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:

The Truth about Recycling Batteries

Last updated on March 10, 2024.

Lego Stormtrooper surrounded by Duracell batteries, black background.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay.

Recently, we went to the Hazardous Waste facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to drop off used alkaline batteries (aka single-use, dry cell, or primary cell) that we’ve been saving for almost a year. However, hazardous waste would not accept them, informing us that “they were fine to put in the regular trash.” I’ve been taking them there since 2016, perhaps twice per year, and they always accepted them. Did they used to accept them, and now they don’t? Did they never accept them, and just put them in the landfill instead of properly informing me? I don’t know the answer but either way, I was shocked and disappointed.

I believed alkaline batteries were recyclable for many years. Years ago, I used to bring them to Batteries Plus (now Batteries+Bulbs) for recycling. But in the last decade, they stopped taking them. The store clerks told me several times that the recommendation has been to place them in the trash because they are “safe” for landfills. I’ve even been told that alkaline batteries are “good” for landfills because the alkalinity balances out the acidic environment of landfills.

Is any of this true?

No, it isn’t. Those are myths.

According to Consumer Reports: “If your old batteries end up in a landfill, pollutants like these can leak out into the environment and contaminate groundwater, damage fragile ecosystems, and even make their way into the food chain.”1

The argument is that mercury, a highly toxic metal, is no longer a threat. Mercury content in batteries has decreased significantly since the passage of the 1996 Battery Act, which also changed their classification from hazardous waste to non-toxic or non-hazardous.2 Some argue that naturally occurring metals in batteries pose no threat to the environment.

But why take the chance while the experts argue it out? Any single-use disposable item is now a threat anyway because of the sheer volume of items we throw away.

Illustrated cartoon of a dead, leaking battery.
Image by acunha1973 on Pixabay.

So can alkaline batteries be recycled?

Technically, yes. But practically, no.

While the recycling of alkaline batteries does exist, they are more expensive to process and they don’t contain valuable materials like other types of batteries do. Thus there is no financial incentive to recycle them, so they are only recycled when mandated by law.

Are there laws about battery disposal/recycling?

In some places, yes. More than twenty states have laws about battery disposal. But most are concerned with rechargeable type batteries, which are much more recyclable. In Tennessee, there are no battery recycling requirements. California has the most strict laws – not surprising since California is always in the lead when it comes to laws regarding unsafe, toxic, and dangerous products.

A few states require some retailers to collect batteries for recycling. Others require that battery manufacturers fund or organize battery collection programs.3 Making the manufacturers responsible is one solution. This model is called Extended Producer Responsibility.

Variety of used batteries on a white background.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay.

What do the manufacturers recommend?

I checked with three large battery manufacturers for their recommendations on alkaline battery disposal. Overall, I was displeased.

Duracell: “Our alkaline batteries are composed primarily of common metals—steel, zinc, and manganese—and do not pose a health or environmental risk during normal use or disposal…Therefore, alkaline batteries can be safely disposed of with normal household waste, everywhere but California.”4 They encourage customers to contact the local government for disposal options in their area.

Vermont passed a law that implements Extended Producer Responsibility. A state law passed in 2016 law that requires primary battery producers, such as Duracell, to fund a free statewide collection and recycling program. Yay for Vermont!

Energizer contends that “unless you live in California, you’ve been tossing non-rechargeable batteries safely in the trash for at least 19 years.”5 Well, if it’s not safe in California, it’s probably not safe anywhere. Toxins don’t change by crossing a border.

Energizer shucks responsibility on the website. They also take credit for an effort to which they did not contribute. “Since its inception in 1994, Call2Recycle has recycled over 100 million pounds of used rechargeable batteries. This national mindset to recycle has enabled Energizer® to pioneer technology that reuses battery material to create new batteries. So already we’re helping to make a difference.”6 No, they’re not. If these statements were true, they’d take responsibility for the afterlife of disposable batteries.

Rayovac: “Batteries can be disposed of with normal household waste in most US states.”7 They, too, refer consumers to Call2Recycle. They offer information on their commitment to sustainable production but offer no real solutions for disposable alkaline batteries.

Photo of AA Energizer brand batteries, white background.
Image by Photoshot from Pixabay.

Where can you recycle batteries?

Call2Recycle is a good resource for recycling in general. The latter, a leading battery stewardship program, has collection sites for batteries in different parts of the nation. There are no battery recycling laws in Tennessee, Georgia, or Alabama. But maybe your state does have a battery recycling law. Check out this map from Call2Recycle:

Graphic of the U.S., showing states by color for battery recycling laws.
Image courtesy of call2recycle.org.

There are a few places you can pay to recycle alkaline batteries, but it’s very costly for us as consumers:

        • TerraCycle offers alkaline battery recycling buckets starting at $39 and up to $151.
        • Call2Recycle sells a box for $68 for battery recycling and other items.
        • BigGreenBox also sells one for $71.95.

Solutions

There are several solutions at the consumer level that we can implement.

    • Stop buying alkaline or single-use disposable batteries, and switch to rechargeable batteries. They are reusable and much more recyclable! This is what I am planning to do effective immediately. I read reviews on rechargeable batteries and decided to order a Panasonic Eneloop rechargeable battery set. I’ll update this article with a review of them once I’ve received and tested them.

      Image of Panasonic eneloop Power Pack.
      Panasonic Eneloop Power Pack.
    • Reduce your overall dependence on batteries. I know this is not always feasible, especially with children’s toys and remote controls, but opt for plugging in whenever possible. You can also buy smarter in the future, purchasing items that don’t require alkaline batteries.
    • Recycle the ones you can through one of the above-mentioned services, or by checking Call2Recycle’s website for free battery recycling near you. (As of March 2024, there are still no options offered in my area.)
    • Write to the battery manufacturers and request that they do more to improve recycling and awareness about disposal. This probably won’t do much, but it’s worth a try!
Close up photo of batteries.
Photo by Hilary Halliwell from Pexels.

I hope this was helpful, and thank you for reading! Leave me a comment or question below! Keep trying to be the change, and please share and subscribe!

 

Footnotes: