Duracell wins battle of the alkalines, but cheap brands do well

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/19/duracell-wins-battle-of-the-al.html

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I wish he’d tested Ikea batteries. They are the cheapest I can usually find.


Also wish he had tested Amazon house brand…


BigClive did this ages ago and unless Duracell have put extra sauce in their batteries since, you are paying for the name and their incessant advertising Big Clive Alkaline Battery tests.


People are still using alkaline batteries? Why? Lithium batteries last many, many times longer (especially with high loads), they last forever in storage, and they work so much better in cold. They are more expensive than alkalines, but the price/performance ratio is a net gain.

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What’s not shown on the chart is their tendency to leak. I buy Kirklands even though they leak more than any alkaline I’ve ever used. Supposedly they’re rebranded Duracells, which explains their similar performance, but I don’t remember having such leaking problems with Duracells.


I’m with @kongorilla here.

A great fan of Costco, but I will never again use their Kirkland batteries. I have destroyed way to many devices as these leak like nothing on earth. I use a mix of Duracell and Kirkland and every single leak (and there have been dozens) are from the Kirkland. No way are they repackaged standard Duracell.


My major use is remotes and wireless peripherals. Very low drain, so high discharge current performance doesn’t matter, while generally lasting long enough that the self-discharge of rechargeables isn’t acceptable.

For flashlights and high drain stuff it’s all about the rechargeables if they are an option(possibly with a few lithium primary cells stashed in the bag if I need to be sure of having backup).

And, of course, Glorious Progress has given us myriad devices where whatever little Li-ion pouch is entombed in the device is exciting and mandatory.


The “Sunbeam” brand is what you find in dollar stores, so in terms of cost they’re a pretty good deal-- $1 for a 4-pack of AAA’s? How can I say no?

I agree that rechargeables are preferable, but when a device I’m using is drained I’m not about to recharge a battery if I can stick a cheap alkaline in it and get immediate use.


Lithium batteries are 3v output vs alkaline at 1.5v and NiMH at 1.2v. For a lot of electronics today 1.2 is all that’s needed and the cost of regulating down from 1.5 is acceptable (about 20%) while regulating down from 3.0 either requires external devices (inductors, not free) or an efficiency loss of 60%. That 60% kills the energy density advantage, so if the device can get by on 1.5 volts the alkalines are the cheapest solution.

For flashlights I’m assuming that we’re talking LED [1], which are current-driven and generally very fussy about voltage, which they set themselves based on the current supplied. Therefore, they have regulators of their own (sometimes called “ballast” from the fluorescent predecessors) which generally have that inductor mentioned previously [2]. It can be pretty cheap because LEDs are very happy to have wildly varying currents so long as the average is what you want. In fact, they’re more efficient with short pulses of high current so the inductor can be really cheap – in all senses of “cheap.”

And, yeah, if it isn’t obvious I’ve been on the chip design side of this one.

[1] The alternative is so ancient that they were designed with alkaline or NiMH or (gasp!) NiCad; lithium still wouldn’t work.
[2] This is really deeper than most want to know


There are many different lithium battery chemistries, some of which produce around 1.5 V: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_battery#Chemistries

The CVS certainly looks like a rebranded Energizer, but the Rite-Aid is an oddity unless small-n threw up a ringer.

Yes, but they get the lower voltage in significant part by reducing the energy density. Besides: the 3v chemistries win on scale – there’s too much support for them compared to the others.

the self-discharge of rechargeables isn’t acceptable

Long-life rechargeables like Eneloop have effectively ended the need for alkalines. There is no downside to them at all.


Unfortunately from the text of the source article (from 2012, if it makes a difference) this sounds like a very unscientific test. The writer makes it sound like they tested each brand just once, and they don’t give any specifics about the flashlights used as the test loads, or the cutoff conditions of the test other than the flashlights “went dark”. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in these results.


Back in the day when i had my first point and shoot it used AA batteries. At one point i decided to splurge and get the nicer more expensive Energizer batteries (not regular Energizer). They were supposed to have more charge and were better suited for point and shoots, and after using them they did not last very long. In fact they were by far the worst ones i’d ever used. I switched back to cheap generic batteries which lasted like 3 times as long.

Why the fuck aren’t people taking about doing away with disposable batteries altogether?

In a sane world that shit would be phased out asap.

Sunbeam AA and AAA come in 8-packs at my local Dollar Trees, so even better.

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TV remotes and other basic electronics don’t need built-in rechargeable batteries because it drives up cost. Also customers can buy rechargeable batteries so i don’t see what the problem is.

I am surprised there is such a difference in them. Like I sorta would assume and hour or so difference, not a 4 hour difference.

I am glad my Duracell purchases aren’t just my confirmation bias coming into play.