Rechargeable batteries are a great idea. One less thing to have to buy, one less thing to dump in the landfill. But the reality of rechargeable batteries for general use leaves something to be desired. I mean, if you're like me, you don't know the batteries in your CD player are getting low. One day the thing just stops working. So you go to the drawer or bin or cupboard where you keep the rechargeables, and you pop them into the player. (Some of you are saying, "CD player? ... Oh, like an old fashioned iPod, only lame." Yeah, that.)
So you pop the rechargeables in and... they don't work. Most rechargeable AAs and AAAs don't hold a charge well at all. So you have to charge them right before you use them. But if you need them right now, you're out of luck. And if it's some device that you don't use very often, the next time you go to use it, the batteries have lost their charge again. For me, it's always just been a series of awkward moments with these things.
But I've been happy to discover a new generation of rechargeable batteries turning up here and there. They come already charged, so you can use them right out of the package. They hold their charge for months. And they can be charged up in whatever battery charger you already have. These are finally starting to fulfill the potential of rechargeable batteries.
The two kinds I've tried are:
- Sanyo Eneloop
- Rayovac Hybrid
I can't tell you which performs better, but I've been pretty happy with both so far. The Rayovacs have been showing up in local stores, where I've only seen the Sanyos available online so far.
Throw in a low-cost, high-powered universal solar battery charger* and you're good to go.
* Well, almost universal. These things never seem to handle 9-volts. I don't know why...