How to buy the best batteries
Do you want to know which batteries you should buy? From how much you need to spend, to why you should only buy the best – our expert battery advice tells you what you need to know.
Duracell, Energizer and Panasonic are just some of the big names in the batteries market, all offering a range of disposable batteries. While supermarket own-brands (including Aldi and Lidl) and own-brands from the likes of Amazon, Ikea and Wilko offer cut-price alternatives.
A pack of four disposable batteries can cost anything from £1 to £13. The amount you spend depends on the chemistry of the battery, whether it’s branded or supermarket own-brand. Plus 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, and your budget.
Our independent lab tests found that the worst batteries run flat an astonishing 20 hours sooner than the best when you slot them into your devices. Take a look at our 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 roughly £7 to £13 for a pack of four. But you don't necessarily need to spend that much. Our lab tests have uncovered Best Buy batteries that are a lot cheaper.
However, 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 13p 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.
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.
Alkaline batteries are the most popular type of disposables. They are 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.
Alkaline batteries are a good all-round choice, the best lasting in both high-drain and low-drain devices such as:
- Smoke alarms
- Remote controls
- Games console controllers
- Children’s toys
It’s worth noting that the worst alkaline batteries aren’t able to hold up in the most power hungry devices such as battery powered toys.
Disposable lithium batteries tend to be more expensive.
Lithium batteries are a good choice if you’re looking to power a high-drain device such as:
- Digital Cameras
- Remote-controlled gadgets
However, they’re not always the best choice for all devices and our tests did discover that some alkaline batteries actually outlast lithium.
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, Panasonic and Kodak, and supermarket and high-street own-brands to uncover which are worthy of Best Buy status.
The best AA batteries will keep your most power-hungry devices running for more than three hours longer than the worst. When it comes to low-drain devices, the worst AAs on test conked out at around an astonishing 20 hours before the best.
For AAA batteries with high drain devices, there’s a difference of more than an hour between the best we’ve tested and the worst.
Our tough tests have found that there is 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.