Eneloop Alternatives (or Cracking The Battery Lingo Codewords)

Corvair

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To start off, I've had 4-each AA Sanyo Eneloop 2000 mAh batteries for a year now. These things are wonderful! They easily outlast -- by a significant margin -- Energizer and other brands of 2500 mAh batteries. They do not loose their charge anywhere near as fast as "standard" NiMH batteries in devices like clocks and wireless mouses, or in other devices that tend to use power in tiny trickles or short bursts.

If you want sheer power, the "standard" 2500 mAh NiMH batteries are still better than Eneloops and their ilk -- which are known as "Low Self Discharge" NiMH batteries -- because they simply have a higher mAh rating. Still, I suspect most people will have more use for a Low Self Discharge NiMH battery than a standard NiMH battery.

Now for the "Cracking The Battery Lingo Codewords" part:

Since Eneloops weren't cheap and a bit hard to find for a while in the stores, I suspected that some curiously similar batteries that I saw showing up might just be the same type of Low Self Discharge battery as an Eneloop. The wording was very suspect on these other battery packages, which used the same lingo that was present on the Eneloop packages, namely "Pre-Charged," and the power rating was a suspicious 2000 mAh which was the same as Eneloop batteries -- and all this taking place in a sea of 2500 mAh brands from Energizer, Duracell, etc. Hmmmm.

The first suspicious battery I saw (actually, rather soon after the Eneloop sighting I might add) was the Kodak "Pre-Charged" battery. Since then, I began to see other suspicious sightings such as Duracell Active Charge, Duracell Pre-charged, Nexcell EnergyON, RayoVac Hybrid/Hybrio, and Varta Ready-To-Use Pre-Charged batteries.

Now, I definitely know these are the same type of battery as the Sanyo Eneloop. About 4 months ago, I decided to buy a 4-pack of Kodak Pre-Charged batteries to confirm my suspicions. I charged them fully (only took about 90 minutes -- that was one giveaway), and began using them in a couple of wireless mouses that have been regularly going though fully-charged 2500 mAh Energizer (or similar 2500 mAh Kodak) standard NiMH battery sets every 30 to 40 days. Well, after 110 days of use, one mouse finally displayed the red "low battery" warning LED. The other lesser-used mouse has yet to display the red "low battery" warning LED.

So, if you want some Eneloops, but can't find them or don't want to pay the extra bit for a Sanyo branded battery, look around for batteries that have the code word "Pre-Charged" and 2000 mAh. PS: The last I heard, Kodak batteries were made by Sanyo. I believe Energizer also uses Sanyo.



 

Stereodude

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So, if you want some Eneloops, but can't find them or don't want to pay the extra bit for a Sanyo branded battery, look around for batteries that have the code word "Pre-Charged" and 2000 mAh. PS: The last I heard, Kodak batteries were made by Sanyo. I believe Energizer also uses Sanyo.
It's easy to tell. If they're made in Japan they're eneloops, if they're made elsewhere, they're not.
 

LunarMist

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It is easier to just buy the Eneloops. 6x4 AA cells every couple of years is not exactly expensive IMO.
 

Handruin

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Do you buy the Eneloops from any specific/preferred retail location, or wherever the best price is?
 

Handruin

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I don't have a Costco around here. Any thought about the Eneloop with USB charger? I was thinking of ordering that (which includes the two AA), and one pack of 8AA. I like the idea of a USB charger, but don't know if their chargers are worth a darn. I'm still reading around to find more info.
 

LunarMist

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Do you buy the Eneloops from any specific/preferred retail location, or wherever the best price is?

I order from thomasdistributing.com. I have several MAHA chargers, Lacrosse BC-900, etc. Some are better for different purposes. Many people like the big 8-cell MAHA with the computerized display, I forgot the model number. Sometimes I use a small 4-cell AA only MAHA charger for travel.
 

jtr1962

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A bad charger can kill your rechargeables real quick. I'll let experts like jtr elaborate.
Best thing for cells is to avoid cheap timed chargers (I think the charger which comes with Eneloops is like that). Even though charging current is low, they can overcharge cells. Another thing to avoid are chargers which charge cells in pairs. While they might be OK if used only for devices with an even number of cells, if used in other cases they might overcharge or undercharge cells. There's no guarantee a pair of cells will be in the same state of discharge. And if the cells are different makes or capacities, all bets are off.

Best bet is to stick to chargers which have automatic termination and charge cells individually. You can get them for under $20 nowadays, sometimes even less when on sale. The more elaborate chargers like the BC-900 or MH-C9000 are even better. I own 3 of the former and 2 of the latter. For what they do, they really don't cost much at all.
 

Mercutio

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My old man turned me on to those Kodak Pre-Charged batteries. I wasn't aware of why they were different, but they probably last 50% longer than normal Energizer NiMH batteries in my wireless keyboard.
 

LunarMist

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Best bet is to stick to chargers which have automatic termination and charge cells individually. You can get them for under $20 nowadays, sometimes even less when on sale. The more elaborate chargers like the BC-900 or MH-C9000 are even better. I own 3 of the former and 2 of the latter. For what they do, they really don't cost much at all.

I have a couple each of the BC-900 and MAHA chargers. Frankly, the BC-900 does fine, especially at low to medium charge rates. The MH-C801D is good for charging 6-8 cells together and I use the MH-C204W for travel. Is the MH-C9000 worth getting if one has the others? I'd really prefer a 4AA travel charger with more options than the C204W, including a slower rate, but without the bulk and wiring hassle of a separate adapter.
 

jtr1962

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I have a couple each of the BC-900 and MAHA chargers. Frankly, the BC-900 does fine, especially at low to medium charge rates. The MH-C801D is good for charging 6-8 cells together and I use the MH-C204W for travel. Is the MH-C9000 worth getting if one has the others? I'd really prefer a 4AA travel charger with more options than the C204W, including a slower rate, but without the bulk and wiring hassle of a separate adapter.
The MH-C9000 is worth getting just for the break-in function alone in my opinion. This function allows you to enter battery capacity. The charger then charges at a C/10 forming charge for 16 hours, rests one hour, discharges at C/5 to determine battery capacity, and finally recharges at C/10 for 16 hours. It displays the measured battery capacity when finished. The break-in function is useful for getting maximum performance from new cells, or revitalizing used ones. Finally, unlike the BC-900 which uses a 3V adaptor, the MH-C9000 uses a more standard 12V adaptor.

You can read about all the other MH-C9000 functions in the operating manual.
 

Fushigi

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It's easy to tell. If they're made in Japan they're eneloops, if they're made elsewhere, they're not.
Does this still hold true? I've seen some 2000mAH NiMHs at Microcenter under the UltraLast (pdf) name. But the label on both the packaging and the batteries themselves says made in China.
 

ddrueding

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Just ordered an MH-C9000, some lesser chargers, and an army of eneloops (AAA, AA, and the larger size adapters). It would be great to get the company off disposables, even just for the wireless mice and keyboards would be a significant environmental gain.
 

Handruin

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How can I tell if my current wall charger (came with my monster AA batteries) will work correctly with the Eneloops? It does individual cell charging with peak detection and turns off when the charge is complete. I think the monster batteries are 2200s, not sure if that matters. If it isn't a good idea, I can go for a MAHA, but figured it would make sense to reuse my existing charger if feasible.
 

jtr1962

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How can I tell if my current wall charger (came with my monster AA batteries) will work correctly with the Eneloops? It does individual cell charging with peak detection and turns off when the charge is complete. I think the monster batteries are 2200s, not sure if that matters. If it isn't a good idea, I can go for a MAHA, but figured it would make sense to reuse my existing charger if feasible.
It'll work just fine. Any charger which charges regular NiMH well will work with Eneloops. Eneloops are no different than any other NiMH battery as far as charging or discharging goes. The difference is that they are formulated to lose less charge when sitting around.
 

mubs

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I had a ton of regular NiMH batteries. Haven't used a single one after getting the Eneloops last year. Unfortunately I don't have any scenarios where the non-LSD ones will be useful. NiMH batteries should have been LSD to begin with!
 

Stereodude

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Does this still hold true? I've seen some 2000mAH NiMHs at Microcenter under the UltraLast (pdf) name. But the label on both the packaging and the batteries themselves says made in China.
I think so, but I can't say for certain. I've never heard of any Eneloops not made in Japan.
 

Fushigi

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Fry's today was carrying AA eneloops. I picked up 2 4-packs at $14.99 ea. That's a couple bucks more than Amazon but I don't have to wait for shipping.
 

udaman

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CostCo has Energizer pre-charged, made in Japan, 2k ma AA's 8 to a package + 2 800ma AAA's @$18.97. Since I was already there for something else, I bought those. I'll only buy Sanyo Eneloops for specific high-drain uses like LED flashlights...everything else I'm buying the lowest price I can find. Haven't seen Sanyo @my local CostCo in a while.
 

Howell

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time

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No, they're not! The claims that Thomas Distributing make about them are not from Sanyo - it's either a typo or more BS from TD.

Sanyo has been using "Superlattice Alloy Technology" since 2004. It enables higher capacity and discharge rates (so presumably it results in lower impedance).
 

LunarMist

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What was the question, then? Those are not the Eneloops, but they are fine batteries.
 

time

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Lunar, just check the thread title ...

They're good in that they're Sanyo, but then so are perhaps 50% of batteries in that class (made up, can't remember market share and don't care). Many Sanyos are rebranded as, eg Eveready.

Bottom line, they do not have the characteristics of Eneloops et al.
 

Handruin

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For less money per cell, why not just get the AAA Eneloops? Either those 2 batteries you listed for $6 or 4 Eneloops for $10... I realize the mAh is a little less.
 

Howell

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That's exactly what I ended up doing.
My current needs were 2 cells of eneloop quality LSD at maximum mAh. I was concerned that that high mAh rating was a flag that they were inferior in the LSD characteristic much like the 2500
mAh AAs.
I guess the cutting edge of AAA LSD batteries is still ~800 mAh.
 

udaman

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That's exactly what I ended up doing.
My current needs were 2 cells of eneloop quality LSD at maximum mAh. I was concerned that that high mAh rating was a flag that they were inferior in the LSD characteristic much like the 2500
mAh AAs.
I guess the cutting edge of AAA LSD batteries is still ~800 mAh.

All depends on your needs and how you define "quality". Maha's Imedion have tested to have greater capacity than eneloop AA's @lower current measures.

Keep in mind, the typical Chinese manufactured NiMH's are rated to what you may say is exaggerated over optimism :D. Maha generally (at least those shipped to foreign markets?) are near stated capacity and typical industry standard measures of 1/10C so for the same type of NiMH as the AAA 1000mah Sanyo, the AA 2700mah Sanyo listed on TD would be rated 2700mah *only* for a 270ma current discharge. If it doesn't say "pre-charged"/ready to use out of the package, then you can assume it's not a LSD type NiMH.

http://www.thomasdistributingshop.com/AA-NiMH-Rechargeable-Batteries_c_147-1.html

Only experience/testing online forums will get you approximate capacities @higher currents. Unfortunately there are many 'claims' of "high current" capabilities of the LSD NiMH.

Just stick to the proper category as TD lists them (they shouldn't list LSD in both categories but they do).

http://www.thomasdistributingshop.com/NiMH--Low-Discharge-Rechargeable-Batteries_c_150-1.html

^notice "low-discharge" in the url, this is the category to look in. Sure TD does a poor job of keeping the site updated with latest listing.

Only question is if the newer AA 2500mah Ansmann LSD come close to delivering 'high current' and maintaining decent capacity, greater than eneloop or maha?

http://www.thomasdistributingshop.com/ANSMANN-2500-AA-LOW-DISCHARGE-NIMH_p_199-1983.html

  • Very low self discharge
  • Ready to use right away (cell is precharged)
  • High current output

Nothing I could find on these newer higher capacity LSD, Ansmann isn't known for accurately stating capacity, however...maybe @250ma they are near 2500mah capacity?
 

LunarMist

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Lunar, just check the thread title ...

They're good in that they're Sanyo, but then so are perhaps 50% of batteries in that class (made up, can't remember market share and don't care). Many Sanyos are rebranded as, eg Eveready.

Bottom line, they do not have the characteristics of Eneloops et al.

Of course they are not the low-discharge type, but that is not how I understood the question.
 

LunarMist

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That's exactly what I ended up doing.
My current needs were 2 cells of eneloop quality LSD at maximum mAh. I was concerned that that high mAh rating was a flag that they were inferior in the LSD characteristic much like the 2500
mAh AAs.
I guess the cutting edge of AAA LSD batteries is still ~800 mAh.

Yes, that is about right. Too many are hung up on the eneloop variety to consider which are best for the specific purpose. I use the traditional NiMH cells for GPS, GMRS/FRS and other applications where devices are charged/discharged frequently for days/weeks in a row and maximum capacity is important. The Eneloops stay in flash units, etc. that may not see frequent use.
 

sechs

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One person is apparently hung up on buying special batteries for each device. I'm not going to buy three different kinds of batteries for six different tasks, and I think that most people are the same way.

For me, ~95% of the time, a low-self-discharge battery is either good or the best rechargeable for the task. For the remaining five percent, I got two extra sets of batteries.
 

Howell

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One person is apparently hung up on buying special batteries for each device. I'm not going to buy three different kinds of batteries for six different tasks, and I think that most people are the same way.

For me, ~95% of the time, a low-self-discharge battery is either good or the best rechargeable for the task. For the remaining five percent, I got two extra sets of batteries.

Some of us obviously have more pedestrian needs than others. I appreciate the distinction.
 

LunarMist

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Sorry to be so pedantic. I've spent too many decades designing chargers, and buying and testing a thousand batteries. I became very interested in NiCd cells starting in 1967.
 
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