If your holiday electronics and toys are running out of juice, this report is just in time. Consumer Reports tested AA batteries, both regular ones and rechargeables. Prices range from a $1.50 for two standard batteries all the way up to $9 for two rechargeables.
Testers evaluate battery performance using digital cameras, the most common use of AA batteries. The goal is to challenge each to an identical battery of tests. Testers zoom in and out, take five pictures with the flash on, and then five pictures with the flash off. After a 10-minute rest, the test is repeated until the batteries die.
The lowest-scoring standard AAs, the CVS Alkaline batteries, only had enough juice for 92 snapshots. The best, the Panasonic Evolta, took almost 240 pictures. Alkaline batteries have a long shelf life and they're less expensive than other types, but they don't perform as well. They're best used in devices that don't use a lot of power or aren't used that often.
But for things like toys that use bursts of energy, or digital cameras, Consumer Reports says rechargeable batteries are more cost effective even though you do have to pay more initially. The highest-performing AA rechargeables took almost 400 pictures. They're the Sanyo Eneloop. A charger with four batteries costs about $25.
When it comes to storing your batteries, you want to keep them in a cool, dry place, separate from one another and away from metal objects. And while some people think batteries will last longer if you store them in your refrigerator, Consumer Reports says that's not the case.
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