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Rechargeable AA Batteries Are Not Created Equal

Today, I learned the hard way that rechargeable AA batteries are no longer created equals. I say "no longer" because they used to be created equal. I'm not talking about the capacity which has always varied, but rather the voltage output.

As I pull out my Team Losi JrX-T R/C racing truck and its Airtronics Avenger AV2S radio controller, I realized that it's been collecting dust for twenty years. I have some new R/C car battery packs from my Convert Your 7.2v Power Tools to Use RC Batteries project, so the racing truck is ready to power up. The Airtronics Avenger AV2S uses eight AA batteries. I now have a whole bunch of NiMH batteries for my digital cameras, so that's ready to go. After putting the NiMH batteries into the radio controller, I turned it on . . . nothing.

No power. I tested each of the batteries with the battery tester and they are all fine. Could my twenty year old radio controller be dead? It's hard to believe. I examined the battery specs on each battery. To my horror, half of them are rated at 1.25 volts and the other half are 1.2 volts.

Back in the days, when NiCd are the only type available to consumer masses, they provided 1.25 volt output contrasting with the 1.5 volt output of the Alkaline batteries. So many electronics sold back in those days support the voltage range of the difference. But that is no longer the case today. What I found now is that, not only is the NiMH batteries rated at two different voltages, the NiCd batteries available today also has these two--1.25 volts and 1.2 volts-variant.

My Airtronics Avenger AV2S needs 1.25 volts minimum and when I inserted eight AA Alkaline batteries, it came back to life. If you have old electronics at home, I suggest you pick your rechargeable batteries very carefully. Look at the specs before you buy. Personally, I think the 1.25 volt rechargeable batteries are preferable as it can be used in more devices.

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 13 Sep 2010 05:24:09 +0000

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