Choosing and using your batteries

Invisible, batteries are nevertheless part of our daily lives: clock, children’s toys, video game controllers, weather station … they are everywhere. In France, there would be 59 batteries in each home (Brain Value, 2014)! Their use is therefore far from being marginal. What are the best practices in order to make the best use of these energy reserves? Should we prefer disposable batteries or rechargeable models? Are rechargeable batteries cost effective? Is a brand-name stack really better than a brand-name stack? What happens to used batteries and how to reduce their consumption? Here are some practical tips to deal with the overloaded rays of supermarkets.

  • disposable batteriesDisposable or rechargeable batteries?
  • Which brand of battery to choose? Is a big brand battery better?
  • Tips for optimal use of batteries
  • How to reduce battery consumption?
  • Recycling: What happens to used batteries?
  • Answers to your questions

Disposable or rechargeable batteries?

Currently, more than 80% of battery sales are for disposable batteries (Ademe). Indeed the extra cost of rechargeable batteries (also called “accumulators” or “batteries”) is very dissuasive and very often, the choice goes to the most “economic” in appearance. However, are disposable batteries so cheap?

Economical comparison: disposable batteries or rechargeable batteries?

At first glance, disposable batteries, mainly composed of zinc, are less expensive than rechargeable batteries (rechargeable batteries) made mainly of nickel. Here is what we can see in his supermarket:

comparative financial rechargeable disposable batteries

Possible choice for the consumer in a supermarket for the same brand of battery

If you consider these branded batteries, the disposable batteries appear very attractive:

  • Disposable batteries: 27 cts each
  • Rechargeable batteries: 2 € each
  • Rechargeable batteries + charger: 2 € each, charger 11 €

However, disposable batteries will not be able to be used again while rechargeable batteries can be reused many times. Manufacturers generally announce 1000 cycles of charge and discharge in optimal conditions. A value of 200 cycles is more realistic in use.

Taking a hypothesis of 200 uses for a rechargeable battery, the results are quite different. A device running 200 times with 4 disposable batteries would cost 216 € against 8 € with rechargeable batteries or 19 € taking into account the investment of the charger. In this example, the overinvestment related to rechargeable batteries with charger would be profitable in 19 uses (8 uses without charger). The cost of charging (electricity) is negligible. The profitability of rechargeable batteries is therefore no doubt.

The other interest is obviously ecological since the waste generated with rechargeable batteries are much lower compared to disposable batteries. In this example, 800 disposable batteries should be reprocessed for 4 rechargeable batteries.

battery chargerDo disposable batteries perform better than rechargeable batteries?

Yes and no … it depends primarily on the use we make of it. In general, rechargeable batteries store more energy than disposable batteries: 2000mAh against 1300mAh. Rechargeable batteries, on the other hand, discharge more quickly than disposable batteries when they are not used: average loss of 33% after 21 days at 40 ° C. As a result, these two types of batteries correspond to distinct uses:

  • Rechargeable batteries: The equipment must consume a lot of energy and be used regularly (camera, baby toy, portable consoles, joysticks …)
  • Disposable batteries: Conversely, for objects that consume very little energy or have long periods of inactivity, the use of disposable batteries is justified because they can last for several years without being changed (remote control, clock , alarm clock, smoke detector …)

Note, however, that disposable batteries remain more powerful than rechargeable batteries. In general, disposable batteries deliver a voltage of 1.5V and rechargeable batteries a voltage of 1.2V. In a radio, the maximum sound will be higher with disposable batteries.

rechargeable nimh batteryDo rechargeable batteries really retain their storage capacity after many cycles of charging and discharging?

All batteries sold now are Ni-MH models (Nickel Metal Hydride) and no longer suffer from the effect “memory” (loss of capacity if the battery is not fully discharged before recharging) unlike older generations (models Ni-Cd: Nickel Cadmium). 60 million consumers demonstrated in the laboratory that after 100 discharge cycles, rechargeable batteries still showed very good capacity.

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