shorelinemarket.com]

    I've purchased AA and AAAs in bulk from them (Tenergy AAs and Powerizer AAAs). While they aren't the highest capacity batteries available, they are pretty close, and I haven't been able to beat the price per cell on comparable batteries or the price per MaH.

    The AAs seem to do a bit better in high-drain, as they seem to bleed a full charge in about four-six months, which means something that might run practically forever on a set (like a transistor radio you don't use often, or a small scanner), usually won't eat the batteries before they eat themselves. But they've done really well for me.

    I'm not real happy with the Powerizers. They seem more like 400-500mah than 850, but alas, I can't really test them. I'm tempted to buy some of the Tenergy AAs to try, but unfortunately I've already got a bunch of the Powerizers.
    I also purchased their 10-position AA/AAA charger/discharger. It works fine, but makes this annoying buzz every second or so as it charges and discharges, I'm assuming because of cheap components. Invest the extra bucks for a nice Maha.

    Anyway, read up at battery university before you go making any purchases. There is a lot of good info there. Just keep in mind they are operated buy the guy who runs Cadex.
  • I use the Energizer NiMH witha 15 Minute charger.....all sizes. They charge up quickly and last a long time if you get the higher amp hour ones.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @02:29PM (#17593278) Homepage
    A few years back I made a big push to try to save money by using rechargeable batteries. I gave up on them. Here are my personal experiences. Your mileage may vary.

    --How well devices on 1.2V rechargeable batteries varies a lot from one device to another. Some work just fine. Quite a few work poorly enough to be a nuisance. Conventional incandescent-bulb flashlights, for example, sort of work but are distinctly dim and yellowish. Many motorized devices are noticeably weak and lethargic. You can't really tell how well a device will work until you try it. And then you need to keep mental track of which devices you can use the rechargeables in. I had a cassette recorder that would play OK on 1.2V batteries, but when recording it didn't have quite enough power to hold the recording speed steady and the recordings would have some "wow" and unevenness to them.

    --Rechargeables store distinctly less energy, i.e. don't last anywhere near as long on a single charge as a disposable. This creates a large nuisance factor. Even if the device is only going to be used at home, it means that if you have devices that take N disposable batteries, you will need considerably more than N rechargeables, and probably more charges than you thought, in order to have freshly charged batteries always ready to swap in.

    --The nuisance factor of storing less energy is considerable. If my wife takes her camera on a vacation, she can put in an (expensive) disposable lithium at the start and that's it, she's set, no charger to drag along.

    --Rechargeables lose energy if not kept in the charger. This means you can't just keep a drawerful of freshly-charged batteries available.

    --Rechargeables die fairly quickly, typically in about two years. And suffer reduced capacity as they age. Yes, they do this no matter how anal you are about following whatever your favorite superstitious battery-care ritual ([always|never] discharge them completely before recharging, [do|don't] just leave them continuously charging in the charger, etc.) Individual batteries have enormous individual variation in their useful life. You can have two "C" batteries bought in the same package at the same time and one may suddenly crap out in a year, the other may be going strong after four... which makes the management problem more complicated.

    ACTUAL USEFUL TIP: In my experience, smaller rechargeables were very consistently worse in terms of premature failure. AA's were terrible. D's were pretty good.

    --It is like pulling teeth to get a manufacturer to replace a rechargeable battery that has failed "early." They know darn well the products aren't long-lived and will not just happily replace them on your say-so.

    --Because of the various factors mentioned, you cannot just replace all the alkaline disposables in your house with rechargeables, so you still need to have a drawerful of alkaline D's, C's, AA's, and AAA's as well as finding space for a charger or two and another outlet strip and so forth.

    --Because rechargeables require a certain amount of attention... what does it mean when the charger is showing a flashing red light? a steady green light? etc... and because so many of us develop our own personal rituals ("the charger on the left is with the charged batteries that are ready for use and just being kept topped up...") you can't really share rechargeables with other family members—even adult members, certainly not kids—except on the basis of "every time you need a battery come see me."

    --Because the rechargeable batteries themselves are expensive, and because the chargers are expensive (and because it's never completely clear whether it's safe to use any charger other than the one designed specifically for the specific batteries) and because the batteries tend to fail in a few years, it is not at all clear that you actually save money using them in a general way.

    Obviously, if you have a battery-hungry device that you use all the time that runs fine off 1.2V rechargeables... say one that you use so often that you replace the batteries every week... you may save money.
    • *and* in the case of Ni-Cds you can't just throw them in the household trash, not if you're at all responsible. You get the joys of finding where to recycle hazmat.
    • by evilviper (135110) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @05:06PM (#17595132) Journal
      A few years back I made a big push to try to save money by using rechargeable batteries. I gave up on them.

      Your experience is seriously out-of-date, and just about the exact opposite of reality now.

      How well devices on 1.2V rechargeable batteries varies a lot from one device to another. Some work just fine. Quite a few work poorly enough to be a nuisance.

      1) The more batteries a device has, the more chance that there will be a problem. Anything that only uses 2 batteries will be fine. 4 should be okay as well. 6-8 and you've got a real issue. In that case, some higher-end devices have extra compartments for extra rechargable batteries. On my Sega Nomad, I added a couple myself.

      2) Panasonic's NiCD batteries are rated at 1.25 volts, which helps.

      3) Alkaline batteries offer lower voltages over time, as they become drained, so just about everything has to be able to operate on 1.2V anyhow, otherwise it will have horendous battery life. NiCD batteries, unlike Alkalines, will hold their 1.2V until they're almost completely drained. That works great in most modern devices, but is considered a drawback in flashlights because you get no warning.

      4) But more than that. Modern Ni-MH batteries, though rated at 1.2V, really offer 1.5V (in my own tests) when freshly charged, and slowly go down, like Alkalines.

      Rechargeables store distinctly less energy, i.e. don't last anywhere near as long on a single charge as a disposable.

      This hasn't been true for over a decade.

      1) "High capacity" AA NiCDs from Radioshack (850mAH?) have just slightly less power than Alkalines, and have been sold for at least a decade now.

      2) High Capacity AA Panasonic NiCDs (1100mAH) last as long or longer than Alkalines, DESPITE the lower voltage of NiCD.

      3) NiMH AA batteries, as sold by Energizer and Duracell (2000+ mAH), last nearly TWICE as long as disposible Alkaline batteries.

      Rechargeables lose energy if not kept in the charger.

      1) True for NiCD, but absolutely not true for NiMH. NiMH batteries will hold their charge for months.

      2) I haven't seen an always-on charger in well over a decade. So your experience is obviously very out-of-date, and not remotely applicable or helpful.

      3) Recent batteries and chargers have gotten charge time down to 30 minutes, so unless you are in a situation desperately need a battery R

      4) Leaving NiCD batteries constantly charging will significantly reduces their lifespan. That may have been causing some of the other issues you listed.

      Rechargeables die fairly quickly, typically in about two years. And suffer reduced capacity as they age.

      1) Really crappy NiCDs, under an extremely heavy duty cycle, may have the life you describe. The better ones will last far longer. And in more realistic usage, even the crappy ones will last far more than a year.

      2) NiMH have no such problems. They'll last for many more years, and exhibit very little capacity loss.

      you cannot just replace all the alkaline disposables in your house with rechargeables,

      Not true. With NiMH batteries, EVERYTHING I have is operating on rechargables.

      ("the charger on the left is with the charged batteries that are ready for use and just being kept topped up...") you can't really share rechargeables with other family members

      Yeah, 20 years ago that was a real problem. Ever since, it's been trivially easy.

      it is not at all clear that you actually save money using them in a general way.

      It's been overwhelmingly proven, time and time again, in study after study, that you save significant money, even with the cheapest, oldest rechargables.

      Today, the situtation is worlds better, and extremely clear-cut.

      Tell me, does your laptop computer operate on disposible Alkaline AA batteries, or does it use rechargeables? How about your iPod?
      • by jabuzz (182671)
        Sorry but some classes of device are not economic to run on rechargables, because they last for so long on alkalines. A prime example would be remote controls, which seem to go at least five years between replacement in my experience. Other devices should not be run on rechargables for safety reasons. For example it would be very foolish to use a rechargable in something like an avalanche transceiver.
        • by smchris (464899)
          A prime example would be remote controls

          Guess it depends on how long you expect to live. With rechargeables priced at about 1-1/2 to 2 times a name-brand alkaline, it isn't exactly like you are selling the kids into slavery to afford the initial investment. Or need to do a lot of recharges over _your_ lifetime to recoup the cost.

          But, yes, instead of changing the time zone this fall for daylight saving time, I decided to actually properly adjust the time on a world map 2-1/4"x3" screen LCD desk clock I hav
      • by Gryffin (86893)

        Generally good post, very informative. But I have one correction:

        1) True for NiCD, but absolutely not true for NiMH. NiMH batteries will hold their charge for months.

        Actually, the newer NiMH formulations that allow those crazy high capacities (2400mAH+ in AA, for instance) do have this problem. Bad. I deal with this myself; the 2500mAH Energizer NiMH's for my digital camera won't work if they've been sitting more than a couple weeks after charging. I have to leave them in my smart charger if I expect them

      • by Agripa (139780)

        2) Panasonic's NiCD batteries are rated at 1.25 volts, which helps.

        3) Alkaline batteries offer lower voltages over time, as they become drained, so just about everything has to be able to operate on 1.2V anyhow, otherwise it will have horendous battery life. NiCD batteries, unlike Alkalines, will hold their 1.2V until they're almost completely drained. That works great in most modern devices, but is considered a drawback in flashlights because you get no warning.

        4) But more than that. Modern Ni-MH batteries

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by pacmanfan (824027)
      Whoa whoa whoa. Lots of misinformation here. -You really should look at flashlight output curves with alkaline cells, and then NiMH cells. While they tend to start out brighter with alkaline cells, that tends to quickly change, and NiMH cells will stay brighter for longer. The brighter the flashlight, the more this difference is amplified. -I wouldn't say rechargeables store DISTINCTLY less energy. Technology has improved, and they are now storing nearly as much energy as alkalines. I look for them to sur
    • by dangitman (862676)

      And then you need to keep mental track of which devices you can use the rechargeables in.

      Why would you need to keep mental track of it? You could just put a label in the battery bay.

  • Energizer NiMH (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eil (82413) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @02:29PM (#17593282) Homepage Journal
    If, like me, you typically only use AA or AAA batteries, just go to your local department store and get the bundled 4-pack of Energizer NiMH batteries and charger for $15-20. Spring for the better, more expensive charger (or buy one online) only if you're constantly going through batteries or need sizes other than AA and AAA.

    When buying the batteries themselves, go for the highest capacity they have in stock, 2500mAH or higher. Compared to alkalines, they pay for themselves after just a few recharges and each charge lasts about as long or longer than your typical alkaline battery. Most NiMH batteries are rated to last up to about 1000 charges. In my case, that means I have a better chance of losing them before they go permanently dead.

    You can't replace alkalines with NiMH in all situations, though. NiMH batteries lose their charge at a rate of about 1% per day, so this takes them out of the running for low-drain applications like remote controls, digital clocks, and smoke alarms. Things that you'd never change the batteries in more than once a year. They also don't replace NiCad batteries in especially high current draw devices like RC cars.

    Another possible con is that devices which contain built-in battery meters (MP3 players and PDAs) are calibrated for alkalines. Thus, when you put in an NiMH battery, they usually show the battery as being only 80% right out of the charger. However, they will stay at that level for quite a long time and then start to drop off quickly when the power is almost gone. When your device says you have about 20% left on your batteries, you probably only have a couple of minutes before they die completely. It's not a smooth discharge curve like alkalines.

    But on the whole, the savings are worth it. I used to pay more in batteries for my GameBoy Advance than I did for the unit itself and the games. Now, after a $30 investment in a charger and batteries, I just rotate through the same set of batteries.
  • I'm pleased with the performance of Sanyo's Eneloop [eneloopusa.com] batteries. They're rechargeable and have the capacity (middle of the road at ~2000 mAh) of NiMH with much better self-discharge properties. Sanyo claims they'll hold 85% of their charge after a year. I haven't had them long enough to test that claim but the low self-discharge rate is the reason I purchased them for my Wii controllers. It's not often three other people show up but when they do I don't want to be swapping batteries and/or charging, the remot

    • by Guppy (12314)
      Yup, I have a couple of the Hybrio batteries (http://www.hybriousa.com/ [hybriousa.com]). Supposedly they are not quite as good as Eneloop (~70% after a year in storage is what I've heard), but still pretty decent as far as capacity and self-discharge goes. Very good in my digital camera -- I don't take pictures often so it tends to sit in storage for a couple of months between uses.

    • These may be a good option for me. I've been looking at the Ray-o-vac hybrids, but frankly couldn't find anyone, anywhere that knew anything about them (aside from teh Ray-o-vac website, which claims they're great - big shock).

      Thanks for posting.
  • duh (Score:4, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @02:40PM (#17593426)
    Potato. To recharge it you just drop it on the ground and wait.
  • A bit off topic, but Nintendo advises for the Wii remote not to use rechargeable batteries. Since those things seem to suck an alkaline down in about a week or two of play (among everyone who has been using it recently), I thought rechargeable would be the way to go.

    Is there any reason a device like this should not be using rechargeable batteries? Has anyone had positive or negative experience using rechargeables with the wiimote? If so, what type of batteries and what charger are you using?

    To contri
    • by friedmud (512466)
      I'm using Energizer NiMH batteries in my Wiimotes... haven't had any problems.

      I must have missed the part where they tell you not to use rechargeables.... but at any rate, everything is working fine. There was simply no way I was buying regular Alkalines all the damn time. Only time will tell if it damages the Wiimote.... but my bet is they are just protecting their asses in case something _did_ happen.

      Friedmud
    • I use Radio Shack batteries in my Microsoft Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer. Although they need charged like once a week, it's better than replacing it with new batteries every 4 weeks.
    • by Zerth (26112)
      I'm using Rayovac 15 minute nimh(just cause I can get them wholesale) in my wiimotes since november, no problems yet. They last 1-2 weeks, and really do take about 15 minutes to charge.
    • I haven't seen them say that anywhere, and even so it would be stupid to buy new batteries for every 35 hours (that's how long they say it lasts)
      A rechargeable cell doesn't do anything different than a primary alkaline battery. It provides a voltage that the device can use for electrical power. In fact, the voltage of an alkaline cell drops very quickly to the 1.2V of a NiMH cell, and continues to drop below that. So most of the time you will probably get less voltage from an alkaline battery.
      The different
      • by Paralizer (792155)
        I haven't seen them say that anywhere
        The Wii manual (system setup one) says on page 18:

        - Use only alkaline batteries. Do not use lithium ion, nickel cadmium (nicad), nickel metal hydride (nimh), carbon zinc or any other non-alkaline batteries.

        - Do not recharge the batteries.
  • By the time they need replacing, technology will have moved on, and the answer may be "something else". But this answer seems OK to me for now.
  • After seeing this, I went to Consumer Reports, and to my disappointment and surprise, they don't have much on rechargeable batteries, even with my subscription there. Basically pick a nickel-metal hydride, but they don't compare manufacturers.

    Any ideas on where to find a non-biased moderately scientific comparison?
  • Cheapo advices (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vo0k (760020) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @03:49PM (#17594234) Journal
    - avoid "famous brands", like Duracell, Philips etc. You pay premium for the name while the quality doesn't change.

    - Capacity - same as with HDDs except you get amper-hours per dollar, instead of gigabytes/$. If you want to bother, calculate mAh/$ ratio for all available and pick the best. If you don't, the rule of thumb is to pick a notch or two below the highest available on market. With smaller you pay extra for costs common to manufacturing any capacity, with bigger you pay extra for cutting edge.

    - make sure you get a matching charger. Some don't work with lower capacities, some with high. Good bargains for rechargables+chargers can be found. Chargers without auto-off suck.

    - all rechargables discharge by themselves over time. If you use them in remotes etc, prepare for recharging bi-weekly or so. Sucks. Use in devices you use a lot. It still pays with wireless mouse/keyboard too.

    - It's good to get two sets for each device, one charging, one in use. If you want the cheaper way, get one set of normal cheap batteries for time when the rechargables recharge. Remember to replace as soon as the rechargables are charged.

    - Despite what they say on the packages, you can recharge standard single-use Alkalines - about 2-5 times (as opposed to hundreds with rechargables) with a slow charger. Just in case, place the charger with batteries down, on a surface that's easy to clean and not expensive, don't leave unattended and if it's not auto-off, unplug before they reach designated full capacity (that's when they start to heat up and are most prone to explode.)
    • Despite what they say on the packages, you can recharge standard single-use Alkalines - about 2-5 times[...]

      You can actually do this MORE than that under certain conditions. The trick to treating alkalines as rechargeables is that unlike NiMH and NiCad batteries, alkalines do best if you recharge them frequently, after every small use (whereas usually you hear people recommending that you mostly drain NiMH and NiCad batteries before recharging, for fear of "the memory effect"). You can never get quite ba

    • by vga_init (589198)
      I think you can save a lot of money by just buying standard NiMH batteries. They don't last forever, you know...
    • by Paralizer (792155)
      They don't seem practical to me. If you always have open USB ports open then maybe. You can already buy crazy things that have USB adapters that you would likely never want to use while at your computer; lights, fans, vacuum cleaners (seriously...), now we have a battery. A battery that plugs into a USB port. A battery. Sure there's a geekish side to it that makes it a pretty cool thing, but at $10 each (on thinkgeek, which is always a little high.. maybe you can get them for $6) it's just ridiculous -
    • by Kris_J (10111) *
      I just got two pairs of these. I'd love to effusively rave about them, but I've only just charged them up and used them for about one hour of Wiiplay. So far they're great. I certainly didn't have problems finding four USB ports that are powered without a PC needing to be on.
  • by AtariDatacenter (31657) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @04:19PM (#17594536)
    Wow. Just reading some of these comments, you'd think that rechargeables are horrible. I use them everywhere. Remotes, flashlights, wireless mouse, wireless keyboard, toys, lcd clocks, caller ID boxes, volt meters, you name it.

    The answer is to buy cheap NiMH batteries, like so: 24 @2600mAh for $30, free shipping, free cases [all-battery.com]

    Also find yourself a good charger, and this discussion seems to be filled with them. There are different onces for different needs. Be it you need 8 charging at once, C/D size and 9 volt, or you want one with a good conditioner.

    At $1.25 per battery [final price, shipped], even if all the haters are correct about 'wasting NiMH batteries in low draw devices', you're still ahead of the game. And people are very satisfied with Tenergy brand batteries, and they're 2600mAh.

    The real key to being happy with rechargeables is, first to buy them for all your items, and then (most important), buy those few extra batteries to fill up your battery charger. Then, when your toy/remote/whatever runs out of batteries, all you do is swap the new ones in the charger for the depleted ones in your device. Having a constant supply of charged up battiers is the key to being happy with rechargables. Very little education required for others in your household. ("If you take some batteries out of here, put your old ones back in here.")

    I think the only way I'd switch away from rechargables is if I had an exceptionally high-draw item that I needed to last longer between battery changes. Like an 80s boombox if I wasn't inclined to carry a second set of batteries with me. Not that alkalines would solve the issue either, though. Just push out the depletion a little further.
    • The real key to being happy with rechargeables is, first to buy them for all your items, and then (most important), buy those few extra batteries to fill up your battery charger. Then, when your toy/remote/whatever runs out of batteries, all you do is swap the new ones in the charger for the depleted ones in your device. Having a constant supply of charged up battiers is the key to being happy with rechargables. Very little education required for others in your household. ("If you take some batteries out of

      • I have consistently mixed and matched for years without problems. But I actually would be interested in reading more about this requirement, to understand any potential downside (likelyhood of an event, and severity).

        In my mind, at least, people seem to concentrate a lot on theoretical problems, or they focus on actual problems that in life have very little real impact. So I just kind of wonder where this one stands.
  • I haven't tried these myself, just read an article in the paper, and looked at the web page and put them on my 'to try' list.

    Normally NiMH batteries discharge so rapidly when not in use that you pretty much need to remember to charge them the night before you want to use them, which is a pain when taking spare batteries on, say, a backpacking trip.

    Rayovac has new 'hybrid' NiMH battery that ships fully charged and is supposed to hold a charge much longer in storage.

    http://www.rayovac.com/recharge/hybrid_tech [rayovac.com]
  • by gradbert (80505)
    I use 4 AA NiMH batteries in my camera (a Canon S1). I have some 2500 mAh energizer batteries that I will not use in it and I have some 1800 mAh sanyo ones that I use regularly. Why? because of variances in the batteries and their self discharge rate.

    When my wife wants to take a picture of the kids doing something cute we need the either the batteries in the camera to not be discharged, or for there to be a charged set of batteries ready to go.

    So I bought a bunch of 2500mAh batteries thinking these would be
  • I brought 4 CRV3 rechargeable batteries and a recharger all branded by Juice for a decent price on eBay. I think rechargeable lithium is the way to go for cameras if your camera is compatible (apparently, some have a slightly higher voltage than regular CRV3 lithium but they are working fine in my Pentax DSLR).
    • by rsborg (111459)

      I brought 4 CRV3 rechargeable batteries and a recharger all branded by Juice for a decent price on eBay.

      Good on ya, that your camera takes CR-V3 (them's the coolest). Yeah, only wish more folks would design their damn battery cases to allow for CR-V3... only difference between an AA and a CR-V3 is the /\ groove that needs to be removed. I often wanted to sand this down in my devices so I could stop using AA's... especially my external DSLR flash.

  • by Myself (57572) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @01:01AM (#17599648) Journal
    The charger is much more important than the batteries you're putting in it. Most brands perform just fine, for a while. Knowing when a set (or an individual cell) is past its peak is the key. I picked up a LaCrosse BC-900 [lacrossetechnology.com] charger just over a year ago, and it's awesome. Most chargers leave you "blind" as to the actual capacity, they just tell you "this one's full!". Being able to really test the batteries is great. I found a neglected set in a box that I hadn't touched in about 4 years. Some of them had failed short. After a moment with a benchtop power supply I'd awoken them, but none would hold much charge. (showing ~500mAh capacity) So I tossed 'em in the LaCrosse for a refresh cycle, and after a few days they were all performing within a few percent of their original rating. No other charger would've given me the information I needed, or the automatic refresh cycle, to bring those back from the dead.

    My BC-900 melted last week. It was the rev-32 firmware, which apparently wasn't careful enough about stopping activities when a cell overheated. It took out a Powerex 2300mAh cell, which was sputtering and smoking and stank up the whole end of the house. I've got an email in to LaCrosse right now, but even if they won't replace my (three months out of warranty) unit for free, I plan to pick up a new one (running rev 33 firmware) as soon as possible. A near-fire hasn't diminished my love of this charger, that's how revolutionary it is.
  • Potato-nickel-penny piles. Canadian pennies and nickels work better than US ones.
  • They recharge? I just keep buying new phones.
  • The difference between different brands are minimal, as obviously, many brands use the same manufacturer(s). You get what you pay for (although it could just as well be that you're paying for the brand-name instead of the performance). But if you insist in worrying about this, make sure to buy from someone who sells lots of batteries. Old batteries that have lived on the shelf for a year, without being recharged, are probably in bad condition.

    Conclusion: Buy cheap, but not suspiciously cheap, no-brand or

  • I bike. A lot. I depend on LED Bike lights to keep me alive every night. Alkaline AAs are 1.5 volts. I would like to use NiMH AAs and AAAs, but at 1.2 volts they're just not bright enough. :(

    There's no law of physics that says NiMH has to be 1.2v. As we all know from high-school physics, putting two batteries in || effectively gives you one battery with double the voltage. NiMHs have made such huge strides in power storage, but have made no effort to come into voltage conformance with the AA and AAA s

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