Anyone who buys single-use AA or AAA batteries is wasting money

March 14th, 2011 by Richard Lord

Don’t be tempted by the single-use batteries on racks by the supermarket or hardware shop check-out.  They are simply a waste of money.

AA and AAA rechargeable batteries may have a slightly higher initial cost than a single-use battery but even with the cost of the charger over the lifetime of their use rechargeable batteries are much less expensive.

The number of times a rechargeable battery can be recharged will vary but it is not unusual to be able to recharge a AA 2700 mAh four hundred times.

This photo clearly shows the benefit of a rechargeable battery over single-use batteries. Imagine the cost of buying all the single-use batteries in the bucket compared to the cost of buying one rechargeable battery that can perform a similar task (Image courtesy of the Two Hands Project - click image to expand)

(click on image to go to 7dayshop rechargeable batteries)

(click on image to go to 7dayshop battery charger webpage)

(click on image to go to 7dayshop battery charger web page)

Sustainable Guernsey supports the use of rechargeable AA and AAA batteries because they greatly reduce the amount of batteries that need to be recycled or that get thrown away and they save large sums of money.

Buy a battery charger that can recharge AA and AAA batteries and you will never need to buy another single-use AA or AAA battery again.


The Two Hands Project is a collaborative approach to cleaning up our world.

3 Responses to “Anyone who buys single-use AA or AAA batteries is wasting money”

  1. Gavin

    Although rechargeable batteries are good for regular use where the usage pattern is regular and cyclic there are circumstances that they are not suitable for and indeed some circumstances where they would be dangerous.

    The reason is rechargeable batteries drop power over time. This leakage of electricity is between about 1% ~ 3% per day depending on the battery being the older NICAD or newer NiMh (Nickel Metal Hydride).
    Rechargeable batteries are therefore not very good for emergency use in touches and Radio’s or any application where they will be left for time before use.

    Smoke Alarms; a single use battery will last a year or so where a rechargeable battery will only do a couple of months.

    Bike Lights; don’t use your bike often? Only use it sometime and have a pair of lights just in case you get stuck out at night? Chances are if you use rechargeables they will be flat when you come to use them, as will be the spare set you keep in your paniea just in case.

    Power Cut Torch; on rechargeables chances are the torch will be blacked out in a blackout.

    The answer isn’t to leave a set on charge all the time as this would waste power and ‘cook’ the rechargables.

    Just pick the right battery for the right job.


  2. Richard Lord

    The newer rechargeable batteries are nickel metal hydride batteries. I have not suffered high discharge rates with these. I use rechargeable batteries on my bicycle and on a head torch. Admittedly I use my bicycle daily and my head torch regularly and the rechargeable batteries last many months before they have to be recharged. I have not found any disadvantage to using them. I have had bad experiences with rechargeable nickel cadmium batteries. I have experienced a high discharge rate with them. They also have a recharge memory so if they are not fully discharged before recharging you cannot get the battery’s full capacity back. NiCd batteries are also environmentally unfriendly because of the toxicity of the components. NiMH are less prone to memory effects than NiCd batteries. They do better if they are regularly recharged even if they have not fully dissipated their energy. They can be recycled. My experience with rechargeable batteries for use in camera flashes, for head torches, and for bicycle lights has only been positive. I would recommend them for these uses. For torches for use in an emergency, a good quality wind-up torch works well as a back-up.

  3. Chris McQuaigue

    96% of people who purchased batteries never left home thinking that they needed them (seeing batteries on the shelf or at the checkout accounts for most “impulse buys”). So the message there is that better planning is needed.

    A pack of rechargeable at 7dayshop costs about the same (or even less) than a pack of Alkaline batteries brought in the shops. The cost or recharging Ni-Mh batteries is only a few pence per time and they can successfully be recharged hundreds of times. If a typical pack of alkaline cost say £3.00 – that’s an easy saving of at least £1,000+ plus !

    Gavin has a some good points there about “emergency and smoke alarm use – some batteries like 7dayshop’s “good-to-go-range” are better at holding their charge compared to 7dayshop’s regular ni-mh range although I accept that in a smoke alarm it may be best to avoid rechargeable batteries all together…

    Richard’s points about daily use (on a cycle for example) are valid as well where my children’s toys can get left on overnight and are flat the next day – so how long they hold their charge for is irrelevant in that case!

    As Richard says regular battery users (those who need daily or weekly use) are going to save the most money (and make the biggest differences too) !

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