- Our picks for the best AA rechargeable battery brands
- Our picks for the best AAA rechargeable battery brands
- Our pick if you need a charger: Panasonic Power Pack
- Why you should trust us
- Who this is for
- How we picked
- How we tested
- Care and maintenance
- The competition
Our picks for the best AA rechargeable battery brands
AmazonBasics AA Rechargeable Batteries
The Best AA rechargeable batteries
Among the top-performing AA batteries in our testing, these kept a flameless candle flickering for 120 hours and a remote-control car running for 17 hours.
(pack of eight)
*At the time of publishing, the price was $16.
Energizer Recharge Universal AA
A top-performing AA battery
Among the top-performing AA batteries in our testing, these kept a flameless candle flickering for 120 hours and a remote-control car running for 16 hours.
You save $5 (26%)
Panasonic Eneloop AA
Slightly lower performance but a longer shelf life
Among the top-performing AA batteries in our testing, these kept a flameless candle flickering for 120 hours and a remote-control car running for 15.5 hours.
(pack of eight)
In our testing, three brands of AA rechargeable batteries—the AmazonBasics AA, Energizer Recharge Universal AA, and Panasonic Eneloop AA—performed about the same. They will keep your lights lit and your clickers clicking longer, can be recharged thousands of times over, and are widely available and inexpensive. We think you should get whichever one of the three is cheapest at the time of checkout.
AA battery capacity
|Battery brand||Rated capacity (mAh)||Measured capacity (mAh)|
|Energizer Recharge Universal||2,000||1,896|
All three types of batteries have a rated capacity of 2,000 mAh. We tested the capacity out of the box by charging and discharging the batteries on a charger that displayed the capacity, then averaged the results. And in our tests, the true capacities were all too close to make a difference in real-world use. The AmazonBasics AA batteries had an average capacity of 1,862 mAh, the Energizer Recharge Universal AAs had an average capacity of 1,896 mAh, and the Panasonic Eneloop AAs achieved an average capacity of 1,940 mAh.
Though we couldn’t test how the batteries would perform years down the line, we did test how they held up to regular recharging. After draining and recharging a battery from each of our top brands 50 times, we found that all three brands had retained a lot of their capacity. In our testing, we measured capacities of 1,836 mAh (AmazonBasics), 1,833 mAh (Energizer), and 1,850 mAh (Panasonic) after 50 cycles.
The biggest differences showed up when we tested the batteries in real-world uses. Even though all three brands powered a flameless candle for 120 hours, or five days and nights, differences emerged when we tested them with a toy radio-controlled car. The AmazonBasics kept the RC car’s wheels turning for 17 hours, which is the longest of any batteries we tested—and much more time than anyone should ever spend continuously playing with a toy car. When we took the Energizer Recharge Universal AAs out for a spin, they kept their remote-control car racing for 16 hours, and the Panasonic-powered car lasted 15.5 hours.
Our picks for the best AAA rechargeable battery brands
AmazonBasics AAA Rechargeable Batteries
The best AAA rechargeable batteries
Among the top-performing AAA batteries in our testing, these kept a flameless candle flickering for 48 hours and a remote-control car running for eight hours.
(pack of eight)
Energizer Recharge AAA Batteries
A long-lasting AAA battery
Among the top-performing AAA batteries in our testing, these kept a flameless candle flickering for 36 hours and a remote-control car running for seven hours.
with store pickup
*At the time of publishing, the price was $18.
Panasonic Eneloop AAA 8-Pack
AAA batteries worth a look
Among the top-performing AAA batteries in our testing, these kept a flameless candle flickering for 36 hours and a remote-control car running for 6.5 hours.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $17.
Our testing results for AAA batteries were not quite as neck and neck as those for AA batteries, but we still had a three-way tie between the AmazonBasics AAA, Energizer Recharge Universal AAA, and the Panasonic Eneloop AAA. The AmazonBasics AAAs outperformed most of the other models across the board, but the improvements were negligible. So if you need AAA batteries, we think your best best is to get whichever of these three good options is the cheapest.
AAA battery capacity
|Battery brand||Rated capacity (mAh)||Measured capacity (mAh)|
|Energizer Recharge Universal||700||712|
In our testing, we measured an average capacity of 846 mAh for the AmazonBasics AAA batteries, which have a capacity rating of 800 mAh. Along with the Energizer Recharge Universal AAAs—which have a capacity rating of 700 mAh and, based on our testing, an average capacity of 712 mAh—these two brands provided a hair more capacity than rated for. By comparison, the Panasonic Eneloop AAAs have a rated capacity of 800 mAh and had an average capacity of 720 mAh in our testing. But the range between all three is still too small to worry about and could easily be attributed to temperature and manufacturing age. And after 50 cycles, all three brands performed about as well as they did on their first charge. We measured capacities of 844 mAh for the AmazonBasics, 709 mAh for the Energizers, and 716 mAh for the Panasonics. On paper, the EBL AAAs were a clear favorite, but we have some external concerns about reliability that we explain in the Competition section.
In our real-world tests, the AmazonBasics AAAs kept a flameless candle flickering for two days and nights (48 hours) and kept a remote-control car racing for a full workday (eight hours). Similarly, the Energizer Recharge Universal AAAs kept a flameless candle and remote-control car running for 36 hours and seven hours, respectively. Last, the Panasonic Eneloop AAAs were able to keep a candle going for 36 hours and a car running for 6.5 hours. That gives the AmazonBasics AAAs a slight edge, but with fluctuating prices and other variables like temperature at play, we don’t think they’re worth any more than the other two brands.
Our pick if you need a charger: Panasonic Power Pack
Panasonic Power Pack
If you need a charger too
This combo pack includes Panasonic Eneloop batteries (eight AA and four AAA) and a great charger.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $45.
If you’re buying AA or AAA batteries and you don’t already have a charger—or you want to upgrade your existing charger—you should get the Panasonic Power Pack. It includes the rechargeable battery charger we recommend for most people, the Panasonic BQ-CC55, as well as some of our favorite AA and AAA rechargeable batteries.
When you include the cost of the charger, about $25 at the time of this writing, the batteries in the Power Pack cost only roughly 30 percent less compared with buying the batteries and a charger individually. It doesn’t hurt that each of the components is a favorite of ours—the charger is our top pick, and, while not the absolute best, Panasonic’s AA and AAA batteries were both among the top performers in our testing—so you aren’t making a major trade-off on quality.
Why you should trust us
As the writer of this guide, I spent four hours researching and 120 hours testing AA and AAA rechargeable batteries. I’ve been a science writer for more than six years, covering a wide variety of topics from particle physics to satellite remote sensing. Since joining Wirecutter in 2017, I’ve reported on solar battery packs, USB-C cables and adapters, portable laptop chargers, and more. I’ve also written about rechargeable batteries and electrical safety for The New York Times (Wirecutter’s parent company).
For past versions of this guide, we talked to David Hobby of Strobist about the demanding battery needs of professional photographers, and Isidor Buchmann of Cadex Electronics about the mechanics and history of rechargeable batteries. We also consulted with Lee Johnson, a former NASA electrical engineer, when the technical questions got too technical.
In addition to Battery University, a resource that Buchmann runs as part of his role at Cadex Electronics, we got a lot of good background information from Michael Bluejay’s Battery Guide and the Rechargeable Battery Association.
Who this is for
Most electronics these days, like your smartphone, have a built-in battery that recharges from a wall charger. But plenty of devices still rely on AA or AAA batteries, such as instant cameras, flashlights, flameless candles, wireless mice, and keyboards, vibrators, electric pepper mills, and more. If you own any of these devices, it’s probably worth investing in some rechargeable batteries: They perform better, are more affordable in the long run, and are better for the planet than disposables.
When I was a kid in the ’90s, it seemed like every time I wanted to use my Walkman, or “borrow” my brother’s remote-control car, the batteries would be dead and I’d have to wait for them to recharge at a snail’s pace. Fortunately, the technology has made great strides since then. Most AA and AAA rechargeable batteries are made with nickel metal hydride (NiMH), as opposed to the nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries of yore. NiMH rechargeable batteries hold a charge longer, can be recharged more times over their life spans, and have higher capacities than those made with NiCd.
In addition to technological upgrades, the price of rechargeables has come down considerably. Even after including the cost of a charger, rechargeable batteries will pay for themselves in five to six recharge cycles compared with buying most brand-name disposables. And the benefits go beyond your wallet: According to a 2012 report from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, about 4 billion disposable batteries are shipped to the US each year. That means the average US household burns through about 47 batteries per year. But you could buy just 12 rechargeable batteries every four years (the average life span of some popular rechargeable batteries) instead of the 188 disposables you would otherwise need.
There are just a few instances where disposable batteries might be preferable to rechargeables. If you’re going backpacking, for example, and you need batteries for a flashlight and some other equipment, it makes more sense to throw a few extra single-use batteries into your pack than to juice up rechargeable batteries with a power bank on the trail. And since single-use batteries generally have longer shelf lives, they can be the safer bet if you’re packing a bag for an off-grid camping trip, a natural disaster, or a roadside emergency.
Also, electronics that constantly draw low amounts of power—such as some wall clocks, headlamps, or bike lights—work better with disposable batteries. It’s also the case that most disposable batteries drop from “powering” to “dead” pretty quickly, while a rechargeable battery may hang on at a lower voltage for slightly longer, causing a headlamp to dim or a clock to slow down.
Last, most smoke alarms aren’t designed to be used with rechargeable batteries, so the National Fire Protection Association doesn’t recommend it (and neither do we).
How we picked
We scanned well-known retailers like Amazon, Home Depot, and Walmart to get a feel for the most widely accessible brands of AA and AAA rechargeable batteries, including AmazonBasics, Duracell, EBL, Energizer, Goal Zero, IKEA, Panasonic, Powerex, Rayovac, and Tenergy. From there, we whittled down our list based on the following criteria:
- NiMH chemical composition: As it’s the most cutting-edge technology in AA and AAA rechargeable batteries to date, we required that all of our contenders be made of nickel metal hydride (NiMH).
- Available in an eight-pack: We recommend getting twice as many batteries as you actually need, so you can charge one set while the others are in use—as long as you take them off the charger once they’re charged to avoid damage. Since our favorite charger can handle four batteries at once, we only considered packs of eight batteries for this guide. However, you should feel free to get a smaller pack, or buy in bulk, depending on how many batteries you think you’ll use at one time.
- Rated to withstand at least 1,000 cycles: Some rechargeable batteries are rated to last hundreds of cycles—a full charge or discharge—but in order to find those that can last as long as possible we only considered those with ratings in the thousands. Keep in mind, your batteries will likely perform worse after a handful of years, regardless of the number of times you recharge them. But the number of rated cycles signals how long the battery was made to last.
- Marked “low self-discharge,” “LSD,” or “pre-charged”: All rechargeable batteries experience some amount of self-discharge, which means that as soon as they are fully charged they start to lose a little bit of charge. So just because you fully charged a battery yesterday doesn’t mean it will still be 100 percent charged today. However, some batteries are designed to have a lower self-discharge rate than others and are marked as such. This feature can cost a premium, but we require it for every model we test because we’ve found that some low self-discharge batteries are still usable after several years, as opposed to months, in storage.
- Capacity rating of at least 1,700 mAh for AA and 700 mAh for AAA: Keeping in mind that a battery’s true capacity is often lower than the rating on the box, we wanted to restrict our search to options with high-capacity ratings. A higher battery capacity means more time channel-surfing with your TV remote, illuminating dark corners with your flashlight, and listening to groovy tunes on your Walkman.
- No more than $3 per battery: Since rechargeable batteries aren’t something most people use every day, and you don’t get significant improvements by paying more, we set a hard price cap of $3 per battery. None of the models we considered were cheaper than $1 per battery, and most cost right around $2 per battery.
How we tested
We performed a mix of technical and real-world tests to see how major brands of batteries performed in a variety of situations. To test the batteries’ average capacity, we used a Powerex MH-C9000 rechargeable-battery analyzer to drain them down completely, and then charge them completely, three times in a row. We charged the AA batteries at 500 mA and discharged them at 1,000 mA, which is the recommended rate for batteries of this capacity. For AAA batteries, which have less capacity and should be charged and discharged more slowly, we charged and recharged at 400 mA. We recorded the capacity (in mAh) measured by the Powerex after each of these cycles and calculated the average capacities. We then compared these numbers with the capacity ratings printed on the label, to see how our measurements stack up against the company’s claims.
To test the batteries’ long-term capacity, we cycled them (draining and charging them over and over) 50 times and recorded the capacity (again, in mAh) measured by the Powerex after the final cycle. This metric should be slightly lower than the average capacity, as the battery’s materials degrade, but we wanted to see if any of the brands had a significant drop in performance after dozens of charges and recharges (none of them did).
To test the batteries in real-world situations, we lit up eight flameless candles—four Pottery Barn candles with four different AA brands, and four West Elm candles with four different AAA brands—in a dim room and recorded a timelapse using a GoPro Hero6 Black action camera. We then played back the footage to see how long it took for each candle to die, showing the relative capacities of each type of battery.
Like all batteries, rechargeable batteries degrade over time, causing their capacity to decrease, until they stop working completely. In past rounds of testing, we’ve conducted shelf-life tests of various batteries and found that most brands can stay viable for months (and even years, if marked “pre-charged,” “low self-discharge,” or “LSD”) in storage.
|Brand||Average discharge per 30 days (nine or 18 months total)|
We plan to conduct shelf-life tests with our current picks and will update this guide with those results when we have them.
Care and maintenance
You should always store batteries in a cool, dry place that is not a refrigerator or freezer (despite the popularity of this persistent myth, it doesn’t make them last longer). When a high-quality charger detects a battery is full, it stops charging. But you shouldn’t leave rechargeable batteries on the charger after they’re fully charged, just in case this feature malfunctions, which can happen if the charger misses the signal. If the batteries overcharge or leak small amounts of power, they won’t be fully charged when you eventually go to use them. Overcharging also degrades batteries faster, lowering their overall life span, so you’ll have to replace them sooner.
Most AA/AAA chargers (like the ones we recommend in our guide to the best rechargeable battery chargers) don’t let you set the rate of power draw and input. But if you have a high-tech model with this feature, like the Powerex MH-C9000 we used in our testing, you should make sure to charge and discharge batteries at the appropriate rate—500 mA and 1,000 mA, respectively, for AA batteries, and 400 mA on both counts for AAA batteries—to reduce wear and tear on your batteries. Properly charging batteries takes time—about eight hours for our top AA picks—but it’s worth it to preserve their long-term performance. And to save yourself from waiting around for your sole set of batteries to charge, you should buy a spare set you can charge while the others are in use.
Because all our charger picks rejuice each battery independently, you can mix brands when charging without any problems. But you shouldn’t use different battery brands (or same-brand batteries from different packs) to power a single device, since most electronics will stop working when the battery with the lowest capacity dies—even if the other batteries have plenty of juice left.
Nonferrous metals like those found in rechargeable batteries are one of the most common types of municipal solid waste, according to the EPA. In 2015, about 1.5 million tons of nonferrous metals were recycled, while 0.66 million tons ended up in landfills. You can use resources like Call2Recycle and Earth911 to find drop-off locations for recycling single-use batteries, rechargeable batteries, and other electronic materials in your state.
EBL’s AA batteries lasted for only 24 hours in our flameless-candle testing compared with our AA picks, all of which kept a flameless candle running for five days and nights—not quite the miracle of Hanukkah but still good for batteries. And, even after much tinkering, the remote-control car we tried to power with a set of EBL AAs never turned on. Lots of user reviewers also report the batteries not working in certain devices, dying quickly, or draining when stored overnight. Despite the fact that the EBL AAs achieved an average capacity of 2,413 mAh in our testing, and 2,330 mAh after 50 cycles, we don’t feel comfortable recommending them given these concerns.
Although EBL’s AAA batteries did well in our tests—they actually outperformed our picks in every test and are the least expensive at the time of this writing—we found a pattern of negative user reviews just like the EBL AAs. So, similarly, we decided not to recommend them.