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Battery best practices

One of the main recommendations we make in our guide to rechargeable batteries, is that people should quit using alkalines and transition entirely to rechargeables. We have a couple good reasons for this that I wont’ get into, here (read the guide!) 

But here’s the thing: I’m not actually doing this, and I’m the one who wrote the recommendations. 

The reason I find myself unable to do this, is that the rechargeables are expensive, so I don’t want them to go into random kid toys and the like where they’re liable to get lost or thrown away. I hoard those things like the costly little gadgets they are. This means I end up buying alkaline batteries for kid toys and throwaway stuff, and since I have those on-hand I just use them for everything else, too.

So my stash of NiMH batteries sits mostly in special box with my chargers and other battery-related equipment.

I suspect I’m not alone in this approach, and that very few preppers are actually moving to NiMH in all daily-life use — despite the theoretical reasons why it’s a good idea. On this basis, then, I’m thinking of changing the battery guide language to reflect reality.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Have others made the jump to all-rechargeables? Or should I go ahead and concede that people will stick with alkaline, and then focus on storing the NiMH for emergencies?

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  • Comments (7)

    • 4

      I personally use disposables in most things, Duracell Procells to be specific. However, I do have some Panasonic Enloops that I keep in my go-bag in plastic cases. I also buy rechargeables for things that burn through batteries quickly, like wireless keyboards.

    • 5

      I can’t bring myself to fully move past disposable alkaline batteries.  There is something wonderfully reassuring about buying a case of Duracells at Costco and stashing them away, knowing they’ll likely work well many years from now and won’t be reliant on a seperate power source to charge them. I think maintaining a healthy stash of alkalines is an important aspect of prepping, even if they are only a back-up for your flashlight and radio.

      And of course the convenience of being able to just throw them into whatever device that needs them and not having to wait for the batteries to recharge is worth noting, but I realize in saying that that I am revealing my own bad habit of not always remembering to recharge my batteries!

    • 5

      You know, I don’t really have many devices that run off of AA/AAA anymore. Most of the new electronic devices that I have bought recently have come with their own lithium ion battery. My wireless keyboard, flashlight, newer video game controllers and consoles, wireless earbuds, and more all have their own little battery that isn’t a AA/AAA.

      That being said, I do have a few devices that still run off of AA/AAA. A headlamp, tv remote, and older video game consoles and controllers are pretty much all I can think of in my house that run off of AA/AAA. The TV remote AA batteries last over 5 years on the cheapest harbor freight batteries that I had gotten for free, so that is the only device that uses alkaline. The others are all rechargeable.

      I can totally see where you are coming from with cheap kids toys not having your expensive rechargeables, and will probably do the same when I have kids. 

      So I am mostly all rechargables here, and think that most people can switch most of their electronics to the same, but having a good store of alkalines is smart.

      • 2

        ditchd alkaleaks a few years ago and zero regrets.  Replaced with eneloops and panasonic which work very well.  Alkaline batteries are obsolete.

    • 2

      Jon,

      A major problem is dealing in absolutes like “best” and “entirely”. We and the environment are just too diverse.

      Some of the quality flashlights have their own docking station for charging – and can use the more available replaceable batteries when docking station not available.  One example is the Streamlight Survivor model.

      Recharging batteries on some boats’ electrical systems verbotten.

      When in evac mode and herded into a makeshift emergency shelter, where does one recharge the batteries ?  The school building’s electric sockets are all in use forever and ever.

      Even the lithium-ion can degrade over time.  Although rare, rechargeables can explode.  

      • 2

        When dealing with boats, evac shelters, and any situation where wall power is not available, power banks are the answer.  they are available in many formats and forms and many are fully functional lights and lanterns as well.  They can easily keep a cellphone charged. There is always the vehicle electrical system.  My ultimate backup is a portable solar panel.  This system has worked for me for up to ten days when out in the field.

    • 2

      I read the battery guides just after I restocked my alkaline AA and AAAs from Costco.  So I’ve not yet really expanded my collection of eneloops yet.  I do plan to when the stash starts getting down to a reasonable size.  I think I need to have enough such that I have a stash already charged to swap in.  We humans tend to seek that instant gratification, plus I don’t really want to wait around to replace a battery in a difficult to hang clock or smoke detector.  

      Jon, I don’t think you should change your recommendations/language in the guides, as they are guides – not law :-).   We can strive for better and I suggest you break the ice and replace the batteries in a flashlight. I have the sense that the rechargeable batteries should not fall prey to the leaking phenomenon so they should be better.  I’ve had batteries leak in them for me before.