May 13, 2010

rechargeable batteries

having a baby monitor finally got me on the path to re-chargeable batteries. i KNOW. what took me so long? honestly it was the initial cost and then all the bad reviews of rechargeables that i read oh so long ago. but battery technology has changed by leaps and bounds - even in the last couple of years.

i broke down and bought an energizer recharger to charge batteries for the baby monitor. i was in line at walgreens - realized the three AAA's in it were about to die soon and i WAS NOT going to just buy more cheap batteries to keep throwing them away [ahem i mean recycle them. luckily where i live it's easy - you just put them in a plastic bag on top of your garbage can and the city recycles them. you can use this site to find a recycling spot for your batteries in the states].

i bought the sort of lame energizer re-charger that i spied amongst all the normal akaline batteries. i say sort of lame because it DOES work - i always have charged AAA batteries when i need them [1.5 weeks is about how long they last with how i use the monitor daily]. the lame part is that plugged in the charger has constant green lights. not green when they are finished charging, or green for a little bit, but green all the time. i leave the charger in the kitchen and since i need the batteries so often i have to admit i pretty much always leave it plugged in [because if i didn't i would forget to charge the batteries. i know this for a fact].

i tell myself that it is functioning as a night light - but i do feel guilty about the vampire drain and wish it shut off when the batteries were charged. but that's too complicated a task for my less than $10 charger. you get what you pay for... but i am happy that i have spared almost year and a half's worth of AAA batteries every 1.5 weeks. [that's 156 batteries if my math is right].

it's definitely time, though, to invest in a whole SET of batteries and a charger. the energizer will do AA's too, but i do have things around the house that need C's and sometimes even D's.... [flashlights, portable radio, the all important bubble making machine that my daughter loves]. i know that we'll probably have toys in our future that will need batteries too.

in my quest for better rechargeables i read this article . and am thus really contemplating the eneloop batteries pictured above. you can find a set of 8 AA's, 2 AAA's, 4 C's and 4 D's for under $40 with shipping. here's a list on amazon . that pays for itself after what only 8 packs of $5 batteries. not bad i think.

apparently this new generation of rechargeables holds their charge longer [even away from the charger] and the charger is smart and won't over charge the batteries. two problems i read over and over in complaints about older NiMH rechargeables. my only complaint is that there isn't a 9Volt option. we have a remote that uses a 9Volt and so i'll have to find an alternative for that.

if you want to read all about different kinds of batteries, how they work, and how long they last - i found this very technical [and yet readable] article.

anyone out there have any great rechargeable experience that they want to share??? i'm all ears. i think i'm going to make my final purchase decision by the end of the month. if anyone cares i'll try and post a post script to this post with my choice[s] and how i feel about them.


Allisone said...

We've been using the eneloop batteries for about 2 years. No noticeable decrease in capacity yet. We got ours at Costco.

Di said...

Great post Lisa! We've been using rechargables for remotes and cameras for a few years now with varying success.

We've definitely noticed reduced performance over time, and have recently invested in some eneloop batteries for our DSLR camera with much better performance (in terms of holding it's charge over time, as it isn't in constant use). So much less frustrating than discovering the batteries are dead every time I went to use it!

My husband is the tech dude in our house, and his research indicated that over time, most batteries don't re-charge back up to the same capacity (not sure of the technical terms here). One tip he found out is that you get better performance when you're using two or more batteries in a device together, if you are using batteries that have the same charge capacity. We have a high tech charger that is capable of telling us what level each one has been charged up to, which helps with this (It was an expensive charger, not sure what brand... I put it down to hubbo just wanting a new tech toy, but it does seem to work really well!).