Batteries are at the root of many a domestic argument. Either you buy a new gadget or toy that doesn’t have them included, or they run out at the moment you need them most. Who hasn’t encountered a dead torch just when the mains power goes off, or a wireless mouse that gives up just as you’re working on an important document?
Batteries are expensive too, especially if you have a power-hungry device that chews through them quickly. Cameras and games console controllers are particular culprits here. However, there is another way. Something that will cut your battery buying and help ensure that you always have working batteries when you need them. Ladies and gentlemen – drum roll and reality TV-style fake pause please – The Rechargeable!
The Rechargeable Advantage
While rechargeable batteries are more expensive to buy in the first place, and you’ll need to buy a charger too, the fact that they can be used over and over again means that you’ll save money in the long run. By having a spare set on hand you can also ensure that you’re never caught short when you need a change.
There’s a wide choice on the market, but it pays to buy your rechargeable batteries from trusted sellers to make sure you’re getting good quality. Rechargeables come in all the standard battery sizes so you shouldn’t have a problem finding the right type for your device.
If you want to understand how rechargeable batteries work then this article on Scientific American is a useful introduction.
Types of Rechargeable
It’s important to understand the different types of rechargeable battery on the market. The older nickel cadmium (NiCad) batteries have now been largely replaced by nickel metal hydride (NiMH) types. NiMH batteries can store more power and aren’t as prone to the ‘memory effect’ where the life of the batter shortens after repeated recharges. They’re also better for the environment as they contain fewer harmful chemicals.
Standard rechargeables have a low to medium capacity and they’re good for use in things such as cordless phones or remote controls.
High capacity batteries are good for things such as digital cameras, toys and MP3 players that place a greater drain on the power source. These days it’s also possible to buy pre-charged rechargeables. This will hold their charge for up to a year without being used and their capacity is somewhere between standard and high capacity versions.
You will of course also need a charger. Mostly these plug into the mains and are universal types that can handle the common battery sizes. It’s also possible to get devices that will charge batteries from the USB port of your computer. Although this is a slow process, it’s handy for keeping a spare set of batteries for your wireless mouse for example. It’s possible to get solar chargers too, although in the UK these aren’t an entirely practical option.
Whatever your battery needs, it’s worth taking a look at rechargeables. If you haven’t tried them for a while you’ll find that technology has moved on and they now offer a practical solution for most applications.