Disposable batteries obviously increase pollution and use up the Earth’s resources, but there’s really very little need for them. Rechargeable batteries are so good these days that it must actually be very close to the point where disposable batteries should be banned. I’ve been using rechargeable batteries for almost everything for 3+ years now, and they work well. There’s no need for disposable batteries.

 

First experience with rechargeable batteries

The first time I really looked at using rechargeable batteries was to power the external flash unit of a new Canon camera that I bought. The external flash unit took four AA batteries and I did a bit of research to see what professional photographers used for this purpose and I came across Eneloop batteries (note that I’m not deliberately promoting this type of battery – it’s just what I have experience with – there must be other good types of rechargeable battery as well). These worked great for the camera flash and, I learned over time, also seemed to work well on everything else.

 

Of course, you have to buy a battery charger as well, but these aren’t too expensive and there are plenty of options. To get started with rechargeable batteries, it does cost more up front; but you quickly start making significant savings over time. And the best part is not the monetary savings, it’s the savings of the minerals of the Earth and the reduction in waste that’s most satisfying.

In the long term, you save money, use less resources and create less waste. It’s a win in all directions.

Rechargeable batteries for everything

I wonder why it sounds so weird to use rechargeable batteries? For all of us who have a smart phone, we’re relying on rechargeable batteries every day. Why don’t we rely on them everywhere?

I’ve used these rechargeable batteries for the following purposes;

  • clocks
  • TV remote controls
  • wireless mouse batteries
  • torches
  • beard trimmer
  • central heating thermostat
  • wireless electricity usage monitors
  • external flash for camera

Eneloop Batteries and sustainability

(Once again, I’m not deliberately promoting eneloop style batteries, they are just the ones I have experience with.)

The Eneloop batteries that I bought came in packaging that was recycled PET plastic. Plastic packaging isn’t great at any time, but at least this plastic was recycled and they didn’t have to create more new plastic (see – Recycled and recyclable). Also, they pre-charge the batteries using solar energy. On a note that comes with the batteries they say;

For Life and the Earth – eneloop is a rechargeable battery that offers a new lifestyle choice to customers. Using energy from the sun to initially pre-charge the batteries, eneloop promotes a sustainable clean energy lifestyle by encouraging repeated use. Developed from the concept of sustainability and care for the Earth. eneloop embodies the principles of a Clean Energy Society and is committed to developing energy solutions that live in harmony with the Earth.

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The debate between rechargeable and disposable batteries

I think there are some myths out there that say that rechargeable batteries are good for some purposes and disposable batteries are better for others (often people are citing high drain versus low drain uses). In my experience I haven’t found any problem using them in any equipment, so I think this is a myth. The only problem I’ve had is when one of the batteries I’m using hasn’t been charged properly. Nothing wrong with the battery, just my management of the recharging process.

There’s also often a debate about how disposable batteries have 1.5 Volts of energy whereas rechargeable batteries only have 1.2 Volts. Well, I found this pdf file – 1.5_vs_1.2_Volt_Batteries – https-www.eznec.com:Amateur:1.5_vs_1.2_Volt_Batteries – that completely debunks this issue. This seems to be quite well done scientific work, even though it’s listed in the “amateur” section of the site. One of the key graphs in this publication is this one.

disposable batteries - alkaline vs NiMH

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It shows that there’s not much difference in the starting voltage and, in fact, the voltage of disposable batteries drops off considerably more quickly than that of rechargeable versions.

Conclusions

Based on my own experience, I’ve found rechargeable batteries to work for everything I’ve tried. They’re easy to recharge and convenient. I can’t see why disposable batteries should be needed any more.

I’d hope that everyone would switch to rechargeable batteries. Even if not for everything, at least for as many applications as possible. This would certainly help to reduce pollution and the amount of the Earth’s gifts that we use up everyday to support or lifestyle.

Of course, beyond using rechargeable batteries, there’s a more valuable goal and that’s using less energy in general. It would be nice if we could all find a situation where we could just cut out the need for battery usage altogether – maybe aiming for 10 percent less battery usage.

So, use less, but when you have to use, use rechargeable batteries whenever you can.

Related Links – Disposable Batteries