More power, longer life and better for the environment – the best AA and AAA rechargeable batteries deliver on all fronts
Low costs and recycling schemes can make disposable batteries attractive, but rechargeables are still the way to go if you want to keep costs down while reducing your environmental impact. Modern rechargeables are reliable, hold their charge and are faster to recharge than ever. What’s more, even the upfront cost is now pretty low. Whether you’re powering a camera, a torch, a toy, a console controller or remote-control car, a decent set of rechargeables is easily the most efficient way to do it.
High capacity rechargeables are increasingly the norm, and they can now hold a charge for a year or more in storage. What’s more, the old memory effect, where failing to use a battery’s full capacity before recharging it would see that capacity reduced, is no longer an issue. In fact, you’re more likely to extend a battery’s overall lifespan if you leave a little in the tank.
How to choose the best rechargeable battery for you
What type of battery should I buy?
Most of the batteries featured here are of the nickel-metal hydride variety, or NiMH. These batteries cost only a few pounds more to buy than disposable alkalines and yet they’ll power most devices for longer. They’ll also do so more efficiently because the voltage of a NiMH battery is maintained at 1.2V for most of its operating time. The voltage of Alkaline batteries tends to taper off while they’re being used.
Lithium batteries are even better at maintaining a consistent voltage, and they are now available at AA sizes. However, they come with a steep price premium and require their own chargers, while the running times with high-voltage devices isn’t usually up there with the best AAs. The biggest manufacturers – Panasonic, Duracell, EverReady, Varta – don’t seem to be in any rush to put Lithium products out there, so it means taking a punt on a smaller brand. From our initial tests, they’re quick to charge and very effective in some devices, but you might still want to wait for the technology to mature.
Can I use rechargeable batteries in devices that use disposable alkaline batteries?
In most cases, yes, but where high-performance alkalines generally run at 1.5V (to start with), rechargeables are often designed to run at 1.2V, which can cause problems with a few devices that require a constant high voltage from four or six batteries to operate. However, many rechargeables can run at a higher voltage than their nominal voltage, and then hold on to that voltage for a longer time, even under a high drain. In other words, the best rechargeables actually work better.
What does mAh mean?
This number, which stands for milliampere-hour, covers the NiMH battery’s capacity and its ability to run a given load over a longer period of time. The higher the number on the battery, the bigger the capacity and the longer it will maintain an ample working charge while powering a specific gadget. We recommend you choose batteries with a capacity of 2,000mAh or more, so you don’t run out of charge when you’re half way through doing something, and you don’t need to recharge quite so often. The capacity is usually listed on the box as well as on the battery itself, and you will also see it listed if you’re buying batteries from an online store.
What’s the best charger to buy?
Obviously, you’re going to need a charger, and if yours is ancient you might want to replace it with one of our best battery charger recommendations. If speed isn’t important there are some great basic options, including some that will charge from a standard USB port. Otherwise, you might want to look at high-speed chargers from Panasonic, Energizer or Duracell, which can charge a set of AA batteries in around sixty to ninety minutes. You can usually save some money by buying a charger and four batteries in a bundle, but check the capacity of those batteries before you buy; some manufacturers will throw in cheaper, low-capacity AAs.
How we test rechargeable batteries
We tested these batteries using a cheap children’s radio-control car (these machines are renowned battery eaters), timing how long each set took to deplete. As expected, there were running time discrepancies between batteries of different miliampere hours (mAh), but all of the batteries featured here performed well.
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The best rechargeables batteries you can buy in 2024
1. Panasonic Eneloop Pro: Best AA rechargeables
Price when reviewed: £18.75 (4 x AA), £18.85 (4 x AAA)| Check price at Amazon
Google “best rechargeable battery” and chances are Panasonic’s Eneloop range will top the bill. We called in a four-pack of black 2,550mAh Pro AAs and they were nearly fully charged straight out of the box (Eneloops are said to retain around 85% of their charge after a year in storage). However, we would always advise giving any rechargeable battery a boost before use, especially if you plan on using the device they’re powering out in the field.
Granted, these are the most expensive batteries on this page and you can only charge them around 500 times before they lose their mojo. However, they’re the reigning endurance king when it comes to stamina, lasting over four and a half hours in our radio-controlled car test. That makes the Eneloop Pro the go-to battery for power-hungry devices, including toys, cordless landline phones and high-performance torches. And if you still use AA batteries in your Digital SLR, then the Eneloop Pros will keep it snapping for longer than any rival.
If you don’t wish to spend as much, consider a lower-capacity model or the cheaper standard version, which packs a 1,900mAh punch and can be recharged up to 2,100 times.
Key specs – Capacity: 2,500mAh; Charging cycles: 500
2. Energizer Recharge Power Plus: Best-value AA rechargeable batteries
Price when reviewed: £6.49 (4 x AA), £4.95 (4 x AAA)| Check price at Battery Station
This great-value AA battery has a charge capacity of 2,000mAh and can be recharged up to 1,000 times. What’s more, our four-pack arrived fully charged and are said to remain at near full capacity for up to a year of storage.
Granted, they didn’t last quite as long as the Eneloops in our test, but they’re under half the price. However, when we discharged and recharged them a few times, they displayed the same level of charge as when they first came out of the packet, and that’s a sign of a great battery. Special mention must also go to Energizer’s exceptional Recharge Pro charger, which comes bundled with four AA batteries at a very reasonable £20 or less.
Key specs – Capacity: 2,000mAh; Charging cycles: 1,000
3. AmazonBasics: Best combination of value and performance
Price when reviewed: £8.54 (4 x AA), £4.06 (4 x AAA)| Check price at Amazon
When it comes to buying batteries, most users prefer to stick with reliable, trusted brand names like Duracell and Energizer. So a plain-looking battery with the word AmazonBasics on it has got to be avoided, right? Wrong! Some unfounded rumours have suggested that these Amazon-branded batteries – which arrive in an unprepossessing cardboard box – are made in the same factory as the Panasonic Eneloops. Whatever the truth, they’re an excellent choice even though they’re not necessarily the best-value battery here.
Amazon’s batteries ship in High Capacity 2,400mAh versions and a slightly cheaper 2,000mAh version, and if you’re looking for longevity then you’ll be surprised by how well they can perform. The High Capacity rechargeables couldn’t quite match the Panasonic Eneloop Pros, but they outlasted the HiQuick High Capacity 2,800mAh batteries by surviving 3 hours and 57 minutes in our radio control car, and weren’t far behind the Kratax Lithium batteries – impressive stuff. Amazon also claims that, once charged, they’ll maintain 70% capacity for up to six months and 50% capacity over a year.
Key specs – Capacity: 2,400mAh; Charging cycles: 500
4. HiQuick High Capacity 2800mAh Rechargeables: Great low cost, high capacity rechargeables
Price when reviewed: £7.99 (4 x AA), £3.99 (4 x AAA) | Check price at Amazon
A quick search on Amazon will turn up a host of smaller brands selling high-capacity 2,800mAh batteries at super-low prices, but these HiQuick batteries are the most reliable we’ve tested. Performance in our test remote-control car puts them slightly behind the Amazon Basics batteries, despite the higher nominal capacity, clocking 3 hours and 49 minutes of use in our radio-control car. However, tested in a torch, a DAB radio and an Xbox controller they’ve performed well over long-term use.
They also hold up over repeated discharge and recharge cycles, maintaining a steady voltage, while HiQuick claims that they can hold 80% of their charge even across three years in storage. Don’t expect Eneloop levels of stamina, but if you’re after a solid, cheap, long-lasting battery, then buy away.
Key specs – Capacity: 2,800mAh; Charging cycles: 1,200
5. Duracell 1300mAh Rechargeable AA batteries: Best AA rechargeables for fast charging
Price when reviewed: £8.33 (4 x AA), £8.49 (4 x AAA)| Check price at Amazon
You would expect Duracell to have some great rechargeables, and while its cheaper 1300mAh Plus AA batteries don’t seem great value, they have a real advantage in terms of charging speeds. Plug them into Duracell’s 45-minute Hi-Speed charger and they’ll reach 85% capacity within the stated three quarters of an hour. Go for the even quicker 15-minute charger, and you will hit 95% within the stated time. Duracell’s 750mAh AAA batteries will charge completely within the same time.
While both chargers work with other batteries, it makes sense to stick with the brand they were designed for, and Duracell sells both in handy starter packs. And if you’re happy to trade charging speed for a little more stamina, Duracell’s 2,500mAh batteries are good, reliable performers, and will still charge within around 90 minutes in the 45-minute charger. If you’re often caught short without a charged set of AAs, these are the batteries for you.
Key specs – Capacity: 1,300mAh; Charging cycles: Not specified
6. Varta Recharge Accu Endless: Best AA and AAA batteries for continual usage
Price when reviewed: £9.66 (4 x AA), £11.95 (4 x AAA)| Check price at Amazon
Varta doesn’t enjoy quite the same level of brand kudos as Duracell and Energizer but this 1,900mAh battery functions well when used with devices that don’t require too much juice. You don’t quite get the capacity you do with the Eneloops or Energizers, but the Vartas have one advantage they don’t. The 1,900mAh AA batteries can be recharged up to 2,100 times, while retaining 60% of their charge after five years of storage. The 550mAh batteries go even further, with up to 3,400 recharge cycles.
The downside is that these batteries aren’t so widely available, while a packet of four AAs is comparatively expensive – it’s worth shopping around for the best price. They’re also available in several different capacity strengths so check the specs first before clicking the buy button.
Key specs – Capacity: 1,900mAh; Charging cycles: 2,100
7. Venom Power Recharge: Great value rechargeables for console controllers and other devices
Price when reviewed: £6.95 (4 x AA), £7.21 (4 x AAA) | Check prices at Amazon Venom is best known for producing specialist battery and charge kits for console controllers, particularly the Xbox One, which still uses traditional AAs. These Power Recharge batteries are standard-issue AAs and AAAs but, in some ways, they’re better than the dedicated options. They’re cheap and you can use them on other devices. With a 2,100mAh capacity, they’re easily good for around 20 to 40 hours of gaming, depending on how much your game uses the controller’s rumble motors and whether you have a headset plugged in. You can also use them with Venom’s own USB-powered Intelligent Charging Station, which costs £14 with four batteries thrown in. It isn’t a rapid charger, but if you get one set charging while the other’s busy gaming, low batteries won’t spoil your demon-slaying or foil your Fortnite win.
Key specs – Capacity: 2,100mAh; Charging cycles: 500
8. Kratax 3500mWh Lithium: Best rechargeable Lithium AA batteries and charger
Price when reviewed: £29 (4 x AA plus charger) | Check price at Amazon
These are the first Lithium rechargeables we’ve tested that we’re happy to recommend. As you might expect, they have plenty of stamina; tested in a 500-lumen torch, they maintained their full 1.51V voltage for just under two hours of continuous use, at which point most NiMH rechargeables we’ve tested are either fading fast or all but dead.
When they do go, they go quickly, and longevity isn’t up there with the Eneloop Pros when it comes to remote control toys; three AAs kept the wheels spinning on our remote control car for 4 hours and 3 minutes, but the Eneloops kept them moving for an additional 28 minutes. However, they’ve been consistently good with an Xbox controller, lasting for two to three weeks at a time, rather than the usual seven to 10 days I get with a pair of 2,000 to 2,100mAh cells. Oddly enough, the Xbox battery indicator doesn’t fall at all until they’re nearly empty.
Kratax states the capacity as 3,500mWh, which sounds extremely impressive until you convert it to 2,333mAh at 1.5V, which is a little lower than some NIMH AAs. Still, the charger brings them back from empty in just under two hours, and takes its power conveniently through a USB Type-C port. It’s still early days for Lithium rechargeables, but it’s easy to see the potential.
Key specs – Capacity: 2,333mAh; Charging cycles: 1,600