After 6 years of researching and writing about AA and AAA rechargeable batteries and chargers, this site continues to have the same basic advice:
Use pre-charged, low self-discharge (LSD) batteries for AA and AAA battery needs. When used with a quality charger, LSD batteries offer the best combination of long-term cost-effectiveness, quality, durability, and environmental sustainability. Once you’ve tried LSD batteries with a good charger and realize how good they are, you’ll end up using them for the vast majority of devices that require AA or AAA batteries.
If you prefer to skip the details, click to the Just Tell Me What to Buy section of this article. If you prefer to understand what you’re buying, read on.
This guide is a 2017-2018 update on AA and AAA rechargeable batteries and chargers. It will be maintained and updated to stay current through early 2019. The technology and products associated with AA batteries and charges change slowly, so this will be easy.
In addition to this guide written by me, Jim Hyman will continue to test batteries and write articles for FilterJoe. Jim has been supplied with a few chargers to test by DC Workshop. When Jim’s testing reveals new information, appropriate changes will be made to this guide.
As you can see from the following table of contents, I cover LSD batteries, budget chargers, premium chargers, storage, and other AAA and AA-battery-related topics. I recommend specific products for different budgets and needs. I also provide a Just Tell Me What to Buy section for those who just want to cut to the chase.
- Just Tell Me What to Buy
- Why LSD Batteries Blow Away the Competition
- History of LSD Batteries Since 2005
- The LSD trade-off: Higher capacity means fewer recharges
- Recommended LSD Battery Brands (and Country of Choice: Japan)
- What to Look for in a Budget Charger
- Extra Features to Look for in Premium Chargers
- Recommended Budget AA/AAA Chargers
- Recommended Premium AA/AAA Chargers
- Storing AA and AAA batteries
- When to Use Alkaline or Lithium Batteries (hint: rarely)
- Concluding Remarks
Do you own a cast iron skillet? If so, how often have you had to replace it? If you treat it well, the answer is never.
Well, low self-discharge (LSD) batteries are the cast-iron skillet of the battery world . . . but even better because there aren’t any drawbacks other than the higher up-front cost.
There are so many headlines about breakthrough battery technologies that will be the wave of the future for autos, smart phones, or storing electricity generated by solar power. But U.S. consumers still spend over $4 billion annually on mundane AA and AAA batteries to power remote controls, flashlights, digital cameras (and DLSR flash attachments), book lights, toys for kids, and many other devices. Despite this sizable market, Sanyo’s Eneloop breakthrough that occurred in 2005 continues to receive scant attention.
Toys are what inspired me to start learning about AA batteries. Something just seemed wrong about buying dozens of Alkaline batteries per year to power my toddler’s toys. Something seemed even more wrong when my rechargeable (high discharge) NiMH batteries could not power toys after 3 or 4 months despite not being used. Thankfully, I discovered Eneloop batteries when my son was 5 years old. I soon switched our family to using exclusively LSD batteries such as Eneloop, along with a good battery charger.
A year, and a bunch of research later, I wrote my first article on LSD batteries:
Best AA Batteries That You Never Heard Of
Since then I’ve written many more articles that have been collectively viewed by over 100,000 visitors. Though much has stayed the same since that article was written, numerous battery chargers have come and gone, and Eneloop has spawned many competitors for LSD batteries. Are these LSD competitors as good as Eneloop?
Some have tried to answer this question by extensively testing many different brands of batteries. They have generally found that LSD batteries produced in Japan don’t differ all that much from each other (with the exception of the capacity/longevity trade-off). And that’s the key: Japan.
The original Eneloop batteries were designed and developed by a battery factory in Takasaki, Japan. That factory and the Eneloop brand were both owned by Sanyo through 2009 but since then, Panasonic has owned the Eneloop brand name, while Fujitsu has owned the factory and all the intellectual property associated with the manufacture of LSD batteries, as part of its FDK subsidiary. In other words:
The leader in the AA/AAA battery field is not Eneloop or any other brand, but the Fujitsu NiMH battery factory located in Takasaki which makes batteries for many brands.
I discussed this at length in a section of last year’s battery update so I won’t repeat all that information here. All you need to know as a consumer when purchasing LSD batteries is to look for the following words:
Made in Japan
LSD batteries made in China are generally less expensive than those made in Japan. However, given that these batteries last for decades, I recommend purchasing only the highest quality Japan-sourced LSD batteries from reputable U.S. retailers such as Amazon, NewEgg, and Costco. There are surely other reliable retailers but these are three that I’m confident will sell batteries that are genuinely from Japan, if that is what is claimed on the packaging (note: by Amazon I mean direct from Amazon. Buying from a third-party merchant is not going to guarantee that you actually receive LSD batteries made in Japan).
Fujitsu is a brand that you can count on to always come from Japan. So far, Eneloops in North America, Europe, and Japan also come from that same Takasaki factory. Many other brands source LSD batteries from Japan, but some brands also source LSD batteries from China. If you do buy one of these other brands, be sure to inspect the packaging and the batteries themselves to be sure they are sourced from Japan.
Just Tell Me What to Buy
Determining which LSD brands to buy and how to properly take care of AA or AAA batteries does not change much from year to year. Generally, I suggest products to match a given set of criteria, not recommend a one-size-fits-all category winner. But in this section I do try to simplify as much as possible.
If you are new to LSD batteries, I strongly recommend buying a combination pack to get started. I suggest the following inexpensive package, which includes 8 AA and 2 AAA Eneloop batteries, as well as a compact yet capable charger:
Panasonic KJ17MCC82A Eneloop Power Pack for 8AA, 2AAA, 2 C Spacers, 2 D Spacers, Advanced Individual Battery Charger
If you already have a good charger, then you only need to buy batteries. Given that Fujitsu owns the factory in Japan that makes the best LSD factory in the world, you can always count on them for high quality AA batteries:
Fujitsu Ready-to-use 8 AA rechargeable NiMH batteries HR3UTC 2000mAh
The Eneloop AAA batteries seem to be much more readily available than the Fujitsu AAA:
Panasonic BK-4MCCA8BA eneloop 8 Pack (AAA) 2100 Cycle NiMH Cell
You can get a higher capacity for a higher price and reduced number of recharges:
Panasonic BK-3HCCA8BA Eneloop Pro AA High Capacity Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries, 8-Pack
Panasonic BK-4HCCA8BA Eneloop Pro AAA New High Capacity 950mAh Typical Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries, Pack of 8
For those who want it, the rest of this article has much more detail on various brands of batteries and features of different chargers. For example, there are batteries on the market with higher capacity at the expense of longevity. There are also more expensive chargers for those who want additional features beyond simply charging their batteries.
Why LSD Batteries Blow Away the Competition
Different battery chemistries have been explained on this site several times, most thoroughly in the original article: Best AA Batteries You Never Heard of.
The two classifications of AA/AAA batteries are single use (dispose after one use), and rechargeable (reusable many times by recharging after the battery is depleted).
Single-use batteries battery chemistries over the last few decades have varied. However, over the last 5 years, by far the most popular chemistries for AA/AAA batteries have been Alkaline and Lithium.
Alkaline batteries are popular due to low cost, simplicity, higher initial voltage (when close to fully charged), and long shelf life (retains nearly full charge for many years). Alkaline AA batteries can be had for as little as 25 cents each when purchased in bulk, though that cost can be over $1.00/battery when purchased in small quantities.
However, the cost of Alkaline batteries is not so low considering how often they need to be replaced, even at 25 cents per battery. For example:
Digital cameras are a common use for AA batteries. A frequent picture taker may go through 4 batteries per month, which means 48 batteries per year and $11.50 if purchased in bulk 48-packs. Sounds like a great deal, right?
However, you can purchase a battery/charger pack that includes 4 low self-discharge rechargeable Eneloop AA NiMH batteries and a decent charger for around $16. After just two years, the Eneloop bundle comes out ahead. Rechargeable batteries do cost about 10-15 cents of electricity per year to charge, so figure about $16.25 total spent after 2 years, versus $23 for bulk-purchased Alkaline batteries. As you continue to use the Eneloop LSD batteries, the savings pile up over the years. Eneloop batteries recharge 2100 times before they can no longer hold much charge, according to Panasonic. I strongly suspect that ideal storage and usage conditions are required to achieve 2100 recharges, but even if it’s only 1000 recharges, that would last over 80 years for the digital camera that fully uses 4 batteries each month.
But that’s not the whole story. Alkaline batteries do not provide power efficiently in digital cameras, for reasons too technical to get into here (for technical detail, see Loading Characteristics on Primary and Secondary Batteries). They drain much faster when used in “high drain” devices such as cameras than NiMH or Lithium chemistries, so therefore you’ll need to change LSD batteries less frequently than you would with single-use Alkaline batteries.
Alkaline batteries are well suited to low-drain devices such as remote controls or game controls, which do use the Alkaline batteries efficiently. However, I still avoid using Alkaline. In most applications, LSD batteries perform the same or better, at a lower cost over time.
Lithium batteries don’t suffer from either high drain or low voltage issues. They hold charge for longer and operate in a wider range of temperatures than other battery chemistries. Lithium batteries are therefore ideal for devices that require a voltage higher than 1.2V or which operate at temperature extremes. They also come in higher capacities than other battery chemistries, which makes them an attractive option for travelers that have no access to electricity for a long period of time. For example, a backpacker who wants to take many pictures with his AA-battery-powered digital camera might find long-lasting lithium batteries very convenient. However, lithium batteries are the most expensive type of battery, costing more than LSD batteries and approximately 10x as much as Alkaline batteries and can only be used once. It therefore makes economic sense to use Lithium batteries sparingly.
Rechargeable batteries come in many different chemistries, but over the past decade NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) is by far the most efficient, cost-effective and popular chemistry for use in AA or AAA batteries. The first NiMH batteries to come out a couple decades ago were all of the high self-discharge variety. It wasn’t until 2005 that low self-discharge NiMH batteries became available.
High self-discharge NiMH AA or AAA batteries have low internal resistance and can be produced with high maximum capacities. Therefore, historically, they have been a popular alternative for use in high-drain devices, most especially digital cameras.
Unfortunately, two issues cause many people to be give up on high self-discharge NiMH batteries, in favor of Alkaline:
- They are often bundled with poor chargers. Low quality chargers typically undercharge or overcharge AA batteries. Undercharged batteries don’t last as long in the device, while overcharging harms batteries and can greatly decrease the number of potential recharges.
- The name “high self-discharge” refers to the fact that NiMH batteries discharge at a high rate when not being used. Such batteries have the temporary advantage of starting with a higher amount of charge, but most of this advantage is lost just 24 hours after being fully charged, and after 4 or 5 months they will have no charge left at all. Nobody wants to frequently change batteries for devices that are rarely used.
Such batteries can be useful in digital cameras or other high drain devices when paired with a high quality charger, especially if charged just before use. However, there’s no particular reason to use them anymore. This is because superior LSD NiMH battery options are now widely available, including high capacity options.
Low self-discharge NiMH (LSD) batteries are currently the best option for most applications requiring AA or AAA batteries. Unlike high self-discharge batteries, the rate of discharge is low, comparable to Alkaline batteries. Typically, 85% to 90% of charge is retained after a year of non-use, and 70% after 5 years. These NiMH batteries are approximately 70% charged at the factory so are typically labeled “pre-charged” or “ready-to-use.” This type of battery also typically lasts for over 1000 recharges, as compared with 100-500 for the high self-discharge variety. A rechargeable battery is considered at the end of its useful life when it can no longer charge to at least 80% of its original capacity.
The bottom line is that low self-discharge batteries are more expensive than high self-discharge, but they last decades, retain charge, and really have no drawbacks other than the initially higher price.
A low self-discharge battery paired with a poor charger can still lead to a poor user experience. But there are several great chargers on the market, which I discuss later in this post. Before doing that, here’s some more detail on the different generations of low self-discharge batteries.
History of LSD Batteries Since 2005
Rather than rehash Eneloop history and the different generations of batteries previously discussed on this site, this year I provide only a brief summary.
Sanyo invented the LSD (low self-discharge) battery and began selling Eneloop LSD batteries in 2005. A few years later, many other LSD brands came to market.
At first, all LSD batteries were produced in Sanyo’s factory in Takasaki, Japan. But within a few years, factories in China learned how to produce LSD batteries, though at a lower quality level. Sanyo was sold in 2009, resulting in the Eneloop brand going to Panasonic, while the Takasaki factory went to Fujitsu.
The Takasaki factory achieved numerous minor process and technology improvements from the original 2005 version over the years. These improvements resulted in higher capacity options, a longer life time for the battery (more recharges), and a lower discharge rate. The improvements over the first 5 years were rapid, but since 2010 the improvements have been very gradual. This is reflected in Eneloop marketing claims, which have changed by very small increments since 2010, by which time the so-called 2nd generation Eneloop batteries had completely replaced the first generation in the marketplace.
Given the very gradual improvement since 2010 and the high quality of batteries coming from the Takasaki factory, anyone who purchases two packs of Takasaki-sourced Eneloop batteries produced months apart from each other will find that they perform almost identically. On the other hand, a pack of Eneloops produced in 2017 will have better performance characteristics than Eneloops produced in 2011, particularly with regards to battery lifetime and charge retention.
A number of battery enthusiasts who have tested low cost Amazon Basics LSD batteries have claimed that they perform similarly to 2nd generation Eneloops from 2010 and lag behind batteries produced in the last few years on a number of performance characteristics. It’s also unclear which Amazon Basics LSD batteries are currently sourced from Japan, if any. I therefore no longer recommend purchasing Amazon Basics LSD batteries. Paying more up front for moderately better batteries makes sense, given that you’ll be using your LSD batteries for many years.
High capacity Eneloop batteries first came out in 2011. These batteries are more expensive and start with a higher capacity, but the trade-off is fewer recharges, approximately 1/4 as many. High capacity batteries produced in Japan rapidly improved over the following 2-3 years, so it’s a good idea to purchase high capacity LSD batteries that were produced after 2013.
Another style of LSD battery is the Lite version, which is slightly slimmer and will be more suitable for devices that have slightly narrower than usual battery compartments. They are also the LSD battery type most recommended for use DECT phones, because they can better handle a constant stream of trickle charge. The Lite style has been produced since 2010.
See the Eneloop101 site for a detailed compilation of LSD product releases over time, as reflected in the Eneloop product line.
The LSD capacity/longevity trade-off: Higher capacity means fewer recharges
Though Fujitsu’s Takasaki, Japan NiMH plant has produced high quality LSD batteries for Eneloop, Fujitsu, and many other brands, this does not mean that all LSD batteries produced there are identical. For starters, Eneloop, the original LSD battery brand, has produced several different capacities of both AA and AAA batteries since 2011.
Panasonic labeled the first high capacity AA batteries as having a capacity of at least 2400 mAh and more typically 2500 mAh, which was 500 mAh higher than the standard Eneloop batteries. They also labeled these batteries as being able to recharge 500 times, as opposed to the 1500 recharges claimed by standard Eneloops (the 1500 claim for standard Eneloops has since increased to 2100 with 4th generation batteries sold since 2013).
In addition to a higher capacity for the Eneloop brand, by 2011 many other brands were competing with Eneloop with a variety of mAh capacity claims. Some of these claims were accurate, and some were not. Some were coming from Japan, and some were coming from China.
Battery enthusiasts have put many of these competing batteries to the test over the years, and you can see results of such testing at forums such as the “batteries included” section of candlepowerforums or review sites such as wirecutter.
What I found from wading through all these reviews is consistent with what I learned from my contact at Fujitsu:
- The higher the specified maximum capacity of the battery (mAh), the lower the number of times that battery can be recharged. Each battery brand produced at the Takasaki plant will have a specified capacity, understanding that higher capacity necessarily means lower number of recharges.
- The higher the battery capacity, the more it costs, with the mAh/cost ratio between standard and high capacity staying about the same for a given brand.
- The number of recharges stated in marketing claims may be true in ideal use and storage conditions but actual number of recharges in everyday use tends to be less than what is stated on the package. Furthermore, batteries degrade gradually in terms of maximum storage capacity. The maximum storage capacity degrades more slowly for batteries that have smaller initial capacity. Higher initial capacity batteries typically have higher capacity for at least a year or two of typical use. However, after a few years, maximum capacity decreases, often falling below the maximum capacity of batteries that initially started with moderately lower capacity. Of course, all these calculations are complicated by the fact that the higher capacity batteries don’t need to be recharged as often, as they do have the higher capacity to last a bit longer between charges. It’s difficult to test real, everyday use to confirm how all the various different capacities of battery perform, because everyday use varies so much between households. However, many anecdotal reviews and individual tests on battery enthusiast sites seem to back up the idea that higher capacity batteries degrade more quickly than lower capacity batteries.
- The number of times an LSD battery can be recharged while still usefully holding charge is so high that many people don’t really care about that number, and focus on the maximum capacity at time of purchase. Such buyers may be disappointed 2-3 years later when the maximum capacity is significantly smaller.
- Japanese-made LSD batteries last for more recharging cycles than LSD batteries sourced from China, when comparing same-capacity batteries.
- Japanese-made LSDs self-discharge at a slower rate than LSD batteries from China, when comparing same-capacity batteries.
- LSD batteries from both Japan and China improve gradually every year. For example, a never-used 2017 LSD battery made in China may actually perform better than a never-used 2010 LSD battery made in Japan.
Personally, I prefer to buy standard Fujitsu or Eneloop batteries which are likely to last for decades, rather than higher capacity batteries with a shorter lifespan and faster self-discharge rate. Others may prefer the higher capacity/shorter lifetime trade-off. Just understand that it is, indeed, a trade-off.
Recommended LSD Battery Brands
Perhaps this section should be Factory Recommendation, because my main piece of advice is to buy LSD NiMH batteries from Japan, which means the factory in Takasaki, Japan. Many battery brands are produced at this factory. With the exception of the Amazon Basics brand (some of which may have been produced in Japan), the performance of various battery brands sourced from this factory are all good, though they vary in initial capacity and number of recharges (see prior section).
The tricky part for consumers is that not all brands consistently source all their batteries from Japan. Duracell is an example of a brand that at one point sourced some batteries from this factory in Japan, and others from a factory in a China. I don’t know if Duracell still does this, but the fact that they used to do it is enough for me to steer away from buying Duracell pre-charged batteries, because I don’t want to spend the time to figure out if they’re coming from Japan or China.
If you want to keep your life simple, buy brands that are always sourced from Japan. There are likely many LSD battery brands that are only sourced from Japan. Here are three that I’m aware of:
Eneloop (if buying, in Japan, Europe, or North America)
Another tip is to make sure you buy from a reputable retailer such as Costco, NewEgg, or Amazon. When buying online from NewEgg or Amazon, be sure to buy direct, not from a third party merchant whose reputation is unknown. There have been instances of third-party merchants repackaging and falsely relabeling inexpensive batteries.
I used to recommend Amazon Basics as a budget alternative. However, Amazon Basics batteries appear to be using LSD battery technology that is over 5 years old. Each year, other brands get slightly better as the batteries from Japan continue to improve, while Amazon Basics batteries stays the same. It’s also unclear which if any of these Amazon Basics batteries come from Japan.
You can save a few dollars buying Amazon Basics LSD batteries, but my opinion is that it’s worth spending a few extra dollars for better batteries that you’ll be likely be using for the rest of your life.
Rather than provide links to dozens of possible battery configurations, you can decide for yourself what number of batteries to get with these four general brand searches on Amazon:
Eneloop (if buying, in Japan, Europe, or North America)
You can often get a better deal buying batteries as part of a bundle that includes a charger, AA batteries, and AAA batteries such as this Eneloop bundle:
Panasonic KJ17MCC82A Eneloop Power Pack for 8AA, 2AAA, 2 C Spacers, 2 D Spacers, Advanced Individual Battery Charger
What to Look for in a Budget Charger
I’ve written about chargers several times before, so with this post I’ll just briefly summarize the “smart charger” features every quality charger must have in order to earn my recommendation:
- Must reliably cut off charging just when the battery is full. Not earlier. Not later. Negative Delta V is the most reliable method.
- Must have independent charging channels for each charging bay. Most low cost chargers have “paired bays”, which means 2 pairs of bays in a typical 4-bay charger. The pair of batteries stop charging, or charge at a much reduced rate, when the first battery of the pair is full. The inevitable result of paired bays is that at least one of the batteries will end up undercharged or overcharged. Undercharged will mean the batteries run out quicker in devices, overcharged is going to reduce the lifetime of the battery, and in some cases lead to a battery being destroyed from overheating.
- Chargers capable of charging rapidly must be able to detect excessively high temperatures and automatically stop charging.
Note that the term “smart charger” is a marketing phrase which can and has been abused to have many meanings. The more specific features to look for are proper circuitry to detect when a battery is full (negative Delta V) and independent charging channels.
Every model that I’ve come across with the first two features also tends to have two additional helpful features:
- an LED light or LCD display that is independent for each bay.
- The ability to mix and match different sizes and capacities of batteries.
That’s the essentials, but I go into more detail about what makes for a good charger here.
Extra Features to Look for in Premium Chargers
Budget chargers typically cost under $25, and can effectively cost a bit less when purchased in combination with batteries. Premium chargers typically cost between $35 to $100. Good places to buy premium AA/AAA battery chargers include Amazon, Newegg, and DC Workshop.
I will not consider recommending any charger, budget or premium, unless it has the features described in the prior section. The premium chargers recommended below all have these required features and many more.
Here’s a list of the most important other features to look for in premium chargers beyond the minimum already described:
- Higher charging rates (a feature one of this year’s budget chargers also offers)
- Safety feature(s) to cutoff charging if batteries get too hot when charging at a high rate
- Automatically switching to a “trickle charge” when batteries are full
- The option to control each bay independently for rate of charge and discharge
- An LCD display (independent, for each bay) providing additional information beyond charging/done
- The ability to “refresh” a battery by discharging all the way and recharging to full, which is particularly helpful with brand new batteries
- Testing functions
All the premium chargers I recommend offer these features. They differ in the degree to which they offer these features, how difficult they are to use, and whether there is something awkward about using the charger.
In addition to the required features listed above, there are a few optional features that some users may find helpful:
- Handle more battery chemistries beyond NiMH. Rechargeable Li-Ion batteries in particular have been growing in popularity.
- A fan which turns on at higher temperatures, to allow charging to continue at safe temperatures.
- Make it very easy to pick out which batteries should be discarded. All premium battery chargers test capacity, which can be useful for this purpose. However, even more useful is measuring internal resistance.
Recommended Budget AA/AAA Chargers
Most inexpensive AA/AAA battery chargers are terrible. But at any given time, there are typically 1-3 models available in the U.S. for under $25 that fit all the criteria for a good budget charger. This year, I recommend 2 models. If you want to read about these two chargers in great detail, read Best of the Budget Chargers: BQ-CC55 vs FCT344 vs BQ-CC17. Here’s the very brief summary:
The Panasonic BQ-CC17SBA has been this site’s top pick since I first wrote about it three years ago. In addition to having all of the required features listed in the What to Look for in a Budget Charger section, it is compact, and it is included with several different economical Eneloop bundles. It is simple to use and difficult to abuse. It has a slow charging rate but this enables it to work with a wider variety of NiMH batteries than other budget chargers that attempt to charge at a faster rate. It even works well with older, lower quality high self-discharge NiMH batteries that some budget chargers struggle with.
You can buy it alone for about $20 but that makes no sense as you can also get it with 4 AA Eneloops for a couple dollars less:
BQ-CC17 Charger with 4 AA Eneloop batteries
Or as part of a bigger bundle:
Panasonic KJ17MCC82A Eneloop Power Pack for 8AA, 2AAA, 2 C Spacers, 2 D Spacers, Advanced Individual Battery Charger
If you want your budget charger to charge at a faster rate than 300 mA, the Fujitsu FCT344 and Panasonic BQ-CC55 chargers are the two obvious options to consider. These two were discussed alongside the BQ-CC17SBA elsewhere on this site. We do not recommend the BQ-CC55 because we were not impressed with its thermal management.
We tested all three models under many different scenarios with a variety of old and new batteries of both high and low self-discharge batteries. The BQ-CC55 had the highest charging rate of the three, which under some scenarios caused batteries to get too hot to touch. In one instance, batteries in the BQ-CC55 reached 53° C (127° F), at which point the test was halted for fear of causing the battery to melt.
The FCT344 also got pretty warm to the touch, especially with older, high self-discharge batteries. However, battery temperatures in the FCT344 were much lower than the BQ-CC55 during testing of all LSD batteries. When using older, low quality, high self-discharge batteries with the FCT344, the temperatures did begin to rapidly rise, but then the thermal protection circuitry triggered, shutting down the charger. The FCT344 is therefore unsuitable for use with older, high self-discharge batteries.
We do recommend the FCT344 as a good charger for use with LSD batteries. In the U.S., it can only be purchased as part of a bundle with Fujitsu batteries:
Fujitsu FCT344AUFX(CL) AA / AAA Ni-MH Battery Quick Charger with 4-pack 2000 mAh AA Rechargeable Batteries
Recommended Premium AA/AAA Chargers
In the past, this site recommended a number of different charger brands from La Crosse, Maha, and Opus. In 2017, FilterJoe researcher Jim Hyman extensively tested several models from these different brands. Detailed write-ups for Jim’s testing results are forthcoming. Jim’s testing has caused some changes in this site’s premium charger recommendations.
The most important change is that we now believe that one charger brand beats out the others as the best combination of features, cost, and ease of use. That brand is the Powerfocus Opus.
I have been recommending user friendly La Crosse models for years and I continue to use a La Crosse model for my everyday charging needs. But if I were to buy my first premium charger today, it wouldn’t be La Crosse. It would be Opus.
The La Crosse charger’s biggest selling point compared with other premium chargers is ease of use. Jim found the Opus just as easy to use, and in some ways easier. While Opus and La Crosse are roughly tied in terms of ease of use, the Opus costs less, has greater flexibility, and packs more features, including a feature useful for weeding out worn-out batteries (internal resistance testing). Top-of-the-line Opus models also have a fan that starts up whenever battery temperature exceeds 40° (C). There are only 2 downsides to the Opus Charger that I can think of:
- Opus firmware in models produced prior to 2014 had issues which led to overheating. It is still possible to buy older models, and these should be avoided. The issue was solved with a firmware upgrade to 2.1, which you can see briefly displayed on the leftmost column when turning on any Opus charger. When using a new Opus, be sure it flashes a number that is at least 2.1 when first turning it on.
- The manufacturer of the Opus brand has no web site or technical support. Note that DC Workshop does provide technical support and a one year warranty on Opus charger models they sell, and is the only vendor that sells the BT-C3400 with 3.1 firmware.
Many Opus models have a maximum charging rate of 1400 mA with 2 batteries inserted, or 1000 mA with 4 batteries, which is lower than the top models from La Crosse and Maha. However, the two most expensive Opus models do charge at a maximum rate of 2000 mA with 2 batteries inserted: BT-C3100 and BT-C3400.
There are many Opus models, most of which differ by which accessories are included (C and D adaptors, auto adapters, etc.). The basic model is this one:
Opus BT-C2000 Battery Charger Tester Analyzer NiMH NiCd AA AAA C D Cells, Wall Adapter
You can see the different Opus models on Amazon with this link, each of which comes with different combinations of car adapters and C and D battery adapters as well as options for additional battery chemistries:
The top of the line Opus model has a fan, has higher charging rates, and is able to charge Lithium Ion and NiCd batteries in addition to NiMH. It is typically $10-$20 higher than the base model:
Note that the BT-C3100 is physically identical to the BT-C3400 model, so purchase whichever is available at the best price. An advantage of buying the BT-C3400 over the BT-C3100 is that you are guaranteed to be getting firmware version 3.1 with the BT-C3400, which so far as we know is equivalent to version 2.2 on the BT-C3100. Also, it comes from DC-Workshop, which offers technical support. Both versions 2.2 in the BT-C3100 and 3.1 in the BT-C3400 have improved fan support for these identical models, as well as other minor improvements.
To reiterate about firmware version numbers: be careful buying a bargain-priced Opus charger from a third-party merchant on Amazon, as it may be a several-year old model with firmware 2.0 or lower. When using an Opus charger for the first time, be sure it flashes a number that is 2.1 or higher when turning it on.
Lithium Ion batteries, by the way, are not AA batteries operating at the usual 1.2 Volts or so, even though they have a similar shape. They operate at 3.7 Volts, and they are not compatible in most equipment that uses AA or AAA batteries. This being a guide about AA and AAA batteries, there’s no reason to discuss here Lithium Ion batteries and their primary use case (tactical flashlights). For more information, you can read a guide to tactical flashlight battery options here or here. You can read about Lithium Ion battery safety here.
While the Opus has quite a few features related to testing, a more popular model for those who desire a greater degree of flexibility and testing possibilities is the venerable Maha MH-C9000. This model has a higher learning curve and requires many more button presses for simple operations such as charging 4 batteries at 500 mA instead of the 1000 mA default rate.
The most popular of the Maha models is:
Maha PowerEx MH-C9000 Maha WizardOne Charger-Analyzer for 4 AA/AAA Batteries
But they offer several other models as well:
I’ve recommended two La Crosse models many times in the past, the BC-700 and the BC1000. If you own either of these two models, there’s no reason to stop using them. They’re fine chargers. But if you’re shopping for a new charger, here are a few reasons I think you’re better off buying an Opus model:
- La Crosse models do not charge heavily discharged batteries with very low voltage. In fact, these models identify such batteries with a cryptic “null” message which the manual claims means that the battery is no longer usable. Most “null” batteries are simply low in voltage and need to have their voltage raised before a La Crosse charger will charge them normally. All prior La Crosse discussions on this site have explained workarounds for this issue.
- Comparable La Crosse chargers cost a bit more than Opus chargers. The BC-700 model is not very expensive but costs more than the comparable Opus model, the BT-C700 (both of these models have a 700 mA maximum charge rate). The high end La Crosse BC-1000 model costs more than any Opus model, including the much more capable Opus BT-C3400 (and the identical BT-C3100).
- La Crosse does provide customer support, but there are many reports of customers not so happy with their support.
- According to our tests, La Crosse discharge and testing functions consistently over-reports battery capacity by 6% to 8%, as compared with other charger brands that have testing functionality built in to their chargers.
- La Crosse is one of many brands that license this China-sourced product. Other brands representing the exact same product include Technoline (Germany) and Voltcraft. There may be more. While this is not in and of itself a bad thing, understand that the engineers who designed and truly understand the technology behind this product do not work for La Crosse. La Crosse is a marketing company that purchases their chargers from China, along with Technoline and Voltcraft. Though I’ve been unable to confirm it, it’s also possible that Youshiko and Dayshop are two other brands for this product.
Given all these points, and Jim’s extensive testing of the Opus, we no longer see compelling reasons to purchase a La Crosse charger (or any of its other names) over an Opus charger at this time.
Storing AA and AAA batteries
Using or storing batteries in a hot environment is bad for battery performance, both short and long term. The best way to store batteries is in a cool, dry place. Avoiding hot places like an enclosed car in the summer or the hottest part of your house will go a long way. Some people seem to believe that storing batteries in a refrigerator is helpful, but I haven’t tested this. Also note that Panasonic recommends against storing Eneloops in a refrigerator.
If you have many devices using AA and AAA batteries, you’ll likely want to always have a few spare AA and AAA batteries charged and ready to go. That way, you can swap the batteries and keep using the device, while the depleted batteries go into the charger.
How to store and organize all the extra batteries? Personally, I’ve been using the following for the last 5 years:
Range Kleen 82 Battery Storage Organizer Rack Holder/Tester
If you need cases to carry sets of 4 AA batteries for your camera or other portable equipment:
Whizzotech AA/AAA Cell Battery Storage Case/Holder with Charge Reminder Markings Clear Color Pack of 6
Some people store batteries in their charger. That’s fine for a few days if it’s one of the smart chargers recommended here. But do understand that in most models, there will be a trickle charge going into the batteries, which is not good for battery longevity if you leave batteries in the charger for months.
Under no circumstances do you want to store your batteries in a dumb charger or low quality charger. You will gradually ruin your batteries.
When to Use Alkaline or Lithium Batteries (hint: rarely)
Some devices require more than 1.2V to operate correctly (or in some cases, at all). NiMH batteries can in many cases briefly provide higher than 1.2 Voltage, but only for a minuscule fraction of their stored capacity (In other words, they might work for a few minutes and then quit when the voltage drops to the usual 1.2V).
Alkaline batteries can operate at 1.5V for at most 1/3 of their stored capacity, while lithium batteries last much longer at the 1.5V level.
Note that a device that requires 1.5V batteries means that your Alkaline batteries will quit working with 2/3 of the stored energy still remaining. This has always struck me as a big waste, which is why I try to avoid devices that require 1.5V, whenever possible. But if you do have such devices, you’ll need to use either Alkaline or Lithium AA/AAA batteries. Lithium will last longer, both because there is more stored energy, and because most of this storage energy can be used while still operating at close to 1.5V.
Another rare use case for Alkaline batteries is in devices that have slightly smaller than standard-sized AA battery compartments. The LSD batteries are very slightly thicker than Alkaline batteries and therefore won’t fit in such compartments, while Alkaline batteries can (barely) fit.
With the vast majority of devices that require 1.2V batteries and have standard sized battery compartments, the only advantages to using Alkaline batteries are low initial cost and that you don’t have to recharge them when done. As previously discussed, disadvantages include higher cost in the long term, adding to the landfill, and not functioning well in high drain devices.
FilterJoe’s first version of this AA/AAA battery guide from 6 years ago isn’t dramatically different from this latest version. That’s because the rate of change is slow in the relatively mature industry of AA/AAA batteries.
While the technology is the same, there have been some improvements in battery chargers in both the budget and premium categories, which caused specific recommended models to change. While low self-discharge (LSD) batteries are still the most economical purchase, Eneloop is now just one among many brands. LSD batteries manufactured in Japan are all reliable and trustworthy, because they all come from the same factory in Takasaki, Japan.
Despite being available for over a decade, most consumers are still not aware of how much better LSD AA and AAA batteries are compared with the alternatives. It’s somewhat puzzling to me how long it is taking for this type of battery to dominate the market. This site will continue to write about LSD batteries for many years to come, until such time as it gets replaced with better technology, or becomes so common that HSD NiMH and Alkaline batteries are being phased out. I don’t expect that to happen any time soon, despite the overwhelming benefits of LSD batteries with regards to cost, performance and environmental impact.
54 thoughts on “Best AA Rechargeable Batteries and Chargers: 2018 Update”
Very good report! Joe, do you know what type of batteries and charger Costco sells?
Hi Dr. Bill,
Costco has sold a bundle for many years that includes 8 AA Eneloops, 2 AAA Eneloops, and a charger designed by Eneloop’s parent company (now Panasonic – used to be Sanyo). It’s a great deal, typically $30 if I remember correctly – and sometimes it goes on sale for $24 or on rare occasion $20.
The Eneloop batteries have gradually improved over the years, and they have changed the included charger several times. Unfortunately, the latest charger (BQ-CC55) included in the Costco pack has overheating issues in some circumstances, as we discuss in the budget charger section and in Jim’s more in-depth 3 charger comparison. It can be used safely with the included Eneloop batteries when charging 3 or 4 batteries at a time. In our testing we have found that using older batteries, and/or high self-discharge NiMH batteries can result in batteries getting dangerously hot, especially when charging with just 2 batteries in the first 2 bays of the charger.
The previous Costco pack that was sold in 2015 and most of 2016 included the BQ-CC17, a charger that we continue to think is a fantastic budget charger. So if you purchased a package from Costco over the last few years, take a look at the name of the charger. If it’s BQ-CC17, you’re all set. If it’s BQ-CC55, be sure to charge at least 3 batteries at a time (which forces the charging rate lower) and think twice before trying to recharge very old batteries.
That is an extensive list you have there! Thanks for linking to my eneloop101.com website!
Keep up the good work,
Hey you a champ vro. Always looking forward to this post. Was looking at it this morning, had the 2016 bookmarked, glad to see there is a new one for 2018. Will try the Japanese ones this time, even though they are a little more expensive than eneloops.
Quick question, do you reckon there is no good 9V rechargeables out there? Amazon reviews of those exploding and shit, I’ve never been able to find reliable ones for my guitar pedals, multimeters etc.
Anyway, thanks for all the hard job. Much love.
Glad you liked the guide, Alien. I haven’t looked into 9V LSD batteries and haven’t incidentally run across any in all my research, so unfortunately I don’t have any advice for 9V LSD batteries. Maybe that’s something I can look into and write about in a different article.
We use very few 9V batteries in our house. We just use Alkaline, and go through maybe 1 every 2 years.
Thank you for awesome sum up. It is very helpful.
What do you think about opus bt-c100 a NiMh charger?
Hi Keda – Hadn’t noticed this charger before, but reading the description it looks to me like the BT-C100 charger from Opus has all the features of strongly recommended regular Opus chargers such as the BT-C2000. I’m guessing the only difference is that this model can only charge 2 batteries at a time instead of 4.
If you get this, make sure the firmware version is at least 2.1 (I explain in the premium charger recommendations section above why all Opus chargers need this, and how to check).
Can you recommend a good charger that is available in Europe?
Going to buy my first eneloops soon and want to have a decent charger for them.
Some of the chargers I recommend above are available in Europe. I don’t know what country you’re from but quite a few of my readers are from U.K., likely because this blog is in English.
Amazon U.K. has a couple of Opus chargers listed (do a search on Opus AA charger). It has Technoline chargers which are the same as the La Crosse chargers described in the chargers section in this and other articles. Note that I now recommend Opus over Technoline/La Crosse but if Opus is out of stock everywhere you search, Technoline is still a good option. The only Panasonic charger I see listed at U.K. currently is the budget charger I did not recommend, the BQ-CC51, but that one can be used safely and at reasonable temperatures if you always charge with at least 3 LSD batteries.
Thanks, Joe for the great research and write-ups on AA batteries. I was looking at buying some more Eneloops and saw several other brands, including Amazon basics and the standard and high capacity versions of each brand. It is impossible to make sense of the differences or if they are the same from the advertising and even customer comments. Your article convinced me to stay with Eneloop and in the standard capacity. I’ve been using these for several years and have not had one fail yet, all still going strong. MAny thanks for your excellent information!
BTW, have you looked in the 18650 Li-ion batteries and devices? I tried these out and they blow away even the Eneloop NiMH AA. I think they are especially perfect for job site headlamps or backpacking where you want a headlamp to last many hours not just an hour like many AAA lights. Also, you can get much brighter, longer lasting tactical lights. It is an absolute maze of brands, capacities, exaggerations, protected/unprotected, etc. Panasonic seems to be one of the rock solid brands and the innards of many relabled brands. I would really like to read your objective thoughts on the field of 18650 batteries and chargers if you get into those someday. I’ve decided to move away from CR123 and AAA battery devices and standardize on just AA Eneloops and quality 18650.
Hi Jeff – Thanks for your comments. It’s smart of you to try to own only items that use 1 or 2 types of batteries. Unfortunately, it’s not always so easy – for example the key fob for a modern car isn’t likely to be one of your preferred batteries.
Jim and I have no plans to research and 18650 Li-ion batteries in the short term. Perhaps some day.
Thanks, Joe, for all the great information you provide and for the time you spend updating it for your audience. We really appreciate all your efforts, especially those of us with a scant electronics background.
Forgive me if this topic is covered somewhere and I missed it, but can you comment on the difference between using AA cells with a C or D adapter, and using dedicated rechargeable C or D cells?
I have a child’s toy that requires 4 C cells. The rechargeable NiMH C cells claim 5,000mAh, whereas the AAs are typically around 2,000mAh, right? So does this mean that using dedicated rechargeable NiMH C cells would allow the device to operate 2.5 times as long? If not, why? What are the advantages/disadvantages of using dedicated large-sized batteries over using the spacers?
Thanks in advance for your response.
Hi Lawrence – You always have to make sure you’re comparing apples with apples when you compare batteries. The vast majority of C and D batteries are of the high self-discharge NiMH variety. This will mean that they will effectively utilize 2.5x as much charge only if the energy stored in the battery is completely consumed very quickly (within a few hours) after charging. If the toy is used occasionally, AA batteries would end up being about as good as C batteries if the time period is about 10 weeks, because over half of the energy lost on the C batteries would be simply due to self-discharge. If the toy is used rarely, the AA low-self-discharge batteries would be vastly better than the high self-discharge C batteries because the C batteries would drain away completely in 4-5 months even if the toy was never used!
However, I do see that some low self-discharge batteries (also called precharged) are now sold in C or D size. I’ve never tested any so I don’t know how well they live up to their claims, but even if they’re 80% as good they claim, they’re going to be the best alternative.
Of course, one benefit of sticking with AA instead of C or D is that you can use your existing charger. It’s much easier to have very few battery types in your home rather than have to manage 5 or more different types of batteries with several different types of chargers . . .
Wow! That’s a lot of info regarding eneloops. Thank you for you extensive guide.
I needed to replace my old eneloops so I went shopping yesterday and noticed that they were marked as make in China. I knew there was more to it so I just got a pack to test in my C9000.
I found some Fujitsu HR-3UTCEX-4B that were cheaper than eneloops so it looks like a wiser buy. Now I just need to replace a few but now I’m worried that I wont be able to find them in the future. Would it be wise to stock up on the Fujitsu cells and just keep them in their original packaging or would they deteriorate like that?
Hi Roy – The best thing about low self-discharge batteries like Eneloop or Fujitsu is that they hold their charge for a very long time. On some of the Eneloop packaging, the claim is that after 10 years, 30% of the charge is used up. An unopened package starts at 70% so presumably if you didn’t open it for 10 years the charge would fall to somewhere between 40% and 50% and you’d want to recharge it to 100% before using it. So yes – it should be no problem to stock up if you see a price you like. Just make sure to store at close to room temperature.
I always have at least 4 extra AA batteries lying around, close to fully charged, so that I can immediately swap with depleted batteries when needed. That way I don’t lose use of a device for a few hours while batteries are charging.
Great to hear that.
One last thing, did Fujitsu ever make LSD batteries that were not eneloop rewraps? Would hate to buy a ton of them only to later find out that they are crap cells.
Fujitsu has owned the factory in Japan since 2010, so it would actually be more proper to say, “has Eneloop ever made batteries from anywhere besides the Fujitsu factory in Japan. The answer to that one is yes, as you know.
To your original question, the answer is that all Fujitsu batteries are produced in their factory in Japan, and they test similarly to Eneloops made in that same factory.
Great info on batteries. Have a question about chargers thought. We use AA enveloping 2100mAH batteries in wireless mics for a Hall PA set up. But we are finding the batteries aren’t performing as well as we thought they would. Reading through your info, I am now questioning the charger. We use a Home/ Enecharger – JBC017-11 12 Cell Automatic Quick Charger. Have you seen this charger before? It seems to align with the key attributes that make a good charger (or so the marketing material says).
We use 6x AA batteries per event, thus we looked for a charger that could accomodate 6 batteries on trickle charge(full awaiting use) and 6 being charged. But would it be better to consider using a charger you recommend and just have two seperate chargers?
You advice would be welcomed.
Hi Jeremy – I hadn’t ever heard of the JBC017 until you mentioned it. Looks like it isn’t popular in my country (U.S.A.). I therefore can’t say one way or another whether this model performs as advertised. Every charger mentioned in this article has been tested by either Jim or myself, as well as countless other battery enthusiasts and they all pan out.
Given that you’re using this for a Hall PA, I would suggest that you start testing to find out what the problem is. You can test to see if it’s the charger by getting something on this list, and I suggest you get one of the premium chargers with testing functions. Then you can test the batteries to see what they’re capacity is. My guess is you’ll be happy with any of the premium chargers, and that if the issue is the batteries, then you’ll be doing fine once you swap out for a new set of batteries.
One last possibility is that your equipment requires higher voltage than usual. There aren’t many such devices these days, but occasionally you run across devices that require more than 1.2 V (typically 1.5 V). If that is the case for your equipment, then you’ll have to use Alkaline or Lithium batteries, as I mentioned in the article.
Hi Joe, Thank you for your in depth research on AA and AAA batteries. I have been using rechargable batteries for a few of my devices for years and love it. It has saved a lot of $$ and battery waste. I have a unique situation that I was wondering your opinion. I work in the touring industry where performers use these batteries for wireless microphones and in-ear packs. Typically for a tour we’ll buy 100s of alkaline pro-cell batteries because every night for the performance the batteries get changed out and need to be reliable. The batteries are only used for a few hours and a normal battery has most of it’s life left when we change it out. It’s not unreasonable to use up to 50 batteries per day for months. Do you have a recommendation for this situation? Thanks for any input.
Hi Andrew – Assuming you have access to power, and assuming your wireless microphones run fine with 1.2V AA batteries, this is an obvious use case for Eneloops. To minimize changing batteries, you’d want Eneloop Pro, which will last longer. I don’t know how many batteries you would run through in a single night at these capacities, but if for example you use 50 batteries per night, you could have 50 precharged ready-to-use Eneloop Pro batteries, and enough chargers to charge 24 batteries at a time. As you swap out your batteries, put them into chargers. It would be more money upfront but it would pay for itself easily within a few weeks of use.
If you often don’t have access to power for these performances for several days at a time, you could still manage it but it would be a little more complicated. You’d need to charge your batteries off of car power outlets as you drove to different locations, and you’d probably want more spare batteries. You might also want power banks combined with chargers that work with USB ports for input.
I just received a Tenergy 456 charger for Christmas and I’m quite happy with it. I’m betting it could be one of better chargers out there. I got it from Amazon and they have the specs for it.
It uses Negative Delta Voltage for NiMh and NiCad’s. It will also charge a variety of LiOn batteries which is great if you use a puffer (eCigarette) which many people do these days. It also has a Test (recondition battery) mode that will charge the battery, drain it to give you the mAH of the battery, and will automatically charge it again. It will also display the battery’s internal resistance and voltage. It can charge at 300 mAH, 500 mAH, 700 mAH, and 1000 mAH and as far as I can tell these currents are accurate and are not reduced when charging more than one battery like with some chargers.
With all of these features it is quite simple to use and of course has separate digital readouts for each of the 4 batteries. The PDF manual is online from Tenergy if you want to look at it. I’ve been using it 24/7 for the past week to test the batteries I got with it. I’m happy to discover the NiMh AA batteries I received (Amazon Basics from China) do indeed test out at 2050 to 2100 mAH using the charger. I will be able to monitor the life of the battery over the next 3-5 years to determine if that brand of battery is worth buying again.
Thanks again for the great detail in your articles. Do you have any reviews for 8 or 16 battery chargers? Or is it better to buy 2 or 4 of the 4 battery chargers so you have a backup charger in case one of them fails?
Hi Brent – Thanks for your thoughts on the Tenergy charger you’ve used for the past few months.
I have not personally tested any 8 or 16 bay chargers, simply because I have very rarely ever needed to charge more than 4 batteries at a time. Given that I use low self-discharge batteries, I simply always keep a few AA and AAA batteries fully charged. When I run out a battery, the spare batteries go into the device, and I then charge the depleted batteries.
Given how popular my battery articles are, I suppose I should buy an 8 bay charger for testing. I know Maha has one and based on their other products I expect it would be a good charger.
Which Panasonic AA battery has a lower internal resistance – eneloop Pro or regular eneloop 2000 mAh?
Hi Walter – Sorry for the slow reply. We haven’t tested this ourselves but Jim looked around at the tests of others and found that the differences between the various Eneloop models are very slight. The Eneloop Pro (formerly called XX) have very slightly lower internal resistance in some tests. The best source of info was this one, which calculated internal resistance at a variety of different currents, and found the XX to have 1-4 mΩ less resistance, depending on current (which is less than 5% different):
http://www.danaco.net aka Robert at DC-Workshop (at the bottom of the web page)
Great blog, Joe. Very informative and useful. Really appreciate you sharing all these information with us.
I had a Sanyo NC-MQR06, or more specifically the Eneloop Pro version BC-MQR06. Barely a year and I think it is faulty. I tried to charge my Eneloop battery. It blinks once and that’s it. Nothing else. So I am in the market for some advanced chargers.
There’s actually a few choices available to me, but you seem to rave about Opus. The one available here in my country the BT-C700 (I mainly charge NiMH). I am also looking at other choices like Nitecore D4, Xtar VC4 and LiitoKala Lii-500. Frankly, I don’t know which one to choose. I am reading very good stuff about each and everyone of them. I am mainly looking to have a good, durable charger to charge my LSD batteries (AA and AAA). Of course at the same time I would love to know the conditions or analysis of my current batteries.
Thanks for the very informative article. Two questions I have – Do you know anything about Tenergry rechargeable batteries in comparison to Eneloop, Fujitsu, and Energizer Rechargables? I am currently using Lithium batteries in a number of trail cameras but would like to try rechargeable batteries. One of the camera brands recommends using the Tenergy rechargeable batteries but I can’t find a source where they have been tested against other brands. Second question regards the chargers. I notice the ones you are recommending are 4 slot chargers. Are there any chargers with a higher number of slots that you recommend. The trail cameras I use take 12 AA batteries, so a high quality charger with a higher capacity would make recharging much easier.
Thanks for your help. Eric
Hi Eric – I haven’t tested Tenergy myself so I’m not really sure. One thing I’ve learned over time though is that many brands will test well one year, and then not in a different year because they switch manufacturers. Even Eneloop has done this in certain markets, but never in the U.S. So that is why I stick with Eneloops and Fujitsu batteries – though I’m getting the impression that Futjitsu hardly cares about the U.S. market as distribution is limited. Imidion is another AA/AAA battery brand I know to trust. Not saying I know for sure Tenergy isn’t good. I just don’t know.
As for 4 slot vs 8 or higher slot chargers – one way to do it is to buy multiple 4 slot chargers. Maha does have an 8 slot version and I definitely trust all of their chargers to be very good:
are ikea ladda 2450 white AA rechargeables a good choice?
Lots of talk going around , but what is your opinion?
I don’t see any mention of the Ikea battery from you.
What is your take on all the hype ?
Much comparison to Eneloop Pro, but I value your opinion.
Hi Neith – I haven’t tested the Ladda brand so I don’t have an opinion. I watched a video on Ladda vs. Eneloop Pro recently by Martin Cheung. The test was on one specific aspect of rechargeable batteries, the recycle speed, which matters a lot to photographers. In other words, it is desirable for photographers to able to snap a flash photo and then another one quickly afterwards. In this video, it looks like the Ladda batteries had a considerably faster recycle time. Therefore, for applications where recycle time is important such as flash photos, Ladda looks to be preferable to Eneloop Pros. I haven’t seen tests on other which batteries last longer between charging or which has the longest useful lifetime.
I use Eneloop Pro AA’s with BQ CC17 Panasonic chargers from Costco.
in Canada, $83.00 gets you 8 AA’s, 2 AAA’s, and one Charger..BQ CC17.
Right out of the box, I placed 4 AA’s into Canon 600 EX RT Flash.
The ready came on almost instantly.
I fired flash on full power Four times and the ready light stayed red.
I’m sold on Costco Eneloop Pro.
Have to admit that All the Hype about Ikea Ladda 2450 has me curious,
but I’m reluctant to wreck a $700.00 Flash with questionable batteries.
Oops, Thank you Joe,
I jumped the gun…just wanted to give you my background information.
Thank you for your quick reply.
i value your info.
Perhaps you didn’t see my prior reply yet – again – I haven’t tested the Ladda brand so I can’t really offer a strong opinion. Generally speaking, however, I care more about where the batteries were produced then what the brand is. If you’re certain that the Ladda batteries are produced in Japan, then they are going to be fine. There is only one plant in Japan that produces LSD batteries. This includes Eneloop, Fujitsu, as well as other brands.
One thing that has burned some buyers in the past is that a brand sources their LSD batteries from the Fujitsu plant in Japan to start with, but then switch to China-sourced LSD batteries at some point. So it’s important to look at the packaging as you buy, to make sure it is really sourced from Japan.
Joe and Friends–
Do Panasonic chargers fail very often? I purchased an Eneloop combo kit on Amazon containing 6 AAs, 4 AAAs, 4 each of C&D adapters, and the newer BQ-CC75 charger at what I thought was a reasonable price. (Apparently this is a kit that they used to sell at Costco.)
Anyway, after only about six recharge cycles, the charger doesn’t seem to work anymore. When I put discharged batteries in the charger (either AA or AAA), I no longer get a green light indicating that charging has begun. I’ve already checked all the troubleshooting information recommended by the instructions to no avail.
Is there any way I can somehow “reset” the charger, or diagnose the problem further…or should I just assume I got a poor charging unit in a cheap kit and purchase something else (e.g., CC-17)?
Also, forgive the naive question, but is there any concern with leaving a charger plugged in without any batteries in it? If nothing is charging, they don’t draw any current, do they?
Lawrence – I’ve heard very few reports of Panasonic Chargers going bad, so you just got unlucky. I’m sure you could get Costco or Panasonic to replace it. Or, as you said, you could get a BQ-CC17 which charges at a slower but (we think) more reasonable rate.
As for leaving it plugged in the wall – yes that’s no problem, but don’t leave batteries in the charger for days on end or they could gradually overcharge from the trickle charge.
Hi. I’m looking for a aaa charger for use in backpacking. I have a handful of devices; headlamps, tent lamps, etc that use AAA batteries.
I need a charger that works off of a usb port so it can be powered from a small solar panel.
Do any of your recommended chargers fit that criteria?
I’ve been asked this question many times but I have never found a product I’m super excited about that is good for backpacking.
There is one so-so charger that does work off USB, called Sunjack:
It is nowhere near as good as any of the wall chargers covered in this post, but at least it will charge your batteries.
You can run that off a USB battery pack, which can in turn be charged by a solar panel if you’re out on a trip of more than a week.
If backpacking for less than a week, you can do without a solar panel by simply bringing along a high capacity USB battery pack.
Quick question. Opus bt-c3100 rev 2.2 from China on flea bay. What you think?
Rich – version 2.2 is great, but I don’t use eBay enough personally to be able to say how reliable/accurate vendors are with their descriptions. If you do buy it, be sure to have it display the version number as soon as you get it, to make sure it really is 2.2.
This is not about rechargeable batteries. Sorry. Maybe you can direct me to a good source of information. I am also a backpacker and have begun backpacking in the winter. Supposedly lithium batteries are not affected by temperature. (I’m talking about temps that humans survive in, not approaching absolute zero.)
However, I used Energizer Ultimate Lithium AAA batteries the other night and over 2 hours outside in 30 degrees F the light from the headlamp dropped significantly. I thought they were worn out, but checked the next day when they were warm and they seemed “restored”. Don’t know if it was a matter of temperature or what.
Sorry for my very slow reply. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about Lithium to answer the question. I never have used any myself. Your one story does suggest that temperature may have been a factor. It’s also possible there could be something defective with the flashlight (or maybe even not being fully tightened if it’s the screwcap kind).
There’s a somewhat newer “Kentli” brand Li-ion rechargeable battery now on the market that makes use of a buck converter to deliver consistent 1.5v to devices that require it (from a cell that normally runs at ~3.7v). I have several Meade Instruments TM005X-M wireless thermometers that annoyingly require higher voltages on the receiver to provide a good display, and I found my LSD Ni-MH simply wouldn’t work well with those patronizing devices, so I had to use alkalines or expensive disposable lithium AA cells therein. This has bothered me for years. But, a couple of months ago I rolled the dice and bought several of these Kentli AAs, and have so far I’ve found them to work well. They render a pretty much constant 1.5v until the cell is completely exhausted, so there’s no display fade as the cell discharges. Capacity isn’t as good as Ni-MH or even alkaline, but I figure even at their initial higher cost, with sub 500 charge cycles they’ll pay for themselves before too long. So now I can employ reusable batteries despite Meade Instruments’ best efforts to screw me over! *I* win! 🙂
Hi. You mention the Powerex MH-C9000 WizardOne, but you don’t really compare it to the Opus BT-C3100/BT-C3400. Which would you recommend? Pros and cons?
David – These are both great chargers but they do have some differences. The Powerex MH-C9000 WizardOne tends to be preferred by battery geeks who want to be able to have maximum flexibility in how they charge and test batteries. There is nothing else on the market that is so flexible. There are very few reports of unit failure, so they are also very durable. However, the flexibility comes at the cost of usability. An ordinary consumer typically is not going to want to consult the user manual for something like changing the charge rate in all 4 batteries to something other than the default rate, and then press many buttons to make that happen.
So that is why I lead off discussing the Opus model, which for an ordinary consumer is going to be good enough in terms of features, ease of use, and price (it’s a bit less expensive). Some people report on Amazon of unit failure with the Opus model so it could be that the Opus model is less durable.
A couple of things, first, the BQ-CC55 does analysis of the cell prior to each charge similar to what the opus does and can detect high internal resistance very accurately, it’s pulse charging may warm some batteries up but if charging 4 batteries the effect is less. And per Panasonic less than 60 c has no effect on battery life. While I do have both opus and lacrosse chargers, if I was buying now I’d look at littokola or skyrc, and buy the cheapest.
A peek a my stash
I’ve had lsd batteries for about 15 years now and my experience matches what I read on eneloop101 over discharge is the greatest killer. Everything else (heat, overcharge, minor trickle) seems to affect lifespan much less.
Are there any good 1.5V rechargeable batteries and chargers for them?
I’m not aware of any 1.5 rechargeable NiMH batteries. However, 1.5 rechargeable Lithium batteries exist. They are much more expensive, and I have not personally tested any such batteries or the chargers they require.
Thanks. Will you review in the future some 1.5 V rechargeable batteries and chargers?
Hi Alex – I’m unlikely to be reviewing 1.5V rechargeable batteries and chargers any time soon. I’ve been super busy recently at a new job so I’ll be pulling back on how much blogging I do – probably just a few times/year going forward, and most likely on baseball.
Glad to know the Panasonic BQ-CC17 is still one of the recommended chargers. I bought one after reading positive reviews from Joe and users from Budget Light Forums. Yeah, it’s a slow charger, however the batteries feel barely warm on touch, so if this means they will last longer, then I think the trade-off is worth it.
I got it back in November 2016, and both the charger and the 4 Eneloop AAs that came packaged with it are still going strong to present day. I have recently purchased from a reputable seller 4 Fujitsu AAAs made in Japan, so it seems I won’t have to worry about buying new batteries any soon.
Maybe I’ll buy one of the advanced chargers in the future. Anyway, thank you Joe for the guides on chargers and rechargeable batteries, hope you keep updating this article as new models gets released.
I did all my research on premium chargers, and your article about the Opus model # 3400 was spot on. I needed a charger/analyzer for matched sets in a radio (Tecsun Pl 380). I’m using Tenergy Ni Cad
1000 Mah cells. It takes 3 AA cells, and I’ve now got 3 matched sets.
Thanks again, and keep up the good work.
Has Lacrosse discontinued the BC700?
Alex – Yes, BC-700 has been discontinued (says retired on La Crosse web site). I notice that Amazon has the BC-1000 for $49.99 currently. That’s just a few dollars more than what they used to charge for BC-700. Perhaps they just decided to simplify their product line and just offer their top model for a lower price.
The BC-1000 can do everything that BC-700 did, plus it can charge at a higher rate (safely) if you want.