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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best rechargeable batteries

Last Updated July 2019

It’s hard to argue with the convenience of battery-operated household appliances. With no annoying cord to bog you down, you can easily carry your battery-run items – hand vacuum, cordless drill – wherever you need to go. There are no worries about finding an outlet for the plug.

But traditional batteries require frequent replacements, which can get rather pricey. They’re not great for the environment, either. Thankfully, you can now use rechargeable batteries to power many of your favorite devices. Rechargeable batteries don’t require replacement. As the name suggests, you have only to recharge them when you run out of juice. After a short while, the batteries are ready to go again.

If you’re ready to buy some rechargeable batteries, we invite you to check out our recommendations. For general tips on shopping for rechargeable batteries, continue reading this guide.

Rechargeable batteries use nearly 23 times fewer non-renewable natural resources than single-use batteries.

Rechargeable battery benefits

Perhaps you haven’t made “the switch” from traditional alkaline batteries to rechargeables yet. Here are a few reasons why you might want to make the change.

  • Rechargeable batteries are economical. While it’s true that rechargeable batteries cost more upfront, you save money in the long run. Why? Because you can use them hundreds, if not thousands, of times. You’ll quickly earn back your investment when you buy rechargeable batteries.

  • Rechargeable batteries are convenient. You don’t have to run out and buy new batteries every time your alkalines burn out. And with a little forethought, you can arrange it so that you always have a set charged and ready to go.

  • Rechargeable batteries are environmentally friendly. They are an eco-friendly alternative that you can feel good about using because they don’t contain environmentally hazardous chemicals or metals. And because they can be used repeatedly, rechargeable batteries require fewer natural resources to produce than single-use batteries.

  • Rechargeable batteries are long-lasting. High-quality rechargeable batteries often last longer on a charge than single-use batteries. This is particularly true for devices that require significant power.
DID YOU KNOW?

In the U.S., almost three billion single-use batteries are sold annually. Most are disposed of at landfills, which poses a significant risk to the environment.

Types of rechargeable batteries

When you shop for rechargeable batteries, you’ll find that there isn’t just one “type.” Below, we delve into four of the main types of rechargeable batteries from which to choose.

Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH)

NiMH rechargeable batteries are a high-performing option that is easy to find at most stores.

Pros:

  • Work well in high-drain items

  • Larger capacity than other types of rechargeable batteries

  • Can be reused 150 to 500+ times
     

Cons:

  • Don’t work as well in devices that require more than four batteries

  • May self-discharge if left unused for more than a month

Nickel-zinc (NiZn)

An effective alternative to NiMH batteries, NiZn rechargeable batteries are another high-performing option.

Pros:

  • Work well in high-drain items

  • Provide higher voltage that can make flashlights brighter

  • Can last longer in some items than NiMH batteries
     

Cons:

  • Can discharge more quickly than other options due to high voltage

  • Can self-discharge if left unused for more than a month

  • Tend to lose charge quickly if used often

  • Must be used with a specialized charger

  • Only available in AA and AAA sizes

  • Can be hard to find at stores

Lithium ion (Li-ion)

Li-Ion batteries are a high-voltage rechargeable option. These batteries work well with some speciality items, such as flashlights.

Pros:

  • Suitable for high-drain devices
     

Cons:

  • Unavailable in standard voltages

  • May destroy devices that call for low-voltage batteries

  • Aren’t available in standard sizes, including AAA, AA, C, and D

  • Must be used with a specialized charger

Nickel-cadmium (NiCd)

NiCad batteries were the first rechargeable batteries to hit the market, but they are a poorly performing option these days. They also contain a toxic metal, cadmium, which is a concern for many people.

Pros:

  • Work well in high-drain items
     

Cons:

  • Lowest capacity among rechargeable batteries

  • Contain toxic substance, so must be disposed of at special recycling centers

  • Don’t work as well in devices that require more than four batteries

  • Can self-discharge if left unused for more than a month

EXPERT TIP

NiMH rechargeable batteries are the best option for most battery needs. They’re widely available at most stores, and they don’t lose their capacity as easily as other types of rechargeable batteries.


Staff  | BestReviews

Rechargeable battery sizes

Rechargeable batteries are available in a variety of sizes to accommodate most devices and appliances, including the following.

  • AAA
  • AA

  • C

  • D

  • 9V
     

You can use rechargeable batteries just as you would single-use styles, so choose the sizes that your devices call for.

More information about rechargeable batteries

Battery longevity

The amount of energy a rechargeable battery can store is measured in milli-ampere hours, or mAh. The higher the battery rating, the longer the battery will last per charge. An 1800mAh battery will last three times as long as a 600mAh battery, for example. However, batteries with lower mAh ratings take less time to recharge.

The mAH ratings for rechargeable batteries varies. We offer the following general guidelines.

  • Choose AAA batteries with capacities between at least 600 and 1300mAh.

  • Choose AA batteries with capacities between at least 1200 and 2700mAh.

  • Choose C batteries with capacities between at least 2500 and 6000mAh.

  • Choose D batteries with capacities between at least 5000 and 8000mAh.

Chargers

Some rechargeable batteries are sold as sets that include a charger. Others are sold separately, so you must purchase the charger on your own.

NiZn and Li-Ion batteries require specialized chargers, but NiMH and NiCd batteries can be used with universal chargers.

Some chargers require you to charge the batteries in groups of two, four, six, or eight. This may be inconvenient if you only need a single battery for a smaller device, so consider a charger that allows you to recharge the batteries one at a time.

When choosing a charger, be sure it has a button that allows you to easily run a discharge cycle. A discharge cycle occurs when the battery is fully drained and then charged to full power again. It should be done every few months to prevent the batteries from losing their full charge capacity.

Number of batteries per package

Rechargeable batteries are available in packages that range in quantity from four to 24. While most packages contain a single battery size, some rechargeable batteries are sold in packs that contain a variety of sizes. For example, you might purchase a package of rechargeable batteries that includes both AAAs and AAs.

DID YOU KNOW?

Research suggests that rechargeable batteries can save you approximately $75 to $100 a year compared to disposable batteries.

DID YOU KNOW?

Rechargeable batteries are ready for recycling when they can no longer hold a charge.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some rechargeable batteries come pre-charged, so they’re ready to use as soon as you take them out of the package.

Rechargeable battery prices

Rechargeable batteries vary in price based on their size, type, and how many are included in a pack, but you can typically expect to spend between $6 and $60. The following guidelines offer a general idea of what to expect in terms of price.

  • For a four-pack of rechargeable batteries, you’ll usually pay between $6 and $24.

  • For an eight-pack of rechargeable batteries, you’ll usually pay between $10 and $45.

  • For a 16-pack of rechargeable batteries, you’ll usually pay between $14 and $50.

  • For 24-pack of rechargeable batteries, you’ll usually pay between $18 and $60.

Tips

  • Use your rechargeable batteries regularly. They can develop crystals that prevent them from charging properly if they aren’t discharged and recharged consistently.

  • If you don’t use your batteries regularly, allow them to discharge power completely at least once every few months – then recharge them. This will help prevent crystals from forming.

  • Use a normal charger to recharge your batteries. Ultra-fast chargers often don’t charge the batteries fully and may cause damage.

  • Always recharge your batteries at room temperature. Avoid extremely low or high temperatures to protect the batteries.

  • Don’t charge batteries that feel hot to the touch. Allow them to cool completely before attempting to recharge them.

  • You don’t have to wait until rechargeable batteries are drained of all their power to recharge them. In fact, waiting until they’re fully discharged can sometimes cause damage.

  • Store your rechargeable batteries in a cool location. Make sure they’re at least partially charged before you put them away.

Some rechargeable batteries can begin to hold less charge due to the “memory effect,” which occurs when the batteries are regularly recharged without being fully discharged first. The batteries are said to “remember” the smaller charge, so they stop charging fully.

FAQ

Q. Do rechargeable batteries work with all types of devices and appliances?
A.
Rechargeable batteries can work with a variety of devices, but they’re not the best option for low-draw items such as clocks, TV remotes, and smoke alarms. Because the batteries automatically discharge a small amount each day, they typically last only about three months in a low-draw device before needing a recharge.

Q. How long do rechargeable batteries last?
A.
The lifespan of the batteries is measured in charge cycles, which consist of each time the battery is fully discharged and then fully recharged. As a result, the more often you use the batteries, the shorter the battery lifespan will be.

Most rechargeable batteries last 500 to 800 charge cycles. Depending on how often you use the item, this could add up to one or two years.

Q. How do you dispose of rechargeable batteries?
A.
Many rechargeable batteries contain toxic substances, so they must be recycled rather than thrown out with the trash. Some stores run recycling programs that allow you to bring the batteries back to the store, and some manufacturers sponsor mail-in programs that allow you to mail the batteries back for recycling.

The team that worked on this review
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Vukan
    Vukan
    Post Production Editor

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