Project: Battery Showdown

Cheapest or dearest? The results may surprise you...

Results: High Drain

The high-drain discharge of 1000mA is designed to represent a typical heavy load on a battery that a digital camera or similar power-hungry device may use. All batteries suffer a reduction in available capacity when placed under heavy load, but some perform better than others.

Performance Graphed

Click any graph to see a larger preview.

Analysis

Discount and OEM cells perform very well

Surprisingly, as in the 200mA test, the clear winner in this test was the Ikea alkaline, followed by other discount store batteries. The Ikea scored over 1200mAh, and costs just 10p per cell (sold in packs of 10.) Other discount shop cells did surprisingly well, with ReadyCell from Home Bargains (TJ Morris) doing very well too. Even at higher cut-off voltages of 1.1V, they still represent excellent value for money. The general conclusion is that most alkaline cells behave similarly to each other, though under higher drains some more significant differences become apparent.

Duracell PROCELL and Energizer Industrial are very good batteries for the price and compare well to their retail cousins. However, they are only available from online resellers in boxes of 10 and are intended for OEMs.

Lithium cells really shine under high drain

The Energizer Ultimate Lithium and VARTA Professional Lithium cells performed very well, achieving more than 2800 mAh each with the Energizer beating the VARTA cell by approximately 150mAh. Clearly, these batteries perform very well under high discharge current - they only lost around 250mAh capacity due to the higher current. At this discharge current these lithium cells seem like better value for money but still cost more than the cheaper alkalines. They could be useful in a digital camera application as changing batteries may cause the photographer to lose a shot. They are much cheaper per Ah and Wh than many premium alkaline cells.

Highest energy alkaline in both tests

Like in the 200mA test, the VARTA High Energy Alkaline was the best performing alkaline cell and bore its claims of being very long life. However, it provided only marginally more lifetime than the Energizer Industrial cell for 2x the price.

Notable disappointments

Zinc cells did very poorly, but this was expected as the chemistry is not optimised for high drain applications. The JCB cell didn't even manage 20mAh. It would probably not power anything demanding any significant current, due to its discharge characteristic, which rapidly falls past the 0.8V cut-off point. However, it is marketed as "Not suitable for digital cameras or motorised devices." Interestingly, self-heating of the cell lead to an increase in voltage as the discharge progressed, but data below 0.8V is not included in the mAh calculation. The Kodak cell has a similar disclaimer, although it did do a little better, it's still unlikely to work well.

The Poundland Duracell (genuine Duracell batteries; Duracell Standard in the below data) performed poorly (they are sold in twin packs for £1), and you would be better off with the Kodak Xtralife that Poundland also sell in 6 packs.

It's hard to see how Duracell can market their Duracell Ultra Power battery as being the best they have made, especially at the price it is sold at, because it performed worse in both 200mA and 1000mA tests than their own Duracell Plus Power - which is 31p a battery cheaper! Like in the 200mA test, the Duracell Ultra Power is the worst value for money alkaline battery we tested.

Similar to the last test the major disappointment was the Panasonic EVOLTA. It claims Panasonic's own "Platinum Award" (for unknown reasons), and previously claims to hold a Guinness World Record for "Longest Lasting AA Alkaline Battery in a Wide Range of Devices", but it was the worst alkaline cell we tested. We can't account for this dreadful performance: the cells were new in the retail packet, with an expiry date of Feburary 2018 (test conducted October 2012), and were purchased from a reputable dealer. Is it all marketing hype?

Raw Data (at 0.80V)
  

Click on the header rows to sort the table. Use the slider on the right to adjust the cut-off voltage, the point at which the cell's remaining energy is considered unusable. As a general rule of thumb, a lightbulb will be about half as bright at 0.8V as 1.5V. A digital camera may only work well down to about 1.1-1.3V (check the manufacturer's specifications to be sure.) As cut-off voltage is increased, the available energy from the cell is reduced. Under high drain, no battery maintained a voltage of 1.5V for more than one second (our sampling interval), so no energy was accumulated.

We repeated some of the more surprising results, such as the Ikea and EVOLTA cells and got similar results (usually within 20mAh.) We include the first test of each.

Battery Name Chem. Cell Cost @ Per Pack From mAh mWh £/Ah Graph
Costco Kirkland Signature Ak £0.21 48 Costco2 1176 1232 £0.18 View »
Daewoo Super Alkaline Ak £0.17 6 99p Stores 905 927 £0.19 View »
Daewoo Heavy Duty Zn £0.08 12 99p Stores 202 175 £0.41 View »
Duracell Standard Ak £0.50 2 Poundland 1062 1110 £0.48 View »
Duracell PROCELL Ak £0.22 10 Online 1089 1151 £0.21 View »
Duracell Plus Power Ak £0.81 4 Tesco 1238 1314 £0.66 View »
Duracell Ultra Power Ak £1.12 4 Tesco 948 1025 £1.18 View »
Energizer HiGHTECH Ak £0.94 4 Tesco 1335 1406 £0.71 View »
Energizer Industrial Ak £0.27 10 Online 1351 1454 £0.21 View »
Energizer Standard Ak £0.38 4 Online 943 1006 £0.40 View »
Energizer Ultimate Lithium Li £1.13 4 Online 3009 3828 £0.38 View »
Energizer Ultra+ Ak £0.81 4 Tesco 1084 1120 £0.76 View »
Ford1 Heavy Duty Zn £0.08 12 99p Stores 167 146 £0.50 View »
GP Ultra Ak £0.33 6 Online 1278 1346 £0.26 View »
Kodak Xtralife Ak £0.17 6 Poundland 1134 1154 £0.15 View »
M&S Extra Long Life Ak £1.00 4 M&S 1087 1132 £0.92 View »
Morrisons Extra Long Life Ak £0.62 4 Morrisons 1199 1229 £0.53 View »
Panasonic Alkaline Power Ak £0.25 4 99p Stores 1068 1126 £0.24 View »
Panasonic EVOLTA Ak £0.74 4 Online 709 781 £1.04 View »
Panasonic Pro Power Ak £0.50 4 Online 1180 1262 £0.43 View »
Panasonic Zinc Zn £0.10 10 99p Stores 87 77 £1.14 View »
Polaroid Super Alkaline Ak £0.17 6 99p Stores 1022 1037 £0.17 View »
Sony Alkaline Ak £0.25 4 Poundland 857 902 £0.30 View »
Tesco Extra Long Life Ak £0.30 8 Tesco 1188 1251 £0.26 View »
Tesco Value Zn £0.23 4 Tesco 194 169 £1.16 View »
TIGER Super Alkaline Ak £0.25 4 TIGER Stores 1294 1362 £0.19 View »
VARTA High Energy Alkaline Ak £0.59 4 Online 1432 1519 £0.41 View »
VARTA Professional Lithium Li £1.13 4 Online 2841 3585 £0.40 View »
Wilko powerplus EXTRA Ak £0.30 8 Wilkinsons 1047 1043 £0.29 View »
Ford1 Alkaline Ak £0.17 6 99p Stores 990 1029 £0.17 View »
Sony New Ultra Zn £0.13 8 Poundland 45 41 £2.78 View »
JCB4 Built to Last Zn £0.10 8 Home Bargains 12 12 £7.60 View »
Kodak Zinc Zn £0.10 11 Poundland 101 88 £0.90 View »
Morrisons Savers Zn £0.15 11 Morrisons 15 14 £10.00 View »
Sainsbury's Extra Long Life Ak £0.34 8 Sainsbury's 936 956 £0.37 View »
PowerCell Ultra Ak £0.17 6 DiscountUK 1048 977 £0.16 View »
Maplin extralonglife Alkaline Ak £0.75 4 Maplin 1174 1245 £0.64 View »
Ikea Alkalisk3 Ak £0.10 10 Ikea 1224 1247 £0.08 View »
ReadyCell Alkaline Ak £0.10 10 Home Bargains 1199 1176 £0.08 View »
Duracell SIMPLY Ak £0.75 4 Morrisons 1114 1170 £0.67 View »
WHSmith Extra Long Life Ak £0.34 4 WHSmith 1352 1398 £0.25 View »
Superdrug Longer Life Ak £0.31 4 Superdrug 1202 1230 £0.26 View »
Ansmann Alkaline Ak £0.40 4 Market Shop 941 958 £0.43 View »
Asda Long Life Super Alkaline Ak £0.29 10 ASDA 1203 1246 £0.24 View »
Asda Smart Price Zn £0.15 6 ASDA 15 15 £10.00 View »
Carrefour i-Tech Alkaline Ak £0.13 4 Carrefour (Romania) 978 1028 £0.13 View »
Huatai Heavy Duty Zn £0.23 4 Market Shop 17 17 £13.24 View »
Optimum Heavy Duty Zn £0.04 60 B&M Stores 11 11 £3.77 View »
Polaroid Heavy Duty Zn £0.08 12 99p Stores 16 15 £5.16 View »
Robust Super Battery Zn £0.18 4 Market Shop 15 15 £15.00 View »
Sanyo Advanced Alkaline5 Ak £0.27 4 Market Shop 1129 1196 £0.24 View »
Toshiba Heavy Duty Zn £0.18 4 Market Shop 27 24 £6.67 View »
Toshiba Super Alkaline Ak £0.30 4 Market Shop 1190 1244 £0.25 View »
T-Power Heavy Duty Zn £0.18 4 Market Shop 151 135 £1.19 View »
VARTA Superlife Zn £0.36 4 Market Shop 31 29 £11.61 View »

1 These are genuine Ford Motor Company AA batteries (licensed product.)
2 Purchased from an online reseller, new from packet.
3 Listed as "Alkalisk" on Ikea website; sold in stores as "Ikea Alkaline".
4 The same company that makes plant equipment (diggers, etc.)
5 Different technology (non-rechargeable) compared to Sanyo Eneloop.

Chemistry abbreviations (primary component): Ak = Alkaline Manganese, Zn = Zinc Chloride/Carbon, Li = Lithium.
All tests were conducted at 18°C to 25°C