The Best Rechargeable Batteries for 2018

The battery industry in the U.S. is a multi-billion dollar industry, and that's just counting the top 6 battery brands. In our ever-digitizing world, we all collectively use more batteries than ever before.

Luckily, innovations in the battery world have also been made to help deal with this increased usage. Now, even AA or AAA batteries are rechargeable, allowing us to get the most bang or our buck. If you're interested in buying new batteries for yourself, this guide will walk you through the best rechargeable batteries available on the market.

Why Use Rechargeable Batteries?

Before we get to our guide, let's first discuss why you should be using rechargeable batteries in the first place. There are two main reasons: you'll save more money, and you'll help the environment. 

The money-saving features of rechargeable batteries should be self-evident. Though they are more expensive up-front, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars per year by getting multiple usages out of each and every rechargeable battery you buy.

Why rechargeable batteries may be better for the environment is perhaps less obvious, but they are environment-saving all the same. In the U.S. alone, 2.9 billion batteries are thrown away every year. This is an absolutely incredible amount of waste for such a small product we all buy.

And it's completely unwarranted! If we all switched to rechargeable batteries, we'd immediately cut this waste down by more than half. Recycling or reusing batteries (rechargeable or otherwise) is doubly important because these things are chock-full of dangerous, unhealthy chemicals and materials.

You average battery contains materials such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel, all of which prove to be terrible for the environment when they're disposed of improperly. When these batteries sit in a landfill, they can erode, leaking acid and metals into the soil and groundwater. If they're burned, these chemicals are released into the air we breathe.

But by using rechargeable batteries, we can reduce the number of batteries we use by the hundreds per person.

Different Types of Rechargeable Batteries

There are so many different kinds of batteries, used for all sorts of electric appliances, that even rechargeable batteries have their own sub-categories. We'll break them down below.

Lead Acid

Lead Acid was the first and oldest rechargeable battery. These batteries are great because they can be handled roughly and abused; perfect if you're planning on throwing them in something you'll be taking camping or through dirty, wet weather.

These types of batteries are most frequently used in wheelchairs, golf carts, emergency lighting systems.

The disadvantage of these types of batteries is that they have a low specific energy. This means that they aren't built to be used for extended periods of time. The lead in these batteries are also toxic, so they have to be disposed of with extra care.

Nickel-Cadmium

Nickel-Cadmium, or "NiCd," batteries, were the new industry standard for quite some time. These kinds of batteries have a high specific energy, meaning that they can be used for extended periods of time. Like lead-acid, these batteries are also extremely durable. Another added bonus is that they charge ultra-quickly.

These types of batteries are most commonly used in power tools, medical instruments, aircraft electrical systems, and failsafe power generators.

Nickel-Metal-Hydride

Nickel-metal-hydride, or NiMH, batteries came onto the scene to replace NiCd batteries as they improved upon them by having a higher specific energy and fewer toxic chemicals.

NiMH batteries are also used for medical tools, hybrid cars, and various industrial machinery. These batteries are also sold to consumers in the form of AA or AAA batteries.

Lithium-Ion

Presently, Lithium-ion, or Li-ion, batteries are ahead of all the rest. They have the highest specific energy by far and have been replacing NiMH and NiCd batteries in many common electrical appliances.

The only downside to these batteries is that they're a bit more volatile, so they require a protection circuit to function. 

Recommended Features for Rechargeable Batteries

Regardless of how or where you use them, you want all of your rechargeable batteries to have certain, non-negotiable features. We'll break them down below.

Charge Capacity

When shopping for a rechargeable battery, you obviously want batteries with the highest charge capacity possible. Ideally, you want batteries with a capacity of 2000mAh or above.

Memory Effect

You also want batteries without what is colloquially known as the "memory effect." The memory effect, in previous iterations of rechargeable batteries, prevented you from recharging them unless they were completely depleted first.

This is, of course, impractical for a variety of reasons that should be self-evident.

Discharge Rate

The discharge rate refers to the amount of charge that gets lost when the battery goes unused for a long period of time. Ideally, you want to be able to use a battery that you may have charged three months ago, so you want batteries with a low discharge rate.

Recharge Cycle

Any battery degrades with use over time. The more you recharge it, the less it'll eventually hold, until you have to replace it completely. Cell phone batteries, for example, infamously only work for 300-500 charges before needing to be replaced.

So, to get the most bang for your buck, you'll want to find batteries that have a high recharge cycle.

Weather-Proof

You'll likely be placing these batteries in appliances that will be subject to extreme weather conditions, so you need to ensure that your batteries will work in wet weather, or extremely hot or cold conditions. 

The Best Rechargeable Batteries of 2018

Now that you know everything you need to know about rechargeable batteries, it's time to actually start appraising our options on the market. At the intersection of cost and all of the recommended features we've mentioned above, is where we'll find the best of the best.

Energizer Recharge Universal

At just $20 for an 8-pack, the Energizer Recharge Universal batteries can provide all of the energy you electrical appliances need at a fraction of the cost of other brands. These batteries can survive through over 1,000 charges and can retain their charge for up to 12 months after their initial charge. These are fantastic numbers in the charge cycle and discharge rate categories.

Just one of these AA batteries can allow you to take 230 photos on a digital camera or play a video game on a handheld device for up to 5 hours. If that isn't impressive, we don't know what is.

Amazon Basics

If the Energizer batteries are a little too expensive for you, Amazon's brand name batteries are just $27 for an AAA 16-pack. These batteries even come with their own charging port that allows you to charge up to 4 at once.

These AAA batteries have a charge capacity of 800 mAh and pre-charged so that they can be used right out of the pack thanks to its low discharge rate. What's more, these batteries only have a 4-hour recharge time.

Panasonic Eneloop

The Panasonic Eneloop batteries are a bit more expensive at $13 for a 4-pack, but they provide far superior performance. These Ni-MH batteries utilize Panasonic's advanced rechargeable cell technology, allowing them to be recharged as many as 2,100 times.

They also have a spectacularly low self-discharge rate, retaining up to 70% of their charge after 10 years. These batteries also have a superior charging capacity of 2000 mAh. Like the Amazon Basics, the Eneloops are also pre-charged with solar power so that you can use them right out of the box.

Lastly, these batteries can perform in extremely cold temperatures, as low as 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Panasonic also makes a "PRO" model of these batteries. They have a larger charge capacity, but a short lifespan.

Energizer Recharge Power Plus

The Energizer Recharge Power Plus batteries are the AAA variant of their rechargeable battery line, and they're just as good (and cheap) as their AA models. It's just $10 for a 4-pack of these batteries that carry an 800 mAh charge.

They can be charged up to 700 times and as an added environmental bonus, 4% of their composition is made with recycled batteries. As is standard with batteries at this price range, these batteries also retain their charge for up to 12 months in storage.

Bonai

Unlike the other batteries on this list, Bonai isn't a household name. But thanks to their price point and fantastic performance, these batteries are sure to make a splash in the future.

These batteries provide performance at a level similar to the Panasonic Eneloop Pros but at a fraction of the cost. Bonai rechargeable batteries have a capacity of over 2800 mAh and can be recharged up to 1200 times in its life cycle.

The batteries also maintain up to 80% of their charge even after 3 years of non-use. On top of that, these batteries also have a 30-day, money-back guarantee. All for just $23 for a 16-pack! It's a crazy good deal.

EBL

EBL is a yet another underdog in the battery world that provides superior performance over the name brand competition despite its lower price point.

Their AA batteries have a charge capacity of 2800 mAh and can be charged up to 1200 times. This is identical to the Bonai batteries. EBL, however, makes its batteries with supercell lattice technology giving the battery more space to carry a larger charge.

These batteries also have a great self-discharge rate, maintain 75% of their juice after 3 years of disuse. These batteries are also Ni-MH, so they don't contain Mercury or Cadmium, which often damages the environment when batteries are disposed of.

EBL batteries are also all encased in a steel shell that prevents them from imploding when put under extreme pressure.

Rayovac

Rayovac is another solid entry into the rechargeable battery scene that gives you name brand quality at off-brand cost. Their AA batteries have a charge capacity of 1350 mAh and can be recharged up to 1500 times. The company claims that that means that just one of these rechargeable batteries equates to over 1650 normal alkaline batteries in terms of usage.

The company also recommends that these batteries be placed in high-use devices like video game controllers, tv remotes, and flashlights to really get the best bang for your buck.

Mr. Batt

These rechargeable batteries are unlike any of the others on this list in the sense that they were built for only one use: solar powered lighting units. More specifically, these batteries are used for low-powered solar lights like garden lights, path lights, and decorative outdoor lamps.

So these batteries that their charge from the sun and hold up to 1000 mAh of charge, perfect for their intended use. They also have an incredibly low discharge, so if they get put in storage for a long time, or (god forbid) the sun disappears, they'll still be usable.

Amazon Basics High Capacity Batteries

A step up from their aforementioned model, these high capacity rechargeable batteries hold up to 2400 mAh in charge at just $10 for a 4-pack. Like the Eneloops, they're also precharged with solar power and retain up to 65% of their charge after 3 years of inaction.

On top of that, for an extra $15, you can get an accompanying charging port for these batteries as well. It's not a bad deal if you're looking for a basic rechargeable battery set.

Need Any Other Electronic Recommendations?

This article should have given you more than enough information regarding the best rechargeable batteries on the market. With this information, you'll be able to make an informed selection that best suits your needs.

Here at TwoWaySignal, we like to provide our readers with all sorts of information regarding a wide range of electrical products, so if you're curious about the best walkie talkies or marine radios, be sure to check out the rest of our site.

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