Panasonic eneloop Battery Review
I'm going to cut to the chase here. If you aren't using eneloop batteries, you should be. Go order some now. Seriously.
Why? I have 2,100 reasons for you: that's how many regular alkaline batteries just ONE eneloop replaces.
You read that right, one rechargeable eneloop is the equivalent of 2,100 batteries.
They Save you a TON of Money
Yes, an eneloop AA will set you back $4.75 each and an alkaline will only cost you around $0.80 each.
But since each eneloop AA is worth 2,100 batteries, the equivalent lifetime cost in alkalines is $1,680.00.
That saves you $1,675 over the life of the one battery...now, multiply that by all the batteries you use in the house...the savings is real.
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Rechargeable Batteries That Actually WORK
eneloop batteries aren't like those crappy old NiCd rechargeable ones from a few years ago that sucked. They work the way you expect them to.
In nearly all instances eneloop batteries perform in exactly the same ways as alkalines do and can be used in all the same types of devices.
They come pre-charged out of the box, and can hold up to 70% of their charge even after sitting on a shelf for 5 years.
Charge them up then forget about them until you need them.
Recharge eneleoops at any time at any stage of depletion because there is no memory effect, meaning you don't need to fully discharge before recharging.
We switched completely over to eneloop batteries about 6 years ago, and have used them in nearly every type of device you would expect and have found that they last just as long (between charges) as alkaline batteries do.
AA, AAA, D or C
eneloop batteries come in 2 sizes: AA and AAA, but you can buy "spacers" that essentially covert them into C and D sized batteries.
We've used the spacers over the years as well, and found them to work just as you expect them to. I'm sure the overall energy capacity is lower with the eneloops over the C and D alkaline equivalents, so you will have to swap out the batteries more often, but since you are using rechargeables now so who cares.
Great for Emergency Use
Now we get to the point that probably concerns most of us here...this is a site devoted to survival planning after all...using these during a natural disaster or other emergency.
We all know why batteries are a critical part of emergency preparedness, but if you want a little primer on that subject, check out our Tutorial: Prepare for Power Outages.
The first obvious upside to eneloop's is their rechargeability: you're not constantly running out the store to stock-up on batteries before the storm hits, or wondering if the last batch you bought are still charged.
You have a bunch of different ways to charge eneloops, but all of them require a charger of some sort and an energy source: solar, wall-plug, backup battery, USB.
Let's run through a couple of options.
Charging On The Go
Let's start with the type of kit you might have in a Bug Out Bag. Our preferred kit involved 4 AA, 4 AAA, a charger and a solar panel.
One all-inclusive option is the Guide 10 from Goal Zero.
The Goal Zero Guide 10 is our preferred choice for portable charging of our AA and AAA eneloops because it does multiple things, and does them well.
First and foremost of course, is it charges the eneloops. It gives us 2 ways to do that: via a solar panel, or via USB port.
With the solar port you have quite a few panel options, and Goal Zero offers a wide variety of them.
For USB charging, either plug it into a computer, wall plug, or larger backup USB battery.
The Guide 10 also has a USB charging output, so you can use it to charge up small electronics if you want.
There is also a built-in light, which comes in handy when you are fumbling around for your battery stuff in the dark. It's small but is a decent backup.
Charging at Home
The best way to keep your batteries charged up is to keep them all loose in a plastic box. When a storms coming, or you are getting yourself prepared, grab a handful of them and put them in a large multi-port charger like this one from Bonai.
You'll thank me later. Being able to top off 16 batteries at a time is the way to go, trust me. Fiddling around with the 4 port chargers is painful when you have a pile of batteries to keep up to date.
As I said before, you should be using these batteries. Once you've used them you won't go back to regular alkalines, it just doesn't make sense to.
Grab them on Amazon. They have starter kits with a dozen batteries and a charger, which is one way to go, but i would suggest getting the bigger charger (or one like it) mentioned earlier, and buy the packages of the batteries you need.
We started with 8 AA, then bought 8 AAA. Over the course of a year we bought a few dozen more of each since we liked them so much. Don't go nuts, but we think you'll make the switch once you've given these a try.