The common perception is that rechargeable batteries are better a better value than disposable batteries. From an environmental standpoint, I can agree with that statement. Rechargeable batteries reduce toxic waste and can be used for years. But from a price standpoint, rechargeable batteries are rarely cost effective. There are many factors to consider when thinking about buying rechargeable batteries – mostly how often you use batteries, and what you use them for.
When it makes sense to buy rechargeable batteries
Up until a couple months ago my wife and I didn’t use many batteries. We pretty much only use batteries for a couple remote controls, a programmable thermostat, and an emergency flashlight. None of those items required new batteries frequently. So for us, buying a battery charger and a couple sets of rechargeable batteries was too expensive for our needs, and definitely not a frugal choice. Why? Because buying a charger and a couple sets of rechargeable batteries can easily run $60 or more ($30-$40 for a charger, and $20-$30 or more for batteries depending on your needs).
If your battery needs are basic, then you probably don’t need to buy rechargeable batteries (from a money saving standpoint; use your own judgment regarding the environment). Since we only had basic needs, it was a less expensive option for us to buy disposable batteries. So what changed? We had a baby.
Consider rechargeable batteries if you have a baby
Shortly after we had our baby, we realized the baby toy companies were in a massive conspiracy with battery manufacturers. The majority of baby toys that require batteries don’t come with an AC adapter. So that nice vibrating bouncy chair and baby swing require expensive C or D cell batteries. There is no other way to power those items. You realize a battery charger and rechargeable batteries are a good idea the first time you leave the bouncy chair on vibrate overnight and come back to a dead battery, or the first time you have to change out 3 D cell batteries. It gets expensive quickly!
So how much will I save? I haven’t run a full cost analysis on our battery purchase, and to be honest, I don’t care to. I know that over the course of several years we will need to recharge our batteries multiple times, and it should be more than enough to cover the initial cost of the batteries and the battery charger. There are other benefits as the less toxic waste and the convenience of having batteries whenever you need them instead of running out to the store.
Best places to buy rechargeable batteries
There are a lot of great places to buy rechargeable batteries. The best deals I found were at Wal-Mart and Amazon or All-batteries.com if you don’t mind shopping online. Best Buy was about 1.5 times as expensive as Wal-Mart, so I don’t plan on buying them there. As with everything, shop around and you should be able to find some good deals.