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10 tips

Stock up on batteries, but do it smartly

By Laura T. Coffey, Times Correspondent
Published June 3, 2007


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Before the high-speed winds start blowing outside this hurricane season, why not do a little bit of prep work in advance of potential power outages? Here's one simple, low-cost step you can take: Buy a whole bunch of batteries. Consider these tips:

1 Don't pay taxes. You can spend up to $30 on batteries, including 9-volt varieties, through June 12 thanks to a hurricane supply tax holiday.

2 Relish the long shelf life. If you stock up on disposable batteries, they should keep on ticking for years to come. Lithium cells can last more than 10 years in storage and alkalines can last about seven years.

3 Compare prices. Store-brand batteries typically work just fine. The trick is to look for the least expensive and most highly rated cells when you shop. Beware of knock-off brands, though. And when buying in bulk, sometimes the per-battery price can jump.

4 Choose the right disposables for your needs. Depending on the devices you need to fire up, you'll see big performance differences in lithium, nickel oxy-hydroxide and alkaline disposable batteries. Lithium disposables are ideal for digital cameras, while highly rated alkalines tend to be the best bet for other gear.

5 Know when to recharge. Rechargeable batteries are the way to go if you have devices at home that drain a lot of power or get plenty of use. Even though the up-front investment of $30 to $50 for a recharger can make this route seem uneconomical, it usually isn't when you consider that rechargeable batteries can be fired up again and again hundreds of times over.

6 Pick the right rechargeables. Rechargeable nickel metal hydride NiMH batteries do a better job than rechargeable alkalines for numerous devices, including digital cameras, according to performance tests done by Consumer Reports.

7 Don't let rechargeables sit idle. Without frequent use, NiMH cells discharge over time. Don't choose these batteries for use in flashlights, remote controls and other gear that doesn't remain turned on for extended periods of time.

8 Have a backup plan. Even if you consistently use rechargeables in certain devices, remember to have disposable batteries on hand in case you need them. Also, don't mix rechargeable and disposable batteries in the same device.

9 Follow instructions. If the manufacturer of a device recommends a certain kind of battery for that device, use it.

10 Dispose of batteries correctly. Rechargeable batteries, including rechargeables that contain nickel, are banned from disposal in the trash. To find the nearest site where you can drop these batteries off for recycling, call 1-800-822-8837 or visit the Web site of the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp. (www.rbrc.org).

Laura T. Coffey (laura@tentips.org)

Sources: Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.org); American Red Cross (www.prepare.org); Environment, Health and Safety Online (www.ehso.com/ehshome/batteries.php); Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp. (www.rbrc.org)

[Last modified June 1, 2007, 18:53:47]


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