Using Rechargeable Batteries

By Idelle, March 14, 2008

I use rechargeable batteries in all my appliances. Who wants to throw away battery after battery? I use NiMH rechargeable batteries in our wall clocks, my wireless keyboard, our digital cameras, and any other battery powered electronics. I find it strange that disposable batteries are still so popular and have the widest selection, while the rechargeable selection is limited, and it’s difficult to find rechargeable C and D batteries and chargers in many stores. I figured everyone would like to save money and the hassle of buying new batteries all the time. You use a rechargeable battery for years whereas you use a disposable battery only once. So over the years (and with millions of other people doing the same), using disposable batteries equals a LOT of batteries in the landfill.

Ni-Cads or nickel cadmium provide adequate energy however; the disposal is more hazardous to the environment because of toxic metals. The best rechargeable batteries are (NiMH) or nickel metal hydride. They perform well and are less toxic to the environment. Rechargeable NIMH are actually better than Alkaline disposables for high drain applications such as in digital cameras, as they last much longer on a single charge and don’t have to be discarded after a single use.

Rechargeable batteries will save money: According to Real Goods, throwaway batteries cost $0.10 per hour to operate, if you figure in energy and replacement costs. In contrast, rechargeable batteries cost only $0.001 per hour. Real Goods recommends nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeables, which contain no toxic metals, unlike rechargeable alkalines, and offer almost twice the capacity per cell compared to nicad rechargeables.

Go one step further to encourage the green energy future and buy a solar battery charger. Except — I have yet to find a good one that stops charging when the batteries are full, or switches to a trickle charge. I don’t want to accidently overcharge my batteries. Anyone know of any?

Here a good (plug-in) universal charger and conditioner that I use for several battery types: Visit

This site also sells rechargeable batteries if there are sizes you are having a hard time finding.

A couple other tips:

Keep charged batteries charged while storing: NiMH and Nicad batteries start to lose power when stored for only a few days at room temperature. But they will retain a 90% charge for several months if you keep them in the freezer after they are fully charged. Store your charged NiMH cells in the freezer or refrigerator and keep them in tightly sealed bags so they stay dry. Let them return to room temperature before using them.

NiMH Rechargeable Battery Disposal: NiMH batteries are 100% recyclable and use no toxic materials (lead, cadmium, or lithium), making them the only rechargeable battery that can be legally disposed of in a landfill. However — it is still recommended to recycled them – check out this website for battery recycling in your area: h

I’ve pulled an excerpt of what is recommended when buying rechargeable batteries and their chargers.

Rechargeable Batteries: What to Do, in Brief

If you want to cut to the chase and keep it simple, then do these three things:

1. Buy a battery charger that has these five features (In order of importance.):

(a) Charges NiMH batteries, or better still, charges both NiMH batteries and NiCd batteries. Almost all chargers sold today charge NiMH batteries, but check to make sure, especially if you are buying a used charger. All chargers designed to charge NiMH batteries are perfectly compatible with the new LSD NiMH batteries, described in the introduction.

(b) Has an optional discharge cycle, more commonly called a reconditioning cycle. For reasons why, see #3 below.

(c) Switches to a trickle charge or shuts off or automatically after the batteries are charged. This prevents you from over cooking your batteries and dramatically shortening their life.

(d) Charges each battery individually. Many chargers only charge batteries in pairs. That works OK if you use batteries only in pairs. But wall clocks and some remote controls use only one battery. Some flashlights use one, three, or five batteries. Additionally, you will find in time that supposedly identical rechargeable batteries differ slightly in their capacity. Allowing each battery to recondition and recharge individually assures that each battery will last as long as it can. More importantly, if a rechargeable battery goes bad, and if your charger charges each battery individually, it can tell you precisely which battery is the bad one.

(e) Automatically switches from recondition mode to recharge mode, without requiring you to go to the charger to flip a switch half-way through the process. This is a tremendous convenience. Without this feature you will find yourself either repeatedly going to the charger to see when you can start the charging process, or you will forget to switch to the charging process and not have charged batteries when you want them. Worse still, you may get frustrated by the reconditioning cycle, stop reconditioning your batteries, and thus shorten the life of your batteries.

What do you think?

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