How I save $50 per year on batteries

marcienyDecember 7, 2005

I have a lot of small electronics and kids toys that use batteries. I used to spend a fortune on alkaline batteries (duracell, energizer, etc). My CD player would "eat" batteries in only a few hours of use.

I decided to invest in rechargable batteries, and I have been saving money ever since.

After a lot of research online, I decided to by NiMH batteries (the most common rechargable battery type). Supposedly, they can be recharged 1000+ times and actually hold more power than alkaline batteries.

I bought Powerizer batteries from Batteryspace.com. I bought a package of 24 AA batteries for around $35 (with no tax and free shipping) and I got a charger for $15. I charged the batteries (it takes several hours to charge, and my charger holds 4 at a time) and started using them in all my electronics and my kids toys. This includes a digital camera, CD player, MP3 player, remote controls for TV and radio, electronic musical toys, electronic educational toys, walkie-talkie type toys, small flashlights, etc etc etc.

I used to buy Energizer or Duracell batteries when they went on sale for around 60 cents per battery. We probably used at least 90 batteries per year ($54.00 total cost per year). I spent $50 for the rechargable NiMH batteries, but I can use them year after year. I also like the environmental benefit of reusing the same NiMH batteries instead of using disposable batteries.

The electronic gadgets all worked just the same with the Powerizer rechargables as they did with standard alkalines. Even better, the rechargable batteries actually lasted longer than the alkalines did, so I change batteries less frequently. I keep a bunch of batteries fully charged and ready to use anytime. I recommend keeping the spare charged batteries in the refrigerator because it supposedly helps keep the batteries from losing their charge while they are sitting idle.

I only have two concerns. First, the batteries are supposedly so powerful that they can be dangerous. You must not leave them lying around loose, because they can "short" against each other or against anything metal and cause a fire. When you buy the batteries from Batterspace.com, make sure that you are getting the plastic holders to store the charged batteries (the plastic holders came free when I purchased from Batteryspace online). Similarly, I would not put these batteries in any toy that goes in or near water. I'd be concerned that someone could get a shock if the toy fell into the water.

My other concern is that the AA batteries that I purchased are a TINY bit larger than alkalines in both the length of the battery and the girth (width) of the battery. This makes it a bit more difficult to put the batteries into certain devices. I have always been able to get the batteries in the devices, but sometimes it takes a bit more effort.

Another possible down side is that if your kids lose the batteries, the batteries cost around $1.50 each.

There are lots of brands of rechargable NiMH batteries, so my comments only reflect my experience with Powerizers. I suppose that the same should be true of other brands as well.

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cynic

When I was a photographer I used rechargeables a lot and they did save some bucks. I'm not sure if it's the same today or if they've improved, but I found that you need to be using them regularly or they would lose ability to hold a charge. Being expensive you need to replace those uses which use a lot of batteries to recoup the costs. And keep the batteries in good shape so they don't die prematurely.

I used them for the flash units but always kept some alkalines handy if a problem developed. Course I'd always carry spares either way.

I liked using them but got away from them after I got out of photography.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2005 at 4:10PM
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joyfulguy

Some types of rechargeables need to be fully discharged each time before they are recharged, or they'll only let you use as much as you used before on subsequent usings. If you only used a tenth of their capacity one time, that's all they'll let you use later, so I've heard.

That's for one type of battery - sorry, don't know which kind, and it was some time ago that I heard it, so things may be different now.

Try not to be a dim bulb.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   December 7, 2005 at 5:35PM
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JamieR

NiCads were like what you described. they had a memory. NiMH have no memory and work better if you dont let them go completely flat. running these flat can damage them.

I have found that the quick charge (15 minutes) NiMH do not hold their charge as well as the ones that take 30 minutes to charge.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2005 at 10:56PM
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chuckr30

I have similar issues with the rechargables. I like the NiCds but the NiMHs are even better. Also, some of my NiCd's didn't fit in my mini Maglite. It appears the label material was too thick or something.

I have been using rechargables since 1987 when I went off to college. I needed a walkman to pass the time as I walked to each class.

Also, get a charger that will turn off when the batteries are full. Overcharging batteries will damage them and reduce their life. I usually got 4-5 years from each battery, most people will only get 3-4 years from them.

NiCds are the ones that need to be discharged all the way before recharging. The other ones don't (like NiMH, Lithium).

Also, most rechargables are only 1.2volts each, while alkalines are 1.5v each. That's why some devices say "Use only alkaline batteries." The device was made for 4.5v (3 x 1.5v alkaline batteries) not 3.6v (3 x 1.2v rechargables).

    Bookmark   January 19, 2006 at 12:37PM
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chuckr30

I need to correct my statement about NiCd's needing to be discharged all the way before recharging. This is not correct. NiCds should be recharged as soon as it appears they are going low. So as soon as your radio starts to fade out, or your flashlight dims, recharge the NiCds.

Do not put them in a flashlight until the light goes out. This is called deep discharge and can damage the battery.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 10:50AM
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