Buyer Beware: Why Bargain Batteries Aren't Really a Bargain

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While rechargeable batteries are preferred and recommended for both environmental and economic reasons, there are still a few devices which still require regular old alkaline batteries. A trip to the store reveals a big difference in price between brand name batteries and their no-name counterparts. Is the price difference warranted? What is the lifespan of each type of battery? Read on through to find out more before purchasing new batteries...

Batteries are rated for a limited lifespan, also known as their shelf life. The Battery Bank estimates most batteries have a shelf life of "about 7 to 10 years."

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Energizer estimates their basic MAX and Advanced Lithium batteries last up to 10 years, while their Ultimate Lithium batteries are still usable for 15 years. Their Rechargeable line has a limited shelf life, losing "1% of deliverable energy per day."


Energizer suggest the following tips to extend the battery life:

  • DO remove all batteries from the device at the same time and replace them with new batteries of the same size and type.
  • DO preserve battery life by switching off a device and removing the batteries when it is not being used, and is not expected to be used for extended periods of time.
  • DO practice proper battery storage by keeping batteries in a cool, dry place at normal room temperature. It is not necessary to store batteries in a refrigerator.

  • Contrary to popular belief, Duracell suggests not to refrigerate batteries to extend their lifespan.

    Store batteries in a dry place at normal room temperature. Most Duracell batteries will provide dependable long life even after five years of storage in these conditions. Do not refrigerate Duracell batteries, this will not make them last longer. 

    When buying batteries, try to find the manufactured date to determine how much life is left. Sometimes the date is printed on the label or an expiration date is provided. It's always a good idea to check online reviews to see if a particular seller struggles with quality control. Oftentimes, a rock bottom sales price can be attached to battery stock nearing an expiration date. Exercise some caution when buying batteries and don't be left dead in the water with no juice on a supposedly fresh battery!

    For anyone interested in a more technical look at the science behind battery life, Electropaedia offers an extensive look at Battery Life (and Death) here.


    (Images: Energizer, Shutterstock/Yes -Royalty Free's, Shutterstock/Kheng Guan Toh)