Updated: May 9, 2015
AA Battery Reviews:When the holidays approach and parents are out buying gifts for Christmas, the one thing that always comes up is "Does the toy or gadget takes batteries?" If it does, what type are necessary to run it and how many will I need. As a parent of two small children I have found that we go through AA batteries more often than any other battery types including AAA, C, or D's. Seems like smaller toys with remote controls or toys that make noises require AA batteries to run and kids tend to leave these on draining the batteries faster than normal. Our digital camera is the biggest sucker of battery power and so we bought some rechargeable AA batteries to run it. The batteries were more expensive than the usual single use AA's but we have made up for the up front cost of rechargeable AA's with a charger by using the same batteries dozens of times and they still hold a solid charge.
Experts agree that if you have an electronic device that requires lots of battery life, go with the AA rechargeables for the best value for your money. Digital cameras are the perfect product to use rechargeable batteries on. Our Canon A710S requires just 2 AA batteries to work, so we bought a 4 pack of AA's and the charger so there are always 2 fresh batteries all charged up and ready to go when the others lose their charge. As for things like flashlights and other things that are not used too often, magazines like Consumer Reports say you should use nickel oxyhydroxide batteries like the Panasonic Oxyride Extreme Power. The shelf life on these batteries is usually a few years so you know when you go to turn on the flashlight each winter it will shine a bright light for you. Regular alkaline batteries like Duracell Coppertop are what I tend to use, although brands like the Kirkland Signature AA's from Costco are a much better deal since their price per battery is about 1/5 what the competition charges and their performance is about the same. The one drawback to buying anything from Costco is that you will need to buy the Kirkland AA's in a 48 pack which means you will need lots of electronic devices that require that specific type of battery. How long do AA batteries last? It depends on what item you are using them in. For instance, a digital camera that uses lots of power for flashes and picture taking can sap up your batteries within 100 pictures or less. Some will go much longer and last hours when used in a flashlight or remote control unit of a game or toy. There is no set answer, so that's why the latest Consumer Reports article on AA batteries (Nov 2008) is at least one study to go off of. They tested AA batteries in digital cameras to see which ones actually last the longest. CR tested both single use (lithium, nickel oxyhydroxide, alkaline) and rechargeable (nickel-metal hydride or NiMH) AA batteries and came up with some interesting results. Certainly, the most expensive single use batteries are not the longest lasting as many commercials and ads would have you thinking. Top names like Energizer, Panasonic, Duracell, Radio Shack, Rayovac, Sony, CVS, Walgreens, and Kirkland Signature (Costco) were included in their tests. Less formal tests have been done by Consumersearch.com, Steves-digicams.com, and Scanshack.com and results do vary by the product they are using the batteries in. For rechargeable AA batteries, we found the best research online at Rechargeable-battery-review.com, although their findings aren't as current as those done by Consumer Reports. I for one would have thought that most AA batteries would have about the same lifespan when compared head to head but that is not the case. And when you consider the cost to purchase premium brands versus non-premium you realize really fast how much money you are wasting buying batteries. The best decision is to buy rechargeable batteries (AA 4 Pack) and always have a few in the charger ready to go when a toy or camera needs them. Buying in bulk is not a bad idea either since most brands have a shelf life that is years. If you go with single use batteries versus the rechargeables, consider the AA lithium type like the Energizer Ultimate for long lasting results. You may pay more up front for each battery but at least it keeps you from having to drive to the store as often to buy new AA's. We have tried to include the top selling and most popular AA batteries down below in specific categories. These are considered the "best of the best" in terms of battery life and value for your money. You can browse the top selling AA batteries online here.