Product Review: Panasonic Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries

Eneloop set, green case showing the battery sets inside.

After writing about battery recycling and discovering that most alkaline batteries are landfilled, I became disheartened with them. Recycling batteries remains far more difficult than it should be. It is only available in my area through pay-for-recycling programs, like TerraCycle. I felt like I was paying a lot of money for something I would just toss, or have to buy and then spend additional money on to recycle.

First, I wanted to see if I could stop using batteries altogether. While that is a nice idea, so many things use batteries! The food scale, the camera, the weather radio’s backup, game controllers, all remote controls, and many of my son’s toys. So my family reduced our battery reliance by using chargeable or wired items, like wired mice and keyboards. While I was able to reduce battery usage, I was not able to completely stop using them.

I read that rechargeable batteries have greatly improved over the years, which encouraged me to try them.

Pile of dozens of batteries, alkaline, laptop, and others. All different brands and colors.
Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash.

Panasonic’s Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries

Interior of Eneloop battery set, showing the white batteries and charger inside of a green case.

Right after I published that article, I transitioned to rechargeable batteries. I stopped buying alkaline batteries and purchased a set of rechargeables. Online reviews at the time favored Panasonic’s Eneloop batteries, though EBL brand was my second choice because they are well-rated. I bought the above set, which included a four-battery charger, 2 AAA and 8 AA batteries, and 2 C and 2 D “spacers.” Spacers allow you to put an AA battery inside a plastic case shaped like a C or D battery.

Overall, I am happy with the Eneloop batteries. As with all rechargeable batteries, they take a few hours to charge. I always keep some charged so that when the remote dies or my son’s lightsaber stops working, I can replace them. Then I charge the ones I removed immediately. It’s as simple as putting them in the charger and plugging it into the wall. Easy.

In 2023, Wired reviewed rechargeables and said “Nothing beats Panasonic’s Eneloop range for durability and reliability.” The standard Eneloop batteries can be recharged up to 2,100 times, and retain 70 percent of their capacity after 10 years in storage. They are rated for use in temperatures between -20 °C and 50 °C, which makes them optimal for outdoor activities.

My only complaint is that my Samsung TV remote drains its batteries fast, so we must recharge those frequently. For all of my other uses, the batteries last a long time.

C and D Spacers

I haven’t used the C and D spacers much, since we use few C batteries and only use D-sized in the flashlights. And for some reason, we still have D alkalines in the house. But in their review, Wirecutter chose Eneloop spacers as the best pick for C and D-sized batteries. “Since most household battery chargers charge only AA and AAA batteries, these adapters could save you from having to buy a separate charger for your larger batteries.” Good point, as I noticed this issue when I first started shopping for a rechargeable set and I ultimately chose Panasonic Eneloop because it had all four common types of batteries.

White battery spacers, plastic battery shapes, that hold a AA battery and take the place of a C or D battery.
Eneloop spacers.

Cost

The initial investment in these is higher than standard alkaline batteries. I spent about $50 for the initial set and I’ve had to buy additional batteries over the years to have enough (especially around the holidays). However, if you add up the cost of replacing those same-size alkaline batteries repeatedly, it would cost more. A four-pack of AA Eneloop batteries costs $14.98 on Amazon; a four-pack of Duracell costs $4.97. By reusing the Eneloop brand just four times, you’re starting to save money. C and D cost more, so you can really save with the Eneloop spacers.

9-Volt or 9V

We use 9V alkaline batteries in the smoke alarm since rechargeable batteries were not recommended for them in the past. I’m not sure that’s the case anymore, though I could not find anything official online. I did discover that EBL brand makes rechargeable 9V batteries, which cost around $32 for five batteries with the charger. For comparison, a four-pack of Duracell 9V costs around $17. I am considering these for the future.

White battery charger with 5 white 9V batteries charging in it. White background.

 

Have you tried rechargeable batteries? I’d love to know what you’ve tried, so please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading, please share and subscribe!

 

This article does not contain affiliate links nor was I paid to promote the products in this post. This is an honest review.

Footnotes:

Earth Day 2024

Sign with a painted Earth on black background, "One World" in white letters.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

Earth Day

This annual event is to show support for environmental protection. I’ve always said that Earth Day should be every day!

The Earth provides us with everything we need: air, water, plants, and animals. So why do we continue to strip the Earth of the resources it provides us humans?

We are the only species on the planet that destroys its own habitat. No other species does that. What is wrong with us?

Earth Day was established in 1970. But by 1976, plastic became the most widely used material in the world.

Plastic has become so embedded in our environment that explorers have found plastic in Antarctica and the Mariana Trench. Both are places that people rarely visit. There will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.

Archaeologists are finding that microplastics have contaminated archaeological remains. Scientists discovered microplastics in human breast milk and human lungs. The latest study suggests that the presence of microplastics may double the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems among people with heart disease.

There are about 44,000 species now classified as critically endangered, and almost all of them are endangered because of human activity. Do we not treasure beautiful creatures that all contribute to a healthy planet? Do we not see the value in Earth’s biological diversity?

We burn fossil fuels at such a furious pace that we are altering the planet’s temperature. A warmer climate means escalating changes, such as stronger storms, sea level rise from melting ice, and potentially more diseases or pandemics.

I could go on, but it’s Earth Day, and I want to feel better about the state of things. Then I read this quote:

“One person worrying is desperation; a worrying group sows seeds of hope.” -Carl Safina

And I remember that there are people who care. Many, many people who care. Not the corporations, nor the government representatives. But real people, like me and those of you reading this. We are the ones who can alter the course of those problems if we come together. We can spread hope.

Maybe we can worry less and band together, because together, we can do anything.

So say “Happy Earth Day” to someone today. Remind them that our home is our habitat and that we must protect it. Thank you for reading. Please share and subscribe.

Glowing Earth globe, seemingly hovering abouve a person's hand, black background.
Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash.

 

Footnote:

Product Review: Berkey Water Filtration System, Over 1 Year Later

The Royal Berkey system, silver and shiny, sitting on a white counter with aqua walls and wood cabinet background.
The Royal Berkey system, photo by Marie Cullis.

My family and I are still enjoying the benefits of our Berkey water filtration system. We purchased it a year and a half ago after reading the report of contaminants the Berkey removes. My local water has hexavalent chromium and total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), and Berkey filters remove those.

The cost was high and the setup took some doing, but overall, we really like Berkey-filtered water. We use it for drinking, cooking, and even the dog’s water. I can taste the difference between the water I drink at work (filtered by a Brita, which removes fewer contaminants) and the water I drink at home (with a Berkey).

I would like to have my water tested, both from my tap water and filtered Berkey water, and then compare the results. Unfortunately, water testing is expensive and sometimes cost-prohibitive. But someday I’ll have my water professionally tested. I’ve listed a couple of water testing companies under Additional Resources below.

Fortunately, some companies test water filtration systems regularly, like Water Filter Guru (waterfilterguru.com). Their mission is to help people find solutions for better water quality. They test many products and write honest reviews, and their site is quite helpful.

While they do not rate Berkey systems as one of the best on the market, I still really like our Berkey. However, there is some recent controversy with Berkey filters. I’ve also had at least one lingering question. I’ve often pondered, as has one of my readers, the reason behind the restriction on selling most Berkey products in California.

California Banned the sale of Berkey

In 2009, a California law, commonly called the ‘no-lead law’, went into effect. The law prevents the sale of most Berkey water filter products in California. Any water filtration system and replacement parts must be third-party certified by an ANSI/NSF-approved, independent company to confirm that it is ‘lead-free.’ Berkey Water systems claim to be lead-free but they have not been certified and don’t plan to get certified. But why not?

In a June 2022 email exchange with berkeyfilters.com, the now-defunct authorized dealer where I purchased my Berkey system, I asked why they didn’t pursue NSF certification. They responded that Berkey’s independent testing far exceeded the standards of NFS and tested for contaminants not included in the NSF standards.

“NSF certifications are…optional. In our opinion, NSF certifications are limited in their application with respect to our gravity-fed purification elements…The tests we have conducted are much more rigorous than those required by NSF for the certifications required. Our purifiers have been rigorously tested by third-party independent accredited labs far surpassing the [NSF 42 and 53] standards. For example, our systems have been tested for the removal of hundreds of contaminants including heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, pathogenic bacteria, and viruses.”1

 

In a blog post at waterfilterguru.com, they also asked why Berkey doesn’t just get certified so that they could sell to consumers in California. They wrote: “According to one Berkey distributor, as part of the regulations, manufacturers of water purification or filtration devices would have to reveal ‘proprietary information’ relating to their systems, including information about their manufacturing processes, sales and suppliers…We haven’t been able to find any credible information to back this claim up, nor have any Berkey distributors we’ve reached out to about this been forthcoming with their explanations.”2

Caucasian person holding a glass of water out in one hand. Glass is focused, person is blurred in background.
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash.

Recent Filter Controversy

Berkey Water Systems and accessories have only been available for purchase through authorized dealers, not directly from New Millennium Concepts, Ltd., the manufacturer. I originally purchased my system through berkeyfilters.com, an authorized dealer. I planned to buy replacement filters from them once needed. But then in November 2023, the company announced they were going to stop being an authorized dealer after 25 years. This is because the EPA issued a stop-sale order to berkeyfilters.com:

“On December 27, 2022 we were issued an EPA stop sale order due to the products claiming to filter microorganisms. Despite our efforts to resolve the issues, the owner/maker of Berkey did not agree with the regulation. As a dealer of another brand’s product we had little to no control to rectify the problems at hand. This led to a prolonged period of several months where we were unable to sell products, resulting in the layoff of numerous skilled employees, and significant legal investments to secure the survival of our family-run business.”3

Berkeyfilters.com closed down in December 2023 and their team created the Boroux Foundation. In a video message, Boroux’s CEO indicated that their team had “severed all ties with the Berkey brand and their product line.” They are making the Boroux filter that works with many gravity water filter systems brands.4 Read more about the Boroux filters below.

The EPA’s Ruling

It turns out that the EPA declared Berkey filters to be a pesticide and required warning labels as such on the filters. They then issued a stop-sale order to berkeyfilters.com, one of the largest Berkey-authorized dealers. According to another authorized dealer, bigberkeywaterfilters.com:

“At the end of 2022, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), without undertaking any administrative process, used its regulatory authority to classify the Berkey water filtration filters, a trusted leader in gravity-fed water filtration systems and one of the most popular water filters in the US, as pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) claiming that Black Berkey filtering elements contain silver and are a pesticide device since silver is antimicrobial. With this new Pesticide classification, Berkey products would be required to come with warning labels to this effect.

“It’s important to note that silver is not considered a pesticide under FIFRA, and has not been regulated by the EPA as such before this.”5

In August 2023, New Millennium Concepts filed a lawsuit against the EPA. They consider this “an abuse of the agency’s power in an attempt to put the company out of business.”6 In a statement from New Millennium Concepts, the company accused the EPA of overreaching and of “re-interpreting their rules for the express purpose of classifying Berkey® products alone as Pesticides. The EPA has not utilized this new re-interpretation to stop the sale of any other outdoor water filter, just Berkey® alone. We have been informed that the real issue is that because of COVID-19, the EPA does not like the fact that Berkey® filters are capable of removing viruses from your water.”7

How To Buy Filters

So, what now?

First, please know many counterfeit Berkey replacement filters are on the market. There is no guarantee that counterfeit filters will remove any contaminants. You can check New Millenium Concept’s website for how to identify counterfeits, which I’ve put a link to under Additional Resources. But the following are the choices if you already own a Berkey system.

Black Berkey Elements

Pair of Black Berkey filters with a blue and white background.

Black Berkey Elements filters have now become scarce. They were still available through other authorized dealers because the EPA issued a stop-sale order to only one dealer. The price went up to over $200 per pair, though. Now they are almost impossible to find.8 So what are the alternatives (other than purchasing a whole new system)?

Boroux Foundation Filters

2 Black Boroux filters against a cream colored background.

The Boroux Foundation filters are compatible with Berkey, among many other gravity-fed systems.9 They filter 12,000 gallons per pair, costing $140 per pair. If you calculate how much water you use, you’ll likely find that this means these filters will last years! 

While they test to NSF’s standards, they are not NSF certified. The company claims it wants to seek certification in the future. Their report lists all of the contaminants these filter, based on NSF guidelines. I’ve included links under Additional Resources so you can read their report and watch a video to understand it. They appear to remove everything that Black Berkey Elements filters removed.

I reached out to waterfilterguru.com since they test a ton of water filtration systems. Unfortunately, they have not yet tested Boroux Foundation filters but said it is on their to-do list. I hope they test them soon! I’ll share their results here if they do.

Super Sterasyl™ Ceramic Elements

Ceramic filters against a white and blue background. The fitlers are white with black tips, and they kind of resemble popsicles.

These ceramic filters were the original Berkey filters that dealers shipped with Berkey systems about 25 years ago, according to Jennie at bigberkeywaterfilters.com, an authorized Berkey dealer. She said that the Black Berkey Elements filters replaced the white ceramic filters. “We haven’t carried or sold them in about 10 years because they were the original technology and the black filters are the newest technology,” she wrote.10 However, this company has started carrying them since our email exchange in February 2024. This is likely because New Millenium Concepts is no longer manufacturing the Black Berkey Elements filters.

The Super Sterasyl Ceramic filters filter less than the Black Berkey Elements filters. While Berkey is not completely clear on what the Super Sterasyl filters actually filter, they do include in their FAQs that Black Berkey Elements filters reduce everything the Super Sterasy Ceramic Elements will plus “reduce trihalomethanes, inorganic minerals, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, VOCs, petroleum products, perfluorinated chemicals, rust, silt, sediment, radiologicals and more.” This tells me that the Super Sterasyl Ceramic filters do not filter out nearly as much as the regular filters. These filters cost between $70 and $100, and last for 535 gallons or six months per filter.11

Other Water Filtration Systems

Clear glass water bottle with cork top with charcoal floating in it, next to a small glass of water on a gray table, with white background.
Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash.

I still love my Berkey! While I can personally recommend Berkey filtration systems, it isn’t free of controversy. Many other brands of gravity-fed water filtration systems exist. Each person must base their decision on the contaminants they most want removed from their water. Second, choose a system that is tested and well-reviewed. Third, consider the cost and how much time you’ll need to spend caring for the system.

The important thing is that you find out what’s in your water, and then try to find a product that removes those contaminants.

Many zero-wasters use charcoal in water pitchers to remove contaminants. I haven’t tried this, but I’d be interested in trying it and testing the water before and after. This is a low-cost and zero-plastic waste solution.

I hope this helps! Check out my other articles about Water Contamination and filtration systems. Thank you for reading, please share and subscribe!

 

 

Additional Resources:

Water testing:

ETR Laboratories, Water and Environmental Testing.

Article, “How to Test Water Quality at Home: Our Top 3 Recommend Methods,” waterfilterguru.com, updated March 17, 2024.

Tap Score, Certified laboratory water testing for home and business.

National Testing Laboratories, CityCheck Deluxe for testing municipal water.

Counterfeit Berkey filters:

Article, “Buyer Beware,” New Millenium Concepts/Berkey Water Systems.

Boroux:

Report, Boroux Foundation Substance Reduction Test Report, January 25, 2024. Check Boroux Foundation’s website for the latest report.

Video, “How to Read the Boroux foundation. Filters Test Results Report,” youtube, December 8, 2023.

 

Footnotes:

Joel Sartore at the Tennessee Aquarium

Exterior of the Tennessee Aquairum, River Journey, entrance, with a Joel Sartore photograph of a slider (turtle) at the entrance, people going in.
Photo by Marie Cullis.

The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee, recently opened an exhibit featuring the work of award-winning photographer and National Geographic Explorer Joel Sartore and the National Geographic Photo Ark project. They launched the exhibit with an event featuring Joel Sartore and his son Cole Sartore, who presented their story. I was lucky to purchase a ticket to it before they sold out.

National Geographic Photo Ark Logo in black, gray, and yellow on white background.

Orange spotted filefish - aqua and orange spotted - against a white background.
Orange spotted filefish, Oxymonacanthus longirostris, at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Nebraska, 2013. Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark, natgeophotoark.org.
Close up of an octopus, viewpoint looking underneath the creature, viewing its red tentacles and white suckers.
An octopus, Octopoda, at Dallas World Aquarium, Texas, 2013. Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark, natgeophotoark.org.

What is the National Geographic Photo Ark?

“The Photo Ark uses the power of photography to inspire people to help save species at risk before it’s too late.

“The interaction between animals and their environments is the engine that keeps the planet healthy for all of us. But for many species, time is running out. When you remove one, it affects us all.

“The National Geographic Photo Ark is a multiyear effort to raise awareness of and find solutions to some of the most pressing issues affecting wildlife and their habitats. The Photo Ark’s three-pronged approach harnesses the power of National Geographic photography and the bold ideas of our explorers. Led by National Geographic Explorer and photographer Joel Sartore, the project aims to document every species living in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries, inspire action through education, and help save wildlife by supporting on-the-ground conservation efforts.”1

“I want to get people to care, to fall in love, and to take action.” -Joel Sartore

Joel Sartore with frill necked lizard, Chlamydosaurus kingii, Joel facing the camera, holding his camera, lizard in white photo box.
Joel Sartore with frill-necked lizard, Chlamydosaurus kingii, at a high school in Victoria, Australia, 2017 during a shoot for the National Geographic Photo Ark, natgeophotoark.org. Photo by Douglas Gimesy.

The Photo Ark is the world’s largest collection of animal portraits, documenting species before they disappear. The goal is to get the public to care, while there’s still time. Sartore knows we can save species from extinction. He’s photographed over 15,000 species so far. His goal is to photograph all 25,000 species in captivity in zoos, aquariums, and wildlife sanctuaries around the world. Here’s a short video about his work:

And here’s another video regarding the Photo Ark and the Extinction Crisis:

Lucky Me

I’ve been a big fan of Sartore’s for many years, not just because of his photography but his call for conservation and love for the species we are losing. A few years ago, my spouse even gifted me an autographed copy of Sartore’s National Geographic Photo Basics: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Great Photography. I wrote about Sartore in 2019 when The Photo Ark Vanishing: The World’s Most Vulnerable Animals was first published. I watched a three-episode documentarian PBS series titled Rare: Creatures of the Photo Ark with my son when he was 6.

When I heard about this event, I knew the tickets would be limited and sell out quickly. That’s why I say I’m lucky that I got a ticket!

From the emails about the event, I expected to attend a 30-minute talk with Joel Sartore and his son, Cole, and then be able to tour the Aquarium. But the talk lasted for an hour, and it was inspiring! They told funny family stories and the journey of the Photo Ark.

Joel Sartore speaking at bottom right, with a large screen projection featuring a bison.
Photo by Marie Cullis.
Joel and Cole Sartore looking out at an audience, wood paneled background.
Photo by Marie Cullis.

The Tennessee Aquarium Exhibit

After, I got to tour the Aquarium and eat fancy hors d’oeuvres. They served beverages in real glasses and used paper plates and bamboo forks for food. I appreciated this since most places in the Southeast still serve everything in plastic and styrofoam.

Today we are losing species at rates 1,000 times greater than ever before.” -Joel Sartore

I’ve been to the Tennessee Aquarium many times, often with my young son who often flies through exhibits (though this seems to be improving with age). I appreciated the Aquarium more that night, not just because I could linger at my leisure this time, but also because of Sartore’s inspiring words. He called the audience to action in his talk and said that we should find something we are passionate about and do something about it. He said to consider what we can do to help and inspire others to help. I thought I am already doing that! and felt good that I use my website to highlight environmental issues, promote solutions, and inspire others.

There are about two dozen of these large banners of Joel Sartore Photo Ark photography throughout both buildings at the Tennessee Aquarium, and it will run through the end of 2024. You should go see them if you have the opportunity! Here are just a few:

Close up of a southern flying squirrel on a black background.
Southern Flying Squirrel, National Geographic Photo Ark. Banner photographed by Marie Cullis.
Spotted Salamander, black with yellow spots, on white background.
Spotted Salamander, National Geographic Photo Ark. Banner photographed by Marie Cullis.
Close up of a Nashville crayfish, showing head and claws only, on a black background.
Nashville Crayfish, National Geographic Photo Ark. Banner photographed by Marie Cullis.
Macaroni penguin, back facing camera with wings out, white background.
Macaroni Penguin, National Geographic Photo Ark. Banner photographed by Marie Cullis.

Other Exhibits

I’m not a professional photographer, but I captured a couple of cool photographs of my own that evening.

Large blue fish, close up of its face.
Photo by Marie Cullis.
Electric eel staring through an aquarium, red with small eyes.
Electric eel. Photo by Marie Cullis

My favorite exhibits at the Tennessee Aquarium are the ones that teach about plastic, pollution, and saving turtles.

Metal bin with plastic trash collected from the Tennessee River. Exhibit text on lime green background.
Exhibit showing plastic trash collected from the Tennessee River at the Tennessee Aquarium. Photo by Marie Cullis.
Exhibit showing human objects in a river basin, includes a car battery, a tire, a cell phone, and other plastic objects.
Exhibit showing human objects in a river basin at the Tennessee Aquarium. Photo by Marie Cullis.
Exhibit on saving turtles, includes exhibit panels, graphics, and interactive monitor.
Exhibit on saving turtles at the Tennessee Aquarium. Photo by Marie Cullis.

I also took photos of a plastic art piece at the Aquarium and added it to my Plastic Art Projects page.

The best part, for me, was that I got to personally meet Joel Sartore just before I left. I shook his hand and told him how much I loved his work. Our conversation was brief but meaningful, and something I’ll always remember.

“This is the best time ever to save species because so many need our help.” -Joel Sartore

Visit the Tennessee Aquarium when you have the chance! Also, please support The Photo Ark! Thank you for reading, please share and subscribe!

red eyed tree frog, bright green skin, orange feet, red eyes, black background.
Red-eyed tree frog, Agalychnis callidryas, photographed in Seattle, Washington, 2011. Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark, natgeophotoark.org.

 

Links:

National Geographic Photo Ark

Joel Sartore

Tennessee Aquarium

Footnote: