Powered Up: 6 Best Rechargeable Batteries
It wasn’t too long ago that everyone used disposable batteries. The only people who had batteries that were able to be recharged were the strange folks up the street who owned chickens and whose house smelled like patchouli. These days, between environmental consciousness and trying to save money, rechargeable options are everywhere and in many ways they are superior to the disposable ones. The trouble that arises for most people just entering the rechargeable game is that unlike disposables, they do not all meet the same specifications. You have to know how to pick ’em, or you’ll end up losing out.
The 3 things you want to look for in choosing a rechargeable battery is capacity, lifespan, and drain rate. Usually you will have to balance these out, since a high drain rate nullifies a high capacity and both capacity and drain speed will reduce the life expectancy of a given battery. You’ll also need to consider what you plan on using these batteries to do. Slow drain batteries might last longer, but if you are powering an R/C drone or a digital camera, it might not give you enough juice. To help you with this balancing act, we offer our 6 best rechargeable batteries.
PowerEx Imedion AAA/AA
True Grit: The PowerX Imedion is probably not a name you have heard, but you should certainly add it to your lexicon now. These are made a name for themselves by being tough as razor wire and able to stand up to extreme, prolonged abuse. They are an LSD (Low-Self Discharge) type of battery so they will hold an 85 percent charge over 1 year. The Imedion works very well in high and low temperature conditions, so they definitely deserve a place in your Armageddon goody bag beside your MRE rations and your ammo. They are NiMH, making them environmentally friendly and allowing them to be recharged more than 1,000 times before any noticeable degradation. [Purchase: 2400 mAH AA | 950 mAh AAA]
Panasonic Eneloop Pro AAA/AA
Top Dog: The Eneloop Pro is what you buy when you need smaller batteries that can do it all. They bear the highest capacity of any AAA or AA on the market and will work in almost any device. They are part of the LSD kind of battery, so they have an excellent shelf-life. After a full year they will still keep an 85% charge. These are ideal for high drain devices that need a lot of sustained power. They work great in R/C devices, flashlights, and anything that must stay operational. Using an Eneloop Pro in a remote control or other passive device is like using a grenade to take down a spider: it’s generally overkill (depending on the size of the spider). The primary drawback is price. Since they can push a lot of power quickly, you’ll notice degradation after only 500 recharges. [Purchase: 2550 mAH AA | 950 mAh AAA]
Sony Cycle Energy AAA/AA
Flash in the Pan: The Cycle Energy performs best when it is used by devices that require bursts of power rather than sustained output. They are especially proficient for working in digital cameras, remote controls, battery operated laser sights, and anything else that performs quickly and then lies dormant. They have one of the lowest capacities on the list, but can be recharged much more than 1,000 times before any notable degradation in quality. As with the other options, they’ll hold an 85% charge over a full year, though they’re much less likely to lose power after that thanks to their unique construction. These are the best for those times when you want to put a battery into something and then forget about it. [Purchase: 2000 mAH AA | 800 mAh AAA]
Tenergy Centura C/D Cell
The Immortal One: C and D cell batteries have fallen out of favor with many of the larger companies due in a large part to their tendency to lose power quickly. Even name brands that make excellent small cell batteries won’t take on the challenge of the larger cells. Thankfully that leaves more space for impressive 3rd parties like Tenergy to swoop in and blow everyone’s mind. This is the grandpappy of LSD batteries. It will hold an 85 percent charge after a year and still have 70 percent after two years. It can survive in extreme conditions, including temperatures well below zero. It works well for short term use in an emergency. The only issue with the Centura line is the low capacity. [Purchase: 4000 mAH C | 8000 mAh D]
PowerEx C/D Cell
Energy Miser: When you need the maximum in battery life, you can’t get much higher than PowerEx’s standard line. They even beat out their own Imedion line when it comes to power capacity. These are great if you consistently use a large flashlight or other item that needs extended, sustained power output. They’ll keep about 70 percent of their charge after a year, so they aren’t meant to be kept on a shelf but rather used up over and over again. The extended capacity also makes them ideal for anyone that is looking to build their own battery pack for cordless tools such as saws and drills. [Purchase: 5000 mAH C | 11000 mAh D]
Tenergy Centura 9V
Safety First: When you need a 9 Volt battery, usually you are putting it in a smoke detector or other item that cannot fail when the time comes. This is where the love of long shelf-life that Tenergy showed in their D and C cell batteries comes into play. Though their 9V only has a 200 mAh capacity, it lasts longer than batteries that are half again as large thanks to its LSD system. As with their larger batteries, you can expect the 9V to hold a 70 percent charge after two years. For those playing at home, that’s better than your disposable alkaline options. Trust Centura when something absolutely must work in a pinch. [Purchase: 200 mAH 9V]