Our latest tests have found that the best rechargeable batteries will outlast alkaline disposables in high-drain appliances, like children’s toys, but is there still a place for both types in the battery market?
A few months ago I asked, ‘Why don’t we phase out disposable batteries?‘ – and your responses were not only numerous, but also very varied highlighting a number of issues around the subject.
While some of you were keen on the idea – Leonard said, ‘non-rechargeable batteries should definitely be discontinued’ – others were less keen. They cited self-discharge, sudden power loss and incompatible appliances as reasons why rechargeables shouldn’t replace disposables outright.
The poll also reflected this split – with 36% showing support for phasing out disposables, 42% disagreeing and 22% still feeling confused about what’s best. And I think Dave Darwent’s comment summed up the general feeling that ‘the question posed doesn’t have a one sized fits all answer’.
Both batteries have a place
On reflection, I think I agree – for now, both rechargeable and disposable batteries have a place in the market. But what exactly should we be using each type for?
I accept that, for convenience, it is easier to use disposable alkalines for low-drain appliances that run over a long period of time – items like remote controls, clocks and doorbells where you only need to change the batteries every year or two.
Because disposables don’t suffer from self-discharge they are more convenient for this type of use over a long period of time (although hybrid rechargeables are starting to compete).
Rechargeable battery reviews
But when it comes to high-drain appliances (your electric razor, kids’ toys) and very high-drain appliances (your digital camera and DAB radio) it really does make sense to use rechargeables.
Not only can they save you a lot of cash (we calculated that a set of eight Best Buy rechargeables could save you more than £500, compared to alkalines, if you reused them 100 times) but on average high-capacity rechargeables will also outlast alkaline batteries in high-drain appliances.
Here are the average lifetimes we worked out, based on our test results from the last few years:
Which batteries do you use?
Of course there are other factors to take into account. These lifetimes were under test conditions and if there is a long period between when you charge your batteries and when you use them you won’t get as great a performance due to self-discharge.
Check out our rechargeable batteries review to see full test results for all the batteries we sent to the lab for our latest tests, plus discover which hybrid and high-capacity rechargeables are Best Buys.
I think it’s hard to deny that rechargeable batteries are a pretty appealing option right now. Do you use disposables, rechargeables – or a mixture of both? And will our test results influence you to make changes?