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Are you tempted by discount store batteries?

Disposable battery prices vary a huge amount. Plump for a big brand and a four-pack could set you back over £5. Walk into a discount store and a packet of 12 could be yours for just £1. But are you tempted by them?

The sheer volume of battery for my money never fails to catch my eye. It makes me question how long they’ll last, if I’d notice the difference between them, if it’s a brand I’m familiar with, and whether I’m really making a saving in the long run.

Do you buy cheap multipacks of batteries? Or do you stick to brands you know and trust?

Tested discount batteries

When using your TV remote or kitchen clock most disposable batteries seem perfectly adequate. But to truly distinguish the Best Buys from the Don’t Buys, we test batteries under some of the most draining conditions so you’ll know what to expect when you buy them.

When we last tested disposable batteries we found big differences in their lifetimes. The poorest-performing AA battery lasted just 1 hour and 22 minutes under our toughest test conditions – such as powering a digital radio. However, the best AA batteries can last up to three times longer in the same conditions. That’ll give you nearly three hours more radio talk-time before you need think about reaching for new batteries.

Batteries from discount stores

Last year the Which? Convo community shared their tips for where to buy batteries for less, including online-only sources and discount shops. So, this time, we’ve sent discount store batteries to our lab to find out how they match up with the big brands.

We’ll be revealing the results in a few months time. In the meantime, I’d like to know whether you buy discount store batteries and, if so, what you think of them? Do you ever use different batteries in different devices? If you don’t, would anything tempt you to give them a go?

Do you buy discount-store batteries?

Yes – sometimes (51%, 612 Votes)

No – never. I don’t trust them (21%, 250 Votes)

Yes – always (15%, 181 Votes)

No – but I’m tempted (14%, 166 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,209

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Most of the disposable batteries I use are in applications where little power is needed, where they will last months if not years.

I prefer to use rechargeable batteries in products that use more power. Now that cameras and other small electricals contain lithium battery packs, I am using AA and AAA batteries much less than I did a few years ago.

I avoid buying cheap batteries in case they leak and cause damage. Having said that, I’ve had more problem with leaking Duracells than any other battery, though thankfully they are better than they were in the 80s and 90s.

spooks says:
6 October 2014

I have used both from the local pound shop and normally buy lithium AA batteries for my camera. When they run out from using in the camera I save them and then put them in my mouse for the computer. In the camera they can last a couple of months (I do take a lot of photos), then in the mouse can last another month.

Anyway the poundshop ones were Kodak .. I got 16 for a quid. When I put them in the camera I was caught out .. they didn’t even last a day … I used them in my mouse and they lasted about a month before I had to change them.


Thanks for sharing, spooks. That’s a useful tip to try batteries in lower draining products before throwing them away.

JohnP says:
6 October 2014

Interesting topic – here are my personal DOs and DON’Ts

Unless it is for a clock or similar very low drain device such as a remote controller, I never ever buy Zinc-Chloride cells. They are comparatively very low capacity, and I suspect prone to leakage once expired. Leakage WILL damage the unit in which they are fitted. These are the 12 or more for a quid at your pound-shop.

Alkaline cells, even from the pound-shop, are far better value – even though you get half as many. I suggested to an old mate that he should swap to these for his hand held games machine and he was gob-smacked.

Because I don’t sleep well at night I am often plugged in to my personal DAB radio. DAB radios are notoriously greedy! Alkalines give me two or three nights of listening. More now that I have discovered a source of Duracell Pro-Cell.


As you say, leakage from zinc chloride batteries causes damage, and the same applies to zinc carbon batteries. On the other hand leakage from alkaline cells is usually much less of a problem. Having said that, I have an LED torch where the switch was destroyed by a leaking alkaline battery. The other one of the pair was as good as new.


I buy significant quantities of Alkaline Duracell Procell from an eBay supplier for about 25p each (AA or AAA) and if I have the opportunity Alkaline AA & AAA from IKEA for about 10p each, both have come out well in reviews (not Which). These are all for use in donated items my local chairty shop sells.
We used to get the pound and discount shop packs but found the failure rates appalling.


I used to use use a lot of Duracell Procells at work, mainly AA size. They did not seem to last any longer than ordinary Duracells but I have never seen a Procell leak, even when discharged.


Duracell have a technical spec sheet on their website showing a graph of remaining voltage versus time for several drain rates. The Duracell ProPlus AA batteries (now re-branded “Industrial by Duracell”) appear to be nothing more than Duracell Plus except for them being marketed at business buyers.