In 2017, I went through more batteries than I care to admit. I bought batteries for my headphones, batteries for my TV remotes, batteries for my Xbox controller and for some reason, batteries for a portable radio that I don't even use. I usually go for the expensive stuff but do I have to?
Some incredibly astute investigative work over at Wired takes a deep dive into the 'quality' of cheap, dollar store batteries and compares them with two of the most well-known battery manufacturers - Energizer and Duracell.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the more expensive batteries, the Duracell and Energizer, were shown to have greater power, more energy and last longer than the cheaper dollar store batteries. However, the real gold lies in the notion that the expensive batteries are not worth the extra cost.
Rhett Allain suggests that when you are buying batteries, you are really just buying energy and thus, you can quantify the 'money-energy' density of the battery: The energy divided by the cost per battery.
When you analyse the three brands side-by-side, it becomes clear that the money-energy density is very similar. The more expensive batteries have more power, sure, but for the same amount of money you get more batteries in the dollar-store pack. There is one issue though: the cheaper batteries also have a lower voltage, so Allain cautions that some devices may not work as well - or nearly as long - as they would on the Energizer or Duracell batteries.
In Australia, a survey by Canstar Blue of consumer satisfaction with batteries in 2017 showed that Duracell was rated the best, but that ALDI Activ Energy batteries were considered the best value for money. If we look at the price for Duracell AA batteries at somewhere like Officeworks where a 16 pack is $21.99 ($1.37 each) and compare to the ALDI batteres, where in the past they have had 20 packs go for as little as $7 (0.35c each), there is a clear discrepancy in how much you might have to dole out for your energy.
Bottom line? It's not always worth going for the more expensive batteries if you're just looking for a quick fix. Those dollar store batteries will likely work just fine.