The 5 Best Rechargeable Batteries of 2020

A planet-friendly way to power toys, kitchen devices, and more Updated September 11, 2020 Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. If the last time you used rechargeable […]

A planet-friendly way to power toys, kitchen devices, and more

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

If the last time you used rechargeable batteries, they took ages to charge and ran out of juice pretty quickly, you’ll be surprised how much better modern options are. Prior generations of rechargeables were made with nickel-cadmium (NiCd), but today’s are made from nickel-metal hydride (NiMH).

The NiMH batteries can store twice as much energy—meaning they can run a lot longer. They can also be recharged many more times than NiCd batteries, keep a charge for a longer time when stored, and can be “topped off,” whereas NiCd batteries have to be fully discharged in order to recharge them properly. 

Since cadmium is human health and environmental hazard, NiMH batteries are more planet-friendly and can even be recycled at end of use. We researched the best rechargeable batteries for those household items that still need batteries, like toys, kitchen devices, massagers, and tech devices like keyboards.

Why Trust Treehugger

Starre Vartan has been covering sustainable consumer products for 15 years, 10 of those with Treehugger (under the MNN brand). She’s also a science writer who has covered biotech, astrobiology, animals, women’s health, and space for a variety of publications including Scientific American and National Geographic. She has personally tested compostable packaging in her backyard compost heap, a variety of solar chargers, hybrid cars, and other products meant to leave a lighter footprint. She started using rechargeable batteries in the 1990s.

What to Look for in Rechargeable Batteries

Price: There’s not a huge difference between the major brands listed above when it comes to rechargeable batteries, so overall, you’re probably best off choosing the one that’s on sale when you look to buy (and again, don’t forget to factor in the cost of the charger).

Brand: With that said, it’s wise to stay away from off-brand batteries of any kind, whether rechargeable or disposable, so given the choice between one of the widely tested brands above and a no-name or house brand, you’d be smart to choose one of the above brands.

Intended Use: Disposable batteries are sometimes a better choice than rechargeable. Anything that draws continuous small amounts of power over a long time period like wall clocks or headlamps are better off with a disposable battery. Importantly, smoke detectors that require a 9-volt battery (some come with built-in, long-lasting batteries and we’re not talking about those) shouldn’t use disposable batteries—they’re not designed with them in mind.

Energy Capacity: The energy capacity of a battery is measured in milliamp hours or mAh. The higher the number, the longer it will last, or the more power available for short, high-drain use (think a camera flash).

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