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Pick the right batteriesTom Merritt explains how to choose the right batteries for your gadgets.
[ music ] ^M00:00:12 >> Batteries. They seem simple in concept. You buy a couple, you shove them in your gadget, and you just start using it, right? But when you go to the store, you find out there's alkaline and lithium and rechargeable batteries. Don't get me started on heavy duty. And then there's all these alkalines that say ultra and pro cell, it's kind of confusing. I'm Tom Merritt from CNET.com. On this edition of Insider Secrets, I'll give you some tips on how to choose the right batteries. [ music ] Let's start with non-rechargables. These are the batteries you use until they die, and then you throw them away. No you don't, you properly dispose of them. We'll get to that later. Simple answer is alkaline. It's the all-purpose battery, and the one you normally find at the store. You can also find high capacity alkaline batteries that work well in electronics. Just look for the names like High Drain or Ultra or Power. Now if you don't know which battery to choose, choose alkaline. And then avoid the heavy duty battery. If the kind of battery isn't printed anywhere on the surface, it's probably a carbon zinc battery, and it's crap. Now these used to be a good deal cheaper than alkalines back in the seventies, but these days there's little price difference. Plus, they corrode easily. So if you leave them in a gadget, they can ruin it. Just avoid them. That brings us to lithium batteries. Not lithium ion mind you, those are the batteries that come in your laptop, they're big and bulky. These are double A size lithium batteries, they're disposable batteries billed as good for high drain devices, specifically electronics. And it's true, they are good for things like cameras and such, but they're more expensive and must be disposed like hazardous waste. You shouldn't throw any battery in your normal trash, and you're breaking the law if you do it with these. Nice thing about lithium batteries, they last a long time when not in use. Alkaline batteries can die just sitting around. Smoke detectors are a great place to go ahead and spend the bucks on lithium. Now for electronics, compare prices, and you might do just as well with a high capacity alkaline, or maybe even a rechargeable battery. That brings us to our next topic. You can get rechargeable double A nine volt and other common sizes, and your two main choices are going to be nickel cadmium and nickel metal hydride. With all rechargables they will lose charge whether they're in use or not, so you have to recharge them right before you use them. Now nickel cadmium has slightly lower capacity, but loses charge slightly slower than nickel metal high drive. Now the main problem though is memory effect. If you recharge a nickel cadmium battery while it still has significant charge left, it can severely shorten the life of the battery. And by the way, nickel cadmium batteries are also considered hazardous, just like the lithium batteries. That's why I prefer nickel metal hydride. Doesn't have the memory effect, and has higher capacity. I'd pick these in most cases. Before we finish, here's a few general battery tips for all kinds of batteries. Store your batteries in a cool place to slow down the normal discharging that happens over time. I wouldn't put them in a freezer though cause they might explode. Put them in a plastic bag in the fridge, that's not bad. Also, whether the law requires you to or not, you should recycle all your batteries. Go to earth911.org to find out where in your neighborhood you can drop off your dead soldiers, or see if your workplace offers battery recycling. [ background music ] That's it for this edition of Insider Secrets. To sum up, alkaline for non-rechargables, nickel metal hydride for rechargables. I'm Tom Merritt for CNET.com, use your power wisely. ^M00:03:55 [ music ]