Are Expensive Batteries Worth the Extra Money?

Are Expensive Batteries Worth the Extra Money?
Image: iStock

One year, I went through more batteries than I care to admit. I them batteries for my headphones, my TV remotes, my Xbox controller and for some reason, a portable radio that I don’t even use. I usually go for the expensive stuff but do I have to? Probably not.

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 brands, 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 making a purchase, 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 ones 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 kind also have a lower voltage, so Allain cautions that some devices may not work as well — or nearly as long — as they would on brands like Energizer or Duracell.

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 ones, 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 brands if you’re just looking for a quick fix. Those dollar store ones will likely work just fine.

You can read Allain’s full breakdown at Wired.


This story has been updated since its original publication.


  • or you could be better for the environment and buy rechargeables. ive still got some sets of AAs that have been going for 7 or 8 years for various remote controls etc and they are charged for nothing via my solar panels.

    i always shudder when you see the massive packs of batteries that people buy at the checkout and probably then throw in the trash rather than taking to a proper recycling bin at your local library etc.

    besides when your talking cost…a good set of AAs for 10 bucks that can be recharged hundreds of times or a pair of brand X for 5 bucks that last once….simple maths.

  • yes, rechargfeable batteries offer a better cost/lifespan/suage solution. BUT, not every device is happy to run at 1.2 – 1.4 volts (and its multiples) some devices end up losing out on over a volt with 4 or more batteries. also, the cheaper batteries dont give you the run time per battery as cheaper ones, so even if buying a pack of cheaper ones for the same price as not as many better ones, who really wants to be changing batteries in their xbox controller every couple of hours instead of every 6 to 8. i know it frustrates me to hell.
    a good rule of thumb is to get industrial grade alkalines eg, energizer industrials. i think the duracell procells arent much better than the standard ones.

    if you are going to buy rechargeable batteries to use in everyday low current draw items like clocks and remotes etc, go for some fujitsu (eneloop equivalents) they’re still made in japan and designed by the guy who created sanyo eneloops (which got bought out and now built in china and non longer perform as they used to when built in Japan)

  • Hmm did i miss it or was there no $/hr comparison? It would be good to see things like expiry date, total charge held, failure rate over time if not used much etc.

    I usually buy Energiser or Duracell these days, I’ve found cheaper brands tend to leak if left in and not used for a while.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!