Category: Electronics

Disposable Batteries vs. Rechargeable: Which Battery Wins for Small Devices?

More and more devices and toys run on batteries nowadays. From flashlights and remote controls to game controllers and battery-operated toys, it may seem like you’re constantly putting new batteries into something.

An adult goes through batteries fast enough, but if you have multiple children with multiple toys and devices that use batteries, you’re probably spending a pretty penny on new alkaline batteries every month.

That may have you thinking about stocking up on a few rechargeable batteries. It only takes one trip to the store to experience major sticker shock—a small pack of tiny AAA batteries can cost $10 or more. Are they really worth the price? What are the pros and cons of alkaline batteries vs. rechargeables? Which ones work better?

With smaller alkaline batteries—those sized AA, AAA, C, and D—there is a lot of debate. Every year there are more efficient batteries coming on the market, so it can be hard to decide. Here are the facts, to help you decide.

Price

Rechargeable batteries are almost always a more expensive initial purchase. Prices vary around the country, but on average, where you can buy a 4 pack of Duracell AAA batteries for $4-6, the same set may cost $10 and up as rechargeables. Initial price is a win for the alkalines.

Life of the Battery

With alkaline batteries being a single-use item, and rechargeables offering hundreds of hours of more use, because they can be recharged, the rechargeable batteries are far more cost effective. Lithium-ion rechargeables are particularly efficient, especially when used in consumer electronics. This is a strong win for the rechargeables. It’s important to also find a good quality battery charger to get the most life out of your batteries.

Battery Charge

Although it’s true that rechargeable batteries last longer than alkalines (meaning it will run your device longer), that is only true when they are new. Because they tend to drain a little quicker over time, with each recharge, the advantage of longer use time diminishes with each recharge. However, disposable batteries are just that—disposable. Use them once and they are done. But with a rechargeable, as long as you’re satisfied with the amount of time you’re getting from a charge, the batteries are still good to go. Rechargeable batteries win a modest victory here.

So winning two points out of three, does that make rechargeables the best best? Not so fast!

There are times that disposable batteries make more sense. For low-drain applications, like remote controls, smoke detectors, and wall clocks (where you’re likely to only replace them once every 6-12 months), it may make sense to use disposables. You’ll save money on the initial purchase, which you can put toward buying more rechargeable batteries for the heavy-use devices.

For the devices and electronics that drain batteries quickly, like flashlights and remote control cars, investing in a set of rechargeables makes the most sense, because you’ll be rid of the annoyance of buying and replacing the batteries constantly. The battery that will give you the best return on your money is the lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which is often used in portable electronics.

Most households can benefit from having a variety of batteries on hand. By considering the application first, before choosing your battery, you’ll be able to choose the right battery for your needs. We hope you found this article helpful!