How we test batteries
We test a range of readily available single-use (disposable) and rechargeable batteries to see which deliver the best power and which deliver the best value. Lithium and alkaline batteries are similar as far as functionality goes for your electronic devices. Lithium batteries have a higher capacity, slightly higher initial voltage and a longer shelf life.
Our expert testers
We've been reviewing batteries (rechargeable and single use) for over a decade and we've adjusted our test method over that time to keep it both rigorous and practical. Electronic tech has evolved over the years but the consumer's need for good dependable AA and AAA batteries remains strong. While we test most products in our own labs, battery testing requires particular facilities and equipment that unfortunately we don't have space for. So batteries are one of the few products we send to another expert lab, which tests them according to our requirements. Also note that the discontinued products in our latest rechargeable battery test are not comparable with the 2016 products, as far as score is concerned, due to a change in the lab's testing rig. The rankings within the discontinued models provide a useful guide if you do happen to find any of the older models.
How we choose what we test
With so many to choose from, what makes us choose one battery to test over another? As with most of our product testing, our aim is to test the most popular brands and types on the market and what you're most likely to see in the shops.
We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of products, we check market sales information and we also check for any member requests to test specific batteries. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a normal consumer would. We do this so we can be sure they're the same as any consumer would find them and not 'tweaked' in any way.
How we test
Single-use or disposable battery testing
The batteries are tested in a rig and monitored by computer. Each of the batteries is discharged into a fixed load. The load is 24 Ohms for the low discharge test and 2 Ohms for the high discharge test.
Four examples of each model are tested in each of the two tests. The position in the test rig and models are randomly chosen to avoid systematic errors. The batteries are discharged until they reach a voltage of 0.7. The time and voltage of each battery is recorded during the test at approximately one-minute intervals.
Rechargeable batteries take a lot longer to test because – you guessed it – they have to be charged and recharged to determine their performance over time and repeated use. The batteries are tested in a rig where each of the batteries is discharged into a fixed load. The load is 10 Ohms for the AA batteries, and 24 Ohms for the AAA batteries. Four examples of each model are tested with each position in the rig selected at random.
Test criteria explained
The overall score for single use batteries is made up of:
- performance under high-drain conditions (25%)
- performance under low-drain conditions (20%)
- endurance under high-drain conditions (25%)
- endurance under low-drain conditions (20%)
- value score for high-drain devices (5%)
- value score for low-drain devices (5%)
The overall score for rechargeable batteries is made up of:
- endurance score (45%)
- consistency score (25%)
- self discharge score (20%)
- value score score (10%)
Our test lab
We maintain our own lab that is up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools for our testers to bring you the right results.
For any testing required where we don't have the necessary in-house skill or equipment, such as for batteries, we use an external expert lab.
Ready to buy?
Check out our disposable or single-use battery reviews and our latest rechargeable battery reviews to find the best models.