Rechargeable batteries are a no-brainer

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How many times have you been in a shop intending to buy rechargeable batteries for your myriad portable devices but then changed your mind at the last minute, opting instead for the seemingly much cheaper multi-pack batteries?

Most of us have been there – but this approach really doesn’t make any sense. It’s understandable that many people remain reticent, but the truth is that re-chargeable batteries can be of patchy quality, so it’s important to realise that they aren’t all the same and, perhaps more to the point, that the technology has moved on at a remarkable pace.

It’s crucial to check out the technicalities before you do the financial calculations. If you look at the websites of some of the industry’s supply leaders like Premier Farnell, RS components or Maplin, for example, there are full spec details on rechargeable batteries from leading brands. Being thorough in this initial research stage can save you time, money and hassle further down the line.

Technically speaking, Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) re-chargeables are the most affordable rechargeable batteries for everyday use. These are the ones we’re all most familiar with. There is a lot of research going on around the world at the moment into superior technologies, since more powerful rechargeable batteries are very much the industry’s “Holy Grail”. But, for now at least, NiMH re-chargeables seem to offer the best of the rechargeable battery world.

NiMH batteries are in particular high demand in digital photography applications because they’re easily affordable, charge up rapidly, and have between two and a half and three times the capacity of the NiCad re-chargeable batteries we’d become so accustomed to in the past. Perhaps more to the point, they’re also around ten times more efficient than alkaline batteries when used in high-drain applications.

Now let’s have a look at the maths. If you buy a basic charger plus four rechargeable AA-sized batteries for around £15, that’s a similar price to between three and four sets of Duracell AA-sized batteries, depending on the exact deal you get (you’ll quickly see that the details aren’t all that important here). With a digital camera, the rechargeable batteries should take roughly 10 times the number of pictures that their Duracell equivalents can handle. They can also be re-charged anywhere between 500 and 1000 times over. So, even if you bought the most expensive recharger and rechargeable batteries you could find, and compared the two, this still makes it a complete no-brainer. In fact, you’ve covered the equivalent cost after just two or three recharging cycles.

Do bear in mind, though, that NiMH batteries aren’t great for all applications. They self-discharge at a rate of about one per cent per day, so they certainly aren’t the logical choice for security and safety devices like smoke alarms, nor for everyday long-term items like TV remotes.

In these examples, Lithium-Thionyl Chloride batteries are a wiser choice, as they are for any applications where low-medium current drain is required, like memory back-up.

Overall though, do yourself a favour – read up on the best, and invest in re-chargeables. It will save you a small fortune.

Featured image by Sam_Catch 

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