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AA and AAA Battery FAQ

 brief overview of all the different types of AA and AAA batteries today: Alkaline, Rechargeable Alkaline, NiZN, NiMH, NiCD, and lithium batteries (rechargeable and non-rechargeable) that are available in today's market.


AA and AAA batteries are probably the most common battery sizes for consumers today. The challenge is there are so many different kinds of AA and AAA batteries, nickel metal hydride batteries, lithium batteries, lithium ion batteries, alkaline batteries, each of them have their strengths and weaknesses for use in today's modern electronic equipment.

What we will try to do it here is to explain the pros and cons of each different battery type and explain what the recommended ideal battery type for different applications might be so that you can make an informed decision about which batteries to use for all of your tools and toys.

First a bit of detail about each battery type and then a AA Battery Comparison Table to compare them to each other in an overview.

  • alkaline AA and AAA batteries - if you don't use a lot of batteries and the devices that you do have are not gobbling up your alkalines - you can still use them, you can't beat em for convenience and initial cost. However, if you use lots of them like many people do you are wasting money and you need to consider using rechargeable batteries.
  • rechargeable alkaline AA and AAA batteries - if you have devices that perform better with the 1.5 volts of an alkaline and are not high drain (high drain devices deplete alkaline batteries very quickly) then this battery chemistry will work well for you. You can also get them with chargers that can also charge NiMH batteries, so that is pretty convenient.
  • lithium AA and AAA batteries - if you need batteries that last for years or are fantastic in extreme temperatures, this is the ticket. Yeah, I know - they are not rechargeable but there are some applications that these are really the best batteries for the job. They do last several times longer than alkalines, up to seven so the ads go...
  • nickel metal hydride AA and AAA batteries - my personal favorite. Environmentally friendly rechargeable batteries! If you use your device a lot and over a short period of time - say days or weeks, the higher the mAh rating on your NiMH high capacity battery the longer it will last per charge (it will also take longer to charge though) Now available in a Ultra Low Self Discharge (ULSD) - also known as ready to use NiMH batteries - so you can buy them and they are ready to use! This is a better choice for general purpose use if you use devices that are not high drain (it is not high drain if it does not use up alkaline batteries fast) Or if you do not use it frequently.- e.g.- I have a Kodak digital camera and I like it OK but don't use it a lot. I'll take a few pictures and then leave it in a drawer for weeks and weeks. This is the perfect application for the ULSD type of NiMH batteries. The self discharge issue with NiMH batteries is probably their biggest weakness and this new type of battery addresses this very nicely. If you have not tried them you really need to get some...
  • NiZN - These are not new batteries per se but have been re-engineered to make them really an exciting alternative. They are 1.6 volts, designed for high drain devices and roughly equivalent to 2500 mAh NiMH in terms of usable energy. Very cool new patented manufacturing process by a San Diego company and they are now available on greenbatteries.com! Get some now and see for yourself.
  • nickel cadmium AA and AAA batteries - in some cases these batteries are still a good choice and for high temperature applications or some commercial applications these are actually better than NiMH. Not environmentally friendly though - bummer...
  • lithium ion AA and AAA batteries - this is really confusing because technically there is no such thing as rechargeable Li-ion 1.2 or 1.5 volt button top consumer batteries. However, there are AA size rechargeable Li-ion batteries. They are typically 3.6 or 3.7 volts and they require a dedicated charger, so really only the serious techies even know about them. FYI - we do not carry them.
  • crv3 batteries - this is a common lithium, lithium ion, and sometimes even NiMH AA battery equivalent that many manufacturers are trying to make available to replace two AA batteries and also have them be safe enough for the average consumer to use. They are approximately the size and shape of two AA batteries but they are connected. They are available in regular non-rechargeable lithium in most camera stores. They are occasionally found in rechargeable NiMH type but most often found in the lithium ion rechargeable type and for the lithium ion type it is important to use a dedicated charger - do not mix and match these batteries in other manufacturers chargers - lithium ion battery technology still has some safety issues that are best not "tested" in your home or office. ;-)