Rechargeable batteries can be a drag, because you have to spend more time making sure that they are fully recharged and periodically recharging them even when not in use to keep them fully charged for when you DO need them.
That said, we know that there are cost benefits over the long-term, if we can stick to using them. What about the environmental impact?
Turns out the environmental impact is huge. According to an independent study carried out by Uniross in 2007, there are numerous benefits to using rechargeable:
- 23 times less impact on non-renewable natural resources: using rechargeable means harvesting less fossil and mineral matter to produce the same amount of energy as a bunch of non-renewable batteries.
- 28 time less impact on global warming: when the manufacturing and distribution of non-renewable batteries is taken into account, rechargeable batteries significantly reduce global warming.
- 30 times less impact on air pollution: using rechargeable batteries reduces ozone pollution.
- 9 times less impact on air acidification: fewer acidifying substances are released into the air, which means rain brings less down into the soil and ecosystem.
- 12 times less impact on water pollution: batteries contain mercury and other heavy metals, which lead to toxic substances that can get into the water (as well as the soil and everywhere else); using rechargeable cuts down on this effect.
In summary, therefore, you can really help the environment and spend less money overall, if you ditch your love affair with disposable batteries and embrace rechargeable batteries, instead.
When it comes to choosing rechargeable batteries, it will be more convenient to get the highest rated mAh that you can (this equates to how much energy the battery can store on a full charge). You’ll notice there’s quite a range in whatever size of battery you choose. For example, if you’re looking for AA batteries, you’ll see a range from 2100mAh to 3400mAh. Manufacturers often make capacity claims that aren’t tied to reality, so for a AA don’t expect to get much above 2,600mAh at present.
There are also a finite number of cycles that a battery can be fully drained and then recharged. Using half the capacity and then recharging is considered half a cycle. Typically, you’ll see ranges from 500 to 1,000 cycles. Obviously, the higher the better.
Remember – a lot of the higher-rated mAh batteries are bogus. In user tests, they are often found to give real-world results well below their stated capacity. Check our list (below) for the best-rated batteries and rechargers.
Also, some of the really high-rated batteries can vary ever so slightly in size (not so much in length but in diameter). For instance, we’ve purchased 2900mAh AA’s that have slightly pronounced barrels and don’t fit into tight battery compartments. In other words, to cram in as much capacity as possible, the manufacturer has taken some liberty with the battery circumference. If the electronic device that you are putting the battery into doesn’t have much tolerance, you might be disappointed.
Next, you’ll need to get a battery recharger. Again, you are spoiled for choice. We’d recommend getting a wall plugged device, as well as one that can plug into a USB wall adapter to charge batteries on the go. There are even some batteries that have built-in USB adapters but they tend to have a lower mAh, as they forgo some of the capacity to fit the adapter inside the battery housing.
The Powerex Compact USB Charger is a nifty device in that it can aggregate all the batteries loaded inside the unit to recharge your portable electronics, so it acts as a rechargeable battery in and of itself. Of course, you can take out the batteries and use them separately in your devices. It comes with a wall adapter and USB cable.