The New Age of Battery Power — Save Money, Buy that Subaru


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | October 30, 2009      
Backcountry Skiing Electronics

Backcountry Skiing Electronics

I was big on rechargeable batteries for a while, but when our son was young or the family in the thick of backcountry skiing trip logistics, the expensive little things tended to get used once or twice then buried in the gear piles. More, they lost much of their charge if stored, so you’d grab a camera that had been sitting for a while and bam, a few flash shots later and no juice.

Now that we’re empty nesters, things are a bit less chaotic around here. So time for another stab at using rechargeables. A while back I’d heard about the latest “hybrid” NiMh cells that hold 85% of their power for up to a year. That means that a few months of storage will result in a trivial capacity drop. So I got a dozen AcessoryPower 2200 mAh double-A cells and a nice high tech Powerex MH-C801D charger that has a 2-hour soft charge to preserve the batteries, and a 1-hour blast when you need ’em quick.

Powerex MH-C801D charger with my pile of hybrid NiMH batteries.

Powerex MH-C801D charger with my pile of hybrid NiMH batteries.

Now, a lot of you probably know we’re big fans of Energizer lithium AA and AAA batteries. While those bad boys are actually pretty economical per unit power (they’re a whopping 2,900 mAh, sacrifice almost no power in the cold, and have nearly unlimited shelf storage), I’m still looking forward to saving a ton of money with my rechargables.

I got the following take after rounding some numbers and doing some estimating:

Basically, I figure I’ll realistically get 800 charges out of my new hybrid AA cells. With a reduction for wear, that means I’ll get somewhere around 1,760,000 mAh per battery for its total life, which is the equivalent of about 606 lithium AA batteries.

The hybrid batteries cost about $2.62 cents each, lithium AA cells cost about $2.25 each.

606 lithium AA batteries would thus cost $1,365.00.


Thus, with 16 hybrid batteries $21,816.00 is my possible gross savings over using lithium AA batteries, subtract the cost of 16 hybrid batteries and my charger, I could still save $21,674.00.

Not bad. Not bad at all. Of course, this is assuming we’d use thousands of lithium AA cells over the space of say 6 years. Nope. But you get the point. Realistically, I’d imagine we’ll still save around $250.00 a year or $1,500.00 over 6 years. That could still buy a good beater Subaru for those backcountry skiing trailheads. So there!

What’s more, I figure this whole deal will pay for itself in just a couple of months during our heavy winter battery use (headlamps, radios, GPS and cameras).

Now, I just have to keep track of those batteries. Luckily, each hybrid battery is only a bit more expensive than a lithium, so if they get lost I’ll replace and still come out ahead on just a few charges.

Shop for this stuff (practical Xmas gifts for lean times).



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Comments

6 Responses to “The New Age of Battery Power — Save Money, Buy that Subaru”

  1. ScottP October 30th, 2009 8:33 am

    I’ll be interested to hear how well they really do hold their charge, and even more importantly, how well they perform in the cold. I’m sure you’ll tell us when the time is right!

  2. sven October 30th, 2009 8:44 am

    I’ve been using rechargeables religiously for years, but don’t plan on getting 800 charges out of your hybrid AA cells….I’ve never had any last that long.

  3. Lou October 30th, 2009 9:18 am

    The package says they’re good for up to 1000 charge cycles. What should I estimate realistically, 500?

    My understanding is that the latest NiMH batteries do much better in the cold than older technology, but that lithium still rules when it gets really cold. Most of my trips are day trips, so if I just swap batteries more frequently I should be ok for that. If gearing up for something extreme, I’ll just pop in some lithiums. Another strategy is to use the rechargeables in everything, but keep a pack of lithiums in the repair/emergency kit. Not only to lithiums have long shelf life, but they’re light in weight, so they’re perfect for keeping buried in an emergency kit.

  4. John W October 30th, 2009 1:59 pm

    I have a bunch of NiMh AA’s because I had a camera that used 4 at a time. That camera died and I now have a non-AA Canon. I use the AA NiMh now in lights, radio etc. Best of my lot for holding a charge are some AccuLoop by AccuPower (a few years old now). I also recommend my LaCrosse battery charger. A tad pricey but way smart. You can vary the charge rate and it will cycle a charge and discharge until the max capacity of the battery is restored.

    In the big picture though, I assume that Lithium ion AA rechargeables will be next. Anyone have news on that?

    I use Alkalines for back up. Cheap enough, easy to find and you can recycle them.

    Lithiums in transceivers still a no no?

  5. Jason October 30th, 2009 3:00 pm

    Great MATH! Yeah, sometimes it seems the Rechargeable even out do the nicad.

  6. rod georgiu October 30th, 2009 4:59 pm

    I used rechargeables in very cold conditions at high altitude, and around the house, and they worked perfectly.

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