The household battery may look simple, but there's a lot going on in there. It's easy to take them for granted — most of us can't remember a time without them. Still, batteries are nothing short of amazing. They're power in the palm of your hand.
A recent article on gizmodo.com found that the best value for AA batteries came from RS Power Ultra — which, sadly, you can't buy in the states. The worst was the Panasonic Evolta. The right battery for you will come down to trial and error — most name brands are comparable.
However, the following tips will dispel some of the classic myths about these portable power sources.
1. Should you store your batteries in the fridge?
When I was a kid, our neighbor was a bit of a mad scientist. He built homemade electronic toys for his kids and he looked like one of those guys you see on the old mission control footage of early space missions. He's the kind of guy you went to with questions such as these before the Internet came along.
"I always keep my batteries in the fridge because I think if you keep them there it keeps the moisture away from them, which tends to run them down," said Dick Pavlick (who once built an Atari 2600 from spare parts in his basement shop).
I believe in Mr. Pavlick, but I wasn't convinced. It turns out that most batteries should be stored at room temperature, but that depends on the temperature of your room. So say the folks at greenbatteries.com. (A Nevada-based company that supports renewable energy.)
"If alkaline batteries are stored at higher temperatures they will start to lose capacity much quicker. So if you live in a very hot climate or are storing your batteries in a very hot location, it may be worthwhile for you to store your alkaline batteries in a refrigerator instead." (Compared with alkaline batteries, lithium batteries provide a consistently higher voltage during their lifespan.)
2. Will cement sap away their power?
Pulling batteries out of toys and gadgets will prevent corrosion, that's common sense.
But there's one myth about the venerable household battery you may not have heard before: cement.
"Some people think you shouldn't put your batteries on cement because it will draw away their energy," said Carl Tripp, store owner of Batteries Plus in Seekonk, Mass.
"There's no evidence that it takes away any of the voltage or capacity from the battery."
3. False advertising
Another battery myth is actually stamped on the side of the battery itself: the date code. It tells you the shelf life of the battery. Sure, the battery will start losing its efficacy around the time on the code, but that's not such a big deal.
"All batteries have a date code. But it's like buying a bottle of soda. It's not as fresh but it still has most of its life left," Tripp said.
As with many tactics designed to foil the average consumer, battery marketing is responsible for the biggest myths about batteries. Do not be impressed by the terms "Heavy Duty," "Long Life," or "Ultra Capacity."
As the gizmodo.com article revealed, those adjectives mean nothing.
Note: This was written by Victor Paul Alvarez, a Digital Crave contributor.