Standard size rechargeable batteries (AA, AAA, etc)
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27 June 2009
This guide is a summary of the other guides on the site, my research elsewhere, and my own experiences. I've had extremely mixed experiences with rechargeable batteries, and having discovered the expensive way that all rechargeables aren't equal, decided to do some research. I hope that by sharing my results here, I can save some of you from wasting money on poor quality batteries! Types of battery: 1) Non-rechargeable: these obviously aren't rechargeable, and thus can be expensive, but they do have a long shelf life, which means they hold charge a long time when not in use. Therefore they are most suitable for infrequent use items, particularly smoke alarms, door bells, etc. Rechargeable batteries do lose their charge when not in use, and thus would have to be replaced too frequently in these items. 2) NiCad: suffer from memory effect (deteriorate if not charged/discharged properly, and hardly anybody knows how to do it properly!), contain traces of poison, and have poor shelf life (some reports say less than a week when not in use). Avoid them! 3) NiMH: do lose charge, but you should get at least a couple of months' charge when not in use. These are the best choice for remote controls, digital cameras, portable electronics, and other frequent-use items. Brands The design can vary significantly between brands. Obviously it's not practical to review all the unfamiliar brands coming from cheap factories, so I can only comment on a few of the more common brands available in Australia. Energiser - some love, some hate - I've found them OK Duracell and Dick Smith/Digitor - universally acclaimed (I'm planning to stock up on Dick Smith's today!) Other brands - mixed reviews Chargers: Not a "fast" charger (ie less than 1 hour): these do charge quickly, but are harsh on the batteries and reduce their overall lifespan. A charger that takes about 4-6 hours to fully recharge batteries seems to be the optimal balance between "not taking too long" and "not being too harsh on batteries". Some chargers (basic) just charge for a certain amount of time then shut off; this can either over- or under-charge your batteries, neither of which is desirable, so it's worthwhile to invest in a smart charger, which shuts off when it senses that your battery is fully charged.
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