There are a thousand different kinds of batteries out there, and countless devices that need them. But if there’s one thing we can all agree on when it comes to batteries, it’s that we always wish they would last a little longer.
If you’re looking to maximize the lifespan of your batteries, then you’ve come to the right place. From long-term storage to preventing batteries in your devices from being drained prematurely, these are our top tips for making batteries last as long as possible.
Use Rechargeable Batteries
Let’s start with the most painfully obvious option! If you want to stop buying batteries over and over, buy rechargeable batteries instead. With proper storage, care and usage, typical rechargeable batteries will last anywhere between 2 and 7 years. That’s a pretty broad range, but even at the low end they’ll outlast non-rechargeable batteries.
There is a bit of a trade-off here though, as most rechargeable batteries have a higher self-discharge rate than non-rechargeable batteries. So even though they will last through many charge cycles, you may have to charge them more often than you would normally replace your batteries.
For Disposable, Choose Lithium
If you prefer to use disposable batteries rather than rechargeable ones, that’s okay! But you’ll get a much longer lifespan out of your batteries if you choose lithium batteries over alkaline batteries. Although disposable lithium batteries cost more than alkaline, they can last as long as 10 or even 20 years on the shelf when they are properly stored, and have a lifespan around four times that of a comparable alkaline battery.
Get Gadgets that Take Larger Batteries
Let’s say you want to get more runtime out of your flashlight. Start by getting a flashlight that takes AA batteries instead of AAA batteries. Even if the brightness level is the same, a flashlight that uses AAs will typically work for close to twice as long as one that uses AAAs before the batteries need to be replaced. Granted, there are also situations in which smaller batteries are ideal, but if you want to use a bright light for a longer time, think big.
Use Lower Power Modes
Most devices that offer multiple power modes, such as flashlights, will last longer on a lower power mode. If you’re in a situation where you need to conserve your batteries, use your devices on lower power modes whenever possible to avoid depleting the batteries. And of course, make sure to turn your device completely off when you don’t need it.
Only Refrigerate Batteries in Extreme Heat
The idea that you can make batteries last longer by storing them in your refrigerator is an often-repeated myth that is, at best, only half true. Still, in certain situations, it might be worth considering.
In a nutshell, alkaline batteries self-discharge at a rate of about 2% per year in normal storage. But at extremely high temperatures, they can quickly lose 25% of their charge. So storing them in the refrigerator can protect them if you live in an area where temperatures reach over 100°F. Having said that, storing batteries in the freezer is never really necessary, and if you do keep them in the fridge, make sure they are dry and have returned to room temperature before you use them.
Use the Correct Batteries for ‘High Drain’ and ‘Low Drain’ Devices
Not all devices use power at the same rate, and different batteries are best suited for different uses. For example, alkaline batteries are generally considered best for low-drain devices like LED lights, remote controls and clocks, whereas high-drain devices like digital cameras and radio-controlled toys should be paired with lithium batteries.
Remove Batteries from Seldom-Used Devices
You can help extend the lifespan of batteries by taking them out of devices that you don’t often use. A common example would be battery-powered lights and holiday decorations that you only use for a short time every year, or gear for hiking and camping that stay in mothballs for months on end. The device will slowly draw power from the battery even when not in use, and leaving the batteries in for long periods of time can lead to leakage and corrosion.
Use a High Quality Charger
If you’re going to go through the trouble of investing in high quality rechargeable batteries, it’s important to also get a good charger to charge them with. You should particularly avoid so-called super-fast chargers that promise to charge a battery in 30 minutes or less, as they deliver high current that can cause damage to the batteries themselves.
The best battery chargers are ‘smart’ chargers that will charge your batteries at the right speed while also avoiding over-charging or under-charging your batteries. Smart chargers also have safeguards including temperature sensors that shut off to prevent overheating.
Replace Batteries at the Same Time
If you have a device like a remote or flashlight that uses more than one battery, it might be tempting to replace only one of the batteries in an effort to ‘stretch’ your battery supply. But this can have the opposite of the intended effect, as placing a new battery in a circuit with an old battery can cause the new battery to be drained even more quickly. It’s always better to replace the whole set of batteries simultaneously.
Don’t Mix Batteries
You may have heard the old wives’ tale that you shouldn’t use different brands of batteries in the same device. We don’t have any hard data on that, but we can say for certain that you should never mix types of batteries in the same divide. Alkaline, lithium, carbon-zinc, silver-oxide and other types of batteries should never be mixed-and-matched together. Doing so can reduce performance and even lead to battery leakage or rupture.