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Buying rechargeable batteries and a charger costs more than disposable alkalines upfront, but you can charge them hundreds of times so you’ll save money and keep batteries out of the waste stream.

How to choose rechargeable batteries and chargers

Today, there are several types of batteries on the market, making your choice a little more complex than in years gone by. But depending on your power requirements, these pointers should help you select the right batteries for you:

  • Nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH): These are now the most common type of rechargeable battery. When first introduced, NiMH batteries had some problems with losing power too quickly but those difficulties have been corrected and are not an issue with current models. Some manufacturers now sell NiMH batteries that don’t have to be charged before their first use and retain most of their charged capacity even after a year of storage.
  • Nickel-Cadmium (Nicad): These rechargeables have been around longer than NiMH batteries and are still used, but less so these days because of the toxicity of cadmium.
  • Lithium Ion (LI-ON): If you want the newest kind of rechargeables, LI-ON are the ones for you. Often found in laptop and cell phones, they’re smaller and lighter, and they retain power well when not in use. They are, however, more expensive than NiMH.

The main differences among battery chargers are the types and numbers of batteries that can be charged and the charging speed; some can now charge in as little as 15 minutes. Smart chargers cost more than other chargers, but they have a microchip that monitors charging activity, stopping the flow at the optimum time which can potentially extend the life of the rechargeable batteries. Unplug your charger when not in use because battery chargers can draw 5-20 times more energy than is stored in the battery, even when not charging anything.

Find it! Rechargeable batteries and chargers

Before you buy

If you're looking for batteries to power your smoke detector, single-use options may be better than rechargeables as they have a longer shelf life. Just be sure to recycle your batteries when they're no longer serving as fire sentinels.

Buying rechargeable batteries and a charger helps you go green because…

  • You’ll keep batteries out of landfills and hazardous waste facilities since one rechargeable battery can be charged hundreds of times.

Batteries abound in our society with Americans buying nearly three billion household batteries a year.[1] Many of those end up in landfills where their heavy metals can contaminate soil and water. If heavy metals are ingested or inhaled through water, food or air, potential health risks include headaches, stomach discomfort, comas and seizures.

Rechargeable batteries can be recharged hundreds of time, some up to 1,000 times, so they can be used much longer than alkaline batteries. More than 350 million rechargeable batteries are purchased each year and although that’s less than five percent of all battery sales, rechargeables are considered among the quickest growing segments.[2] The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) estimates that the call for rechargeables is growing twice as fast as demand for disposables.[3] Rechargeable batteries are now found in power tools, cell phones and cordless phones, laptop computers, two-way radios, digital cameras and remote control toys.

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