Disposable alkaline batteries feel like a ripoff. They’re expensive, they have a low capacity, and they can leak while in storage. So why not power your new keyboard, gamepad, camera, and musical instruments with a set of rechargeable AA or AAA batteries?
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As odd as it sounds, rechargeable batteries can vary widely in price. But what’s the difference between a $10 and $20 set of rechargeable batteries? It all has to do with capacity, recharge cycles, self-discharge, and consistency.
- Capacity: Rechargeable AA and AAA batteries last longer per-charge than disposable batteries. Most rechargeable AAs have a 2,000 mAh capacity, while most AAAs have an 800 mAh capacity. If you want a battery that works well with power-hungry electronics, get one with an above-average capacity. (To be clear, the average raw capacity of alkaline AAs is 2,500—higher than rechargeables. But alkaline batteries drain faster than rechargeables, so their higher raw capacity doesn’t mean much. It’s like comparing old and inefficient filament lightbulbs with new LEDs.)
- Cycles: Rechargeable batteries slowly break down every time they’re used. In most cases, the time that it takes for a battery to break down is rated in terms of recharge cycles (how many times the battery is drained and recharged). If you tend to burn through batteries, then look for a set that’s rated for around 500 cycles.
- Self-Discharge: Rechargeable batteries slowly lose their charge while not in use. If you want a set of rechargeable for low-power electronics or something that’s going to sit in storage, then you’ll want to buy a brand that’s known for a low self-discharge rate.
- Consistency: Cheaper rechargeable batteries tend to suffer from inconsistent capacities and lifespans. For most applications, this isn’t a huge deal. But if you’re trying to get the best performance from your batteries, it’s best that they all match.
Now that you know what you’re looking for in rechargeable batteries let’s get into it. Here are our favorite rechargeable AA and AAA batteries.
Panasonic’s Eneloop Pro rechargeable AA batteries (4-pack) have a high 2,550 mAh capacity, they can endure 500 recharge cycles, and they’re built with a premium, consistent quality that you won’t find in other brands. They’re also known for having a low self-discharge rate, which means that their charge will hold for a long time in low-power electronics (or around a year in storage).
These are the best rechargeable AAs for most people’s needs. Just know that the Eneloop Pros cost a lot—almost twice as much as AmazonBasics or Energizer rechargeable batteries. If this is your first set of rechargeables, you can save a bit buying the Eneloop Pro Starter Set. It comes with four Eneloop Pro AAs and a Panasonic AA/AAA battery charger.
Panasonic BK-3HCCA4BA eneloop pro AA High-Capacity Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries, 4-Battery Pack
The Panasonic Eneloop Pros have a high capacity, they can endure 500 recharge cycles, and they're built with a consistent quality that you won't find anywhere else.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive set of rechargeable AAs, then AmazonBasics is your best bet. These rechargeables have a (surprisingly large) 2,400 mAh capacity, but Amazon doesn’t specify how many charge cycles they can endure—a sign that they aren’t manufactured with a lot of consistency.
In our experience, the AmazonBasics rechargeable AA batteries are fairly reliable. But some of the batteries lose their charge or fail faster than others. They’re worth putting into an Xbox controller, a wireless keyboard, or a set of motion-sensing lights, but don’t be surprised if they act a little weird.
Amazon Basics 4-Pack AA Batteries, High-Capacity 2,400 mAh Rechargeable Battery, Pre-Charged, Recharge up to 400x
AmazonBasics rechargeable AA batteries have a large 2400 mAh capacity. For the price, that's great. Just know that they're not made with the consistency of more expensive brands.
EBL is a small electronics brand that’s focused on cornering the rechargeable battery market. And as of right now, the company is doing a great job. Its rechargeable AA batteries (8-pack) have a massive 2,800 mAh capacity, and EBL claims that they can endure 1,200 recharge cycles.
But unlike the Eneloop Pros, these EBL batteries have a fairly fast self-discharge rate, which means that they’ll drain faster than the Eneloop Pros when used in low-resource electronics (like TV remotes and simple wireless keyboards). We suggest using these batteries in power-hungry electronics, like cameras, lights, and musical instruments. That way, you’ll make the most of their capacity without getting bit by their self-discharge rate.
EBL Pack of 8 AA Batteries 2800mAh High Capacity Precharged Ni-MH AA Rechargeable Batteries
EBL's rechargeable AA batteries have a fantastic 2,800 mAh capacity. They're perfect for power-hungry electronics like cameras, lights, or musical instruments.
Panasonic’s Eneloop Pro rechargeable AAA batteries (4-Pack) have a large 950 mAh capacity, and they can endure 500 recharge cycles before failing. Like the Eneloop AA batteries, these AAA batteries are known for their consistent build quality and low self-discharge rate (they should hold a charge while in storage for a year).
Of course, they’re also known for their high price tag. They’re worth the money if you need a reliable set of high-capacity AAAs, but there are cheaper alternatives that can get the job done. Panasonic also sells these batteries with a charger, if you’re looking for a cheap starter set)
Panasonic BK-4HCCA4BA eneloop pro AAA High Capacity Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries, Black , 4 Pack
The Eneloop Pro rechargeable AAA batteries have a large 950 mAh capacity, they can endure 500 recharge cycles, and they're built with a more consistent quality than the competitors.
Energizer’s rechargeable AAA batteries (4-Pack) are a steal. They have a modest 800 mAh capacity—Energizer claims that they last for 700 recharge cycles (when recharged from a medium capacity)—and they have a low self-discharge rate (they should hold a charge after a year in storage). They’re also made with a bit more consistency than similarly priced rechargeable AAAs.
Energizer Rechargeable AAA Batteries, Recharge Power Plus Triple A Battery Pre-Charged, 4 Count
Energizer's rechargeable AAA batteries have a modest 800 mAh capacity, and Energizer claims that they last for 700 recharge cycles. For the price, they're a steal.
If you’re trying to get the most out of your high power electronics, then you should grab some of EBL’s rechargeable AAA batteries. They have a 1,100 mAh capacity, and EBL claims that they can endure 1,200 recharge cycles.
Just keep in mind that these EBL batteries have a high self-discharge rate. They’ll lose their charge after a few months in storage, or even a few months in a low-power electronic (like a TV remote). We suggest using them for electronics that can run through a set of batteries in a single week or month, like cameras, musical instruments, and retro game consoles. That way, you’ll make the most of their high capacity without getting bit by their discharge rate.
EBL 8 Pack AAA Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries AAA Batteries ProCyco Technology (Typical 1100mAh, Minimum 1000mAh)
EBL's rechargeable AAA batteries have a large 1,100 mAh capacity. They're perfect for power-hungry electronics like cameras, lights, or musical instruments.
Don’t forget to buy a charger for all of your new batteries. The EBL 8-Bay AA and AAA charger is one of the cheapest options on the market, and it has enough slots to charge 8 AA or AAA batteries at once (each slot has connectors for AA or AAA sized batteries). Of course, you could always buy a rechargeable battery and charger set from a company like Panasonic or Energizer.
EBL 8-Bay Rechargeable Battery Charger for AA AAA NIMH NICD Rechargeable Batteries 808 Charger
EBL's 8-bay AA and AAA charger is one of the best deals on the market. It has room for 8 AA or AAA batteries in any configuration.