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Get the best from your rechargeable batteries

Five tips to keep your batteries in top condition

Fingers holding a partially-charged battery

We’ve tested rechargeable batteries from Duracell, Energizer, Panasonic and more to find the best

Frustrated by rechargeable batteries not lasting as long as you expect, or convinced that they don’t last as long as they did when they were new? 

You could be contributing to the shorter lifetime of your batteries by not charging, using or storing them correctly. But help is at hand – we’ve pulled together our top tips to keep your rechargeable batteries running for longer.

While no rechargeable battery will last forever, our expert tips will help you to prolong the life of your batteries by keeping them in good condition.

To see which batteries from brands including Duracell, Energizer and Panasonic last the longest, head to our rechargeable batteries reviews.

Five tips to keep your rechargeable batteries running

1. Use a smart charger

Smart chargers monitor the voltage in each battery and stop charging (or switch to a low trickle-charge setting) when they’re full. This helps to prevent overcharging, which can reduce your batteries’ lifetime.

2. Charge different batteries separately

Batteries with different capacities (indicated by their mAh value) should be charged separately because smaller cells could end up overcharged and larger ones not fully charged, which can damage them over time. Don’t mix old and new batteries, or those with different chemistries, for the same reason.

3. Break-in your batteries

Don’t judge new rechargeable batteries by how long they last the first time you use them. Our tests found they need ‘conditioning’ before they work at their best and can last for up to 10% longer by their fifth use.

4. Check your charger’s compatibility

Manufacturers often recommend that their batteries are charged best by the charger they sell. This is because they can adapt how the charger works to suit their batteries. You can often charge other battery brands in the charger fine, though they may be slower.

5. Don’t get your batteries too hot

Though most batteries should be fine in day-to-day conditions, try not to let them get too hot. Avoid leaving them in your car, or in the path of direct sunlight on a hot day. It may also be worth upgrading your charger; basic battery chargers (that continually pump charge into batteries until you unplug them) sometimes get batteries hot and overcharge them, which can cause damage in the long-term.

You can find out more by reading our battery chargers guide.

Finding the best rechargeable batteries

Each rechargeable battery we test is used and recharged hundreds of times over to find out which batteries will last the distance – and which fall short earlier than you would expect. We test batteries in conditions which replicate the most power-hungry devices, so you know our Best Buys can handle the toughest usage situations.  

The best AA rechargeable batteries we tested give more than 400 hours of battery life before you’re likely to notice you have to recharge them more often. The worst managed just over 100 hours, meaning you’ll have to constantly get your charger out to keep them going.

Find out more about our 2016 tests by visiting how we test rechargeable batteries.

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