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Rechargeable AA battery reviews

How well do "ready to use" rechargeable AA batteries compare?
 
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01 .Introduction

Rechargeable AA batteries

We test 15 nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable AA batteries, priced from $7 to $39.

Through our rigorous testing, we reveal which batteries:

  • last the longest
  • can be recharged most often
  • lose the least amount of charge when not in use, and
  • perform at their best for the life of the battery.

Take a look at How we test, and Brands tested for more information.

The latest range of rechargeable AA batteries use NiMH (nickel-metal hydride), delivering a higher capacity than the older NiCad (nickel-cadmium) rechargeable batteries and less of a memory effect when recharging. 

It only takes a dozen or so uses before rechargeable batteries make economic sense compared to purchasing alkaline batteries to power your devices, and you also help reduce the number of dead batteries going into landfill. 

However, not all rechargeable batteries are created equal and some rechargeable batteries are better suited to some situations than others.

Battery charger reviews

As part of this review, we've also tested five battery chargers, priced from $25 to $80. This is because choosing the right charger can help breathe new life into old rechargeable batteries and ensure new ones last longer. The comparison table shows how some of the more popular chargers perform in keeping your batteries in good shape.

Low self-discharge batteries (LSD)

All rechargeable batteries lose some of their power everyday, even when not in use, but some lose much more than others. This continues to be an issue when powering infrequently used devices, such as an emergency torches or cameras, as the batteries will go flat over time. In such situations, alkaline batteries are commonly used because they have a much better shelf life and can be trusted to work even if left unused for a year. 

The Sanyo Eneloop was, in 2006, the first low self-discharge (LSD) battery to deliver a higher capacity for much longer periods compared to other NiMH batteries and continues to lead the field in this regard. It helped make rechargeable batteries a better option for infrequently used devices. 

The latest low self-discharge (LSD) batteries claim to retain up to 85% of their charge after 12 months of non-use whereas standard NiMH batteries may lose 50% of their charge.

Brands and models tested

  • Activ Energy Rechargeable (Aldi)
  • Coles Recharge+
  • Dick Smith NiMH Rechargeable
  • Duracell Rechargeable
  • Energizer Recharge
  • Eveready Rechargeable
  • Powerex 2700 Rechargeable
  • Powerex Immedion
  • Powertech SB-1737
  • Sanyo (black) Eneloop
  • Sanyo (coloured) Eneloop
  • Sanyo (white) Eneloop
  • Vapex Instant
  • Varta Ready2use
  • Woolworths Essentials Rechargeable
Battery chargers tested
  • Duracell CEF14AU
  • Energizer CH1HR2
  • Eveready EVVC2
  • Powerex MH-C9000
  • Sanyo MC-MQR06W

How we test

The batteries were put through as many continuous cycles of charge and discharge until the batteries reached less than 50% of their initial capacity. They were also tested for self-discharge.

Endurance Batteries with good endurance can power an appliance for longer and be recharged more often. Batteries were penalised if they didn’t complete the full 200 cycles of testing, though some had good endurance up to the time of failure.

Consistency How well the battery retains its initial capacity. For example, a battery rated for 2500mAh should still have close to that capacity after 200 recharges. A low score means the battery loses a lot of capacity over multiple recharges.

Self-discharge Rechargeable batteries tend to lose some charge when left unused, but a good battery will lose only a little. The higher the score, the lower the self-discharge.

Value score is determined by calculating the life capacity of the battery as well as factoring in the price of a single battery in our table. The score will be different for different prices. 

 
 
 
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