If you’ve ever tried to go rechargeable you may have noticed how bad the batteries are. They don’t hold a charge for any period of time so you go to use your product and it doesn’t work. I’ve tried different brands over the years and have pretty much hated all of them.
About five years ago I got serious about my life long photography habit and was using my flash all the time. I started out with disposable but got frustrated because I didn’t want to throw out partially used batteries to have fresh ones, but I also didn’t want to get half way through a session and miss out on that millisecond of a great photo because my flash didn’t fire.
I came across Eneloop batteries, which a well known photographer said was the industry standard. I risked $150 and never looked back.
Eneloop claims that their batteries still retain 70-85% of their power after 2 years of storage, which I have no problem believing. I charge them once and don’t think about it again. I can easily get through two or three sessions on one charge, which is a lot of power.
They also claim a battery can be charged 2,100 times. I definitely haven’t charged mine that many times, but I can say that after 5 years of continuous usage I’ve not had to replace a single battery. I’m still using those same batteries I bought five years ago and add to my arsenal periodically for children’s toys and other electronics. We no longer buy disposable AA, AAA, C or D batteries.
Eneloop only manufactures AA and AAA batteries. For C and D they have Eneloop Spacers rather than separate batteries. They’re a little bit awkward to get into your electronic device, but they work just as well and it’s nice to not have to spend more money on different types of batteries.
Unfortunately Eneloop doesn’t make 9V batteries. I’m currently trying to decide if we should buy rechargeable 9V batteries for our smoke detectors or invest in rechargeable ones. I’m a little afraid to use a different brand.
I provided a link to a set of batteries with a charger above. I don’t actually own that charger, but use a professional grade one that I’m in love with. If you use a ton of batteries it may be worth the investment.
Cost Benefit Analysis
AmazonBasics AA disposable batteries currently cost 25 cents a piece.
If you buy a pack of Eneloop AA Rechargeable Batteries they cost $2.66 a piece.
That means you only have to charge a battery 11 times before it pays for itself. Not only that but if you do end up charging it 2,100 times, then each “battery” (or each use) will cost you 1/100th of a cent. That’s almost free.
As for the charging cost, several sources said it uses so little energy that recharging is almost free. One blogger calculated the cost to be about 25 cents a year for 120 charges, or $.002 cents per charge. Electricity in New York was 19 cents per KWH the last time I checked, so I guess here it would be $.004 cents a charge.
If you’re looking at it simply from a financial perspective, rechargeable batteries for low draw devices may not be cost effective. For my flash, it’s obvious that reusing batteries saves me a ton of money. And also the motorized Thomas the Tank Engine trains that my kids leave running overnight. And flashlights that don’t get turned off. For a wall clock that runs on the same battery for 10 years, they might not be cost effective.
However from a zero waste perspective, you’re not throwing away batteries, which is a definite win.
How to Recycle Old Batteries
We no longer buy disposable batteries for 95% of our batteries, but as we replace the current batteries in our home with rechargeable ones, what should we do with the old single use ones? It turns out that Monroe County does not accept one use batteries for recycling (but you can recycle rechargeable batteries and a few other types of batteries at EcoPark, as well as select Wegmans locations, the Home Depot and a few other places).
Alternatively, a company called iRecycle sells recycling boxes for you to mail in your old single use batteries. They are able to reuse nearly all of the battery in a facility that produces no emissions. You do have to pay for the service, but it’s not expensive and you get to feel awesome about yourself. To learn more about their recycling process, check out this video.
Have you tried other brands of batteries that you liked? Have you tried recycling batteries? Would you switch to rechargeables? I’d love to hear your thoughts!