Update (12/12/2011): We reran the tests for Energizer's two lithium AA batteries in our Ratings and obtained a higher number of shots for the Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA battery. As a result, the Rating for the Energizer Ultimate has been changed from Very Good to Excellent.
They power cameras, toys, flashlights, remote controls, and many more electronics products, but not all nonrechargeable AA batteries are alike. In our December issue, we tested nonrechargeable lithium, nickel oxhydroxide, and alkaline batteries to see which lasted longest.
Our test method: We placed each battery type into identical digital cameras and used them as you normally would—zooming, flashing, and shooting—until the batteries died.
In general, we found that lithium batteries took more photos than any of the other types. So even though the best performer, Energizer Advanced lithium, costs $5.40 per pair, the cost per 50 shots is just 33 cents. The worst performer in our tests was Walgreens Supercell alkaline; it took just 133 shots before dying, compared with 809 shots for the Energizer Advanced lithium battery.
Overall, though, rechargeable batteries are much greener than their nonrechargeable cousins. When we've tested them in the past, precharged rechargeables from major manufacturers provided about 300 shots out of the box and about 400 shots on a subsequent charge.
We offer some safety tips for nonrechargeable batteries:
- 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.
In Consumer Reports tradition, our December issue also features the best electronics products on the market right now—over 400 reviews in one humongous story. We also have first-look reviews of new products for the holidays, the ones you've been wondering about the most, including the Kindle Fire, Sony Tablet S, and Motorola Droid Bionic.