Choosing batteries for your home electronics was a lot easier back when alkaline disposables were the only game in town. You either bought a name brand or a generic battery. And even among the name brands, there were only a few on store shelves. Easy enough, right. These days, you can spend hours staring at the rack trying to justify the cost of higher-priced rechargeable batteries as opposed to tried-and-true alkalines.
Make no mistake, the price difference is quite apparent. You can easily spend 10 times as much on a package of lithium-ion batteries that you charge in a USB port. It is not easy justifying $40 for 4-pack of rechargeables when you can get 4-pack of alkalines for $3.99.
However, bear in mind that sticker price isn’t everything. Look beyond what you are paying at the counter and you might discover there are very good reasons to pay more for rechargeables. It’s easier to justify the cost if you understand what it is you’re buying.
Longer Life, Less Money
The key difference between disposable and rechargeable batteries is the number of uses you get from each one. A disposable alkaline battery is a single-use cell. Once fully discharged, that’s it. You throw it in the trash and move on. Not so with rechargeable batteries.
Pale Blue Earth, a Salt Lake City, UT company that sells a revolutionary USB rechargeable battery, claims their batteries can be charged at least 1,000 times. Even if one of their batteries discharged 90% faster than a comparable alkaline, you would still get 100 uses for every one alkaline battery you bought.
The end result of going rechargeable is buying fewer batteries over the long term. You save money by doing so. Yes, you pay more up front. But over the life of your rechargeable batteries, you actually spend less.
Fewer Shopping Trips
The same principles that give rechargeable batteries longer life also reduce the frequency with which you buy new batteries. That means fewer shopping trips. With a set of rechargeable batteries you keep fully charged, there are no worries about having to run to the pharmacy on Christmas Eve after going to the junk drawer and finding out you have no batteries to include with the kid’s gifts.
If you are an online shopper, you spend less time ordering batteries from your usual retailer. Maybe you were buying one package of batteries every month for your camera. You will probably get away with a single rechargeable purchase per year, or better.
Reducing Battery Waste
Here’s something else to consider that has nothing to do with the bottom line: battery waste. Every disposable alkaline battery represents an object destined for the landfill. And while it is safe to throw away alkaline batteries, they still take up space unnecessarily. Furthermore, alkaline batteries do not fully decompose over time. Their metal cases and some internal parts will still be sitting in the ground hundreds of years from now.
Keeping batteries out of landfills will not save you money. It is not likely to change your shopping habits either. But if you are the type of person who shops with sustainability and environmental protection in mind, it makes no sense to keep buying alkaline batteries and throwing them in the trash.
There is no arguing that rechargeable batteries cost more at the cash register. In fact, they can cost a lot more. But you ultimately spend less because rechargeable batteries last longer. Switching to rechargeables means you are also buying fewer batteries and keeping more batteries out of landfills. Do these three things justify the higher cost for you?