Project: Battery Showdown

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

Results: Low Drain

The low-drain discharge of 200mA is designed to represent a typical light load on a battery that a toy, CD/MP3 player, torch or similar product may demand from a battery.

Performance Graphed

Click any graph to see a larger preview.

Analysis

Discount cells perform very well

Surprisingly, the clear winner in this test was the Ikea alkaline, followed by other discount store batteries. The Ikea scored over 2200mAh, 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 well too. Even at higher cut-off voltages of 1.3V, they still represent excellent value for money. The general conclusion is that most alkaline cells behave similarly to each other.

Kirkland Signature from Costco were the best "supermarket" brand battery we tested in the 200mA test and in the 1000mA test. It appears to be a re-labeled Duracell; the negative end-cap is identical to Duracells.

Not all Duracell are alike

Duracell from Poundland (Duracell Standard) are genuine Duracell batteries sold in twin packs but are definitely of lesser performance compared to other Duracell batteries and you would be better off with other discount shop batteries. Duracell SIMPLY, Duracell's budget brand (£2.99 for 4 cells), performed similarly to standard Duracell, so they are likely based on similar technology. However, the standard Duracell costs less.

Duracell PROCELL and Energizer Industrial are good batteries for the price and compare to their retail cousins, especially when price is considered. However, they are only available from online resellers in boxes of 10 upwards.

The difference between Duracell Plus Power and Duracell Ultra Power is more or less negligble. It's only at very high cut-off voltages that the Ultra Power begins to show better performance (giving an overall slightly higher mWh result), but it still doesn't account for the significant cost increase. The in-built battery tester on the Ultra Power is useful – but for nearly the same price of the whole pack, a voltmeter with built in battery tester can be purchased from Maplin.

Lithium cells are great – if you can justify the cost

The Energizer Ultimate Lithium and VARTA Professional Lithium cells performed very well, achieving about 3000 mAh each with the Energizer beating the VARTA cell at all cut-off voltages. These batteries would be a good choice in an application which needs to last a very long time and where changing batteries is difficult or inconvenient - for example, a baby monitor or a smoke alarm. However, they provide poor value for money as they cost nearly 7x as much as the discount store alkaline cells whilst only providing a 60% increase in total measured capacity. A notable effect is that the lithium cells give out most of their energy around the 1.25V~1.35V range. This could be useful for certain digital cameras with limited voltage spans. Except at 1.35V, though, the discount alkalines again win on the value-for-money front.

Notable disappointments

Zinc cells, which are the cheapest cells you can buy in many stores (and are often marketed as "value for money"), have poor performance and don't represent the best value for money despite the large pack sizes or low individual cell cost. Even in low drain applications, alkalines would likely do better.

The major disappointment of the tests was the Panasonic EVOLTA. They claim Panasonic's "Platinum Award" (for unknown reasons), and previously claim to hold a Guinness World Record for "Longest Lasting AA Alkaline Battery in a Wide Range of Devices." Overall, this battery performed poorly. It did do a bit better at higher cut-off voltages, but was quickly beaten by the rest of the pack below about 1.15V; perhaps Panasonic only intend it for a small range of cut-off voltages.

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.

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
Tesco Extra Long Life Ak £0.30 8 Tesco 1970 2331 £0.15 View »
Tesco Value Zn £0.23 4 Tesco 624 714 £0.36 View »
Duracell Plus Power Ak £0.81 4 Tesco 2214 2599 £0.37 View »
Energizer Ultra+ Ak £0.81 4 Tesco 2089 2493 £0.39 View »
Daewoo Super Alkaline Ak £0.17 6 99p Stores 2060 2494 £0.08 View »
Duracell Ultra Power Ak £1.12 4 Tesco 2137 2622 £0.52 View »
Kodak Xtralife Ak £0.17 6 Poundland 2107 2454 £0.08 View »
Panasonic Alkaline Power Ak £0.25 4 99p Stores 1916 2309 £0.13 View »
Sony Alkaline Ak £0.25 4 Poundland 2080 2487 £0.12 View »
Sony New Ultra Zn £0.12 8 Poundland 515 571 £0.24 View »
Duracell Standard Ak £0.50 2 Poundland 1971 2373 £0.25 View »
M&S Extra Long Life Ak £1.00 4 M&S 2036 2435 £0.49 View »
Ford1,2 Zinc Zn £0.08 12 99p Stores 623 700 £0.13 View »
Daewoo Heavy Duty Zn £0.08 12 99p Stores 670 754 £0.12 View »
Panasonic Zinc Zn £0.10 10 99p Stores 495 546 £0.20 View »
Costco Kirkland Signature Ak £0.21 48 Costco3 2302 2758 £0.09 View »
Morrisons Extra Long Life Ak £0.63 4 Morrisons 2257 2633 £0.28 View »
Wilko powerplus EXTRA Ak £0.30 8 Wilkinsons 2034 2352 £0.15 View »
TIGER Super Alkaline Ak £0.25 4 TIGER Stores 2067 2413 £0.12 View »
Panasonic Pro Power Ak £0.50 4 Online 1973 2373 £0.25 View »
Panasonic EVOLTA Ak £0.74 4 Online 1490 1856 £0.49 View »
GP Ultra Ak £0.22 6 Online 2049 2413 £0.11 View »
Energizer Ultimate Lithium Li £1.13 4 Online 3312 4621 £0.34 View »
Duracell PROCELL Ak £0.22 10 Online 2148 2546 £0.10 View »
Energizer Standard Ak £0.38 4 Online 1859 2222 £0.20 View »
VARTA High Energy Alkaline Ak £0.59 4 Online 2329 2745 £0.25 View »
VARTA Professional Lithium Li £1.13 4 Online 2912 3995 £0.39 View »
Energizer HiGHTECH Ak £0.38 4 Online 2229 2674 £0.42 View »
Energizer Industrial Ak £0.27 10 Online 1980 2365 £0.14 View »
Ford1 Higher Energy Ak £0.17 6 99p Stores 1943 2333 £0.09 View »
Ikea Alkalisk4 Ak £0.10 10 Ikea 2270 2647 £0.04 View »
JCB5 Built to Last Zn £0.10 8 Home Bargains 495 570 £0.20 View »
Kodak Zinc Zn £0.09 8 Poundland 513 580 £0.18 View »
Maplin extralonglife Alkaline Ak £0.74 4 Maplin 1901 2258 £0.39 View »
Morrisons Savers Zn £0.15 6 Morrisons 569 637 £0.26 View »
PowerCell Ultra Ak £0.17 6 DiscountUK 2034 2294 £0.08 View »
ReadyCell Alkaline Ak £0.10 10 Home Bargains 1951 2229 £0.05 View »
Sainsbury's Extra Long Life Ak £0.34 8 Sainsbury's 1893 2277 £0.18 View »
Superdrug Longer Life Ak £0.31 8 Superdrug 2104 2432 £0.15 View »
WHSmith Extra Long Life Ak £0.34 8 WHSmith 2084 2454 £0.16 View »
Duracell SIMPLY Ak £0.74 4 Morrisons 1908 2266 £0.39 View »
Polaroid Super Alkaline Ak £0.17 6 99p Stores 1898 2267 £0.09 View »
Ansmann Alkaline Ak £0.40 4 Market Shop 1922 2230 £0.21 View »
Asda Long Life Super Alkaline Ak £0.29 10 ASDA 2117 2464 £0.14 View »
Asda Smart Price Zn £0.15 6 ASDA 535 614 £0.28 View »
Carrefour i-Tech Alkaline Ak £0.13 4 Carrefour (Romania) 2009 2356 £0.07 View »
Huatai Heavy Duty Zn £0.23 4 Market Shop 274 307 £0.82 View »
Optimum Heavy Duty Zn £0.04 60 B&M Stores 225 237 £0.18 View »
Polaroid Heavy Duty Zn £0.08 12 99p Stores 582 653 £0.14 View »
Robust Super Battery Zn £0.18 4 Market Shop 337 366 £0.67 View »
Sanyo Advanced Alkaline6 Ak £0.27 4 Market Shop 2142 2524 £0.13 View »
Toshiba Heavy Duty Zn £0.18 4 Market Shop 526 597 £0.57 View »
Toshiba Super Alkaline Ak £0.30 4 Market Shop 2104 2442 £0.14 View »
T-Power Heavy Duty Zn £0.18 4 Market Shop 611 704 £0.30 View »
VARTA Superlife Zn £0.36 4 Market Shop 489 540 £0.74 View »

1 These are genuine Ford Motor Company AA batteries (licensed product.)
2 These batteries leaked after the 200mA discharge.
3 Purchased from an online reseller, new from packet.
4 Listed as "Alkalisk" on Ikea website; sold in stores as "Ikea Alkaline".
5 The same company that makes plant equipment (diggers, etc.)
6 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