How Long Do Rechargeable Batteries Last?

It is estimated that close to forty billion alkaline batteries are disposed of yearly all over the world. Now, that is a whole lot if you ask us. Apart from that, if these items are not recycled, it does not bode well for the climate. All this is caused because of the short lifespan of batteries. So, in this article, we’ll be answering the question “how long do rechargeable batteries last?”, as we look to make the switch to renewable sources of energy. 

Alkaline batteries are disposed of because of the short lifespan of their voltage. On the other hand, rechargeable batteries have taken the lead as they are capable of maintaining their voltage for a longer period of time. Despite the fact that they are more expensive than alkaline batteries, they are still favored by a lot of people. 

However, its durability has been questioned? Are they a much better replacement for alkaline batteries and how long will they last?

On The Lifespan Of Rechargeable Batteries Based On Types

The first thing to point out is that a rechargeable battery is better for the environment as they pose less danger to earth compared to disposable alkaline batteries. 

It is a bit difficult to maintain an accurate stand on the durability of rechargeable batteries. This is because most companies boast that their batteries last longer than it actually does. However, what is definitely certain is that rechargeable batteries always last longer than alkaline batteries.

The thing is, a single home can make use of seventy to eighty alkaline batteries in one year. However, if they happen to invest in a pair of top-notch rechargeable batteries, they would be able to get a lot use the same ones for the whole year is nothing is done to harm it. 

The amount of time it takes to get to a full-charge and how long they can hold a charge depends on the brand and the devices they are being used for. It goes without saying that any device that requires high power, like digital cameras, or a wireless keyboard, will definitely consume more. In all, the point is that rechargeable batteries can last up to a year or more under the proper use and maintenance. 

Another factor to point out when it comes to how long a rechargeable battery last is the power supply or capacity. How long does the power supply of a rechargeable battery last, irrespective of its brand? The answer to this question is based on the types of rechargeable battery and the material it is made from. 

When it comes to rechargeable batteries based on materials they are made from, we have Nickel Cadmium (NiCad), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), and Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion). These materials or properties determine how long a rechargeable battery will last.

NiCad Rechargeable Battery 

The nickel-cadmium battery was introduced in 1899 by Waldemar Jungner. this was an improvement to the lead-acid rechargeable battery. Although it took a while, noticeable improvements were made in 1932 and 1947. 

These improvements brought about the deposition of active properties in electrodes plated with nickel and the introduction of sealed NiCad batteries that aid the absorption of gas that is generated while charging.

This type of battery is one of the strongest batteries that can take rigorous battery work, requires a slow charge, and has over a thousand charging cycles. These huge amounts of charging cycles show that this battery has longevity on its side. 

On the downside, these rechargeable batteries require a full charge as much as necessary because they self-discharge quickly, especially when they are not in use. This is also to prevent crystal formation that might make it impossible to revive the battery capacity. They are prone to memory effect and have a low 1.20 cell voltage which requires several cells before it can get a higher voltage.

NiMH Rechargeable Battery

The first attempt at inventing a nickel-metal hydride rechargeable battery commenced in 1967. By the 1980s, hydride alloys were discovered which helped to push the invention further. These batteries are long-lasting, have more energy density, about 40% higher, than NiCad batteries, and are not prone to memory effect. 

However, they are less durable compared to NiCad batteries. Also, its self-discharge rate is considerably higher, about fifty percent higher. A standard NiMH rechargeable loses 20% capacity within twenty-four hours of its first use and steadily loses ten percent of its power capacity every month after that. Also, they can only last for three hundred to four hundred recharge cycles before they start to deteriorate. 

Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery

This rechargeable battery became available commercially in the 1970s. They are made of lithium which is a really light metal. Batteries made from lithium happen to have a greater energy density than batteries made from nickel. 

Constant attempt to invent rechargeable batteries from metallic lithium failed and the focus was shifted to inventing battery with lithium-ions (non-metallic lithium). This became available to the public in the year 1991.

Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries have twice the energy density present in NiCaD rechargeable batteries and have a great load performance. These batteries do not require high maintenance like the NiMH batteries. They also have a higher cell voltage compared to the two listed above and are resistant to the memory effect. They also have a lower self-discharge rate.

However, these batteries come with significant flaws. They are really fragile and need to be encased in protection circuits. Also, the power capacity starts to deteriorate after a year or two. It does not matter if they are being used or not.

Out of the three types of rechargeable batteries listed above, the NiCad batteries last longer as they have a 700-1000 life cycle. The best part is that they are available commercially in double-A and triple A. Which brings us to our next point:

Lifespan Of Rechargeable Batteries Based On Size

The other variation that determines the longevity of rechargeable batteries is the size. This includes rechargeable AA batteries and rechargeable AAA batteries. 

AA Batteries

AA batteries are often referred to as mignon or double-A batteries. They are the regular-sized dry or single-cell batteries. They are referred to as dry cell batteries since they have the perfect amount of moisture. Just enough to let current flow through it.  

These AA batteries are capable of producing about 1.5 voltage of power. With a cylindrical shape, a length of 1.9 inches, and a diameter that ranges from 0.53 to 0.57 inches, these batteries can work in any direction and position. They are bigger than and have thrice the capacity of AAA batteries. Because of this, they are used for bigger devices.

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AAA Batteries 

These batteries are often referred to as triple-A batteries. The AAA batteries produce a similar voltage, 1.5 volts of power, like the AA batteries. They also have the same cylindrical shape like the AA batteries. 

However, they have a smaller length and breadth than double-A batteries. A standard AAA battery comes in a length f 1.75 inches and a diameter f 0.4 inches. They are commonly used for small devices like remote controls for TV or small clocks.

The differences between a rechargeable AA battery and a rechargeable triple-A battery is not only in the size or usage. A rechargeable double-A battery has a power capacity that endures longer than a rechargeable triple-A battery whose power gets depleted quicker.

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Few Rechargeable Batteries And Their Durability

  1. The Panasonic Eneloop Pro
  2. The Energizer Recharge Universal

Panasonic Eneloop Pro

These batteries have been described as the best rechargeable batteries yet. A single Panasonic Eneloop Pro boasts of a high capacity cell voltage of 2600 mAH and five hundred rechargeable life cycles. 

Also, they are pre-charged so they work immediately after purchasing them. Also, they are resistant to the memory effect which means they can be recharged if they are half or completely drained. 

The company also claims that the batteries retain up to ninety percent of their capacity after one year, eighty percent after three years. The company goes on to maintain that the battery will retain seventy percent of its capacity after ten years in storage. It sounds like a good deal. They are an ideal choice for flashlights, remote controls and game consoles.

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Energizer Recharge Universal

These batteries are available at a great price and also offer a great load performance. A single battery in this model has been proven to have a surprising 2300 milliamp as opposed to the 2000 milliamp (mAH) advertised by the company. 

This means that they can hold a charge for longer periods. According to the company, the battery offers a thousand recharge life cycles. The batteries are said to last up to 5 years under good maintenance.

Increasing The Life Span Of Rechargeable Batteries

As with every device or household items, the appropriate care and usage will prolong the life of any rechargeable battery. This largely determines how long your rechargeable batteries will last, irrespective of the reliability of the brand. You can’t keep abusing anything or anyone and expect it to stay the same. 

If special care is taken, a pair of rechargeable batteries will last for a span of two to seven years. Here are a few tips to follow.

  • Every new recharge battery or one that has not been used for a prolonged time will be in a discharged condition due to the self-discharged feature. So, the first thing to do is to charge until it reaches a full charge. It is not advisable to use a pair of newly purchased rechargeable batteries without charging them first. 
  • The second thing is to avoid overheating your batteries. You can easily make your batteries detonate if they are exposed to an outrageous heat condition. Also, putting batteries in warm areas can diminish its lifespan. This is why all battery packages come with this instruction on them, “to be stored in a cool, dry and clean place”. Some misinterpret this instruction by placing batteries in a fridge, hoping to extend its life span. However, a refrigerator is a complete opposite of “dry place.”
  • Try to prevent the rechargeable batteries from being exposed to corrosive cell contents. Make sure they are not dropped too often.
  • Do not short circuit the batteries. This can create an irreversible damage or detonation.
  • Do not be a chemist and start mixing different batteries with contrasting capacities. Don’t combine an alkaline battery with a rechargeable battery in your devices.
  • If your rechargeable batteries are not being used, remove and store them away.
  • If you have NiMH rechargeable batteries that are not in use, try to discharge them and recharge after, once or twice in a month. This is because these batteries self-discharge at a faster rate, loses about 20% capacity during its first use, followed by a monthly loss of 10% capacity. discharging and recharging the batteries prevent crystal formation that can cause a permanent loss of capacity in the batteries.
  • Avoid using ultra-fast chargers for your rechargeable batteries. Always use the right chargers designed for the batteries to charge them.
  • Refrain from charging at a too high or too low temperature
  • Don’t overcharge your rechargeable batteries. one it reaches a full charge, disconnect it from the charger.

For a visual guide on how to extend the lifespan of rechargeable batteries, please click on the link below.

Conclusion

Rechargeable batteries are obviously the better choice when you need batteries due to the advanced improvements that have been made to them over the years. They last longer than regular alkaline batteries and they have long rechargeable cycles that depend largely on the type. 

Although they are more expensive than the regular non-rechargeable batteries, it is always a wise decision to invest in them. You will definitely get your money’s worth.

As mentioned above, the type of rechargeable battery you have will determine how long they will last. There is no way a NiMH battery will beat a NiCad rechargeable battery when it comes to longevity. Finally, the way you use these batteries will also determine how long your rechargeable batteries will last. Try to adhere to the tips listed above to extend their lifespan.

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