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How to Switch Your Home to Rechargeable Batteries

set of rechargeable batteries and charging station

Save time and money with rechargeable batteries

According to one EPA study, Americans purchase around 3 billion dry-cell batteries every year. These batteries power everything from toys to remote controls, computer mice to electric toothbrushes. The average American discards up about 8 of these single-use batteries every year. All of this adds up to an overwhelming cost and an enormous amount of waste. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve come a long way with technology for rechargeable batteries that make them far more convenient and affordable.

These reusable batteries are more powerful, dependable, and affordable than ever before. AA, AAA, C, D, and more are all available. If you’ve ever considered switching your home from single-use batteries to rechargeable batteries, now is a perfect time!

Rechargeable battery benefits

We’ve all run out of batteries at some point. If you use rechargeable batteries, it’s a breeze to keep batteries available in your home. Rechargeable batteries even last longer than regular alkaline batteries. You can recharge them hundreds of times, with most of them rated for 1,000 recharges. For most items, you won’t even notice a difference between alkaline and rechargeable batteries.

The environmental benefits are also huge with rechargeable batteries. Alkaline batteries function through chemical reactions with heavy metals, which are bad for living things. When alkaline batteries are disposed of improperly, they can leak these chemicals into the soil. Of course, in a best-case scenario, the user recycles all their old batteries, but that isn’t always the case. Fortunately, rechargeable batteries lack these harmful chemicals.

How to choose the right rechargeable batteries

Most rechargeable consumer batteries use nickel-metal hydride (NiMH), which charge quickly, hold their charge for long periods, and experience increased performance over time. Lithium batteries are also available. They are more expensive than NiMH batteries, but they last a little longer. Unfortunately, they are prone to leaks and other failures. For the majority of applications, we recommend NiMH rechargeable batteries.

When purchasing batteries, you’ll notice they come with different power ratings, listed as mAh or milliamp hours. For instance, an 1,800 mAh battery should be able to power a device at 100 milliamps for 18 hours. You can’t always use this measurement to compare batteries, because rechargeable batteries will last longer than alkaline batteries, even though alkaline batteries carry a higher mAh rating. Different companies also measure mAh differently. But when you’ve settled on a brand, you can choose which mAh rating you want, knowing that those with a higher rating will last longer.

Decide how many reusable batteries you need

If you weren’t convinced before that you need rechargeable batteries, this might push you over the edge. Go around your home and count how many batteries you have in use. Children’s toys will add up quickly, as will wireless devices like your mouse and keyboard. You probably have battery-powered devices in your toolbox or in the kitchen.

Ideally, every time you need a charged battery, you’ll have one available. Does that mean you need two batteries for every space for a battery in your home? Not at all. NiMH batteries charge much faster than they run out of juice, so as batteries die you should have plenty of time to charge up another batch. Also, consider that not every item needs batteries all the time, but only when in use. This will cut down your battery requirements even more.

Long story short, buy enough batteries that you have all that you need, plus a few extra. You can always purchase additional batteries as your electrical ecosystem grows. If you know there’s a good chance you’ll acquire new electrical devices, such as around the holiday season, you can always buy another set or two of rechargeable batteries.

Make charging as convenient as possible

You’ll enjoy the transition the most if it’s convenient for you. Create a designated space to store spare batteries and your charging device. Decide where you will charge batteries as needed, in a place that’s out of the way and easy to access. If you have a need for many batteries at a time, such as for photography or other hobbies, consider purchasing an additional charging device. Ideally, with a tiny bit of effort, you’ll always have enough batteries.

When to use traditional alkaline batteries

There are a few devices where traditional batteries will outshine the convenience of rechargeables. Because rechargeable batteries discharge over time, they aren’t ideal for long-lasting applications. This includes clocks and smoke alarms. For items that use a lot of power, go with rechargeable batteries. But for items that use a tiny bit of power constantly for a long period of time, stick with alkaline.

When you’re done with any battery? Recycle!

No matter which batteries you use, we use resources to create them and give them power. We don’t want those metals, plastics, and chemicals to stay in a landfill indefinitely. When your batteries wear out, don’t just throw them away. Make sure to recycle your old batteries. Many electronic stores offer battery recycling. If you’re in Austin, Texas, you can bring them to the Duke’s Junk Recycling drop-off center. We recycle a wide variety of batteries, along with most electronics. We’d love to keep your junk out of the landfill and help it continue to serve a purpose!

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