Ask LH: Should I Buy Expensive Batteries?

Ask LH: Should I Buy Expensive Batteries?

Hi Lifehacker, Is it worth buying expensive batteries for my remotes, wireless mouse, keyboard and so on? Or am I better off buying the cheapest option out there and replacing the batteries more often? Thanks, Overcharged

Dear Overcharged,

It very much depends on what you use. The remote control for your television doesn’t actually need a lot of power: it’s not a device you use terribly often and it isn’t doing anything overly complicated. I’ve always run my TV remote on el cheapo batteries and I can’t even remember when I last replaced them.

For more frequently-used devices such as a mouse, a higher-capacity battery may be a better investment. If you’re constantly replacing bargain batteries, then you may end up spending just as much (and also being annoyed by the constant changeover). That said, it doesn’t cost much to buy a set of cheap batteries and see how you go. If your mouse runs well, stick with them. If it doesn’t, upgrade.

Ultimately, research suggests the cheapest option altogether is to avoid single-use batteries altogether and choose rechargeable batteries (which also has the advantage that you’re throwing out batteries less often). While there’s a high outlay initially to purchase the charger, you’ll end up saving money over time. So if you’re undecided, buy rechargeables.

That’s our take. What have readers found? Power into the comments.

Cheers Lifehacker Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].


  • I got my GF an iMac as she wanted one and was due a new computer, the mouse on the iMac is very battery sensitive (probably requires more power for some reason, never looked into it, just don’t care enough to go into that much detail), if i put in lower quality batteries even brand new it constantly keeps losing signal, i read through a few forums and once i went to a higher end battery this stopped happening.

    So as per the article, try the lower end, if its fine and last long enough all good, otherwise you may need to move to a better quality battery.

    • Short answer = Induction charging
      Check the link:

      Next best investment to be made after buying the iMac 🙂 You’ll be ahead financially over single-use batteries in no time, not to mention it makes the mouse a little lighter as well as the cells are a little bit smaller (see below).

      Note: these chargers have 1.2V batteries (vs typical 1.5V) so your iMac will always say the mouse is only about 80-83% charged. Rest assured the charge in each cell will in fact be full.

      I bought this for my daily workhorse (using between 7-10 hours a day) as I was getting sick of rotating between 2 sets of rechargeable batteries – haven’t looked back since.

      EDIT: I probably should follow up with a note to state I’m not affiliated with these guys in any way 🙂 I just picked mine up at JB’s awhile back after reading some reviews and love the fact I can just sit my mouse on a little plastic stand and it charges while I’m out to lunch, in a meeting, overnight etc.

  • I’m not a fan of cheap batteries at all. I’ve experienced a few that have leaked and ruined whatever it was in, usually a remote. They don’t seem so cheap when you’ve gotta buy a new remote. Eneloops work for me.

    • I’ve had the same problem with cheaper batteries leaking. Most worrying are children’s toys which have been ruined by the batteries they came supplied with. Having said that – I’ve also had some more expensive brands leak, so you don’t always get what you pay for.

  • I think a key factor for non rechargeables is capacity lost to use vs capacity lost to self discharge.

    Cheapo non zinc batteries discharge faster than alkaline or lithium batteries.

    In a low power use environment (such as a TV remote) then you probably lose more capacity to self discharge than you actually use running the remote.

    You could calculate power use + self discharge vs cost for the capacity, and figure out the better deal.

    Without knowing any actual numbers, it might be that your el cheapo batteries last 3 years in a remote, while the much more powerful but more expensive alkaline batteries last 6 years.

    If the cheapo batteries are less than half the price, then they would be worth it.

    On the flip side, how much is your time worth in changing batteries (or having your remote not work) and comparing prices!

    I have never needed to change my remote batteries from the ones that came with it, but if I did, the more expensive lithium batteries with a 10 year + self discharge rate are probably a good bet for convenience.

  • If you have high power use and are looking to save money in the long run, try rechargeable batteries, then look for

    1./ A high quality rechargeable battery like “eneloop” and then “Duracell” brand, which deliver high power (if Duracell has 1700 mAh or above on the battery), and last a long time

    2./ And / or a rechargeable battery with a high “mAh” ( meaning basically energy delivered while you use it) – something like 1700 mAh or above, which will deliver a lot of power – suitable for a wireless mouse

    I have never had a leakage or any sort of problem with “eneloop” or “Duracell” rechargeable batteries
    I have used enaloop in the ultimate test -camera flash, and would easily handle what you want to use them for

    I bought my “eneloop” batteries at Dick Smith

  • When considering rechargeable batteries, take a good hard look at – the charger. If you are using 2300mAh AA’s, it can take up to 7 hours to recharge a set of 4. For an iMac, you DO need 4 – 2 in mouse, 2 in keyboard.
    Throw in TV remote, or emergency flashlight, and suddenly you need SIX. Battery driven warming gloves, great for winter, take 3 AA’s each; now you have 12 AA’s in the house, and if you want a happy girlfriend you’d better recharge those glove batteries in a hurry.
    Most chargers only hold 4 batteries at a time, so you’re going to need at least 2 chargers.

  • i used to tell customers all the time when i worked for Battery World, that you do actually get what you pay for in regards to batteries (within a bit of reason of course). we used to have a chart that compared capacity of different brands and sizes of batteries. from memory in Alkaline batteries- duracell industrial AA were rated as highest capacity, and i also believe that the energizer industrial AA were very similar if not better in some applications (this was going by what one customer had told me after trying both brands) next i think it was the Varta Alkalines and there was also a brand called powercell which worked really well and had a much better price per battery compared to the other batteries.

    but the ‘you get what you pay for’ applies to car batteries, motorbike batteries, mobile phone batteries etc too (within reason).

    simple rule of thumb when comparing alkaline batteries of the same size – go for the heaviest ones.

  • If you check out they quite often have a 40 pack of Duracell Alkaline AA’s or AAA’s for around $16 or $17. Worth stocking up when they have these. You save heaps!

  • the internet s always happy when Dicksmith’s has a special on Eneloops 8 AA or AAA for $20 or something delivered…

    are they that good or what is it?

    • Eneloops usually have a much higher number of cycles than other rechargeables: the current crop can be recharged around 1700-1800 times*. If unused/in storage, Eneloops usually hold their charge a lot better than other rechargeable batteries. Self-discharge is around 10% per year (a lot of NiMH batteries self-discharge 10 to 20% a month, IIRC).

      * There’s apparently a newer generation out under the Panasonic brandname (after Panasonic acquired Sanyo, which developed Eneloop) which does up to 2100 recharges. I haven’t seen these in Australia yet, but I haven’t really looked at batteries for half a year, so I’m probably a little out of date.

  • I did some research on the net about which non rechargeable batteries represent the best value. This was the best site I found .

    Some conclusions:

    The very cheap zinc based batteries are not in fact very good value (with the way Liam goes through these batteries on his game remotes, I am coming to that conclusion, but it is nice to have some data to back up that feeling)

    Alkaline batteries perform quite similarly. So go for the cheapest available alkaline battery.

    Their best value battery is Ikea. At 10p a battery. They are $30c A per battery in Australia

    The VARTA performed slightly better. But they were 59p in their test. But at Bunning’s they are $9 for 30 (30c each) This appears to be the sweet point for me in terms of value and accessibility

    When I went to purchase the VARTA battery, I found that VARTA made more than one grade of battery. The grade that was tested was significantly more expensive than 30c per battery.

  • Cheap batteries in remotes are a nogo for me. Remotes can last for ages on batteries. I find that cheap batteries however can’t handle the longevity and eventually leak acid that kills the remote.

    Yes it has happened to me.

    It is very difficult to buy a new remote for your tv.

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