"Why Rechargeable Batteries Are Rarely Cost Effective"



#13

Interesting read subject to debate: http://lenpenzo.com/blog/id710-why-rechargeable-batteries-are-rarely-cost-effective.html.


#14

He's probably right for low-current draw equipment.

He didn't mention digital cameras - they are real power hogs and almost everybody has one.

He also didn't do his battery shopping very well. With diligent searching (perhaps at hamfests), you can get the batteries for around a buck. They are less than $2 at Frys anytime. And, you need only one charger, brand names of which can be found on sale for under $10: I've seen (& bought) 4 batteries+charger (Rayovac and/or Energizer) for $9.95 at Target.


#15

I recently invested in low discharge rate Eneloop Nimh cells and find they do live up to their name. They are hot. Things run faster on them, and I can use them in cameras or infrequently used items. My toothbrush and shaver are speedier, and my pocket radio is hotter than with former cells. I do have big piles of other nimh cells and they do self discharge and fail. Sam

#16

Hello!

Quote:
... to debate ...

IMO, there are other aspects involved that are far more important than cost effectivity. Most important to me is that recharchable batteries result in several orders of magnitude less toxic and hazardous waste than disposable batteries do. If we would have to pay all the real and future costs caused by the manufacturing and disposing of single use batteries, than these would be far more expensive than rechargeable ones.

Greetings, Max


#17

Do you have any data on the toxicity? I don't think alkaline batteries have mercury in them anymore.


#18

Quote:
Do you have any data on the toxicity? I don't think alkaline batteries have mercury in them anymore.

It is not the mercury in the first place, which makes them toxic, but the mining and processing of the raw materials! The latest figure that I could find is this: in the year 2000 in Germany, 15,000 tons of alkaline batteries have been sold. That means 15.000 tons of zinc, steel (for the casing), plastic, electrolyte (toxic) and manganese dioxide produced to been thrown away shortly thereafter.

Plus the energy required: The manufacturing process of a disposable battery consumes about 300 times (the qouted figures range between 50 and 500 depending of the type of battery) as much energy as is stored in the cell! Rechargeable batteries reduce the amount of raw materials and the amount of energy required by a factor of at least 100. That alone should be a good reason not to buy disposable batteries. I haven't done in 20 years...


#19

I haven't read the original linked article but one aspect that niggles me with high power rechargeables in cameras, laptops, phones, etc., is that nearly each device has its own custom battery.

If I put on my cynical hat, the main reason for this is to tie the customer down to having to buy an expensive bespoke battery which the same company sells at a high profit.

We have standard size cells like AA, AAA, etc so surely it is possible if the will exists to design rechargs into 2xAA form factors and so on, standardise manufacturing and remove the waste bought on by having unique batteries for each device.

Mark


#20

Quote:
is that nearly each device has its own custom battery.
That's mostly why, when I bought a digital camera recently, I insisted that it use AA batteries which I get at $.25 to $.35 each for alkalines and can change in a few seconds. It is also why I won't buy a calculator that requires a custom battery. I don't like today's high price of N cells for the HP-41, but at least I can go a year at a time or more without thinking about batteries.

And for many uses, the self-discharge rate of rechargeables makes them unacceptable.


#21

<<...for many uses, the self-discharge rate of rechargeables makes them unacceptable...>>

...I was just about to say the same thing.

For equipment that is not in constant use, modern disposable batteries are hard to beat!


#22

<<If I put on my cynical hat, the main reason for this is to tie the customer down to having to buy an expensive bespoke battery which the same company sells at a high profit.>>
I find many makers eager to offer replacements for these custom cells. I use google to find them and check prices. Sam

#23

Quote:
That's mostly why, when I bought a digital camera recently, I insisted that it use AA batteries

I bought my digital camera five years ago, and did the same thing. I use low-self-discharge NiMH Eneloop batteries in mine and they work very well. On more than one occasion over the years, the possibility of using readily-available AA cells saved the day.

The modern trend toward custom, often non-replaceable batteries worries me. I was shopping for an MP3 player recently, and thought my requirements were pretty simple and reasonable: decent sound, an SD card slot, takes standard AAA or AA cells and has a usable interface for selecting the song order (i.e., not just a shuffle player). No need for video or other PDA stuff.

Well, it turns out that AA/AAA music players are extremely rare nowadays, and most modern MP3 players even have non-replaceable batteries, the idea being that when the battery doesn't take a charge anymore (which may be in 3-7 years), people will just buy a newer model with more features. In effect, you end up renting your MP3 player instead of buying it.


#24

Most of the argument for the rechargables being less expensive and less toxic waiste based on a high number of expected recharge cycle. I doubt that the rechargable last as long as most people think they do. I found that I have to throw away my rechargables quite often. Typically 2 years, sometimes less sometimes more.


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