Rechargeable vs. Non-Rechargeable Batteries

Batteries are a household necessity. We use them to power our tech, toys and appliances, but we don’t often give them a lot of thought. When it comes to choosing between single use batteries and rechargeable batteries, there are numerous factors that could help you get the perfect batteries for your use.


First you need to check which batteries are compatible with your appliance. Some products that require batteries don’t work with rechargeable batteries, and may become damaged if rechargeable batteries are used. This is because the voltage is often slightly different in rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries.

For example, non-rechargeable AA batteries are generally 1.5v, whereas rechargeable AA batteries are usually 1.2v. While this small discrepancy won’t make much difference in most battery powered tech, sensitive devices could become damaged through the incorrect electrical output.

We would always advise reading the instruction manual of every battery powered item before buying batteries to fit it.

Upfront cost Vs long-term investment

Price is a big factor in choosing which batteries to buy. Single use batteries are usually cheaper to buy than rechargeable batteries. While the initial upfront cost of rechargeable batteries is higher than the alternative, in the long-term, rechargeables will work out cheaper due to their superior life span.

People may be more inclined to buy single use batteries when they compare the price with rechargeables, which also require the additional expense of a battery recharger. But, when it comes to recharging the batteries, the cost is negligible.

Recharging batteries uses very little mains electricity – less than 0.1 kilowatt-hours per AA battery charged. Rechargeable batteries can be powered repeatedly, so the initial expense of purchasing these will pay back over time.

The exact cost of recharging batteries will vary from household to household. It will depend on:

  • Your electricity cost per kilowatt-hour
  • The efficiency of your rechargeable batteries
  • The effectiveness of your charger
  • How many batteries you use at home

It is therefore difficult to put an exact figure on how much money you could potentially save with rechargeable batteries. However, it is safe to assume that the overall cost of recharging reusable batteries will be significantly lower in comparison to buying new single use batteries every time they need replacing.

Environmental Impact

Batteries contain heavy metals and other hazardous chemicals that can be damaging to the environment if they aren’t disposed of safely and correctly. Using rechargeable batteries reduces the amount of batteries that are disposed of, and as such they are less detrimental to the environment.

Single use batteries result in more waste. However, if they’re disposed of correctly, most of the metals and chemicals can be reused.


Battery Uses

Although rechargeable batteries may work out cheaper and have less impact on the environment, depending on their application, non-rechargeable batteries may be the more suitable option.

Non-rechargeable batteries are better suited for low-drain products, as they keep their charge for longer. Low-drain appliances are those which are only used occasionally, or which use very low power over a long period of time.

Examples of low-drain products include:

  • Smoke alarms
  • TV or music player remotes
  • Clocks

Rechargeable batteries are best for use in high-drain products such as toys, which drain power quickly and require regular replacement.