Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

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Saving$
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Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby Saving$ » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:00 pm

Charger for my household AA & AAA batteries died, and most of the batteries are older, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to replace the setup with Li-Ion rechargeable batteries. However, the standard rechargeable household batteries and chargers all seem to be NiMH. I see a few no-name brands of Li-Ion rechargeables on Amazon, but no recognizable brands. Rechargeable tools seem to have all migrated from NiMH to Li-Ion. Why have household AA & AAA not also migrated to Li-Ion? Or am I perhaps just searching by the wrong keywords?

TOJ
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby TOJ » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:04 pm

Yes, NiMH is what you're looking for for AA and AAA. LiIon are higher voltage batteries for special applications, like high performance flashlights and RC cars. Look for an 18650 to see what I am talking about. You don't want it.

Look for Panasonic eneloop.

NiCad are trash.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby Jack FFR1846 » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:07 pm

You'll find NiMH and NiCad in rechargable AA and AAA. Both are around 1.5V. Li-Ion is more than double that per cell.
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Five Scoop
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby Five Scoop » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:09 pm

Amazon Basics rechargeable batteries don't leak between charges and work really well. I've been using them for years.

livesoft
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby livesoft » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:25 pm

Eneloops.

Other NiMH do not stay charged, but self-drain over time.
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whomever
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby whomever » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:31 pm

Why have household AA & AAA not also migrated to Li-Ion?


1)NiMH batteries (e.g. Eneloops) are around 1.3 volts or so, which is closer to the 1.5 volts you get from alkalines, so NiMH are a pretty close substitute for things designed for alkaline AA batteries. A single Li-ion is around 3.7 volts, so an AA sized Li-ion wouldn't play nice with devices designed for alkalines.
2)NiMH batteries are, like alkalines, naturally safe; you can overcharge or overdischarge tham with smoke, flames, and explosions. That's not true of Li-ion. If they are overcharged or overdischarged they can fail pretty spectacularly. Because of that, either the battery itself needs circuitry to prevent over charge/discharge, or the device (your phone, laptop, whatever) has to provide that protection.

NiMH have pretty good performance, and are less prone to drama. I prefer them when I can use either (for example, you can get nice flashlights that use either NiMH). I have some lights that use 18650 Li-ion batteries (think a plus-sized AA) because high performance lights used Li-ion until a few years ago, but for safety reasons you only want high quality batteries and high quality chargers.

tl;dr - for most common household uses, NiMH low self discharge have good enough performance, and less safety concerns

Other NiMH do not stay charged, but self-drain over time.


The buzzword you're looking for is 'Low Self Discharge' or 'LSD'. Eneloops are the most common, but there are other brands of LSD NiMH. As with alkalines, there isn't usually a huge difference between brands of NiMH.

The NiMH ones that aren't LSD do indeed self discharge quickly.

Sandtrap
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby Sandtrap » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:39 pm

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JHKSMJU/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
heres some info on the panasonic eneloop batteries
they can go an amazing number of cycles and power output is consistent which is why we use them
be sure to only use the chargers that were made for them

we use these in various sizes for commercial photography in the studio and on location to power fills and triggers. They've been the best down through the years.

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David Jay
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby David Jay » Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:54 pm

Saving$ wrote:Why have household AA & AAA not also migrated to Li-Ion? Or am I perhaps just searching by the wrong keywords?


Lithium batteries have a native voltage of 3 volts or higher, depending on type (i.e. Li-Polymer is 4.2v, Li-Phosphate is 3.2v). In order to make a 1.5 volt cell, it would be necessary to add electronic circuitry inside the case to supply only 1.5v.
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby iamlucky13 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:55 am

whomever wrote:The buzzword you're looking for is 'Low Self Discharge' or 'LSD'. Eneloops are the most common, but there are other brands of LSD NiMH. As with alkalines, there isn't usually a huge difference between brands of NiMH.


Some are also sold as "pre-charged."

Although there are some bad batteries out there, I agree that with the reputable brands (Sanyo, Energizers, etc), there's little to be concerned about. Amazon apparently used to source their "Basics" brand NiMH batteries from a Chinese supplier, which testers found lasted a couple hundred cycles (still pretty good value for most users). For the last couple of years, they've apparently been using a Japanese supplier (rumored to be Sanyo), and are claiming 1000+ recharge cycles - potentially decades worth of weekly charging, depending how they hold up not only to charging, but also over time.

If you need a charger and a moderate number of batteries, Costco has lately had a package deal of 12 Eneloops (8xAA and 4xAAA) plus a decent smart charger on sale for less than $30. I'm not sure even Amazon can beat that deal at the moment.

By the way, the tradeoff for low self-discharge NiMH batteries is lower capacity. I'm generally happy to make that tradeoff. Here's a rough comparison:

Eneloop - 2000 mAh - retains 80% charge after 5+ years in storage
Eneloop XX - 2550 mAh - retains 85% charge after 1 year in storage
Generic high capacity - 2700 mAh - retains ~80% charge after 1 month in storage

Regarding chargers - I highly recommend a smart charger. Few models give much clarity about how they charge, but if it charges the batteries in pairs, it is not a smart charger. These dumb chargers are time based, and will over-charge partially charged batteries. NiMH tolerate this relatively well, but will wear out much more quickly. Smart chargers monitor the voltage of each cell individually and will usually advertise something to that effect.

Most of the Panasonic chargers included with some Eneloop kits are now smart chargers. The AmazonBasics charger is not.

Doug E. Dee
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby Doug E. Dee » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:49 am

Another vote for Eneloop, they are awesome!

misterno
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby misterno » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:42 am

My new purchase is all Eneloop

But here is the problem. My old rechargeable batteries are NIMH but not eneloop. So I lost the charger that came with the old batteries and I stick these old batteries to eneloop charger and it did not charge. My eneloop charger came with the batteries from Costco

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jharkin
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby jharkin » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:42 am

Yet another vote for Eneloop. Best rechargable ever made for AA and AAA type consumer devices. I still have old Sanyo Envelops (Panasonic bought out Sanyo a few years ago) that are pushing 10 years old and will still recharge - which is unheard of aging for nickel batteries.

Once you try some you will never buy an alkaline again... They actually last longer than throwaway batteries in many devices. About the only drawback is the lower starting voltage than a alkaline, but the discharge curve is very flat so the average voltage of the battery over its period of use is actually better - about the only device you would notice are old style incandescent bulb flashlights. An alkaline battery would be brighter for the first few minutes of use.

Its very technical but if you want to understand exactly what all that means and be a battery expert - read this:
http://hangtimes.com/sitebuildercontent ... eminar.pdf


Its been beaten to death, but as others pointed out there is not easy substitution of Lithium Ion for AA/AAA type batteries. A device that used 3 AA's could be converted to run on a single cell LiIon (and similarly a 6AA batteries could substitute a 2 cell LiIon) but that is a hack beyond the scope of what most consumers would want to tackle.

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jharkin
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby jharkin » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:46 am

misterno wrote:My new purchase is all Eneloop

But here is the problem. My old rechargeable batteries are NIMH but not eneloop. So I lost the charger that came with the old batteries and I stick these old batteries to eneloop charger and it did not charge. My eneloop charger came with the batteries from Costco


Interesting - I have put generic NiMH cells in an eneloop charger and they detect and charge just fine. The charging voltage of Eneloop are the same as all other NiMH.

Do you have access to a multimeter? Can you check the old cells and tell me what the voltage is? What may have happened is they sat discharged for so long the cell voltage dropped very low. The Eneloop charger may not have detected them as proper NiMH cells if the starting voltage was outside some safe range programmed in.

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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby DSInvestor » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:50 am

misterno wrote:My new purchase is all Eneloop

But here is the problem. My old rechargeable batteries are NIMH but not eneloop. So I lost the charger that came with the old batteries and I stick these old batteries to eneloop charger and it did not charge. My eneloop charger came with the batteries from Costco


The eneloop charger may be a smart charger and it may not charge a totally dead battery. Here's a page on Battery charging tips with a section on reviving dead batteries:
http://michaelbluejay.com/batteries/charging-tips.html

I tried the paper clip method and it worked on my dead batteries. I also tried the trick to put the dead battery into a dumb charger for a couple of minutes and then reinsert into smart charger.

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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby guitarguy » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:08 am

I'm curious what household items go through batteries so fast for you all that they warrant using rechargeable batteries? We have some tv remotes. My wife has a couple pen flashlights for work. Regular old alkalines last for YEARS in these items. We buy batteries so infrequently that buying rechargeables never even crossed my mind.

Now, for items that go through batteries like mad, e.g. my band wireless microphones, monitor packs, and wireless guitar packs...it's rechargeable eneloops all day long. Those get charged and used/drained 50-60 times a year.

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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby guitarguy » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:13 am

jharkin wrote:Once you try some you will never buy an alkaline again... They actually last longer than throwaway batteries in many devices. About the only drawback is the lower starting voltage than a alkaline, but the discharge curve is very flat so the average voltage of the battery over its period of use is actually better - about the only device you would notice are old style incandescent bulb flashlights. An alkaline battery would be brighter for the first few minutes of use.


Also anything that has a battery level indicator may very well read differently (less accurately) than with a standard alkaline. For example, with my NiMH rechargeables a wireless microphone or monitor pack is more likely to go from 2-3 "bars" of battery life straight to dead rather than 3-2-1-dead.

I still use the rechargeables.

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jharkin
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby jharkin » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:45 am

guitarguy wrote:I'm curious what household items go through batteries so fast for you all that they warrant using rechargeable batteries? We have some tv remotes. My wife has a couple pen flashlights for work. Regular old alkalines last for YEARS in these items. We buy batteries so infrequently that buying rechargeables never even crossed my mind.

Now, for items that go through batteries like mad, e.g. my band wireless microphones, monitor packs, and wireless guitar packs...it's rechargeable eneloops all day long. Those get charged and used/drained 50-60 times a year.


You must not have children :)

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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby guitarguy » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:53 am

jharkin wrote:
guitarguy wrote:I'm curious what household items go through batteries so fast for you all that they warrant using rechargeable batteries? We have some tv remotes. My wife has a couple pen flashlights for work. Regular old alkalines last for YEARS in these items. We buy batteries so infrequently that buying rechargeables never even crossed my mind.

Now, for items that go through batteries like mad, e.g. my band wireless microphones, monitor packs, and wireless guitar packs...it's rechargeable eneloops all day long. Those get charged and used/drained 50-60 times a year.


You must not have children :)


You are absolutely right!! :idea:

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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby whomever » Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:01 am

I'm curious what household items go through batteries so fast for you all that they warrant using rechargeable batteries? We have some tv remotes. My wife has a couple pen flashlights for work. Regular old alkalines last for YEARS in these items.


The problem with lasting for years is ... you leave them in for years, then go to use the widget, and the batteries have leaked. NiMH don't leak.

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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby Luke Duke » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:10 am

Eneloops are great

misterno
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby misterno » Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:12 pm

guitarguy wrote:I'm curious what household items go through batteries so fast for you all that they warrant using rechargeable batteries? We have some tv remotes. My wife has a couple pen flashlights for work. Regular old alkalines last for YEARS in these items. We buy batteries so infrequently that buying rechargeables never even crossed my mind.

Now, for items that go through batteries like mad, e.g. my band wireless microphones, monitor packs, and wireless guitar packs...it's rechargeable eneloops all day long. Those get charged and used/drained 50-60 times a year.


My son has 20-30 toys with batteries

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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby gtownsend » Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:41 pm

guitarguy wrote:I'm curious what household items go through batteries so fast for you all that they warrant using rechargeable batteries? ...

Handheld hiking GPS units. And not so many years ago, our Canon digital pocket cameras also used AA cells. That was really nice, because one charger worked for both when traveling, and fewer spares were needed.

We also have Eneloops in Apple Magic Trackpads and in an old weather data receiver.

I, too, am sold on Eneloop batteries, and I like the LaCrosse BC-700 charger.
Last edited by gtownsend on Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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William4u
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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby William4u » Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:43 pm

gtownsend wrote:I, too, am sold on Eneloops batteries, and I like the LaCrosse BC-700 charger.


+1 I have both and they are the best currently available.

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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby AnonJohn » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:07 pm

+1 for the LaCrosse charger. Also use Eneloops and have been very happy. However, Amazon Basics and Energizers LSD NiMH batteries may offer better value. Saw a TheSweetHome review on this recently. They rec'd the energizers.

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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby iamlucky13 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:13 pm

guitarguy wrote:I'm curious what household items go through batteries so fast for you all that they warrant using rechargeable batteries? We have some tv remotes. My wife has a couple pen flashlights for work. Regular old alkalines last for YEARS in these items. We buy batteries so infrequently that buying rechargeables never even crossed my mind.


Flashlights and wireless mice are two places I use them. I also have some power-hungry photography accessories like my flashes. I don't use many batteries aside from that, but other good places for rechargeables are game console controllers and motorized toys.

Remotes get alkalines for me. If I get one of the fancy Logitech programmable remotes, I'll put NiMH in it just because I don't want to risk alkalines leaking in a $50+ gadget.

Because I'm usually buyin in low volumes, I end up paying about $0.50 a battery for alkalines if I find a good sale. It would be a $1+ per battery if I bought them at the grocery store. Amazon brand NiMH are a little over $2 a battery, and Eneloops about $3.

So they pay for themselves in only a few charges, and they last long enough they've got years to earn back their cost.

gtownsend wrote:I, too, am sold on Eneloop batteries, and I like the LaCrosse BC-700 charger.


The LaCrosse and Maha chargers are good for heavy users who accrue a lot of cycles on their batteries. I think most users should just stick with a simple smart charger like the Panasonic models included with Eneloop kits.

AnonJohn wrote:Saw a TheSweetHome review on this recently. They rec'd the energizers.


I saw that, too. It was mainly based on capacity and price. Capacity varied only by a few percent, so really, it was mainly about price. I'd be curious about long term (10+ years) performance, but that's well beyond TheSweetHome's resources to test.

But it certainly does confirm the Energizer cells are good, too. Also, Energizers are sold in many stores. Eneloops are hard to find anywhere but online.

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Re: Rechargeable AA & AAA Batteries:NiMH or Li-Ion?

Postby telemark » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:20 pm

guitarguy wrote:I'm curious what household items go through batteries so fast for you all that they warrant using rechargeable batteries? We have some tv remotes. My wife has a couple pen flashlights for work. Regular old alkalines last for YEARS in these items. We buy batteries so infrequently that buying rechargeables never even crossed my mind.

Now, for items that go through batteries like mad, e.g. my band wireless microphones, monitor packs, and wireless guitar packs...it's rechargeable eneloops all day long. Those get charged and used/drained 50-60 times a year.

Fingertip oximeter, so I can check if I'm still alive :wink:

For AA and AAA cells, I've had decent luck with the Harbor Freight house brand.


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