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Best Rechargeable Battery and Best Battery Charger

My husband, August, did a ton of research to find the best rechargeable battery and the best battery charger for emergencies and every day use, so I asked him to help put together this post to share what he found out.

Battery charger in use

We identify the best value and absolute best AA, AAA and 18650 rechargeable battery in this post. We also review a 21 watt solar panel that provides 5 volt USB power and emergency radios with built in solar and hand crank chargers to charge USB devices.

Note: If you're looking for information on car batteries, see: “Car Won't Start in the Cold? Check out these Troubleshooting Tips“.

Best Rechargeable Battery (AA, AAA and 18650)

Best Battery Charger

Best AA and AAA Rechargeable Battery 

A rechargeable battery will save you money. That rechargeable battery also reduces waste in the environment and provides options in emergencies. The best rechargeable battery brands vary over time, so we'll update this post to keep up with the available tech.

Right now Tenergy is the leader for rechargeable AA or AAA batteries.

We picked Tenergy because they are inexpensive and generally well rated. (Check links for current prices.)

Tenergy AA and AAA rechargeable Batteries

Tenergy High Capacity 2600 mAh 1.2v AA 24 pack is an inexpensive bulk purchase option. The Tenergy High Capacity 1000 mAh 1.2v AAA 24 pack is our pick for AAA.They are the best for everyday use in items like clocks, toys, radios, remote controls and of course flashlights.

The Tenergy AA and AAA batteries can up to 1000 recharge cycles. Pretty much all types of Tenergy rechargeable batteries are a good buy for everyday use and for use in a high drain device.

The next best standard rechargeable battery brand for AA and AAA battery is the Eneloop 1.2v 2000 mAh AA 16 pack at and the Eneloop AAA 800mAh 1.2v 16 pack (check links for current prices).

Eneloop Pro AA Low Self Discharge Rechargeable AA batteries

Absolute Best Rechargeable Battery

The Panasonic Eneloop Pro AA 2550 mAh 8pack and Eneloop Pro 950 mAh AAA 8pack are the best for long term storage and intermittent high drain use. They are also the most expensive. The Low Self Discharge of these AA and AAA batteries give them a long shelf life. They hold their charge so well that they hold 80% of the original charge even after sitting on the shelf for one year.

The Eneloop Pro can also be recharged up to 500 times and have high mAh for high drain devices. All of these benefits make the Panasonic Eneloop Pro AA & AAA batteries a very powerful & popular choice for a rechargeable battery.

AA and AAA Voltage

Nearly all AA and AAA batteries are 1.2v not 1.5v. Some devices require 1.5 volts, such as trail cameras.

If a device needs 1.5 volts, we recommend the Energizer Lithium. 1.5 volt rechargeable batteries do exist but we have not tested one of the KENTLI 1.5v AA 3000mWh Lithium-ion Polymer Battery, 3rd party reports indicate the battery is so-so and provides about 1600 mAh. The Kentli also requires a special charger.

There are also 1.5v AA batteries that can be charged with USB. The USB AA 1.5v rechargeables are also in the 1200 to 1600 mAh range, so they are measurably lower capacity than any of the standard 1.2v rechargeable batteries and also have so-so reviews.

Other AA or AAA Rechargeable Battery Options 

These are other batteries we considered (check links for current prices):

  • The ODEC 2450mAh AA is a decent battery
  • The Amazon Basics Regular AA and AAA are well rated and are “2nd gen Eneloop”
  • The Amazon Basics High Capacity AA and AAA are well rated and are “older 3rd gen models” of the Eneloop
  • EBL is OK to good, but be aware that it advertises a much longer shelf life and higher mAh rating than you actually get.
    Orbtronic 3500 battery

The Best Rechargeable 18650 Battery

Recommended 18650 Battery.  We bought and recommend the Orbtronic 3.7v 3500 mAh 18650 protected mode battery. It has been a consistent performer in various flashlights around the house.

The 18650 battery type is becoming more common as it is used as part of battery packs for everything from rechargeable toys, to laptops, to electric cars and of course flashlights. It is about 2x to 3x the size of a AA.

Inexpensive 18650 Battery. A well priced alternate is the 4pack of Odec 3350mAh 18650. The Odec would be the clear #1 if they were protected mode (protected from over-charging), if you have experience dealing with unprotected 18650's these are a great choice.

Need more information on what an 18650 battery is? See this post: What is an 18650 Battery?

Best Rechargeable C, D or 9 Volt Battery

The EBL has good ratings and is our winner, but only by a hair. Be aware EBL overestimates the mAh ratings on nearly all their batteries. The good news is that testing came back with higher scores than many of their competitors, just not as high as EBL noted. Also there are not a lot of long term reviews of EBL.

Note you might invest in eliminating devices that use C, D and 9 volt instead of investing in the C/D/9V rechargeable batteries and a C/D/9V charger. If you have the need here are our recommendations (check links for current prices):

Our runner up for C, D or 9 volt rechargeable battery is Tenergy. Tenergy 9volt 200 mAh low self-discharge battery 4 pack. Tenergy C Size 5000mAh High Capacity High Rate NiMH Rechargeable Batteries 8 pack. Tenergy D Size NiMH Rechargeable Batteries 8000mAh Low Self Discharge 8 Pack (check links for current prices)

Although we recommend you buy rechargeable batteries for most uses, it's handy to have a stash of non-rechargeable batteries, too. We use non-rechargeable batteries for situations where the battery might be lost, or for very long life, low drain situations. In some rare cases devices need the 1.5 volts. Also non-rechargeable batteries will work better in extreme cold.

You might want to use the lower cost batteries for use in gifts where you don’t want to give away your expensive rechargeable batteries. Nearly all standard AA and AAA batteries are 1.5 volts. Watch for sales and stock up so you don't impulse buy at a convenience store because you need them and don't have them. Also note, rechargeable and regular batteries tend to sell out quickly when emergencies hit – so buy them in bulk.

energizer AA & AAA batteries

You can find alkaline batteries fairly inexpensive in bulk. In packs of 100 to 500 you can get Energizer batteries between 35 to 40 cents and Duracell at 28 to 36 cents.

Our favorite standard AA battery is the awesome lightweight 3000+ mAh Energizer Lithium 1.5v AA (non rechargeable). The Energizer Lithium AA is lightweight and lasts 7 to 8 times longer than a normal AA battery BUT it costs more than a Tenergy High capacity 2600 mAh AA rechargeable battery.

Compare Prices

Compare prices before you buy standard alkaline or newer lithium non-rechargeable batteries. The regular Energizer AA (not the lithium) are under a dollar. At only one recharge, the Tenergy is cheaper (unless you lose the battery or give it away).

As we noted, there are cases where the Energizer or Duracell make sense, but the rechargeable cost per use is decreasing rapidly. Even a more expensive rechargeable battery like Eneloop Pro AA breaks even at 9 recharges, and it can handle 500 recharges.

Alkaline batteries are still cheaper per unit but the rechargeable battery price has been dropping to the point that the rechargeable battery will be a better straight cash value soon.

If you only recharge them 3 times you have covered your total cost, and if you perform 4 or more recharges and you have saved money. Unless you need 1.5 volt batteries (which is rare) the Tenergy is the best bet.

If you are going to buy alkaline batteries we recommend the AA and AAA Duracell PROCELL and Energizer Industrial. They are both good batteries for the price. The best prices are from online resellers in boxes of 10 or more.

Overall Best USB Powered Charger

XTAR USB AA/AAA/18650 charger

The XTAR VC4L Battery Charger is our pick for overall best USB smart charger and overall BEST CHARGER. It is simple. It uses USB for power, so a PC, USB A/C power supply or even a solar panel can charge one to four batteries. It supports the following battery types: 10440, 14500, 14650, 16340, 17335, 17500, 17670, 18350, 18490, 18500, 18650, 18700, 20700, 21700, 22650, 25500, 26650, 32650 and the rechargeable AA, AAA, C and D batteries. It does not support 9v rechargeable batteries.

We tested it using power from standard USB ports, and even the Nekteck solar panel. It worked on all batteries tested.

If you use the XTAR with a 2v USB it will charge much slower, the 5v USB is recommended. We have charged AA, AAA and 18650 batteries with it. It is not fancy but it works.

Best AA AAA Charger 

LCD Display Battery Charger 4 Slot 2 9V Battery Slot for 18650 A AA AAA AAAA C D 9V Ni-mh Ni-cd Li-ion Lifepo4 Rechargeable Batteries with Discharge Refresh Test Function

Best AA and AAA charger. We needed a good AA and AAA battery charger. We picked the Dlyfull A4. It can charge up to four AA or AAA batteries at a time AND 9v. It has an A/C power supply and can also use a 12v car outlet.

It can refresh nearly dead rechargeable batteries. It autosenses the max charge in mAh (mili-amp-hours) and displays it on the small console.

We used the refresh mode and it works. It improved the mAh on nearly dead rechargeable batteries and recovered what we thought were dead rechargeable batteries.

Dlyfull A4 Alternatives

We like the BC700, but prefer the BC1000 because it has higher mAh capacity. We had this unit but wanted 18650 and 14500 support so when it died we didnt replace the BC1000.

The Maha Powerex MH-C9000 is an excellent, well rated alternative. With recent improvements it might be a better charger, but also more expensive.

The OPUS BT-C2400 is the cheapest alternative, we haven't tried it but it is very well rated and 1/2 the price of the BC1000.

Portable Solar Panel for Off Grid Battery Charging

We recommend the Nekteck 21. The Nekteck 21 is a 21 watt solar panel that provides USB power. The Nekteck is a good emergency, camping or “Off Grid” battery charger. It is portable and can charge any 5 volt USB device such as: smartphone, tablet, and USB power packs.

We bought one for outside events, camping and to be prepared for common emergencies like power outages, snow storms, hurricanes, floods and other disasters. The NekTeck successfully charged cellphones and batteries.

We ended up selecting the Nekteck due to its high ratings, lower cost. It has lived up to those ratings. The NekTeck is simple, easy to use and it works.

Nekteck 21w Solar Panel with USB port

See our full Nekteck 21W Portable Solar Panel Charger Review

See also “Solar Emergency Gear – Lights, Power, Radios and Ovens“.

Portable Battery Pack for Charging Cellphones and Tablets

The Anker PowerCore 26800 portable battery pack provides 5 volt USB power to a cellphone, tablet or any other USB powered device. It  allows you to store up power from the Nekteck solar panel during the day and have it available in the dark or when it’s overcast.

This battery pack acts as a portable charger to give you flexibility in providing power to your cellphone or tablet, when other power sources are unavailable.

Emergency Radio with Built in Battery Charger

We recommend that every emergency kit includes an emergency radio with AM, FM, and Weather. It can provide you critical info in an emergency. The radios recommended below can be powered by Hand Crank or Solar and can charge your smartphone or other USB device such as the battery pack (if you crank a LOT).

KaitoKA500 Radio

Larger Solar/Crank Emergency Radio

We recommend the Kaito KA500L Voyager radio because it can receive AM, FM, NOAA Emergency and Shortwave Radio 8” x 5” x 2.6” inches 19.5 oz. It can charge itself or charge a 5 volt USB device using the hand crank or solar panel.

ironsnow crank and Solar AM/FM Radio with USB

Small Crank/Solar Emergency Radio

iRonsnow IS-088U+ Emergency Radio 5 x 1.6 x 2.4 inches 7.2oz – this one is lightweight and compact for a backpack, small get home bag or if you are a prepper a bug out bag. It can charge itself or a 2.7 to 4 volt USB device using the crank or solar panel.

Eneloop AA to C converter

Battery “Converters”

In an emergency you might only have AA batteries. The Sanyo Eneloop Spacer Pack: 4 Pack of C-size and 4 Pack of D-size Adapters are a way to use AA rechargeable batteries for devices that require C or D batteries. The wattage will be lower, but it will work.

The adapters slip over your AA batteries so they can be used in place of C and D cells. They don't change the power characteristics of the batteries, but if you need to make the proverbial square peg fit in a round hole, they work and make the AA batteries fill multiple roles. We have successfully used these.

Battery converters/adapters can be used to allow a smaller battery to replace a larger battery.

Battery and Battery Charger Storage

When my husband and I were first married, there were many times when I went looking in the kitchen “stuff” drawer for the right battery, only to find out that we didn't have the right size battery or the rechargeable batteries were completely dead. Since then, we've gotten more organized.

For Christmas a few years ago, my husband's parents gave us a heavy duty storage case stocked with long life alkaline batteries. (Shown below.) (If you're reading this, thank you grandma and grandpa! We use it regularly.)

Flambeau Tackle Kit (used for batteries)

We have three spots we keep our batteries and chargers. (Yes, the collection has grown over the years.)

The heavy duty storage case that my in-laws bought is the Flambeau 7320 Double Satchel Tackle Box (pictured above and below), which is impact resistant and has 27 individual storage compartments. Both sides open up to make it easy to see everything that's in it. This is a GREAT box and has held up for years and keeps the batteries organized well.

We also bought a plain, sturdy toolbox to hold everything that doesn't fit in tackle box or organizer. We use it for the bulkier chargers and oddball battery related items.

Best Battery Chargers, Power Packs, Solar Chargers & Emergency Radios with Chargers, Rechargeable Batteries, Non-rechargeable Batteries & Battery Storage

Drawer Battery Organizers

There is a smaller battery rack with built in tester that now lives in the kitchen stuff drawer to keep batteries organized. If we get a new one it will be more like the Range Kleen Battery Organizer Case or the The Battery Organizer Storage Case is a another option. It also includes a battery tester.

Why buy a Battery Charger and Rechargeable AA or AAA Batteries?

It's easy to take things for granted. We assume electricity and lighting are always available, even though we know they are not. My mom used oil lamps for lighting as a kid, now we flip a switch and the light comes on. (Almost all the time.)

Our electric grid is aging, and bad weather or unexpected power outages can happen at any time. It just makes sense to plan ahead to make sure we have the power we need when we need it.

Using common sense we can increase our safety, reduce the amount we pay for batteries and lower our environmental impact. Remember, both a rechargeable and non-rechargeable battery can and should be recycled. See “Battery Recycling – How to Recycle Different Battery Types and Corroded Batteries Safely” for more information.

I hope you find this post useful. It was a family effort, with bits contributed from my husband, my son (August V) and myself, and it took a while to pull everything together, plus my poor country internet connection kept dropping while I was working on it.

Battery charger in use

Related posts you may also find useful:

Originally published in 2015, updated in Sept 2021.

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  1. Well, battery chargers are the important things in daily life. and we all want best results. So its a big dilemma to pick out the best one.

  2. Thank you, once again, for a very informative post. I will be using this when I have sufficient funds to invest in batteries and chargers.

  3. I have a Hi-Tec multi charger x1 ac it is AC DC input balance charger/ discharger, is it possible to charge an 18650 Westinghouse battery

  4. Confused
    You say Tenergy is the best rechargeable battery but later you say The Panasonic Eneloop is the best, I’m confused

    1. Sharon
      Yes it is confusing. Panasonic AA eneloop is the overall best in my opinion. But the Tenergy AA is the best “cheap” one. Tenergy has a long shelf life version that is fairly inexpensive (compares well to the Eneloop but is cheaper but with slightly lower MaH). Depending on the cash you have you might want to choose the Tenergy because it is a less expensive alternative. I hope this helps explain.

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