Nowadays, many electrical devices we have in our homes use some type of battery. Smoke detectors, the clock on the wall, the alarm clock on your nightstand, and your cordless phone, not to mention the kids’ toys that make sounds, light up, or perform functions, portable radios, CD players and the remote controls that operate your television and VCR, to name a few examples. To keep these items running properly, and save yourself money, you need to know how to choose the best batteries for your household.
The first thing you need to know, is that the best alkaline batteries are now dated. Brands such as Duracell and Eveready have a “Use By” date on the outside of their packages. Just like you can check your carton of milk to see if it’s expired, you can check a pack of batteries before you buy them. To choose the best batteries for your household, choose ones that have a far-off “Use By” date. To choose the freshest batteries, the date should be at least five years ahead of the present year. Batteries that are “expired”, or are nearing their expiration date, aren’t completely charged anymore. They have lost some of their power due to their age, storage conditions, et cetera.
(To properly store batteries for your household, keep them in a cool, dry place away from food products.)
There are basically two types of batteries: 1) Alkaline and 2)Rechargeable. Rechargeable batteries are available in two types: a)NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) and b)NiCad (Nickel Cadmium). NiMH batteries are rapidly replacing NiCad rechargeable batteries on the market today. They have a higher capacity which makes them last longer, and they’re easier to get rid of once they’ve reached the end of their life. Because NiCad batteries are made of poisonous metals, you can’t just toss them in your trash can. Instead, you need to recycle them at an authorized facility.
Rechargeable batteries are mainly used in electronic devices that use a lot of power such as digital cameras, remote control toys and cordless phones. Obviously rechargeable batteries are the most cost-effective type because they can be recharged hundreds of times before they need to be tossed. However, they aren’t always the best batteries for your household needs. Rechargeable batteries have the ability to deliver a lot of voltage quickly. Most items you put batteries in don’t need this speedy output of power.
Instead, alkaline batteries are the standard power choice for most low-voltage, electrical devices. They don’t perform well in digital cameras, for example, that need rechargeable batteries to work their best. You can use alkaline batteries in a pinch, but they’ll get drained of their power in no time at all.
Alkaline batteries are usually general-purpose sources of power that will work in many devices. If you find yourself constantly replacing alkaline batteries in your household devices like CD players and wall clocks, though, you can choose rechargeables as the best batteries instead.
And finally, if you’re in a store trying to choose the best batteries for your household, you’ll find many brands of alkalines to choose from. Duracell Coppertop, Rayovac, Eveready and Energizer undoubtedly lead the pack. However, there are many off-brands of batteries such as Nuon and Quantum, just to name a couple. These are the cheapest alkaline batteries, but not always the worst choice. If you need several batteries to power up Christmas devices, for example, then the off-brand batteries will work well without costing you a lot of cash.
But don’t judge a household alkaline battery by its price tag. Contrary to the manufacturer’s claims, the costliest batteries aren’t always the best, according to Consumer Reports. CR tested many brands, and found that the “best” alkaline is only about 15% better than the “worst” battery.