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How to buy the best batteries

By Sarah Ingrams

Looking for the batteries that last the longest? We’ll help you choose the best batteries for your gadgets and budget.

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Duracell, Energizer and Varta are just a few of the big names in the batteries market, all offering a range of disposable batteries, while own brands offer cut-price alternatives. 

A pack of four disposable batteries can cost anything from £1 to £7. The amount you spend depends on the chemistry of the battery, whether it’s branded or supermarket own brand, and any extra features it comes with - such as an indicator for how much charge is left or a guarantee that it won't leak.

Read on to find out what to look out for when you’re buying batteries. We'll help you make sure you get the best batteries for your gadgets.

Our independent tests found that the worst batteries run flat three hours sooner than the best when you slot them into your devices. Take a look at our Best Buy batteries to discover which ones we recommend.

How much do I need to spend on batteries?

Top-of-the-range alkaline disposable batteries can set you back around £7 for a pack of four. But you don't necessarily need to spend that much - we've found Best Buys that are several pounds cheaper. 

But the price you pay for the pack isn't the whole story. To help you find the best-value batteries for the devices you want to use them in, we calculate the cost per hour of each battery when used in high, medium and low-drain devices. The batteries that last longer work out the cheapest per hour. We’ve found AA batteries that cost as little as 4p per hour in the most power-hungry gadgets, as well as some that cost up to 20p per hour. 

We’ve tested batteries from Aldi and Lidl - which can cost as little as 25p per battery - alongside big brands Duracell and Energizer to see how they match up. Only our tests reveal whether buying cheaper batteries will save you money and hassle.

Check our batteries reviews to see how much each battery costs per hour and which are best value for money.

Should I buy alkaline or lithium batteries?

Shop around for AA and AAA batteries and the main types you’ll find are alkaline and lithium disposable batteries, as well as rechargeable batteries. All of these should work in your gadgets, but choosing the best depends on what your devices are, how often you’ll use them and how much you want to spend.

Think you’d prefer rechargeables? Head straight to our rechargeable batteries reviews.

Alkaline batteries

Alkaline batteries are the most popular type of disposables. They’re generally cheaper than those containing lithium, but can vary in price from around 25p to £1.25 per battery. How long they last also varies. The best are good in both high-drain devices (such as battery-powered children’s toys) and low-drain devices (such as a remote control), making them a good all-round choice. But the worst struggle to last as long in power-hungry gadgets.

Alkaline batteries cost from 25p to £1.25 per battery - and the worst struggle to last in power-hungry devices

Lithium batteries

Disposable lithium batteries are alkaline batteries which contain some lithium. They tend to be more expensive. They are made to last longer in the most power-hungry devices, such as digital cameras or remote-controlled gadgets, but aren’t the best choice for all devices.

Zinc batteries

You’ll also find cheaper carbon zinc or zinc chloride disposable batteries on sale, but we haven’t tested these as they're not widely available. The technology for these pre-dates alkaline batteries; they contain less energy and have a shorter shelf-life.  If the battery chemistry isn't stated on the packaging, it’s likely to be carbon zinc.

Which are the best batteries?

We’ve tested AA and AAA batteries from Duracell, Energizer, Varta, and supermarket own brands to uncover which are worthy of Best Buy status.

The best AA batteries will keep your most power-hungry devices running for three hours longer than the worst. For AAA batteries, there’s a difference of more than 90 minutes between the best we’ve tested and the worst.

Our tough tests have found that there’s no direct link between price and quality – so paying more doesn't guarantee your batteries will last. This means it’s worth doing your research before buying your next pack of batteries, as we can help you save money and keep your gadgets running for longer.

Now find the perfect batteries for you by checking our batteries reviews.


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