Know When To Use Alkaline Versus Rechargeable Batteries

Know When To Use Alkaline Versus Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable batteries have their share of benefits (helping the environment, for one), but when it comes to saving money, personal finance blogger Len Penzo argues that sometimes regular old alkalines are the better option.

Photo by Sam Catchesides.

Penzo argues that rechargeable batteries aren’t always cost effective, suggesting that you’re better off knowing when to choose an alkaline over a rechargeable battery.

For example, it makes much more sense to use traditional alkaline batteries for low-draw devices like your wall clocks, radios, smoke detectors, programmable thermostats and remote controls because they lose power at a much slower rate than rechargeable batteries.

Penzo also says to go the alkaline route for your alarm clock back-up battery and emergency flashlights. As for rechargeables? He says that only “moderate to high current-draw devices that get at least moderate use” are worth using rechargeables—devices like video game controllers, for example. Last but not least, Penzo distinguishes among the four types of rechargeable batteries (NiMH, NiCad, Alkaline and Lithium Ion — the full post has a chart detailing each).

Check out the post for more details on when to choose each battery type, then browse our previous post on how to squeeze every ounce of power from your disposable batteries and top ten battery tips and hacks. If you’re an experienced battery recharger, share your best practices in the comments.

Why Rechargeable Batteries Are Rarely Cost Effective [Len Penzo via Consumerist]


  • Two things
    1) The author completely misses discussion of the new breeed of long shelf life rechargables. This changes the equation in many cases.
    2) The author completely avoids all environmental factors when comparing. Yes the payback period may be a long time in some cases, but in that time, if I avoid putting even one dead battery in the ground, then that must be a good thing.

  • Sorry, but I’ve got no idea why you’re higlighting this column. It mentions LSD batteries only in the comments, and just wipes them there anytway, dsespite the fact that they invalidate several of his points.

    People who have no idea about batteries probably shouldn’t write about them, and lifehacker CERTAINLY shouldn’t point people at the article as if it has some sort of clue.

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