Battery Force sells more AA batteries than any other product. We’re not alone. Anywhere that stocks batteries will sell more AA batteries than any other size. This isn’t because an AA is better than a AAA battery, or because people like the shape more than an ugly 9v battery. It’s because we all need more of them. There’s no choice.
Well. There is a choice. Because manufacturers make a huge variety of AAs. And that raises a very important question that we’re asked time and time again.
What are the best AA batteries?
Simple question, right?
Well, not necessarily. So let’s find out which batteries are the best. And that’s going to mean starting with unpacking the reason we buy so many. Why do we need more AA batteries?
WHY DO WE BUY SO MANY AA BATTERIES?
The UK’s biggest selling consumer battery is the Duracell Plus Power AA Alkaline Battery. As we mentioned above, that’s partially down to the fact that the UK consumer uses more AA batteries than any other kind, using (and often failing to recycle) hundreds of millions of them every single year.
As you’d expect, the reason we buy so many AA batteries isn’t because they’re better than other sizes. It’s because they’re used in so many applications.
Cordless phone handsets, TV remote controls, children’s toys and personal electronics are all more likely to take AA batteries than any other size. If you’ve got an LED head torch, that’s probably going to take AA batteries.
It’s not because they’re best. It’s because they’re everywhere.
But that’s not answering the question. Sure, we’re buying AAs because we need to, but we still need to choose between brands, and decide on the rechargeable battery question.
If we really want to find out what the best AA battery is, we need to look deeper.
THE BEST AA BATTERY BRANDS
You already know that Duracell is top of the pile when it comes to AA battery sales in the UK. But is that because they’re best, or because they have the best brand recognition? Is it because of the quality of their batteries, or the fact that their pink bunny advert keeps going and going and going and going and going around your head?
Well, here’s the kicker.
Big brand batteries sell more because they’re better.
Duracell, Energizer, Panasonic and JCB batteries outperform the competition consistently. There are some great white label and small manufacturer AA batteries on the market, but as a rule of thumb the big brands will last longer and give a more consistent charge than the upstart challenger or value products.
Independent research from American consumer groups suggest that when it comes to lifespan in a high drain device, the best single use AA battery is in fact the Energizer Ultimate Lithium battery, closely followed by the big-selling Duracell Plus Power.
That might surprise you, because when it comes to the price per battery, the Energizer costs over a pound per battery, while the Duracell costs as little as 29p.
So when it comes to the best AA batteries on the market, is price a factor?
ARE CHEAP AA BATTERIES BETTER THAN EXPENSIVE ONES?
This is a huge question. So huge in fact, that we dedicated a whole deep dive post to the question of whether expensive batteries are worth it. As that article is just a quick click away, we won’t go into too much detail. Instead, we’ll summarise and let you know whether price has a bearing on choosing the best AA batteries.
As a rule of thumb, a more expensive battery can contain up to three times as much energy as a cheaper one. That means it’ll run longer and provide better performance.
More expensive battery brands are less prone to leaking, and tend to last longer on the shelf, leading to less chance of finding a dud in the back of a drawer.
But expense is all relative. Duracell, Energizer and JCB all have batteries available that cost less than 30p per battery, and they’ll outperform and outlast any bargain bin batteries from the local pound store.
But they might not outperform rechargeables.
SHOULD YOU INVEST IN RECHARGEABLE AA BATTERIES?
Much like price, the debate over rechargeable AA batteries offering better value is something we’ve written about in a post asking “what are the best rechargeable batteries?”
Again, you can click over and read that, and again we’ll try and summarise the main findings here.
Rechargeable batteries have a far higher up-front cost than single use batteries. It can cost seven times as much for an Eneloop Pro AA battery than it does for a JCB Super Alkaline AA battery
But that Eneloop rechargeable battery lasts up to four times as long as a single use battery. And can be charged 500 times. Meaning for every one rechargeable AA battery you buy, you’d need to buy 2,000 single use batteries.
It’s entirely possible that the Eneloop Pro AA battery is the best AA battery on the market in terms of both performance and lifetime value. But it all boils down to what you need it for.
To decide once and for all on the best AA battery, we need to look at how they perform in different devices.
ARE DIFFERENT AA BATTERIES BETTER FOR DIFFERENT DEVICES?
Yes. They are.
Let’s look at three potential types of device.
High drain devices (eg phones, cameras, game controllers)
A digital camera or game controller will burn through batteries like there’s no tomorrow. When it comes to the best AA battery for a cordless phone or digital camera, the real value is in rechargeable batteries such as the Eneloops mentioned above, or an Ansmann Photocam III AA battery.
Low drain devices (eg TV remotes)
The more you charge a rechargeable battery, the better value it becomes. Are you really replacing your TV remote’s batteries 500 times across its lifespan? The answer is probably no. For a low drain device, you want something that’s reliable, single-use, and shelf stable so it’s not bleeding off charge while your remote isn’t in use. Something like those big-selling Duracells from the top of the article, or Energizer Alkaline Power AA batteries.
Disposable devices (kids’ toys)
If they’re just going to leave the beeping, flashing monstrosity at the park, or smash it to bits by accident, then you don’t want to drop in five quid’s worth of rechargeable batteries you’ll never see again. Instead, go for sheer value. Something like Ansmann Industrial Alkaline AA batteries. Less than 30p per battery, and available in a pack of ten. Easy.
SO, WHAT ARE THE BEST AA BATTERIES?
It’s going to sound like a cop out, but we don’t know. There’s an argument for the Eneloop rechargeable, or the Duracell Plus Power, or even the Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries. But even the best AA battery in the world is only good when it’s in the right device and being used for the right purpose.
All of that means one thing. The answer to that burning question “what are the best AA batteries?” depends on lots of factors, factors that you now know how to take into account. But you’ll always find the best value here on the Battery Force website. That’s something that doesn’t need a blog post to prove!