Alkaline Battery Shoot Out

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SilverFox

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Alkaline Battery Shoot Out

Have you ever wondered…
Which brand of battery is better? Are they all the same? Is the “Industrial” version better than the regular version, or how about the “Plus” version? Does “Heavy Duty” mean it works better? Are the private labeled batteries rejects from the name brand battery manufacturers?

I found myself wondering the same things, and decided to do a series of tests.

I picked a variety of batteries. While my list is far from exhaustive, I think this is a good representation. The graphs are pretty full, but if I have made any glaring omissions, additional data may be added in table form.

Battery Capacities:
Alkaline battery capacities are listed at a reduced load that is typically well below the demands of a lot of our lights. The capacity is reduced at higher load levels. Energizer lists the following capacities for comparison:
Energizer Max
AAA 1.250 Amp Hours
AA 2.850 Amp Hours
C 8.350 Amp Hours
D 18.000 Amp Hours

Graph Nomenclature:
Ah = Amp Hours
Wh = Watt Hours
M = Minutes

The battery line up:
Duracell Copper Top – Name brand
Energizer Max – Name brand
Energizer Industrial – The Industrial version
RayOVac Max Plus – Name brand
Radio Shack – Name Brand
Radio Shack Plus – Better than the regular Radio Shack batteries?
Rite Aid – Drug store chain brand
EverActive – Wal Mart brand
RayOVac Heavy Duty – Not Alkaline but Zinc Chloride, for very light loads
Panasonic Power Edge – Photo battery - Interesting results
Kodak – Thanks Sigman, these are marked USA but are made for Kodak
Red Cell – Thanks Sigman
Also added below:
Duracell Ultra
Kirkland
Dorcy Mastercell
e2 Energizer
IKEA - Thanks Andreas
CSV - Thanks John

The graphs:

AAA

AAAComparison05A.jpg


AAAComparison1A.jpg


AA

AAComparison05A.gif


Here is a table of the data, sorted by WattHours.

AAAlkalineat05ampSortTable.gif

AAComparison1A.gif


Here is a table of the data, sorted by WattHours.

AAAlkalineat1ampSortTable.gif



D

DComparison05A.jpg


DComparison1A.jpg


DComparison3A.jpg


Test conditions:
All tests were conducted at room temperature of about 68 degrees Fahrenheit utilizing a West Mountain Radio CBA.
All batteries were bought fresh off the shelves. The Panasonic Power Edge AA’s had a date of 2007, the rest were 2010 or 2011.
Rick (Sigman) gave me some Kodak and Red Cell batteries to test and they had dates of 2005 and 2006. They were sealed in the package and he assured me that they were fresh.
AAA and AA batteries were tested at 0.5 and 1.0 Amp Rates.
D batteries were tested at 0.5, 1.0, and 3.0 Amp Rates. (I only had two Red Cell D’s, so I skipped the 3.0 Amp Rate on those.)
I ran out of testing time (and budget) so no C batteries were tested. Perhaps at a later time I can have a look at those.

What does all this mean?
Let’s look at an example: Jump to the AA chart at the 0.5 Amp Rate. The Energizer Max AA battery, at this load, has a capacity of 1.31 Amp Hours (1.50 Watt Hours) and will run continuously for 157 Minutes (down to 0.8 Volts). This load is typical of the Peak AA High Power with 5 LED’s. If you want more run time, go with the Rite Aid batteries. They ran for 218.5 Minutes which is about a 39% increase in run time. I should also note that the Rite Aid batteries were cheaper than the Energizer batteries.

Interesting concept, longer run time, cheaper price…

I added a comparison of Energizer Lithium AAA and AA VS the Energizer Max Alkaline. What a difference Lithium makes…

3/13/05 We have a new player in the Lithium AA cells. I have added the results from the Battery Station cells. They are rated 2900 mAh and while a bit below the Energizers, are doing very well and cost a lot less as well. Look out Energizer, Battery Station is knocking at your door...

AAA Lithium VS Alkaline at 0.5 Amp Rate

AAALiAlkComparison05A.jpg


AA Lithium VS Alkaline at 0.5 Amp Rate

AALiAlkComparison05A.jpg


AA Lithium VS Alkaline at 1.0 Amp Rate

AALiAlkComparison1A.jpg


12/2/04
To round out the lithium comparison, Peter (PeLu) sent me some Lithium Sulpher Dioxide (LiSO2) cells to check out. Thanks Peter. Henry (HDS Systems) is also sending me some cells for verification. Thanks Henry.

I did a series of tests and have compared them to the RayOVac Max Plus D cells. The LiSO2 cells are a different voltage, but the interesting observation is that they had close to 7 Ah of capacity regardless of current draw. How nice it is that the voltage remains constant throughout the test.

Here are the graphs.

LiSO2AlkComparison05A.jpg


LiSO2AlkComparison1A.jpg


LiSO2AlkComparison3A.jpg


Conclusions:
Yes there is a difference, sometimes a substantial difference. While it is important to pay attention to the construction quality of our lights, I believe that it is also important to pay attention to the power source as well.

Tom

I found some Duracell Ultra AA's and it appears we have a new winner. They have more capacity than the Copper Tops and have come out on top of all of the others tested so far.

It is a common belief that Costco's Kirkland cells are simply re-labeled Duracell Ultra's. I added the Kirkland test results to the Duracell's. It would appear that they are a bit less than the Ultra's.

4/19/07 Update: Archangel sent me some additional Kirkland cells to check out to see if they are the same as the original ones I tested. The original cells were labeled 2011. The ones Mike sent me were labeled 2013. As you can see, they behave similar at 1 amp, but seem to have fallen off a little at 0.5 amps. Thanks Mike.

Here is the data:

AADuracellComparison05A.gif


AADuracellComparison1A.gif


A couple of side notes:
The Ultra's were more expensive than the Copper Tops at the store I was in.
These cells ran hotter than the others. Testing was done at 68 degrees (F) and the cells quickly heated up to 78 degrees. They stayed there, but I don't recall that happening on the other tests. This was consistent in both the 0.5, and 1.0 Amp Rates.

12/1/04
I found some Dorcy Mastercell batteries. I don't know who makes Dorcy cells, but I threw in a comparison with the Energizer Max. You can refer to the legend to compare them with the other cells tested earlier.

AAADorcyComparison05A.jpg


AAADorcyComparison1A.jpg


AADorcyComparison05A.jpg


AADorcyComparison1A.jpg


DDorcyComparison05A.jpg


DDorcyComparison1A.jpg


9/30/05
I was going to test some e2 Energizer cells for comparison and I finally got around to doing it.

I went to the store and also picked up a pack of Energizer Max cells to see if there were any changes since last years tests.

At 0.5 amps, the e2 cells have 4% greater capacity over the Max cells purchased in 2004, and 32% greater capacity over the Max cells purchased in 2005.

At 1.0 amps, the e2 cells have 11% greater capacity over the Max cells purchased in 2004, and 32% greater capacity over the Max cells purchased in 2005.

Hello Energizer, what is going on here...?

Here is the data:

e2AAatVariousRatesandMsxComparison.gif


11/12/05
Winny noticed that IKEA not only offers furniture but also has a line of Alkaline AA batteries. As far as I know, these are not available in the US. He was kind enough to send me some for testing.

Thank you Andreas.

I was not sure of the capacity, but did notice that the cells are labeled 1.5V LR6 Mignon-AA-AM3-MN1500 and are made in Germany.

I decided to do a 0.25 amp run to check the capacity. It looks like they are around 1500 mAh cells. Andreas sent me some extra cells, so I did an additional run at 1.5 and 2.0 amps.

Here are the test results:

IKEA1500AAatVariousRates.gif


2/15/06
Onthebeam sent me some CSV AA’s to check out. I have added those, as well as the IKEA cells to the comparison graphs at the beginning of this post.

Thank you John.

Since the graphs were getting a bit cluttered up, I added the data in tabular form. Once again it is sorted on WattHours, with the highest at the top of the list.

4/6/07 GCBStokes sent me some Nuon Powerizer Lithium Iron AA cells to check out. These are labeled as 2900 mAh at a 1 amp draw. They do seem to come very close to their rating, but their voltage curve is a bid different. The Energizer L91 cells still lead in Watt Hours, and hold higher voltage during the start.

Here is the data.

NuonPowerizerLithiumAA2900atVarious.gif



Tom
 
Last edited:

greenlight

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Well done Tom. I started using lithium aa energizer in my Inova X1 and I like the fact that they are lighter and more powerful than alkalines. That said, whenever alkaline batteries go on sale at whichever source, it's nice to know a little bit about them. Thanks for doing this research for us.
 

MoonRise

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Wow, thanks for the info Tom. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/happy14.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/goodjob.gif
 

evan9162

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It's also nice to see that the uber-cheap Ray-o-vac max alkalines are good performers as well.

It's also depressing (encouraging as well) to see that a single AA NiMH can perform nearly as well as a D-cell alkaline at high discharge rates (over 1A). In fact, for a 3A discharge, you're better off to put 3AA NiMH's in parallel. You'll get 3 times the capactity, and it should weigh less too.
 

Doug S

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Certainly shows that chemistry and discharge rate matters! An AAA lithium at 0.5A delivers more Whr than either Duracell or Eveready D at 3A.

BTW, Tom, a couple of typos noted: Duracell WHr on 0.5A "D" graph [value shown is way too low], "Wh" omitted for Eveready Industial. 1A AA graph.
 

junior

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It seems from what some of you guys are stating that lithium AA and AAA are the way to go for us flashoholics.

What say you?
 

Kiessling

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I really love lithiums ...
Thanx for the tremendous work you invested to enlighten us!
/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif
This is CPF!
bernhard
 

Sigman

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This is EXCELLENT data added to the halls of the CPF Tom - great graphs and they "posted" well indeed! Thank you for taking this on!
 

SilverFox

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I must say that this was a lot of work to keep track of. I had hoped it would present well and it seems to be readable. There is a lot of information on those graphs.

I found the Panasonic Power Edge cells very interesting. They are listed for camera use and are a bit expensive. The must have a bit different chemistry because they were able to keep the voltage up until they died out.

The Energizer Industrial batteries were also interesting. I had limited supplies of the D cells and you can see the bouncing around in the middle of the discharge curve. Several of the other cells exhibited similar behavior, but I culled them out of the display because I thought something had come loose with the test set up. There is nothing loose, it is just the way these cells work.

I was disappointed that the Radio Shack Plus cells under performed the regular Radio Shack cells. I printed a copy of the graph and gave it to the Radio Shack manager. He is going to check it out. If I hear back from him, I'll post what he says.

The Lithium batteries are more expensive, but they stand head and shoulders above everything else. I use to think that they were too expensive for day to day use and kept them for camping trips and specific occasions. I am now leaning towards using them for day to day use as well. I really did not think the difference was that great, but it is...

I got the Battery Analyzer to check out my rechargeable cells. I found this testing to be a pleasent diversion.

Tom
 

PeLu

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Wonderful data given .-) (and supports what I wrote in another thread).
Only thing to mention: Did you stop discharging the D-cells at 0.8V or did you have the data down to 0.6V?
There is still some juice left in them at 0.8V.
(no discussion if it makes sense, some device may benefit from it, some not).
I think I should send you a few Li D-cells to test .-)
(or buy such a device by myself).
Thanks for your work and expenses!
 

SilverFox

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Hello PeLu,

I took data on all of the tests down to 0.5 volts and there is some life in the D cells down there. The 0.8 volt cut off is at the top of the rapid drop off. The amount of life left depends on the load. At the 0.5 Amp Rate, things dropped off fast, but at the 3.0 Amp Rate, the drop off was more gradual.

I was interested in comparing the capacity at higher loads to what the manufacturers publish. The published data seems to have two termination points, 1.0 volt and 0.8 volts. I choose 0.8 volts, but you can interpret the data at 1.0 volts as well.

I knew the capacities dropped off with higher loads, but did not know how much. I found it interesting that an AA rated at 2.85 Amp Hours is only capable of 0.9 Amp Hours under a 1.0 Amp load. Likewise the D cells rated at 18 Amp Hours come up with just over 5 Amp Hours of capacity under a 1.0 Amp load.

Another interesting observation was that the batteries did not heat up. The AAA cells at 1.0 Amp Rate got up to 75 degrees (F), but only the D cells at the 3.0 Amp Rate got warm towards the end of the test (around 88 degrees F).

Li D cells should follow a similar curve as the AA cells, just run a lot longer. The test of the D cells at the 0.5 Amp Rate ran for over 24 hours, so figure about 3 times that for a Li D cell.

Tom
 

Doug S

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[ QUOTE ]
SilverFox said:
Li D cells should follow a similar curve as the AA cells, just run a lot longer. The test of the D cells at the 0.5 Amp Rate ran for over 24 hours, so figure about 3 times that for a Li D cell.

Tom

[/ QUOTE ]
Tom, actually not. The Lithium D cells that PeLu is talking about are a different chemistry.
BTW, I edited my remark about typos to make them easier to find.
 

Filament

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Great and useful information. Was any kind of economic/break-even data gathered? It doesn't really matter to me, I use the lithiums in all my lights and GPS unit for storage/cold weather performance, just a thought. Thanks again for the great work!
 

Kill-O-Zap

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Great stuff! Thanks!

I love it when the cheaper products outperform. Previous studies have suggested that ROV-MAX is a good performer for the money, and this confirms it.

BTW, I see "Duracell" but not "Duracell Ultra". I'd love to see the Ultras tested.

Also, Kodak has some "oxy-alkaline" AA's, which they claim are better for high drain applications. Are these the Kodaks you tested? If not, I'd like to see the oxys tested. I would be willing to mail you a couple of these.

The Heavy Duty curves make me laugh /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif There was a recent news story about the passing of the guy that invented Alkalines /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif. The new technology was a bit of a tough sell in the company at the time. Hello? didn't they have a CBA? /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif
 

xenopus

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Excellent work -- will you have a chance to test the Duracell Ultra's? Where did you get your Energizer Industrial cells from, may I ask?

The derating of the alkaline cells under load is really bad -- especially for our regulated circuits, which like to take more and more current as voltage declines!
Thanx!
 

jtr1962

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These are interesting results. I always knew alkaline performed very poorly in high-drain applications, but I didn't realize how bad they really were until now. At 3 amps the D cells have less capacity than most AA NiMHs! This data simply underscores the point that rechargeables should always be used in high-drain applications.
 

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