batteries

Are these AA batteries new or used and why did one leak inside my remote?

Our house seems to run on batteries, from remote controls, flashlights, and smoke detectors to the mouse at my computer. For relatively inexpensive items, batteries can be disproportionately annoying. When they lose their charge – we get woken up by a complaining smoke alarm or miss the Olympics because we can’t turn on the TV. When they leak, they corrode the gadget they are supposed to power. I feel guilty about stocking too many extra batteries because I know that they are toxic and don’t last forever in storage. I set out to organize our household batteries and here is what I found.

You need to choose between rechargeable batteries and disposable Alkaline and Lithium Batteries. When you choose batteries, consider:

Shelf life

A measure of how much charge the batteries lose each year that they are stored.

Performance

The amount of usage can you expect from a battery with a reliable output of power (steady voltage).

Voltage compatibility

Different products require varying levels of voltage. Make sure that you have high voltage batteries for high consumption gadgets.

Materials

You want batteries with the lowest possibility of leaking and the ones which are environmentally responsible – especially avoiding mercury and cadmium that makes recycling products next to impossible.

Quality

Look for leak proof batteries.

Price

While disposable alkaline batteries are the least expensive, rechargeable batteries can be reused many times and lithium batteries often give many more charges than alkaline.

Rechargeable batteries are often the best choice for household use; however, their voltage diminishes the longer they are away from the charger. In contrast, disposable batteries give consistent voltage until they die. Disposables are recommended for wall clocks, smoke detectors and cameras which run best on full consistent power.

Rechargeable batteries have improved. They are generally more corrosion-proof than their disposable cousins. The Wirecutter reports that, “The latest ones (rechargeable) are made with low-self-discharge nickel-metal hydride (LSD NiMH), and they tend not to leak the way the alkaline batteries do. They can still corrode but they don’t tend to do it as often. “

The Wirecutter’s favorite rechargeable batteries are the Energizer Recharge Universal which have two to three times the capacity of a disposable. This means less frequent battery changes. The batteries come in a variety of sizes. You need to buy the charger separately. Eight AA Rechargeable Batteries, $19.56

Energizer Rechargeable AA and AAA Battery Charger with four AA NiMH Rechargeable Batteries. $14.99

There are two types of disposable battery, Alkaline and Lithium.

The most common batteries are alkaline, made of alkaline electrolyte of potassium. Because they don’t contain heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium, nickel, and silver; they do not require special disposal. They have a good shelf life – losing about 5% of capacity every year when stored. Alkaline batteries are heavier and bulkier than lithium so for items you need to carry, like camping flashlights or garage door remotes, lithium may be preferable. They are inexpensive, but they do leak sometimes and make a mess. Internal pressure caused by gas build-up might make them explode if damaged.

Amazon Basics disposable alkaline batteries are highly rated by experts. This combo pack has 48 AA and 36 AAA batteries. AmazonBasics Alkaline Battery Combo Pack | AA 48-Pack, AAA 36-Pack, $25.98

These disposable, alkaline AA batteries come highly recommended. Energizer AA Batteries (24 Count), Double A Max Alkaline Battery. $16.04

We used to know Lithium batteries as coin shaped disks which powered watches, cameras and calculators.  Lithium AA and AAA batteries are now in stores next to their Alkaline cousins. They are significantly lighter and less bulky than Alkaline. They are said to produce twice as much voltage as alkaline batteries and have a very long shelf life – losing only 0.5% of capacity each year. Experts say that they do not leak. They are more expensive than alkaline, and some airlines prohibit them in carry-on luggage. These are not the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries which charge our cell phones.

Forbes Magazine’s testers recommend Energizer Ultimate Lithium Batteries.
Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA Batteries & AAA Batteries Combo Pack, 8 AA and 8 AAA (16 Count), $25.56

How to recycle disposable batteries.

Where to recycle Alkaline batteries.

COMECASE Hard Battery Organizer Storage Box. Carrying Case Bag Holder – Holds 148 Batteries AA AAA C D 9V – with Battery Tester BT-168 (Batteries are Not Included). $22.99

When you find a device like a remote control or a flashlight which has a corroded battery leaking inside it, remove the battery and dispose of it responsibly. Make a solution of equal parts lemon juice (or vinegar) and water and clean the battery compartment of the device. For larger areas, use a solution of one tablespoon of boric acid mixed with one gallon of water.

EPA Guide to Disposal of Single-Use Household Batteries

From the EPA, “Some batteries may also contain materials such as cobalt, lithium and graphite that are considered critical minerals by the United States Geological Survey. Critical minerals are raw materials that are economically and strategically important to the United States and have a high supply risk potential and for which there are no easy substitutes. Consequently, every effort should be made to recycle and recover these materials to ensure they will be available for generations to come.”

 

 

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