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Best rechargeable batteries: The best rechargeable AA and AAA batteries

Derek Adams
22 Jan 2021
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Running out too soon? Always charging up? Fix your battery woes with the best value, longest-lasting rechargeables

There was a time when even the best rechargeable batteries seemed to run out of juice earlier than their alkaline counterparts and, after several discharges and recharges their capacity to hold a charge plummeted. Thankfully, modern rechargeable batteries no longer behave like that and the best batteries put in a much more reliable and usable performance.

They come with much higher capacities than they used to and hold their charge for up to a year or more when in storage. The memory effect is a thing of the past. In fact, there’s never been a better time to start using rechargeable batteries again. You’ll be helping help save the environment by not throwing batteries in the bin (which you’re not supposed to do by the way – recycle them). And, more importantly for you, you’ll save a lot of money in the long term.

We’ve selected six sets of the best batteries from major manufacturers and put them through a series of simple tests using a high-drain radio-controlled car.

How to choose the best rechargeable battery for you

What is NiMH?

All 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 much longer. They’ll also do so more efficiently because the voltage of a NiMH battery is maintained at 1.2V for much of its operating time. By comparison, alkaline batteries’ voltage tapers off as they’re being used.

Lithium-ion batteries should be even better at maintaining voltage, and they are just becoming available at AA sizes. At the moment they come at a price premium and capacities and running times aren’t quite up there with the best AAs. The biggest manufacturers – Panasonic, Duracell, EverReady – don’t seem to be in any rush to put Li-ion products out there. However, watch this space: the technology is improving and we may have some seriously good Li-ion rechargeable batteries before you know it.

Can I use rechargeable batteries in devices that use disposable alkaline batteries?

In the vast majority of cases, yes, although some experts have noted that some devices that require six or more batteries may not perform as well using NiMH batteries. The jury’s still out on that one.

What does mAh mean?

This is the measurement of a NiMH battery’s capacity and its ability to run a given load for a greater length of time. Basically, the higher the number on the battery, the bigger its capacity and the longer it will run. We recommend you choose batteries with a capacity of 1,900mAh or more so you don’t need to recharge quite as often. You may not see the mAh figure on the box, so check the specs in the listing first. Incidentally, mAh stands for milliampere-hour.

How we test

We tested these batteries using a cheap children’s radio-control car since these machines are renowned battery eaters. As expected, there were running time discrepancies between batteries of different miliampere hours (mAh), but all of the batteries featured here performed well.

What’s the best charger to buy?

A rechargeable battery is as useless as a chocolate teapot without a charger. There are a plethora of models out there (including a small pocket-sized model by Eneloop), but for the charging of AA and AAA batteries, the Duracell High Speed Expert and Energiser Recharge Pro are tough to beat. If you’re after a charger that tackles the five main sizes of battery (AA, AAA, C, D and 9V) then the Duracell Hi-Speed Multicharger is the model to go for.

Whatever charger you decide on, make sure it’s designed for NiMH batteries and never use it to charge lithium-ion batteries – this could end in disaster. Don’t worry if your NiMH batteries and charger feel warm to the touch while charging, it’s perfectly normal.

READ NEXT: Best smartphone battery life

The best rechargeables batteries you can buy

1. Panasonic Eneloop Pro: The best AA rechargeables

Price: £14 for 4 x AA, £18 for 4 x AAA | Buy now from 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. But they seem to run forever and work brilliantly in extreme temperatures. The Eneloop Pro is the go-to battery for power-hungry devices such as digital cameras, radio-controlled toys, cordless landline phones and torches.

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: The best-value AA rechargeable batteries

Price: £7.30 for 4 x AA, £7.40 for 4 x AAA | Buy now from Amazon

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 nearly 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: The best combination of value and performance

Price: From £8.90 for 4 x AA, £8.90 for 8 x AAA | Buy now from 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.

The AmazonBasics AA batteries are available in three main capacity configurations: 750mAh, 1,900mAh and 2,400mAh. Amazon sent us the eight-pack, high-capacity 2,400mAh AA version and we were impressed with how well they performed on test. In fact, the difference in running time between these and the Eneloops was negligible. They arrived 92% charged and Amazon claims that they’ll stay topped up for over a year.

Key specs - Capacity: 2,400mAh; Charging cycles: 500

4. Bonai 2800mAh Rechargeable: Great low cost, high-capacity rechargeables

Price: £6.80 for 4 x AA | Buy now from Amazon

Bonai isn’t exactly a household name, but there’s nothing to grumble about with these cut-price rechargeables. They measure out at a capacity of 2800mAh when fully charged, and in tests with a Roberts DAB radio and Xbox One controller they last roughly as long as the AmazonBasics High Capacity AAs. What’s more, Bonai states that they’ll last through 1,200 charging cycles and hold 80% of their original capacity after three years of non-use, though we’ve been unable to put either claim to the test. They’re also rated to handle temperatures of down to -20°C.

While the Bonai batteries won’t be knocking Panasonic’s Eneloops off their throne any time soon, they’re a great alternative to the more cost-conscious Amazon and Energizer options, and even better value if you buy them in their eight, 16 or 24-pack bundles.

Key specs – Capacity: 2,800mAh; Charging cycles: 1,200

5. Duracell Hi-Speed Value Charger: The best AA rechargeable fast-charge kit

Price: £19 for charger, plus 2 x AA, 2 x AA | Buy now from Amazon

Duracell is arguably the most popular of the alkaline battery brands and it’s certainly no slouch in the rechargeable battery arena. Its cheaper Plus NiMH batteries reviewed here have a milliampere-hour rating of 1,300 per battery and are available in five types: AA, AAA, C, D and 9V.

These batteries didn’t perform as well as the Eneloop Pro or Energizer Recharge Power Plus in our test, but they have a much smaller charge capacity. They arrived 100% fully charged, though, and will hold their charge for up to a year. However, you can only recharge them about 400 times. On their own, they’re not that great. We’d advise spending more to get a longer-lasting 2,500mAh Ultra set (around £8).

However, that changes if you go for Duracell’s Hi-Speed Value Charger kit. This includes two AA and two AAA batteries, with lights that turn green when the batteries are charged and power from a separate AC adapter. However, it’s the speed with which it charges that really impresses: just 45 minutes for four AAs. A fast charger like this tends to put more strain on a battery, reducing its lifespan a little in the process. But, hey, having to buy new rechargeables a little more often will still be far cheaper than constantly using disposable alkaline batteries.

Key specs – Capacity: 1,300mAh; Charging cycles: 500

6. Varta Recharge Accu Endless: The best AA and AAA batteries for continual usage

Price: £10 for 4 x AA | Buy now from 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: £7 for 4 x AA, £5 for 4 x AAA | Buy now from 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 £13 Intelligent Charging Station, which gets its power from a USB port. 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

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