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 difficult ones (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. Ten alkaline and two lithium batteries were tested. 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. Energizer Ultimate lithium took 682 shots in our tough test; Eveready Gold alkaline, 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 the batteries die. Battery life ranged from about 7.5 hours, for the Energizer Ultimate lithium, down to about 5.2, for the Eveready Gold alkaline. The best alkaline, Duracell Ultra Power, lasted about 6.7 hours.

Bottom line. The Energizer Ultimate lithium lasted longest in both tests. Lithiums are good in high-drain devices like cameras. Alkalines have shorter lives but cost less, and some do almost as well in low-drain devices like flashlights and remotes. Most alkalines have a shelf life of about seven years, but some may last up to 10 years. The company that makes the Energizer Ultimate lithium claims it can last 15 years; the Energizer Advanced, 10 years. For information about tossing or recycling batteries, go to www.call2recycle.org or earth911.com.

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