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Overview
December 2011 Ratings

Batteries: Which AAs rate an A?

Last reviewed: December 2011
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AAs are still the most widely sold battery type, used in many toys, radios, flashlights, and remote controls, and in some digital cameras, though more of those are using tiny rechargeables. We tested nonrechargeable lithium, nickel oxhydroxide, and alkaline types.

The longest-lasting was Energizer Ultimate lithium*. It took 1,286 photos before dying; the quickest to die, Walgreens Supercell alkaline, took just 133.

Take manufacturer claims with a grain of salt. Duracell Ultra PowerPix, for example, lasted for 174 shots, which is indeed "up to 200 photos," as claimed—but any number under 200 meets that boast.

Rechargeable batteries are a greener choice than any of the tested types. In past tests, precharged rechargeables from the major manufacturers provided about 300 shots out of the box and about 400 shots on their subsequent charge.

If your town doesn't provide a way to recycle non-rechargeable batteries, it's OK to toss them in the trash. To find out where to recycle rechargeables, go to www.call2recycle.org.

Bottom line

Lithium batteries took more photos than the other types, so they don't need to be changed as often. The best performer, Energizer Ultimate, costs $6.00 per pair but just 23 cents per 50 shots. The top alkaline battery, Duracell Ultra Advanced, costs $3.65 per pair but ends up costing 70 cents per 50 shots. Use lithiums in high-drain devices such as cameras and alkalines in low-drain devices such as remote controls. For toys that are used a lot, consider high-capacity rechargeables (2,350 milliamp-hours or more).

*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the number of shots taken by Energizer Ultimate and Energizer Advanced batteries, as well as the cost per 50 shots for each. The Ultimate Lithium took 1,286 shots, a cost of 23 cents per 50 shots, with this new test data earning it an Excellent overall score. The Advanced took 957 shots, a cost 28 cents per 50 shots, maintains its Excellent overall score.

Safety tips for nonrechargeables

  • Use identical batteries of the same chemistry, brand, and age.
  • Don't get batteries wet, expose them to fire, or pierce them; they could explode.
  • Don't carry or store loose batteries next to other metal objects.
  • Stop using a battery that feels hot, changes color, or emits an odor.