Looking for the best rechargeable batteries for money safety 2022? Figuring out which are the best rechargeable batteries is no easy feat because there are so many to choose from, but it’s worth doing because if you pick the right ones you could make savings on energy and your hard-earned cash.
In this guide, we’ll point you towards the top brands and the smartest picks for batteries that can be juiced up again once they’ve started to die.
Picking the best rechargeable batteries isn’t quite like choosing the best smartphone or the best laptop because you don’t have a whole host of specs or prices to wade through – that’s exactly why we’ve tested out each option on this list. To find out more, take a look at how we test at T3.
There are some things, though, that are common between rechargeable batteries which, no matter what you’re trying to power, be it the best dildo, best remote control cars or best kids drones, are useful to know about. We’re talking about things like overall capacity, battery type and number of estimated recharges, and we cover all of those things in our guide.
The Eneloop series from Panasonic has earned itself a strong reputation for being some of the best rechargeable batteries in the business, and we’re happy to award the range our top pick – reliability, performance, affordability, speedy recharging… it’s all here with the Eneloop brand.
If you go for the standard set of Eneloop AA batteries, you get a capacity of 1,900mAh and a whopping 2,100 recharges, which should be enough to keep most of your gadgets going for years. The AAA batteries, meanwhile, have a capacity of 750mAh while keeping the same 2,100 number of recharges.
Numerous tests have shown the quality you can expect from Panasonic Eneloop batteries, so they should definitely be somewhere near the top of your shortlist when you’re looking for the best rechargeable batteries of 2022.
When it comes to batteries, the Energizer brand is one that you know you can trust, and so it is with rechargeable batteries. As an extra bonus, the Recharge Extreme line is made with 4% recycled batteries, so you’re doing even more to help the environment by going for this particular option.
When it comes to the raw specs, the AA Recharge Extreme batteries have a 2,300mAh capacity and can be recharged up to 500 times, while the AAA versions have a 800mAh capacity and can be recharged up to 500 times as well. They’re suitable for just about any gadget out there, and keep their charge for up to a year in storage too.
In terms of testing and performance, there isn’t a huge difference between the Energizer Recharge Extreme line and the Panasonic Eneloops line, and you might want to go with whichever one is offering the best deal when you’re shopping. Neither will let you down.
Perhaps you need a little bit more juice than the standard Panasonic Eneloop rechargeable batteries are able to offer, in which case we’d like to point you towards the Pro models – they have a higher capacity, so you get more use between charges, but they also have a shorter lifespan overall.
For AA batteries, the capacity is 2,500mAh and you can recharge them 500 times before they’ll need replacing. If you’re buying AAA batteries, then the capacity is 930mAh and again you can expect 500 recharges. According to Panasonic, these batteries are still going to be holding 85 percent of their charge after a year of use.
You get the same high performance and reliability as you do with the standard Eneloop batteries, but these are ideal for more demanding, high consumption gadgets. For less demanding, low consumption gadgets (such as remote controls), check out the Eneloop Lite range.
Duracell is of course one of the biggest and most popular brands on the battery scene, and its rechargeable batteries are well worth considering for anyone who’s shopping for the best rechargeable battery of 2021 – as normal, AA and AAA are the two sizes to pick from.
If you go for the Duracell AA Rechargeable Ultra pack, those batteries give you a very generous capacity of 2,500mAh and can be recharged up to 300 times before dying for good. Opt for the AAA versions, and they give you a capacity of 900mAh and the same 300 recharge lifespan.
Duracell says these batteries will last for five years if you don’t reach the 300 recharge limit by then, and with that in mind we’d say these are a fantastic pick if you need a set of batteries with a long shelf life. The prices are very reasonable as well.
Don’t dismiss the AmazonBasics range as being only for those who want to spend as little money as possible – the range of rechargeable batteries that Amazon has put out can more than hold their own against the major brands, and you’ll be very satisfied indeed if you pick these for your energy needs.
With the AA versions you get 2,400mAh of capacity and with the AAA ones the capacity is 850mAh. Amazon doesn’t specify exactly how many recharges you can get out of these batteries in total, but does promise it’s in the “hundreds” – so make of that what you will. It also says the batteries keep up to 50 percent of their capacity for a year.
We’d recommend going for these if you need a lot of rechargeable batteries at a very reasonable price – they hold up well and can be relied upon. For an even cheaper option, look for the standard AmazonBasics versions (without the “High-Capacity” label).
HOW TO CHOOSE Best rechargeable batteries for money safety
There aren’t a whole host of factors to think about when you’re on a search for the best rechargeable batteries, but that doesn’t mean you should just pick up the first pack of rechargeable AA batteries you see on the shelf – it’s not quite that easy.
You do of course want to select the right size of battery for the job, and this is something that’s worth double-checking, as it’s easier to get caught out than you might think. Price is an important factor of course, and you need to factor in the price of the charger as well – this can be a lot more than the batteries, but you’ll obviously get good use out of it.
Remember that the batteries you buy should in theory last you hundreds of hours: that means it’s worth spending a little extra to get something reliable and long-lasting. Sticking to the well-known brands is advised, but it’s not absolutely essential.
For the best results, look for and stick to the low self-discharge Nickel-Metal Hydride or Ni-MH type batteries, which lead the field in terms of holding on to a charge. They’re suitable for all sorts of gadgets, from demanding ones like digital cameras to ones where longevity is important, like remote controls.
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Find rechargeable batteries that are compatible to the device you have. The type of batteries discussed here will be either AA size or those that fall under the category of lithium-ion.
- Familiar sizes, such as AA, AAA, C and D can be found at almost any store imaginable. Concerning cost, rechargeable batteries are a wonderful investment. Rechargeable AA or AAA batteries are known as Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH).Generally, C and D size are not available in this form.
Adjust your budget. You will pay more for rechargeable batteries than you do for disposable batteries but they will pay for themselves quite quickly.
Choose between nickel and lithium batteries. Most rechargeable batteries are made from nickel cadmium (NiCd) or lithium cadmium (LiCd).
- Watch for the memory effect with your NiCd batteries. The battery life decreases when you recharge the battery before it is fully depleted. So, if you buy a nickel rechargeable battery, make sure you use up all the battery life before you charge it. The aforementioned NiMH battery (especially the new ones) have no memory and can be charged anytime. These are what you’ll generally see in most stores … when rechargeable batteries are sold.
- Choose a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery if you want to be able to charge it at any time. These types of batteries do not have a memory effect, and they hold their charge for months at a time regardless of when you charge them.
Compare battery life. When you buy a rechargeable battery, the milliamp hour rating (mAh) is what to look for as far as knowing the amount of energy a battery will hold. The higher the rating, the longer it will power a device before needing to be charged again.
- Consider the device you are using the battery for. A high energy item, such as a digital camera, or an LED flashlight will use up the battery quicker than a remote control will.
Buy a charger when you buy your batteries. A battery charger is necessary to recharge your batteries over and over again.
- Look for a charger that is reliable, and utilizes a CC/CV (constant current, constant voltage) algorithm. Some chargers will accept many different battery sizes, and be able to charge both NiMH and lithium batteries at the same time. Most chargers can be used through a wall plug, USB port and even a car charging port.
Consider the environmental impact of your battery choice. All rechargeable batteries are better than single use batteries for the earth. NiMH batteries are even greener than cadmium batteries.
Check out consumer reviews when considering batteries and battery chargers. But don’t be fooled by extremely inexpensive lithium batteries! Even if some consumers rate them well, they are cheaply made and can be dangerous sometimes!
Look for safety features. Buying “protected” batteries is your safest bet. Make sure you buy products that are safe and not the subject of government or industry recalls.
Buy NiMH rechargeable batteries anywhere you would normally buy batteries. Department stores such as Target, Sears and Walmart, hardware and electronic stores such as Home Depot, Lowes and Radio Shack will all sell them. Only online retailers will sell rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
- Buy online from major sites such as Amazon, eBay and Overstock or on sites that specialize in rechargeable batteries and chargers. Just be aware that Amazon and eBay are also where you could be fooled into buying extremely cheap batteries that will NOT last, and be potentially unsafe.
A rechargeable battery is measured by its charging capacity, which is shown in mAh (milli amp hours). You’ll see this number printed on the packaging, as well as on the battery itself. Capacity is the amount of electrical charge stored inside the battery. The more charge there is in a battery, the more electrical current it can deliver and the longer it can power your device. For AA rechargeable batteries, you’ll find capacities between 1,300mAh and 2,900mAh AAA rechargeable batteries range from 500mAh to 1,100mAh. Rechargeable batteries can be recharged and reused from 500 to 1000 times depending on usage. The different battery technologies affect the performance of the batteries.
There are 3 main types of rechargeable batteries:
- NiCd (Nickel-Cadmium)
- NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride)
- Li-ion (Lithium Ion)
- NiCd is now the older technology, these batteries are fairly cheap because they suffer “memory” problems.
- The golden rule with NiCds is to completely discharge them every time before charging them again, that way they will always be at their best performamce.
- NiCd can be “cycled” around 1000 times, or charged once a day for around 3 years before they die.
- NiCd batteries has a lower voltage than its standard counterparts
NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride)
- NiMH batteries are more expensive, but throughout their life they can be partially discharged and charged as many times as you like (up to around 1000 times) and they will always have full capacity.
- Much larger capacity than NiCd’s, which they’ve replaced
- Very common, so it’s easy to find both batteries and chargers
Li-ion (Lithium Ion)
- Li-Ion batteries solve both the problem associated with with the other two types of batteries (full voltage and suffer no memory problems)
- Not available in standard voltage, except for 9V size (AAA, AA, C, and D-size Li-ion put out 3.7V instead of 1.5V)
- Requires a special charger
Q & A
A. Can I use rechargeable batteries in devices that use single-use or alkaline batteries?
Yes. In most situations, nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries can replace (single-use) primary batteries, especially for high drain electronic devices. The main benefits are that after the initial investment they will save you money as you can reuse those batteries hundreds of times and they have the added benefit of helping the environment by saving raw materials and avoiding the waste of single-use batteries which may eventually end up in land-fill.
There may be some devices where rechargeable batteries may not be suitable, for example some brands of DAB radios where four or six batteries are used in series, and the voltage difference between NiMh rechargeable batteries and standard alkaline batteries can cause poor performance.
B. Can I use my rechargeable batteries straight from the pack?
If your rechargeable batteries state they are “Pre-Charged” or “Ready to Use” they can be used straight from the pack just like single-use batteries. However, standard rechargeable batteries do not have this feature so they will need an initial first charge before use.
C. What is ‘self-discharge’ of a rechargeable battery?
Self-discharge is an occurrence in rechargeable batteries in which internal chemical reactions reduce the stored charge of the battery without any connection between the electrodes i.e. when not in use in a device. Self-discharge decreases the shelf-life of batteries and causes them to initially have less than a full charge when actually put to use.
The rate at which self-discharge in a battery occurs is dependent on a range of factors such as the type of battery, state of charge, charging current and ambient temperature. Typically, among standard rechargeable batteries, lithium batteries suffer the least amount of self-discharge (around 2–3% discharge per month), while nickel-based batteries are more seriously affected (nickel cadmium, 15–20% per month; nickel metal hydride, 30% per month), with the exception of Low self-discharge (stay-charged) NiMH batteries (2-3% per month).
Storing batteries at lower temperatures thus reduces the rate of self-discharge and preserves the initial energy stored in the battery.
D. What does ‘Stay-Charged’ mean?
Stay-charged reachargeable batteries hold their charge much more effectively when not in use. Standard NiMH rechargeable batteries (those that do not have the Stay-Charged technology) will gradually lose their power over a period of weeks and months even when not in use (around 30% per month) in a process known as ‘self-discharge’. This occurs when the internal chemical reactions reduce the stored charge of the battery even when the battery is not in use. By comparison, stay-charged batteries have a low self-discharge rate of around 2-3% per month, therefore retaining their charge and remaining ready to use.
In practical terms, using stay-charged batteries for everyday devices (that don’t drain the batteries completely in a short period of time) means they will retain their power when not in use and so will be ready to use and not need recharging as often. For high drain devices such as remote control toys or digital cameras using a flash, a higher capacity standard NiMH rechargeable may be more suitable, as they will have more power over the first few days before the benefits of a stay-charged battery are applied. However for devices such as smoke alarms, torches, or devices that are used a little less frequently but need a charge on demand, then stay-charged batteries may be a better option
E. What is ‘Memory Effect’? Does it apply to rechargeable batteries?
Memory effect occurs when a rechargeable battery is charged before its’ capacity is completely drained. The battery may then ‘memorise’ the last discharge level and only accept that amount of charge in subsequent charges, therefore decreasing the capacity it will recharge to and reducing its service time. However with advances in rechargeable technology this problem has been virtually eradicated in modern NiMH rechargeable batteries.
F. How do I charge my rechargeable batteries?
Rechargeable batteries will generally need a separate, suitable battery charger to recharge them.
There are a wide variety of battery chargers available for different battery sizes, from fast, intelligent chargers, to overnight chargers – all with different features and benefits.
There are some exceptions such as in DECT cordless phone, baby monitors or solar lights where the batteries are recharged via the contacts in the device when it is placed in the base charging unit or dock. Please check the instructions to ensure you choose the correct type of rechargeable battery for your device.
G. Which capacity battery is best for me?
Different devices will require different capacity batteries. For example cordless phones are frequently charged, so don’t usually get a chance to run completely flat, therefore a low to mid capacity battery would be suitable. Other devices which can use a low capacity battery include garden solar lights or remote controls.
Typical low–mid range capacity batteries are: AA size batteries (800 – 1300 mAh) and AAA size batteries (400 – 800 mAh)
Typical high capacity batteries are: AA size batteries (1950 – 2700 mAh) and AAA size batteries (950 – 1100 mAh)
Devices which require high capacity batteries include remote control cars, digital cameras and some electronic toys. If you find you are replacing batteries frequently, a high capacity battery will provide longer lasting power.
If your device requires batteries which hold their charge in between uses and perhaps are not used for a period of time you may wish to choose a rechargeable battery with stay-charge technology which means the batteries retain their charge between uses.
H. Temperature VS. Battery Life
Batteries typically use an electrochemical reaction to give off usable energy. The efficiency of this reaction can be heavily influenced by a few external factors, including temperature. Most battery manufacturers will recommend the ideal operating temperature of their products to be at or around room temperature, around 68°-80°F. Operating or charging your battery at different temperatures outside this range will result in very difference performance from the same battery. Interestingly, there you can see a big difference in operation between a battery operated at low temperatures vs. the same battery operated at high temperatures
Operating A Battery At Extremely High Temperatures: High temperatures allow for there to be less electrical resistance to the battery. This will allow for a great deal more power to your device. Although it sounds great that your battery will give you more power, you will shorten the overall service life of the battery. For example, a battery that is operating at 68°F can see a 40% loss in overall service life when operating at 115°F. This is important to remember when considering rechargeable batteries, as you will get fewer overall charge cycles before you need to get a new battery all together.
Operating A Battery At Extremely Low Temperatures: Operating a battery at very low temperatures basically yields the opposite result for your battery. Extreme cold can cause there to be a lot more resistance to the battery. This reduces the efficiency of the battery, resulting in less power and run time per charge. Although this is a downside, operating a battery in very cold temperatures can extend the overall service life of the battery a great deal. This means you can get more charge cycles out of the same battery, and not have to replace it. Usually cellphones use very expensive lithium batteries, so being able to get an extended service life out of your product is a nice consolation to shorter overall run time.
Overall, it is best practice to try and use your batteries at the recommended optimal temperature in order to get the most balance between performance and service life. If you are using your device in extreme cold you may find keeping it in a pocket close to the body being an easy way to make sure your device is closer to room temperature when it is going to be used. If you find yourself needing to use your device in an extremely hot environment, you can try to hold it near air conditioning in order to bring the temperature down, closer to the recommended room temperature.
What to Look for In Rechargeable Batteries
As odd as it sounds, rechargeable batteries can vary widely in price. But what’s the difference between a $10 and $20 set of rechargeable batteries? It all has to do with capacity, recharge cycles, self-discharge, and consistency.
- Capacity: Rechargeable AA and AAA batteries last longer per-charge than disposable batteries. Most rechargeable AAs have a 2,000 mAh capacity, while most AAAs have an 800 mAh capacity. If you want a battery that works well with power-hungry electronics, get one with an above-average capacity. (To be clear, the average raw capacity of alkaline AAs is 2,500—higher than rechargeables. But alkaline batteries drain faster than rechargeables, so their higher raw capacity doesn’t mean much. It’s like comparing old and inefficient filament lightbulbs with new LEDs.)
- Cycles: Rechargeable batteries slowly break down every time they’re used. In most cases, the time that it takes for a battery to break down is rated in terms of recharge cycles (how many times the battery is drained and recharged). If you tend to burn through batteries, then look for a set that’s rated for around 500 cycles.
- Self-Discharge: Rechargeable batteries slowly lose their charge while not in use. If you want a set of rechargeable for low-power electronics or something that’s going to sit in storage, then you’ll want to buy a brand that’s known for a low self-discharge rate.
- Consistency: Cheaper rechargeable batteries tend to suffer from inconsistent capacities and lifespans. For most applications, this isn’t a huge deal. But if you’re trying to get the best performance from your batteries, it’s best that they all match.
Now that you know what you’re looking for in rechargeable batteries let’s get into it. Here are our favorite rechargeable AA and AAA batteries.