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Should I Buy Expensive Batteries?

We love fairy lights. In fact, when it comes to lights at Christmas it is the only time we say 'more is better'. Lots of these lights and Christmas decorations run on batteries and we buy loads of batteries each season. So we wanted to check, should we pay for expensive batteries or do the cheaper brands do just a good a job.

Let me set down a few ground rules:

  • we are not scientists and this is not a scientific experiment,
  • we are running one test and the results will guide our buying practice in the store for the coming season,

The 5 batteries we tested and the price for the pack sizes we came across:

  • Bunnings 'Varta' Brand - $9.92 for 30 (33c each)
  • Costco 'Kirkland' Brand $39.95 for 144 (28c each)*
  • Eveready $10.99 for 24 (45c each)
  • Duracell - $19.98 for 30 (66c each)
  • Energiser Max $7.95 for 4 ($1.98 each)

You can see the Bunnings and Costco are quite closely aligned in their pricing, with jumps of 50% then 100% for the Eveready and Duracell and 600% for the Energiser Max.

(* in checking the price for the Kirklands there are a lot of reviews saying these batteries leak. We have not had this problem in the store and we did use them a little bit last year too, but it is a reminder that all batteries must be removed from the item at the end of the season so you don't come back the following year to find they have corroded. We are not testing the longevity of the batteries in this test but be mindful this is something else to consider).

The Experiment

Started 5 sets of identical battery lights each being powered by 3 x AA batteries. Turned the lights on at 7.30pm 16th August and started to watch for changes in colour.

which battery brand lasts longest

By 7am the next morning we could see one of the batteries was struggling.

The Eveready is not as bright as the other varieties of batteries..

By 6pm that night we are seeing another battery not doing so well.

The Duracell battery is starting to fade.

We then turned the lights off at 9.30pm and started again at 7am the next morning. Interestingly the 2 slightly duller lights came back strong when they were first turned on, although the Eveready didn't take long to go back to it's resting duller levels.

By the 18th August at 11am (ie. lights had been running approx. 30 hours) the Energiser and Varta are holding a stronger light .

You can see by this stage that the Varta and the Energiser's are the only two with real brightness. I would probably be looking to change the batteries on all others at this stage because I like the lights to be strong. (ie. if you kept your lights on for about 4 hours each night you would get a week of strong lights from even the cheapest batteries).

We then let the lights run continually for a few days. They remained on but quite dull. The Energiser were a bit brighter but not a lovely strong light.

Finally on the 26th August at 3pm we turned off the lights and concluded the experiment.

Conclusion:

For me, the lights seem to work well for about 30 hours. I didn't think there was any advantage in buying the dearer batteries for this type of use. Therefore we will be sticking with the Varta purely because of the convenience of Bunnings around the corner.

One last thought - recyclable batteries are probably the best option for home use. We would need so many charges that it is a little unworkable in the store but definitely a good option if you like to keep your lights on and bright at home.

Hope you've found this helpful.

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