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Are Rechargeable Batteries Cost Effective?

rechargeable batteriesRechargeable batteries may be good for the environment, but they may not be good for your budget. They are rarely cost effective except in certain instances. If you are thinking about purchasing rechargeable batteries and the battery chargers that go with them, take a look at the whether or not they would really make sense.

Making an Investment

Getting started using rechargeable batteries requires an investment. You have to purchase one or more battery chargers, and a few sets of batteries. If you don’t want to be without your devices for a day or more when your batteries run out, you’ll need extra charged batteries on hand at all times.

From a pure cost perspective, in order to save money, your rechargeable batteries will need to first pay for themselves and the charging devices. Here is the rub. Depending on what your batteries will fuel, they may never pay for themselves at all.

Low-Draw Versus High-Draw Devices

Most devices in the home are what you call low-draw devices. That is, they use very little power to run, and you may find yourself replacing the batteries only infrequently. Some common examples of low-draw devices include wall clocks, remotes, programmable thermostats, radios and smoke detectors. These devices can run on a set of batteries for quite a long time.

Moderate- to high-draw devices are tend to use up a lot of power, either because they require more power to run or they are used frequently. Some common examples of these type of devices are battery operated video game controls or battery draining electronic toys. These devices tend to need a battery change at least once a month.

This is the heart of the matter. With low-draw devices, the most common type of battery powered devices in the home, by the time the rechargeable batteries pay for themselves (if they do), they may need to be replaced.

Keeping the Charge

Rechargeable batteries don’t do well sitting for a long period of time unused. They tend to lose their charge in those situations. Disposable alkaline batteries, on the other hand, can hold a charge for years when not being used. So devices that use a battery back up, or flashlights needed for an emergency may fail when you most need them, when they carry rechargeable batteries.

Taking Proper Care of Rechargeable Batteries

If you do have a number of moderate- to high-draw devices that are used frequently, it may indeed be cost effective for you to invest in rechargeable batteries, especially if you take some steps to ensure that they do their job effectively and last as long as possible.

You should select a battery charger of good quality. Some less expensive models may run too hot, shortening the lifespan of the batteries it charges.

You should also take care to remove the batteries from the charger as soon as they are fully charged. Leaving them in the charger longer than necessary can also shorten rechargeable battery lifespan. If you don’t think you can monitor the charging, you might want to invest in a battery charger that shuts off automatically when the charging is complete.