Single-use, throw-away batteries might initially seem like the budget option, but they can go flat surprisingly quickly. That’s not good for your pocket, and even if you drop them off for recycling, it’s not great for the environment. Scientists are discovering alternative options for recharging batteries, but in the meantime, the best rechargeable batteries are the answer.
That said, many rechargeable batteries can seem interchangeable, and finding which offers the best performance or value can be difficult. We'll look at the technical aspects that differentiate the options, and help you find the best rechargeable batteries for any device.
— Best Overall: Panasonic Eneloop AA Battery
— Best AA Batteries: Pale Blue AA Battery Pack
— Best Budget: Amazon Basics AA Battery
— Best AAA Batteries: Duracell AAA Battery
— Best 9V Batteries: EBL 9V Battery and Charger
— Best C Batteries: Energizer C Battery
— Best D Batteries: Tenergy High Capacity D Battery
— Best USB Charging: JWWYJ USB Rechargeable Batteries
— Best 12V Batteries: Optima 12V Batteries RedTop
How We Picked the Best Rechargeable Batteries
Selecting the best rechargeable AA batteries, or any other size or capacity is something of a challenge. Differences can be very small, so it is important to look into the details. In terms of criteria we looked at the following:
Recharge cycles: The number of times a battery can be recharged is a key feature, though it is one that is sometimes overlooked. The comparison between expected life and cost gives a better view of value than price alone. It was an important factor in our choices.
Amp hours: If you have two batteries of the same type, but one has double the Ah (amp hours) of the other, it will run a device for twice as long. Not having to change batteries as often is simply more convenient so we have tried to choose rechargeable batteries that maximize this aspect.
Brand: Duracell, Energizer, and Panasonic dominate the rechargeable battery market. These are high-quality products, most of which are very affordable. Amazon Basics’ rechargeable batteries are also highly regarded. There are cheaper options, and we are keen to find bargains, but in this case, we have chosen to steer clear of no-name brands. Although it would be unfair to generalize, they frequently lack the performance, and durability of the big-name brands. You can also keep your devices ready to go with the best Magsafe chargers.
The Best Rechargeable Batteries: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: Panasonic Eneloop AA Battery
Why They Made The Cut: Panasonic Eneloop AA rechargeable batteries offer a combination of high performance and extended service life at a good price.
— Capacity: 2,000 mAh
— Cycles: Up to 2,100
— Pack sizes: 4, 8, 16
— Price: $18.99 for 8-Pack
— Excellent durability
— Solid low-temperature performance
— Problems can arise with non-Panasonic chargers
There are a lot of good rechargeable AA batteries on the market, but the combination of durability, performance, and price of the Panasonic Eneloop AA Battery is hard to beat making them the best rechargeable batteries overall.
These batteries are sold having been fully charged at the factory using solar power. Their capacity is rated at up to 2,000 mAh (with a minimum of 1,900 mAh), and they can be recharged an impressive 2,100 times. While rechargeable batteries typically suffer a considerable drop in power as temperatures fall, this battery can work at as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit. They also suffer minimal drain if left unused. Panasonic claims that after 10 years they will still have 70 percent of their original charge. Those looking for the best Xbox One rechargeable battery pack might want to consider Panasonic Eneloop Pro batteries, with their 2,550Ah capacity, as an alternative. For more energy-saving power, consider the best solar batteries.
Best AA Batteries: Pale Blue
Why They Made the Cut: Pale Blue’s batteries are designed with lithium ion that charges five times faster than some other rechargeable batteries.
— Capacity: 1,560 mAh (AA)
— Cycles: Up to 1,000
— Pack sizes: AAA, AA, C, D, 9V
— Price: $59.99 for 8-pack of AAAs and charger
— Charges in under two hours
— Comes with a four-pronged USB charger
— Company make kits so you can buy a set
— Must have a USB-compatible plug for the charger to work
If you’re looking to take a more holistic approach to save energy, Pale Blue AA batteries may be a good start. The Utah-based company designed its rechargeable batteries with lithium which allows them to charge up to five times faster than NiMH batteries. The batteries also come with a micro-USB charging port that lets you charge four batteries at a time. And their 1,000 charge cycles put them in line with other top long-lasting rechargeable batteries.
Pale Blue has developed an entire line of batteries that includes AA, AAA, C, D, and PV batteries. The company also sells a Home Conversion Kit and a AA and AAA Sustainable Kit. That said, if you’re just looking for a few batteries, this set is expensive. If you want to prepare your home in case of an emergency, here are the best solar generators.
Best Budget Batteries: Amazon Basics AA Battery
Why They Made The Cut: Although they have a shorter life span than many of the big-name brands, Amazon’s Basic AA rechargeable batteries provide outstanding capacity at a budget-friendly price.
— Capacity: 2,400 mAh
— Cycles: Up to 400
— Pack sizes: 4, 8, 12, 16, 24
— Price: $15 for 8-Pack
— High performance at a modest cost
— Fewer recharge cycles than many
— A few reports of casings coming apart
We often steer clear of budget products because price can have a negative impact on performance. That is not the case with the Amazon Basic rechargeable AA batteries, our choice for the best affordable batteries.
At 2,400 mAh, their capacity is equal to or better than many more expensive rivals, and they are hugely popular as a result. They also have a reasonably low self-discharge rate of 80 percent after two years. This could be beneficial to those who buy rechargeable batteries in bulk because there will likely be less wastage. It’s not all good news. A maximum of 400 recharging cycles means that initial cost savings have to be balanced against a shorter service life than many. Nevertheless, Amazon Basics’ rechargeable AA batteries remain a good value.
Best AAA Batteries: Duracell AAA Battery
Why They Made The Cut: Duracell’s batteries stand out for their high capacity when compared to other leading brands. As a result, they will power devices for longer before they need to be recharged.
— Capacity: 900 mAh
— Cycles: Up to 400
— Pack sizes: 2, 4, 8
— Price: $9.99 for 4-Pack
— High capacity for their size
—10-year shelf life
—Low recharging cycles
Although Duracell was by no means the first rechargeable battery maker, the company is perhaps the best known. A key claim is how long they will run between charges, which depends on the milliamp-hour capacity. While rivals typically deliver 800 mAh or 850 mAh, the Duracell AAA rechargeable batteries are rated at 900 mAh.
If long-term storage is a consideration, Duracell’s AAA batteries will hold a full charge for up to a year, and are guaranteed to last up to 10 years uncharged making them the best rechargeable AAA batteries. However, that life could be dramatically reduced in use, as they can only be recharged 400 times. For additional connectivity, here are the best HDMI cables.
Best 9V Batteries: EBL 9V Battery and Charger
Why They Made The Cut: EBL 9V batteries are the best rechargeable 9V batteries because they have excellent durability, and a range of safety features that make them the ideal choice for smoke alarms, metal detectors, walkie-talkies, etc.
— Capacity: 600 mAh
— Cycles: Up to 1,200
— Pack sizes: 4
— Price: $27.99 for 4-Pack
— Unrivaled service life
— No memory effect
— Occasional reports of faulty chargers
9V rechargeable batteries like these from EBL are often used in devices like smoke alarms or portable testing and medical equipment where it is inconvenient to change batteries frequently. In these situations, the fact that lithium-ion chemistry holds a charge better than NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) batteries is a definite advantage.
These batteries are also extremely durable and capable of recharging up to 1,200 times. While a charger is included, any 9V PP3 size charger should work. The EBL 9V rechargeable batteries are also very safe, with overload, overcharging, and overheating protection. And they have low discharge in storage, holding 75 percent of capacity if unused for 3 years. While these batteries are pre-charged, it's only to 20 percent. According to the manufacturer, this is for shipping safety. They will actually take 3-5 charges to reach full capacity, but as lithium-ion has no memory effect, this has no impact on performance or service life.
Best C Batteries: Energizer C Battery
Why They Made The Cut: Energizer is one of the world’s best-known battery brands, and their rechargeable C batteries reflect the company’s reputation for performance, reliability, safety, and value.
— Capacity: 2,500 mAh
— Cycles: Unknown, though typically 500 - 600
— Pack sizes: 2
— Price: $10.77 for 2-Pack
— Use 7 percent recycled battery material
— Very affordable
— Relatively short life, though normal for C cell batteries
Although C cells are one of the less common battery sizes, they are still found in flashlights, some bicycle headlights, and numerous toys. These are devices where you want to maximize run time, and the 2,500 mAh power of the Energizer rechargeable C battery can provide many hours of continuous power.
Although we were unable to find specific information, C cell rechargeable batteries can typically be recharged 500 times. While they will hold a charge for a month in storage, shelf life is quite short at around 3 years. The NiMH battery chemistry can be disposed of safely but is notoriously difficult to recycle. Energizer’s use of 7 percent recycled battery material makes them the current world leaders.
Best D Batteries: Tenergy High Capacity D Battery
Why They Made The Cut: The best rechargeable D batteries from Tenergy deliver class-leading performance for devices that have high power requirements, and those that have lower demands but over extended periods.
— Capacity: 10,000 mAh
— Cycles: Up to 1,000
— Pack sizes: 4, 8, 16
— Price: $39.99 for 8-Pack
— Consistent high output
— UL certified for safety
— Competitive pricing
— Modest shelf life
Tenergy’s D cell rechargeable batteries are designed for what are called high-drain applications. In other words, devices like powerful flashlights make big energy demands. Many other brands are in the 3,000 to 5,000 mAh range, whereas these batteries provide 10,000 mAh. This also makes the Tenergy D cell rechargeable battery a good choice for lower drain but long-term applications such as field cameras, which might run a week or more unattended.
In addition, this battery has the ability to be recharged up to 1,000 times, with relatively low self-discharge. That said, the shelf life is only around three years. Nevertheless, Tenergy D rechargeable batteries represent good value when compared with other high drain rivals.
Best USB Charging: JWWYJ USB Rechargeable Batteries
Why They Made The Cut: JWWYJ aren't just reliable, they're one of the most easy rechargeable batteries to use and power up.
— Capacity: 1,700 mAh
— Cycles: Up to 1,000
— Pack sizes: 4
— Price: $20.99 for 4-Pack
— Easiest way to charge
— No secondary charger is needed
— Only available in four-pack
From laptops to cellphones, everything in the world charges via USB-C, so why shouldn't batteries? JWWYJ rechargeable batteries are a great entry-level option for those looking to cut down on electronic waste.
Using these batteries couldn't be more simple. Each four-pack comes with a four-pronged USB-C charger that plugs into any laptop, charging strip, or any other USB 2.0 powered device. As these batteries power up, lights will flash green, and will stop flashing once each battery charges to full. This takes as little as 90 minutes. It's great for on-the-go battery needs because each battery set comes with its own case, and doesn't require a secondary device. The downside is that these batteries are only available in a four-pack, so it's difficult to stock up on a bunch while cutting down on extra chargers and cases.
Best Rechargeable 12V Batteries: Optima 12V Batteries RedTop
Why They Made The Cut: The durable, high-capacity Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) battery from Optima provides consistent all-weather starting for cars, SUVs, and trucks, and aside from occasional recharging requires zero maintenance making these the best rechargeable 12V batteries.
— Capacity: 800 CCA (Cold Cranking Amps)
— Cycles: Typically 350 plus
— Pack sizes: 1
— Price: $269
— Suitable for a wide variety of vehicles
— 100-minute standby
— Spill-proof design
— Premium price
Most people will recognize 12V batteries as the one that starts their vehicle, and the Optima 12V battery is one of the best currently available. ‘Deep Cycle’ versions of 12V rechargeable batteries can be used to power a range of items, from forklifts to other electric vehicles. These batteries typically provide 30Ah (30,000 mAh) capacity, and cost around $1,000.
The Optima 12V battery is made with lead-acid technology, but uses Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) internally so there’s no fluid to spill if it gets tipped over, and it never needs to be topped up. AGM also offers excellent vibration resistance, which is particularly useful for off-road vehicles. Additionally, the Optima provides a 100-minute standby, which means it can deliver 12V power to any suitable appliance or device for that period before needing to be recharged.
Best Chargers for Rechargeable Batteries
Best Rechargeable Battery Charger: Nitecore Digicharger D4 Battery Charger
Why It Made the Cut: This universal charger works with li-ion, NiMH, and AA, AAA, AAAA, and C batteries.
— Dimensions: 5.4 inches long x 3.7 inches wide x 1.4 inches high
— Weight: 0.4 pounds
— Price: $37.99
— Works with wide range of batteries
— Made with fire-retardant material for safety
— Compact and portable
— May reset
If you’d prefer to have one device to recharge your batteries, the Nitecord Digicharger is a strong all-around choice. With the ability to charge most types of rechargeable batteries on the market, this smart device can sense the battery type and charge four batteries at once. This charger is also made with fire retardant materials and automatic shutoff when the maximum charge is reached.
Best Budget Rechargeable Battery Charger: Energizer Rechargeable AA and AAA Battery Charger
Why It Made the Cut: This recharger from a trusted name works with both AA and AAA batteries.
— Dimensions: 4.33 x 2.68 x 9.65 inches
— Weight: 0.64 pounds
— Power: 5 hours
— Price: $14.49
— Can charge up to 4 batteries at once
— Fast charging
— Great for travel
—Long charge time
This portable, plug-in charger from Energizer is easy to take with you. Able to charge up to four AAA batteries at once, this device works with AA NiMH batteries as well across a range of brands. The batteries will fully recharge in four hours, then the charger turns off automatically for safety. A light and audio signal will indicate when the full charge is reached.
Things to Consider Before Buying Rechargeable Batteries
NiCad: Most early rechargeable batteries were Nickel Cadmium (NiCad). However, cadmium is toxic, and the batteries are considered hazardous waste. NiCad batteries also suffer from what’s called ‘memory effect.’ They don’t discharge completely, so each recharge is less effective, thus shortening useful life.
NiMH: Nickel Metal Hydride were the next round of batteries. They can store more energy, are not considered toxic waste, are cheaper, and suffer negligible memory effect. The majority of AA, AAA, C and D cell rechargeable batteries available today are NiMH.
Li-ion: Lithium-ion is a more recent technology in batteries, though it is now widely available. The batteries are also non-hazardous, are capable of storing more energy than NiMH, and have no memory effect at all. However, they are more expensive, and less tolerant of temperature variations.
Flow Batteries: Currently under development, this technology allows for an instantly rechargeable battery by swapping out the electrolyte fluid inside. It’s a bit like emptying a bucket of dirty water and filling it up with clean. Flow batteries are a very fast alternative to typical electric vehicle charging, but unlikely to be practical for small rechargeable types.
Volts (V) and Amps Hours (Ah)
In most cases, voltage is of little concern. AA, AAA, C, and D rechargeable batteries all produce 1.2 volts. It’s simply a question of inserting the required number of batteries into the device. With other rechargeable battery types, voltage is normally made clear by the description, 9V, 12V, etc.
Amp-hours, or milliamp-hours (mAh) in the case of smaller batteries, can best be described as the amount of ‘fuel’ available. For example, with two otherwise identical AA batteries one might be rated 900 mAh, the other 2,000 mAh. Although they are both putting out the same voltage, the latter will deliver the same level of performance for much longer before it needs to be recharged.
All batteries degrade eventually, but the speed with which they do so is an important consideration. The usual figure for comparison is the number of times a battery can be recharged. Again using AAs, as a guide, one brand might be rated as rechargeable several hundred times, while another could recharge a couple thousand times. The latter, though initially more expensive, might actually work out to be better value.
Although NiMH batteries have almost no memory effect, the amount of charge they hold does diminish if they are not used and recharged regularly. It is called self-discharge. In a typical example, manufacturer figures state that by the time the battery is a year old it will only retain 90 percent of its charge. By the time it is five years old, that figure has diminished to 75 percent.
Why Should I Use Rechargeable Batteries?
On the whole, rechargeable batteries cost almost twice as much as regular batteries. However, when you consider that rechargeable batteries can be charged and recharged for years, it's a worthwhile investment. Our winner, the Panasonic Eneloop can be charged a whopping 2,100 times. Yes, battery charging capabilities diminish over time, but the life cycle of a set of batteries will pay off after a mere handful of uses.
Then there are the issues of sustainability. According to the Sierra Club, if you use your rechargeable batteries for 150 cycles or more, the investment won't simply money smart, but environmentally friendly. Plus, it keeps single-use batteries out of landfills, considering less than 10 percent are recycled.
Q: How much do rechargeable batteries cost?
It depends on the type, brand and pack quantity but popular AA and AAA rechargeable batteries cost between $1 and $3 each.
Q: What brand of rechargeable battery is the best?
Generally speaking, Energizer, Panasonic, and Duracell consistently rank among the best rechargeable batteries in independent tests. The text above provides useful information to help you select the best rechargeable batteries of different sizes.
Q: Which rechargeable battery lasts the longest?
Some lithium-ion, and Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries can be recharged more than 2,000 times. They might also offer storage life of up to 10 years. Li-ion versions charge faster, but NiMH are more tolerant of temperature variations, and usually less expensive.
Q: How much should I charge my iPhone?
Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other popular devices all run on lithium-ion batteries. While it's tempting to charge your devices to their limits, experts recommend you perform what's known as a shallow charge, to preserve the life of the battery. Begin recharging when your device dips to 50 percent power, but stop before the battery reaches 100 percent power.
Q: What is the best way to recycle rechargeable batteries?
The best way to recycle rechargeable batteries is to dispose of them properly with a retailer that sells rechargeable batteries, at a Safe Disposal Event, or at a designated drop-off location. It is illegal to put rechargeable or most single-use batteries in the trash, as they can be flammable.
Q: How long do rechargeable batteries last?
How long do rechargeable batteries last? As time goes on, you get diminishing returns, especially after about a year of use. On average, the lifespan of a rechargeable battery is about four years, but some brands tout lifespans as long as ten years, like the Panasonic Eneloop AA Battery.
Rechargeable batteries allow you to create less waste and the technology is only improving. The Panasonic Eneloop AA Battery first came onto the market as Sanyo Eneloop, and quickly built a reputation for high performance and reliability. But if you’re looking for a battery for your vehicle, the Optima 12V battery is the best model currently available.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.