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Best AA batteries

Find out which products can go the distance

Consumer Reports magazine: December 2012

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In happy times (taking holiday photos) and sad (enduring winter storms), you want a battery you can trust. We hired a lab to run new, improved tests that mimic the main uses of AA batteries: to power digital cameras and flashlights. We tested 10 alkaline and two lithium batteries. Neither type is rechargeable. (In past tests, we’ve found that rechargeables of 2,350 milliamp-hours or more are best for often-used toys like game controllers.)

In cameras. This test mimics everyday use, zooming, flashing, shooting, and resting until batteries die. The top battery, a lithkum, took 682 shots in our tough test, while one alkaline managed just 52. See our Ratings for full test results.

In flashlights. This test involves the equivalent of turning on a flashlight for 4 minutes every hour for 8 hours, letting it sit for 16 hours, and repeating the cycle until batteries die. Battery life ranged from about 7.5 hours for a lithium battery down to about 5.2. The best alkaline lasted about 6.7 hours.

Bottom line. Lithiums are good in high-drain devices like cameras. Alkalines have shorter lives but cost less, and some perform almost as well in low-drain devices like flashlights and remotes. Most alkalines have a shelf life of about seven years, but some claim up to 10 years. For information about tossing or recycling batteries, go to www.call2recycle.org or earth911.com.

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