Disposable AA batteries
We tested 15 models of 1.5V disposable AA batteries to see which lasted longest.
There are many disposable AA battery brands and models, as well as different battery types. Battery pack sizes and claims also vary, and they range in price significantly too. So, which should you get?
There are three types of disposable AA batteries: lithium, alkaline and carbon zinc.
Check your device or its user manual to see which type to use. Battery packaging also often notes recommended uses, with reference to low-, moderate- and high-drain devices.
Each battery type has its pros and cons.
Good for: all situations, and better than other disposable battery types for long-term storage and use in high-drain devices, such as digital cameras and remote-controlled toys. Also ideal for cold weather use, such as with headlamps for tramping and mountaineering.
Good for: a wide range of applications, and ideal in low- to moderate-drain devices such as torches, gaming controllers, wireless keyboards, radios and TV remotes.
Carbon zinc batteries are typically labelled “heavy duty”, “super heavy duty” or “extra heavy duty”. That’s confusing as they don’t last nearly as long as other battery types.
Don’t buy: manufacturers recommend carbon zinc batteries for wall clocks, calculators, radios, TV remotes and other low-drain applications, but you’re better off using alkaline.
Don’t be swayed by claims that certain batteries will “last up to 400% longer”, because the small print may note “vs super heavy duty in toys”. Since “super heavy duty” refers to carbon zinc batteries, the claim might not mean a lot. We found several similar claims on the packaging of the alkaline AA batteries we tested.
Watch out for greenwashing too. The packaging of several AA batteries we investigated stated “no mercury added”, “0% mercury, 0% cadmium”, “zero added mercury or cadmium” or “no added mercury or cadmium”. However, the use of mercury in disposable AA batteries was phased out by manufacturers in the mid-1990s, and cadmium is never used in disposable AA batteries (it’s common in rechargeable AA batteries).
Although some disposable AA battery packs state a shelf life, the clock starts ticking from the date of manufacture. Read our article to learn about expiry dates and where to find them.