D-cell Alkalines... no longer worth it? Obsolete vs. other batteries?

Stress_Test

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I keep a small number ( 8 -12 ) of D cell alkalines on hand for use during long outages in either a couple Maglites, a radio, or a battery powered fan.

The current cells are about to hit their expiration date so I started looking around to buy some more D cells. I could not believe the prices! It's been a few years since I last bought them so it was a real sticker shock. Something like $2.50 to $3 per cell!!

That was at the local Kroger, so I tried a couple of online vendors. Still high prices. About the best I found was about $1.30 each (Rayovac). Some of the Energizer and Duracell prices were just ridiculous.

Given how frequently I've seen alks leaking in recent years, I just can't stomach the idea of paying a premium cost for a cell that may sit on a shelf a couple years then puke its guts out for no reason (which I've had happen before). I'd rather put the money into Eneloops, Li-ion, and CR123a.

I'll probably by a 12-pack of those Rayovacs since that cost is more reasonable, but I got to thinking: are D-cells still relevant these days? In the past they were the only way you could get decent performance/runtime out of a light or other device, but lights especially now have gotten so efficient that the D-cell seems unnecessary.

My D powered fan is just about the only thing I can think of where I'd realistically need D cells, since during a hot-weather power outage, I'd want it to run all night, and using AAs in adapters can't do that.

The only other need for D cells I could think of would be if you needed to hand a flashlight to someone (think Maglite) that was dead simple to use, and runs for days at a decent ~ 30 or 40 lumen level.

I was thinking about that recently when we had an outage and I was wondering what light I might give to my Dad to use. Anything lithium powered was not a good idea. I was thinking it'd need to be either a AA light or a 3 or 4 D Maglite. The Maglite would be my choice since I can just load it up and give it to him then he shouldn't have to change cells or anything for the duration.

Other than that, I'm finding it hard to justify the costs of buying D cell alks anymore.
 

alpg88

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there are holders 3AA to D, 3 cells will give you plenty of current, even more than 1D can do, the only limit is resistance of the adapter, capacity wise it will be about 70-80% of a D.
Or use rechargeable, either nimh, or 1.5v li ion, thou they are about 6-10 bucks a piece.
you can get D for 1,5-2 bucks a piece if you buy large quantities, mcmaster sells a case of 72 for $111, however shipping is not free.
 

bykfixer

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I keep these handy.


Along with Maglite's.

And US made Rayovac C and D cells from WalMart or Home Depot
 

MidnightDistortions

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I'm not sure if there has been reviews of D cell NIMh batteries on here as they're expensive but for capacity. I see there are now Amazonbasic D cells. I bought some Sunlabz D cell NIMh batteries years ago that still work in my Maglite but they will go dead over time. Not sure how long that takes. I forgot there was some D cell fans as I could use them in the garage instead of carrying a big fan from the house to the garage.
 

Stress_Test

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I keep these handy.


Along with Maglite's.

And US made Rayovac C and D cells from WalMart or Home Depot

Thanks, I just discovered those lights online yesterday and was wondering if I should buy a pack to serve as "loaners". Single cell so no worries about mis-match. Good brightness vs runtime balance.

I'll have to look at WM or HD for cells sometime; I'm not normally in there. Need a new HVAC filter anyway, so that'd be a good reason to visit HD again.
 

aznsx

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Their market share is undoubtedly diminishing somewhat steadily, particularly with the advent of widely available LED lights of smaller format, but I think the C/D cells are yet far from "obsolete" in the view of the average flashlight user. There are just too many such lights out there. I haven't checked any batt racks recently, as I haven't routinely purchased them in such retail stores in years. Did you find a healthy stock of 'em on those racks? If so, that would suggest they still sell in reasonable quantities - sufficient for retailers to still devote shelf space to them. That said, they may be effectively 'obsolete' for many particular users, but not likely for John and Jane Doe yet.
 

thermal guy

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there are holders 3AA to D, 3 cells will give you plenty of current, even more than 1D can do, the only limit is resistance of the adapter, capacity wise it will be about 70-80% of a D.
Or use rechargeable, either nimh, or 1.5v li ion, thou they are about 6-10 bucks a piece.
you can get D for 1,5-2 bucks a piece if you buy large quantities, mcmaster sells a case of 72 for $111, however shipping is not free.
Actually 3 L91 AA are the same or more then a D cell
 
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My office uses tons of alkaline cells. We literally recycle six pounds of depleted cells each month. The only ones that leak are the AA size; the C and D cells that we keep for emergency purposes have not leaked in literally ten years of monitoring. (We keep the C and D cells for emergency lighting and communications gear, as well as portable smoke and other gas detectors. We rotate the stock so that not more than 25% of the supply is within two years of the printed expiration date.)

If you can source your cells at Costco or Sam's Club your cost per cell would likely drop to about $1 each. These are typically Duracell brand cells, at least in Costco.

Cheap insurance in my opinion.
 

idleprocess

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I performed an informal 'survey' of the local grocery store not too long ago. AA/AAA absolutely dominate the rack but C & D cells are still available. >$2/cell D cell pricing looks to have been the going rate at the time.
 

IMA SOL MAN

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Well, I think you combined two questions in one, i.e.

Is the D cell obsolete?

Is the alkaline battery chemistry obsolete?

I would say "no" to the first, and "absolutely" to the second.

The D cell has been around for a long, long time, and there are probably millions of devices sized for it. The D cell is big enough to have great capacity, so it still has potential for service far into the future.

The alkaline chemistry, on the other hand, we know is obsolete, and long past due for replacement. Little by little, as consumers wise up, alkaline cells are losing market share to rechargeable options. This, I think almost everyone will agree, is a good thing.

We are currently seeing a tremendous push in battery technology due to the forced adoption of EVs. And while the mining of Lithium is environmentally disastrous, it appears to be unstoppable for the immediate time. The increasing proliferation of Lithium cell technology and supply will have great impact, I think, in replacing alkaline cell chemistry in consumer goods. Just as 6 volt lantern batteries contain 4 D cells, we may soon see D cells containing 3 AA Lithium cells (perhaps). No doubt about it, interesting advances are coming.
 

letschat7

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Locally I paid a buck a cell for Panasonic Fabrique en Belgique D cells. Since I'm using them in a Led Lenser P17 they never die.
 

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Dave_H

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Lots of lantern and lights are still around using D's, I don't see them going away any time soon. "Obsolete" would be the wrong term, lots of other cases of this but for things which are still useful.

Prices on a lot of things have gotten steep, need to shop around. Grocery/ drug stores seem to be the worst OTC prices. Lithium L91's used to be $10/4-pack, now they are way higher.

NiMH (or NiCd) D is not the answer for a lot of users who do not want to be bothered with rechargeable cell management.

My recycle cell recovery has left me with a dozens of mostly name-brand alkaline D's, many being lightly to not used! All for the minor bother of testing, sorting and a bit of cleaning. My concern is, I'm not using them fast enough (!).


Dave
 

letschat7

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VHS stuff is super popular in Ohio. I just bought a VHS tape Friday. Betamax is still here too.
 

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Dave_H

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If there's a viable alternative to alkaline D's for the average consumer, I don't see it.

Why I raise the "recovery" activity, people can complain about high prices with some justification, but a lot less if much of the capacity (that I have seen) is thrown into the recycle bin. Some of the blame is on devices which under- utilize; industry which doesn't discourage as much consumption as possible; and somewhat consumers for being complacent, and not well informed (how many have and use battery checkers?).

3D and 4D LED lanterns around here run cells down to 1v or below, at reduced brightness.

Dave
 

idleprocess

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Some of the blame is on devices which under- utilize; industry which doesn't discourage as much consumption as possible; and somewhat consumers for being complacent, and not well informed (how many have and use battery checkers?).
I've got an inexpensive automatic pet food dispenser powered by three D cells. I do not think I've ever used alkaline cells in it instead loading LSD NiMH AAs into triple parallel adapters. When said cells are fresh off the charger the "low battery" indicator is extinguished, but in as few as 1-2 operating cycles later it's illuminated. Suspect the designers assumed an open circuit voltage way too close to 1.5V. Given that I've only needed it to last a weekend and the critters have never gone hungry it's a nonissue - just replace the cells before the next weekend trip. But I imagine it will leave useful capacity on the table due to design assumptions around greater-than-necessary cell voltage.

The average consumer doesn't have a battery checker or even a voltmeter and seems to chunk alkaline batteries the moment they falter.
 
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