Disposable AA’s Are Costing You Plenty

It’s all too easy. Grab a package of Duracell or Energizer AA’s at the checkout. They’re only a few dollars. You need them for your radio or flashlight, and they say on the package that they’re good for 5-10 years.

Good deal, right?
The numbers are staggering… the US sends over 3 billion small consumer batteries like these to landfills each year. There’s small traces of mercury in most of those batteries. Especially the really cheap ones from the dollar store. This amounts to massive toxic waste!

What’s the alternative?
Rechargeable NiMh batteries!

What’s that you say? They’re terrible? They’re never charged when you need them? They self-discharge over a few weeks in the drawer, so you can’t rely on them?
They’re expensive? And such a hassle to charge?

Well, I’m happy to tell you that times have changed.maha powerex precharged MHRAAP4 2600 aa battery The new generation of NiMh rechargeables has been on the market for several years now, and work great. Low-self-discharge means that brands like PowerEx, & Eneloop will hold their charge like a lithium battery does. Around 85% after a year. So when you reach for that flashlight this winter, it will have power.

Keep a charger on your counter top, and you’re all set.

If the toxic sludge seeping into your groundwater isn’t reason enough, here are a few numbers to illustrate why you will want to make the switch to rechargeable NiMh batteries today…


4 x PowerEx PreCharged AA : $19.99
1 x PowerEx C401 Charger : $54.99
500 Charges @ 2 cents each : $10.00
Total Capacity : 6,240 Watt-Hours (5,200 AHr @ 1.2V)
Total Cost : $84.98 (Canadian Dollars)

Alkaline Batteries…

At time of writing, Canadian Tire had a 30-pack on sale for $14, so I will use this ‘great deal’ in this calculation…
Eveready Max : $0.46 each
To match the capacity of the rechargeables over their lifetime (6,240 WHrs) would require 1,600 batteries
1,600 x $0.46 = $736 (Canadian Dollars) each!

How about Costco?
They have a 48-pack of Duracell batteries for $26.99…
Duracell : $0.56 each
To match the capacity of the rechargeables over their lifetime (6,240 WHrs) would require 1,600 batteries
1,600 x $0.56 = $896 (Canadian Dollars) each!

So, the real cost of those alkaline AA’s at the checkout, not including hazardous landfill clean-up by your children & grandchildren, is actually close to 10x the cost of purchasing just 4 of today’s NiMh rechargeables.
Gee whiz, at that rate, buy 8 PowerEx PreCharged AA’s and keep them in a charging rotation so you always have enough power available for your flashlights & radios. AAA size are available too.
Need C or D size batteries for radios or flashlights? Use these handy adaptors to use AA’s anywhere: C size, D size. Using AA’s means you can recharge faster and save money. Or shell-out for C’s, D’s, & 9V’s rechargeables.

I should also mention that the NiMh chemistry is not nearly as toxic as alkaline. When they do reach the end of their useful life, they can be recycled via many available programs & recycling depots (Staples & other shops have collection bins).

I hope you are inspired to start, or hopefully keep making, the right decision regarding throw-away batteries. Leave them at the checkout, and maybe the chemical companies who want to keep selling their crap will get the message… it’s the 21st century. Moving on.

– Graham

2 thoughts on “Disposable AA’s Are Costing You Plenty

  1. Robert Gelaznikas

    I’m all for rechargeable batteries. I have a weather station sensor that eats through regular batteries. I would love to find a way of converting to rechargeable batteries but have them charged by a mini solar panel. Can this be done by a DIY?

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Robert, thanks for your note. Yes, you can. Here is an AA/AAA charger that runs from any USB source…
      You can run this from a USB solar panel like these…

      There are also 12V chargers like these…
      Which can run directly from solar panels like these…
      Or link together project modules like these…

      The key is having the solar panel sized large enough to provide the necessary power to run the charger AND provide charge to the batteries. For example, if a charger were to be set at 600mA for two AA’s, you would need the solar to provide at least 2 Watts of power. Chargers will also have their own self-consumption to offset. So, given that sunlight is variable, I would recommend a solar panel of at least 5-10 Watts.

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