28 votes

Battery life of AAA batteries that come with the original products seem unusually long

Hey folks of tildes,

I wanted to see if anyone has similar experiences as mine and if they know the reason for this. I've purchased a few items which came with AAA battery pre-installed (Chromecast from Google, Weighing scale from Xiaomi). These batteries lasted for an incredibly long time, Chromecast lasted over 1.5 years and Xiaomi's scale lasted for a similar time. Any third party battery I've purchased (Energizer, Duracell, Panasonic, Eveready and few others which I can't recall) last for a couple months at best.

I've now switched to rechargeable batteries, to reduce the waste I was creating. Still, I was really curious if anyone has a similar experience, and if they know the reason for it.

24 comments

  1. [2]
    Baeocystin
    (edited )
    Link
    There isn't really a huge difference in battery capacity once the chemistry has been picked, and most every manufacturer is going to be using mid-range alkalines at best. That being said,...

    There isn't really a huge difference in battery capacity once the chemistry has been picked, and most every manufacturer is going to be using mid-range alkalines at best.

    That being said, batteries do age, and I've noticed many old, near-expiry packs for sale at retail. You'd think they'd sell often enough for it not to be an issue, but it's something that's bit me more than once. It could be as simple as that, combined with manufacturers using fresh-from-the-factory batteries.

    27 votes
    1. r_se_random
      Link Parent
      I hadn't thought of that, and it does seem pretty reasonable.

      I hadn't thought of that, and it does seem pretty reasonable.

      8 votes
  2. [10]
    Akir
    Link
    It’s likely different battery chemistry. The differing batteries are better suited for certain applications. One of the big reasons why the Sega Game Gear is known for battery consumption is...

    It’s likely different battery chemistry. The differing batteries are better suited for certain applications. One of the big reasons why the Sega Game Gear is known for battery consumption is because most people used rechargeable batteries, which would have a lower voltage at earlier point of drain and trigger a brownout fairly quickly - but alkaline would last for hours easily.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      nothis
      Link Parent
      Modern rechargeable batteries got much better. I bought some Eneloops for a bit of a Gameboy retro phase and they last so long I honestly forgot it’s a battery powered device.

      Modern rechargeable batteries got much better. I bought some Eneloops for a bit of a Gameboy retro phase and they last so long I honestly forgot it’s a battery powered device.

      13 votes
      1. bl4kers
        Link Parent
        Some cheap ones still suck. It's better to go name brand.

        Modern rechargeable batteries got much better.

        Some cheap ones still suck. It's better to go name brand.

        4 votes
    2. [2]
      mild_takes
      Link Parent
      I can't imagine not being able to functionally use rechargeables on something like that though.

      I can't imagine not being able to functionally use rechargeables on something like that though.

      3 votes
      1. Akir
        Link Parent
        There were a number of particularly poorly designed battery packs both from Sega as well as third parties.

        There were a number of particularly poorly designed battery packs both from Sega as well as third parties.

        4 votes
    3. [5]
      zod000
      Link Parent
      Lies, that thing sucked down duracell AAs like they were Super Big Gulps. I ended up playing mine off the A/C adapter 90% of the time because I could not afford the batteries.

      Lies, that thing sucked down duracell AAs like they were Super Big Gulps. I ended up playing mine off the A/C adapter 90% of the time because I could not afford the batteries.

      1. [4]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        What can I tell you? I still have my game gear and still get the same battery life out of Duracell batteries today so long as it’s the proper alkaline chemistry. It’s only when I use NiMH or NiCad...

        What can I tell you? I still have my game gear and still get the same battery life out of Duracell batteries today so long as it’s the proper alkaline chemistry. It’s only when I use NiMH or NiCad that it has problems.

        2 votes
        1. [3]
          zod000
          Link Parent
          Maybe I just expect more out of 6 AA than you do as I had never tried NiMH batteries in mine :) . I estimate I would get roughly 5 hours of gameplay out of 6 fresh batteries. I know it isn't a...

          Maybe I just expect more out of 6 AA than you do as I had never tried NiMH batteries in mine :) . I estimate I would get roughly 5 hours of gameplay out of 6 fresh batteries. I know it isn't a fair comparison (it was all I had at the time), but I was getting 20+ hours from four AA batteries with my original Gameboy. I tend to favor long RPGs and SRPGS, so you can probably understand why I ended up tethered to a A/C adapter.

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            Akir
            Link Parent
            That’s just on the lower end of what you should expect. I generally get anywhere between 8-10 hours. I couldn’t tell you why I get better life than you did. Perhaps it’s because I play more...

            That’s just on the lower end of what you should expect. I generally get anywhere between 8-10 hours. I couldn’t tell you why I get better life than you did. Perhaps it’s because I play more sporadically?

            It’s rather unfair to compare battery usage of the Game Gear to the Gameboy. Not only is it essentially the same electronics as a full home console, the backlight is a giant halogen bulb. It’s basically trying to power a games console and a flashlight at the same time; it’s a pretty huge power draw.

            Come to think of it when it was newer I used to play on AC adapter all the time but it’s been relatively recently when I have been playing it on battery power. Maybe newer alkaline batteries just have higher capacities?

            3 votes
            1. zod000
              Link Parent
              As I said, I know it is unfair to compare to the Gameboy, and yes, the Game Gear is literally a portable Master System (like the later, awesome, Nomad which was a portable Genesis). It is possible...

              As I said, I know it is unfair to compare to the Gameboy, and yes, the Game Gear is literally a portable Master System (like the later, awesome, Nomad which was a portable Genesis). It is possible about the batteries being better now, I would be weird for batteries to not improve in 20 years.

  3. [11]
    UP8
    Link
    See https://www.wired.com/2012/01/are-expensive-batteries-worth-the-extra-cost/ and try https://archive.ph/ixeIf if that link doesn't work for you
    4 votes
    1. [10]
      r_se_random
      Link Parent
      I tried most of the expensive brands with disappointing results, so that's why I was wondering if the manufacturers had something even more premium available to them.

      I tried most of the expensive brands with disappointing results, so that's why I was wondering if the manufacturers had something even more premium available to them.

      4 votes
      1. [9]
        EnigmaNL
        Link Parent
        Do yourself (and the environment) a favor and buy rechargeable batteries (Eneloop or Ikea Ladda).

        Do yourself (and the environment) a favor and buy rechargeable batteries (Eneloop or Ikea Ladda).

        4 votes
        1. [7]
          trim
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          They don't work in everything sadly. My Casio VL-Tone for example uses batteries at a rapid pace but won't even power on with Eneloops [ other precharged / stay charged brands are available ]. I...

          They don't work in everything sadly. My Casio VL-Tone for example uses batteries at a rapid pace but won't even power on with Eneloops [ other precharged / stay charged brands are available ]. I find this with a lot of older equipment that uses AA, C or D cells, they really miss those .3 v per cell.

          Fortunately AC adapters exist.

          5 votes
          1. [6]
            Deely
            Link Parent
            Huh, I honestly, have no idea that some devices works only with non-rechargeable batteries.. Interesting, but why.. Is there some spikes in power then only non-rechargeable batteries supports.....

            Huh, I honestly, have no idea that some devices works only with non-rechargeable batteries.. Interesting, but why.. Is there some spikes in power then only non-rechargeable batteries supports..
            Can you tell us what type of Eneloops youre using?

            2 votes
            1. [4]
              majromax
              Link Parent
              Non-rechargeable alkaline batteries provide a nominal 1.5 volts per cell, so with four cells in series the device expects 6 volts of power. In the meantime, electronic devices expect to see a...

              Huh, I honestly, have no idea that some devices works only with non-rechargeable batteries.. Interesting, but why.. Is there some spikes in power then only non-rechargeable batteries supports..

              Non-rechargeable alkaline batteries provide a nominal 1.5 volts per cell, so with four cells in series the device expects 6 volts of power.

              In the meantime, electronic devices expect to see a fixed voltage, and they often use linear regulators for that purpose. These regulators take a variable supply voltage and lower is to a fixed target, but they need some headroom to perform that regulation. Modern electronics might require 3.3 volts, and a cheap regulator might require an extra volt of headroom, so on net the device could work with anything above 4.3V. 6 volts from four batteries in series would be plenty.

              However, the battery voltage drops as it is discharged. For regular alkaline batteries in our hypothetical device here, this isn't much of a problem: the alkalines will be essentially dead before four in series stop providing 4.5V.

              Unfortunately, rechargeable cells aren't so generous. Nickel metal hydride cells, the current generic rechargeable in AA-battery format, has a nominal cell voltage of 1.2V rather than 1.5V. Four of those in series will only provide 4.8V nominal voltage. That's still sufficient for our hypothetical device, but now there's much less headroom for the voltage to fall as the batteries are discharged. These cells have a 'flatter' discharge curve than alkalines, but if a device needs a voltage near the peak of that curve it can "run down" while rechargeable cells are barely discharged.

              For very modern electronics, this phenomenon is less of a problem. Built-in rechargeable lithium batteries are more common, standardizing on a rechargeable format with fixed and known behaviour. In addition, switch-mode voltage regulators that can decrease or increase the supply voltage to meet a device's needs are also more common, making it easier to design a device that can handle a wider range of supply voltages.

              12 votes
              1. [3]
                EnigmaNL
                Link Parent
                How would I notice any of this as an end user? I've stopped using non-rechargeable batteries almost 10 years ago and never looked back. Never had any issues with it either. All my devices function...

                How would I notice any of this as an end user? I've stopped using non-rechargeable batteries almost 10 years ago and never looked back. Never had any issues with it either. All my devices function perfectly fine with them, I only have to swap batteries a little more often.

                4 votes
                1. [2]
                  majromax
                  Link Parent
                  You'd notice it as a suspiciously short battery life, being half or less the battery life with single-use alkalines. Some devices that were particularly sensitive threw up a 'low battery' warning...

                  You'd notice it as a suspiciously short battery life, being half or less the battery life with single-use alkalines. Some devices that were particularly sensitive threw up a 'low battery' warning with even fresh rechargeable cells.

                  Fortunately, this problem has become much less prevalent with time. Warnings against rechargeable cells were much more common in the 90s, right around the intersection of "lots of devices are using electronics that need fixed voltages" and "very low-voltage electronics or flexible power supplies are too expensive for many consumer devices."

                  (Edit to add:) Also, rechargeable batteries themselves have gotten better. Before nickel metal hydride batteries, the most common rechargeable cell type was nickel cadmium, with a similar cell voltage. Those cells, however, tend to have a large self-discharge rate, making them much less suitable for 'occasionally used' devices like remote controls where steady power output isn't the point.

                  6 votes
                  1. EnigmaNL
                    Link Parent
                    Good to know. Apparently, all the devices I use are fine with rechargeables. Sure, a non-rechargeable might last slightly longer, but it's not worth it in my opinion.

                    Good to know. Apparently, all the devices I use are fine with rechargeables. Sure, a non-rechargeable might last slightly longer, but it's not worth it in my opinion.

                    4 votes
            2. trim
              Link Parent
              I dunno, I’ve had them years. They’re white with blue writing. The rechargeable voltage of 1.2 though, is what does it, with 4 cells you’re at 4.8V instead of 6V with primary cells, and sometimes...

              I dunno, I’ve had them years. They’re white with blue writing.

              The rechargeable voltage of 1.2 though, is what does it, with 4 cells you’re at 4.8V instead of 6V with primary cells, and sometimes that makes the difference.

              4 votes
        2. r_se_random
          Link Parent
          Already mentioned that I've switched to rechargeable batteries 😅

          Already mentioned that I've switched to rechargeable batteries 😅

  4. scirocco
    Link
    I bought a Toto Washlet bidet seat at Christmas 2007 Changed the OEM batteries in it's remote last year, finally. The remote functioned perfectly, but the LCD base were fading. I guess enough...

    I bought a Toto Washlet bidet seat at Christmas 2007

    Changed the OEM batteries in it's remote last year, finally.

    The remote functioned perfectly, but the LCD base were fading. I guess enough current to run the IR led when needed, but not enough voltage to keep the LCD excited.

    RIP Panasonic AA batteries 2007- 2022