a companion discussion area for blog.codinghorror.com

Adventures in Rechargeable Batteries



haha, good point

bows out


You’ve got to be kidding me. These Amazon stores charge $6 shipping per item plus $.99 per order. I was going to order 3 sets of batteries until I found out that my shipping charges for that one order would be $19!


I like my solar battery chargers that I bought for about $15 each. They don’t have the fun features of the touted charger, but they do charge slowly. Considering the source of energy is solar cells, slowness is to be expected. However I do notice that battery life is short, especially using them in my portable sound recording device and digital camera. This is probably because of the particular brands of batteries I’ve used more than anything, but maybe also because I’m impatient about taking them out to use. I also wish it would meter how much power is in the battery while charging. As is, the charger does meter the level of power it is drawing from the sun.



Here’re my 2 cents:

Batteries: Sanyo Eneloop hands down - I use them for everything: wireless mice, xbox controllers, digital cameras, walkman, digital radio, LED flashlights, etc. They don#8217;t self-discharge significantly even after 1 year which automatically extends their lifespan considering that you don#8217;t have to charge them as often due to self-discharge. You can even use them for remotes. In BC, Canada, Costco has them.

Chargers: I used to use La Crosse, but currently using something much better:
Lightning Pack 4000N aka TurboCharger 4000 Smart Battery Charger and Conditioner:
Originally introduced by these guys (check the page for details and reviews):
I know it’s hard to believe that something cheaper, simpler, and smaller performs better. Although I liked La Crosse displays and measurements, it’d would run batteries quite hot even with proper charge/discharge current settings. High temps can shorten their lifespan significantly. LP400N keeps them cool as microprocessor adjusts the current automatically based on temp sensors readings. Very simple to use. By the way, this charger automatically detects completely drained cells (mentioned in the first post) and fixes them for you.



Going slightly sideways so apologies up front.
Rip off Britain is alive well in 2008
La Crosse $39.99 in America.
La Crosse 39.99 in the UK
Current exchange rate 1=$2
Damn things are made in Germany our European Union “Partners” for crying our loud!


Photographers use tons of rechargeables. A 4 cell charger is worthless. Maha Energy makes smart chargers that can charge 8 at once.


For the true battery geek a computer battery analyzer is a worthwhile investment:





Yes your problem was the crappy charger. I have three cameras now which run on AA’s, an old HP c500, a nikon 5600 and canon S3 IS. Each can take 400-500 pictures from a set of Sanyo Eneloop AA’s. I have learned to never buy any device which uses a Lithium Ion battery if there is an AA device available. Imagine how many cords/power supplies/chargers I would need for three cameras, gps, scanner, two way radio, etc, instead I have only two, one for the maha c9000 and one for the maha c401 and only one of those gets used at a time as the 401 is stored in my travel bag so by careful research into producuts and their power supplies I was able to eliminate a dozen different chargers, not to mention needing to replace those lithium Ion batery packs every couple years in a dozen different devices.

What I found was #1 self discharge was an issue so i was having to take batteries hot off the charger to get any decent run time from them and #2 some smart chargers are not all that smart and would terminate the charge early resulting in a not fully charged battery. Since i bought low self discharge batteries like Sanyo Eneloop that fixed #1 and the maha chargers fixed #1.
My maha chargers have paid for themselves already by me not having to replace several older NiMH that I now use in my sons toys where he runs them down faster than they self discharge anyway.


looks cool, thanks


an Amazon referral link? Are you fucking serious? disgusting…


I’m also a self-confessed geek with a bevy of gadgets of my own and two small children, who have really increased the battery demand in my household. I’m also a fan of the LaCrosse charger and Eneloop batteries, but needed a solution for the C/D-cell eating devices that my kids have. I was unwilling to pay $75+ for a decent C/D cell charger and $7-13 per battery for a NiMH C/D cell solution.

I found a decent compromise for D-cells to pass along. If you look hard around the web, you can find AA-D cell adapters that take two AA cells, so you’ll get roughly 5000mAh which is much closer to an alkaline cell than using an D adapter that only takes one AA cell. One source of these adapters in here: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.3228. I’m not affiliated with this company.


@feast So he’s got an Amazon link. So what? It doesn’t cost you any more and he gets a bit of a reward for passing on good info and some support for the site. Big deal.



Well, Jeff, I guess you’ve really made it now.

I define “success” by causing the price on Amazon to go up by $5 after mentioning a product in your blog. The charger you pimped is now on back order there and at least $5 more than it was when you first posted. Thomas Distributing still has it for the older price though.


“A 4 cell charger is worthless”

I have this cool technology in my house called a power strip. It allows me to install multiple battery chargers in parallel, effectively allowing me to charge 4, 8, 12, or even 1,247 batteries at a time, all based on how many separate chargers I buy!

Think of it like a rack mount server with truly efficient multi-processor scaling.

FWIW, my family and I use a lot of (standard size) batteries, and have a total of two 4-cell chargers supporting us. Between low-self-discharge batteries (eneloops rule), reasonable organization (if 12 batteries need to be charged, 4 sit next to the charger and the chargee checks back to swap their set in the next day), and healthy supply of extra batteries (aforementioned chargee generally just grabs another set of batteries from the bin), it all just seems to work.

BTW, anyone looking for eneloop batteries, the best place I’ve found for them is Costco (and I just checked today to make sure they are still selling them). They sell a large pack of them, including a throw-away charger and more useful carrying case, for $26. That’s $10 less than Amazon charges for the identical set, and you pay for the gas to/from Costco instead of shipping. For crying out loud: don’t buy the $60 set of 8 batteries which Amazon seems to be hawking (alongside 4 batteries for $14 …)!


“I’m not sure what the exact definition of geek is, but I think “enjoys recharging batteries” has to be very high on that list.”

lol, literally :)))


Fantastic! I got so frustrated with my rechargeables that I went back to the environmental nightmare kind. Thanks for the tips! I’ll pick up some better batteries and that lovely charger and try again.


In Germany and in France, this charger is sold as VoltCraft IPC-1.
You can find it here:


User guide is available too (in 4 languages):

59.95 #8364; (VAT included)



This is such a good tip that I passed it along to Clark Howard (clarkhoward.com). You never know, you might end up on radio!


Your blog was timed perfectly. I was just looking at getting into rechargable batteries having spent my entire life disposing single use batteries. Thanks for your help!

loyal reader,


The only thing I have that needs batteries are the controllers for my Wii. Still, even though it’ll take a couple years for me to break even on the cost it was good enough for me because now I won’t have to worry about always having a decent supply of AA batteries.

I didn’t realize the slow chargers are better for battery life than fast ones. Now I’m glad I skimped out on paying an extra ten bucks for the 30 min charger vs. the 2 hour one I got.


I really wish I’d read this a couple years ago, before I started using my “fast charger” and wondering why I was wearing out rechargable batteries so fast.

However, nowadays, despite a plethora of gadgets, I’m a little low on things that take AA or AAA batteries (with the exception of the tv remotes which, as have been pointed out, are long-use, low-draw, and need to be changed about once every couple years).

Currently, as far as juiced devices, I have 2 remotes, 3 Wii-Motes, a cellphone, a DS, and a couple digital cameras, both of which take proprietary (and therefor awkardly shaped and necessitating specialized recharging stations) lithium batteries. The Wii-Motes traditionally take AA, but I bought the recharger packs for them (not AA batteries- actual packs, so you “dock” the wii-mote to charge it).

However, should I ever have need of AA batteries again- I’m definitely getting that charger. Thanks for the excellent heads-up:)