Rechargeable batteries are better and cheaper than you remember, and each of the name-brand offerings will hold a charge for months and also cost less than a nickel per fee over their whole life. Despite conducting our battery analyzers for over 1,000 hours, doing over 20 hours of real world evaluations, and literally forcing three leading brands considerably harder than advocated, our tests showed only a few smaller differences between the top brands. If you’re looking for AA batteries, then the Energizer Recharge line of batteries ekes out the best performance for the price tag, but Eneloop AAs shouldn’t be ignored if it is possible to locate them available. For AAA batteries, AmazonBasics AAA Rechargeables are usually the best bargain, but performance was almost equal to AAAs out of Eneloop, Energizer, and Duracell, so only get whatever’s cheapest when you need them.
The best rechargeable AA battery
The Energizer Recharge Universal AA batteries performed well at each step of analyzing: first capacity, capacity after four dozen charges, self-discharge, and high-drain RC auto racing. In raw capacity, Energizer had 30 percent greater energy storage per dollar compared to the Panasonic Eneloop AAs, which means that your devices should run somewhat longer between recharges. After we cycled the batteries–discharged and recharged them, again and again–to show how they may manage once-a-week charging for annually (or once-a-month charging for four decades); both the Energizers and Eneloops had virtually the same available capability as when we started. This means that even after four dozen charges, we’d need more exact equipment to quantify any changes in performance and you shouldn’t notice a difference in daily use.
Going beyond bench tests, we soldered six batteries together to operate the motors of a high profile RC car around a competition track. Although you are never going to drain batteries as quickly at home–and please do not try! –the high-powered nature of our test cars was an ideal stress test for our miniature batteries. Our random Energizer battery pack lasted 11:28, about half a second more than the Eneloops. This wasn’t quite so long as the 15:52 that brand new, higher-capacity Powerex Precharged batteries managed, but the Energizers are around a buck cheaper per battery, which means they are still the better overall thing.
Finally, we enjoy that the Energizers are easily available for a fair price when you run into a brick-and-mortar store (like Target) last minute. You can stock up online for an even better bargain, but in-store accessibility is important for batteries, because when you need batteries, you don’t always have the luxury of waiting for a few days or weeks for shipping. And, for what it is worth, the Energizer Recharge Universal lineup contains 4 percent recycled material recovered from hybrid car batteries, therefore they ought to be a little less detrimental to the environment than other options.
Best AA when they are on sale
Eneloop batteries might have a loyal following, but the Energizers performed somewhat better and are typically cheaper. But if the Energizers are from inventory or cost more than the brick-and-mortar retail cost of around $2.50 each, get the Panasonic Eneloop AA 2100 Cycle Rechargeable Batteriesinstead. Though their performance was somewhat short of this Energizers’s in the majority of our tests, it wasn’t by much. From the box, the pricier Eneloops averaged about 5 percent less capacity over their first three discharges–1,849 mAh (2.2 Wh) compared with the Energizers’s 1,888 (2.3 Wh). Track run period of the two brands was fairly similar when we modified them to race our competition-level RC car: Energizers bested Eneloops having an additional 29 seconds, 11:28 into 10:59.
However, the Eneloops did win decidedly in 1 test–after nine months on the shelf, our sample Eneloops nevertheless had a mean of 82 percent of their billed capability available, compared with just 71 percent available from the Energizers. At a single-battery flashlight like this one, that may mean that an additional 10 minutes of light. When taken collectively, our tests don’t point to either brand being conclusively better than the other. However, the Eneloops regularly cost 25 percent longer, and that is not really worth it to most people just for slightly extended shelf life.
Should you need rechargeable AAA batteries, then you need to purchase the AmazonBasics, or actually just whatever reputable brand is the lowest priced when you want them. We conducted our standard bench tests on the leading AAA batteries, and even subjected them to advanced headlamp-and-watermelon tests, and still found no statistical difference in their initial capacity, their capacity after 50 cycles, or the way they handled a common use like powering a headlamp.
After we quantified initial capacity by charging and charging each battery three times and averaging the results, there was only an 8 percent gap between the capacity of the very best and worst brands. In cases like this, an 8 percent disperse is essentially nothing. When we charged and discharged them the following four dozen times–roughly 200 hours each–we also discovered that there was no drop in performance, or difference between manufacturers, after the 50th cycle. We also tested which battery powered our favorite headlamps brightest and longest. Following a while, all four manufacturers were dimming at a similar speed but still just barely lighting the way. It was long enough and close enough that the evaluation ended in a tie.
We always like it if we can offer an easy, clear recommendation for what to purchase, but the reality is that AAA rechargeable batteries have reached commodity status–that the name manufacturers are mostly interchangeable for ordinary uses like powering remote controllers, wireless computer accessories, or small toys. We do not recommend purchasing knockoffs or discount brands; however AmazonBasics, Energizer, Eneloop, and Duracell will all serve you well. Stock up when you find a fantastic deal, but otherwise just buy what’s available when you want them.
Panasonic Advanced Individual Cell Battery Charger with four Eneloop batteries
If you need to get a charger anyhow, we recommend buying the Panasonic Advanced Individual Mobile Battery Charger with four Eneloop batteries. Provided that the batteries that you would like to charge are regular NiMh rechargeables, the brand which you put in the charger doesn’t matter. We spent some time studying the contest, such as a newer charger from Panasonic, but that remains our favorite for most people since it’s accurate, secure, and totally automatic. You can mix and match AA or AAA batteries (of various brands and capacities also) from odd or even numbers and still end up with happy, healthy batteries. Despite the fact that we did not select the included Eneloop batteries as our top pick, they are definitely a good value when bundled with the charger for less than $20 complete–and for some reason, the charger is almost always cheaper when marketed with batteries compared to when sold alone.
Why you should trust us
We clocked over 20 hours of Study, Conducted our battery Analyzers for at least 1,000 hours within the past year, and came up with some exceptional real-world tests, just to determine which rechargeable battery would be worth the few bucks they generally cost. That’s in addition to The Wirecutter’s hundreds of hours of research experience with batteries generally.
When the technical questions get overly technical, we head over For an earlier update to This manual we talked with David Hobby of all Strobist concerning the demanding Battery demands of professional photographers.
Who needs this, or why you should switch to Rechargeables
Our Best AA Select packs the equivalent of 3 or more times the capacity of a cheap disposable battery into a single charge. We are aware that rechargeable batteries haven’t always performed well or consistently, but the latest technology–LSD NiMH–may hold a much larger charge, keep it for more, and recharge longer times than what was possible just a few years back. If you gave up on rechargeables since they did not appear reliable or possess a high enough capacity, it is time to take a fresh look.
Since Sanyo (currently Panasonic) Eneloop batteries efficiently launched the modern rechargeable in 2005, its own line slowed capability and doubled cycle life–the number of recharges a battery could take without degrading too much. But a larger breakthrough than ability or cycle life is the incredibly long shelf life of the most recent creation of NiMH batteries. Any batteries marked “pre-charged,” “non self-discharge,” or “LSD” will keep their charge for possibly decades, not just months. Although there was a time when Eneloop had the only reliably long-lasting batteries, this is no longer the case. We put shelf life claims to the test and discovered that even after nine months on the shelf, all our batteries still had more energy left in them than any disposable AA battery gets new from the mill. So having a poor experience with Duracell, Energizer, or a different brand many decades ago doesn’t mean you should write them off now. That makes LSD batteries useful for emergency kits or Other cases of infrequent usage. Michael Bluejay’s Battery Guides possess a wealth of information about the underlying technology and the background of its own improvements, and he still regularly updates with additional testing.
In addition to technology improvements, the Purchase Price of Even after including the price of a new charger, your first pair of eight AA batteries will probably pay for themselves in five to six recharge cycles in comparison to purchasing most name-brand disposables. That’s an average of 47 batteries per US household each year. Over four decades that would imply 12 rechargeable batteries take the area of 188 disposables–not a bad way to save a little money (and the environment).
The only repetitive drawback to rechargeables is that they still have a very long time to recharge. Properly charging batteries requires some time if you want to maintain their long-term performance–roughly eight hours for our AA pick. Technically, the faster you control your batteries, the less life you’ll get out of them, though with contemporary batteries and batteries, the difference is likely negligible. You will find many “fast chargers” accessible, but we do not recommend them, as they degrade rechargeable battery life.
Rather than a quicker charger, we recommend buying an extra Set of batteries. Determine What device takes the most batteries and buy that Many additional. If you always keep the extras billed and sitting next to–not in! –your Charger, they will be there when you need them. Rotating batteries this way is like having a perpetually stocked supply without visiting the shop.