You don't have to get rechargeables for all the devices in your home. In general, experts recommend using disposable alkalines for remote controls and other low-drain devices, as they can last as long as fully charged rechargeable batteries at a much lower cost. One downside in deciding which alkaline batteries to buy is that experts don't test a lot of them, and there are a lot to choose from. In fact, according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, 80 percent of the batteries manufactured in the U.S. are alkalines.
Out of the numerous disposable alkaline batteries available, experts name Duracell's CopperTop alkaline batteries as one of the best brands on the market. CopperTops are super-cheap and cost roughly $10 for a pack of 20 -- a price DealNews.com's Mitch Lipka considers a steal, as he believes there's no difference in quality between CopperTops and other more expensive alkaline cells.
In PopPhoto.com's test conducted by Zach Honig in which he took pictures with and without flash using a Canon digital camera, Duracell's CopperTops came in second after Energizer's Ultimate Lithium batteries. The CopperTops were able to power the camera for 1,204 shots without flash and 668 shots with flash. The batteries have received many 5-star reviews from Amazon.com. Take note, however, that those who give them a low rating complain of battery leakage or that the batteries they received were already expired.
Experts find the Energizer Ultimate Lithium to be one of the best disposable lithium batteries out there. Even though experts generally recommend investing in rechargeables rather than buying disposable batteries, Energizer's Ultimate Lithium is praised by many as an alternative when rechargeables are not available.
In a test conducted by PopPhoto.com's Zach Honig, Energizer's Ultimate Lithium batteries delivered an impressive performance, shooting more than 5,200 flashless photos or nearly 2,900 flash photos before dying. That's more than four times as many as the best-performing alkaline battery, the Duracell CopperTop (*Est. $4 for four AA) , and more than 1,000 more than the top rechargeable battery in the test, the Energizer Recharge (*Est. $11 for 4 AA) . Honig praises the batteries for having the best bang for your buck, at least when it comes to disposable cells. In another test conducted by ConsumerReports.org, Energizer's Ultimate Lithium outlasted other disposable batteries: They were able to take 1,286 shots in one charge.
As we've mentioned, lithium batteries typically cost considerably more than alkaline batteries. Energizer's Ultimate Lithium batteries, for instance, cost about $10 for a pack of four AA batteries, whereas Duracell's CopperTop disposable alkaline cells will cost you just $4 for a four-pack. Lithium batteries, while not reusable, theoretically have extremely long shelf lives. Energizer claims up to a 10-year shelf life for its Ultimate Lithium line, so you can use even old stock that you have lying around.
Still, experts advise that when you buy lithium batteries you do get value for your money, due to the fact that they're very efficient in producing energy and can power high-drain gadgets. In ConsumerReports.org's report, for instance, the total price per 50 shots turned out to be 23 cents. The editors bought the batteries, which were able to capture 1,286 pictures, for $6. For low-drain devices, though, it's still more advisable to get cheaper disposable alkaline cells.