Putting batteries to the test

By Kristen Miranda - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -  Most basic batteries look about the same on the outside, except for their size, but is there any difference on the inside?

The goal of our test was to see which brand name batteries have the most juice.  We chose three items that take different sized batteries.  One children's toy runs on AA's, another runs on AAA's, and for good measure we threw in a flashlight that runs on those big D batteries.  In each case we tested Duracell, Rayovac, Energizer, and Family Dollar brand batteries.

In each case the Family Dollar brand battery died first, hours ahead of the others.  A battery expert tells us there's a very good reason for that.  The Family Dollar batteries were the only Heavy Duty batteries in the bunch and while "heavy duty" might make it sound like a workhorse, it's not.

"The way a heavy duty battery is designed, it's designed not to last long at all.  They're the cheapest of the batteries.  If a manufacturer includes batteries with a toy and it's a heavy duty battery, plan to replace it very soon with an alkaline or lithium battery," said Keith Triplette with Batteries Plus.

Waiting for the batteries to die during the tests, took hours.  In each case the three name-brand batteries died within an hour or two of one another.  Our battery expert says that's no surprise because most basic batteries have the same ingredients inside and you'll get pretty consistent performance when comparing apples to apples.  However, in two of our three tests, Duracell lasted longest.

"If you're buying a battery for a toy, buy the least expensive non-heavy duty battery you can find because the odds are your child is going to lose the battery before it ever runs out.  If you're buying a battery for electronics, you want highest performance, so make sure you buy a pricy lithium battery," Triplette said.

To hear what the battery expert has to say about the "wives tale" that keeping batteries in the refrigerator prolongs their life, watch the video at the top of the page.