My first experience with rechargeable batteries was in the 80’s with the purple Radio Shack NiCd batteries. At first I thought they were neat but then I realized how horrible they were. Whenever you would reach for them, they would always be dead because of self-discharge. If you grabbed them off the charger, they would be ok for the duration of the time you were using the device you put them in but if you forgot to put them back on the charger when you were finished, they would be dead again next time. They were also brutally expensive. I think 2C’s were $12-$15. I pretty much discounted rechargeables altogether until recently when my son was born.
I realized quickly that any kid of mine would require many electronic devices. I came to find that some of these devices ate batteries quicker than others. For instance his little Sansa Shaker MP3 Player would use up a AAA battery in 6-8 hours. Many days he was happy listening to his music all day so that could get fairly expensive. I started shopping around for batteries and purchased some random LaCrosse batteries and some high capacity Sanyo AA batteries rated at around 2900MAh but soon I noticed some of the same traits of self discharging again. These NiMH cells weren’t nearly as bad as the old NiCds were but I still couldn’t depend on them if they had been sitting for any amount of time.
Continuing my search I found the Sanyo Eneloop AA’s. These batteries have a much lower capacity rating than some of the others but the almost always exceed the specified capacity when taking a charge. The Eneloop AA’s are rated for 2,000MAh and the Eneloop AAA’s are rated for 800MAh. According to Sanyo’s marketing material, these batteries can sit on the shelf for a year and still have 85% of their charge. They further claim that a normal rechargeable would be completely dead if it sat for a year. That sounds reasonable to me based on my experience.
To sweeten the deal and perhaps prove a point, the Sanyo Eneloops come precharged in the package. This might be slightly to their detriment from a marketing perspective because people could potentially be confusing them with the crappy “rechargeable” Alkaline cells of recent years and be wary of them for that reason. I assure you however that the Eneloops are excellent batteries and well worth the money. I have some cells that have been in service over 2 years now and still charge up to full capacity. I also built a custom battery pack for our Video Baby Monitor with Eneloops. The baby monitor started out running a full day on stock cells and degraded to the point where it would only run 3 hours before the red light came on. With the Eneloops, the baby monitor ran for 3 days even when checking the screen a few times during the day when I first built the pack and a year later(after a very abusive charging cycle) it still runs a good day and a half or so.
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