Cheap Batteries? Are The Best Rechargeable Batteries In Your Trash?

cheap-batteriesI Found An Unlimited Supply of Cheap Batteries at the Library

Rechargeable batteries aren’t cheap. And buying and trashing batteries ain’t cheap either. But I think I’ve found a limitless supply of cheap batteries and I bet you can too.

The key is that most battery chargers don’t charge alkaline batteries, the most common kind of battery, the cheapest, and the kind that most often ends up in the trash. When people think of rechargeables, they think of NiMH (nickel metal hydride), NiCd (nickel cadmium), and Lithium batteries. And these rechargeables aren’t cheap.

Step One: Get a Charger That Recharges Cheap Alkaline Batteries

That’s right: this is an inexpensive battery charger at Amazon that costs less than $30 and recharges NiCd, NiMH, and alkaline batteries. It also has smart circuitry that recharges them appropriately for their chemistry and doesn’t overcharge them blindly. I’ve been using this charger for years with almost no problem. (The LCD display is a corroding a little.)

Step Two: Find an Unlimited Supply of Cheap Batteries

You might already have a lot of spent or half-spent cheap batteries lying around the house. If so, you know what to do.

If not, search the web for battery recycling locations in your area. Hardware stores, electronics stores, and libraries often have battery recycling as a public service.

For me, the motherlode was the public library. There are all kinds of goodies in that bin, and fortunately it’s just a little blue recycling trash bucket that I can easily sort through. (You may want to pick your cheap battery source carefully so you won’t have to dig into anything awkward.) I found not only tons of alkaline batteries of all sizes, but also some nice NiMH rechargeables.

Of course, there are some caveats. Some of the batteries in the bin can be falling apart, and some may look new but have faulty chemistry so they don’t hold a charge. Make sure to inspect your new cheapo batteries carefully to ensure they aren’t cracked or discolored; those aren’t worth taking home to recharge. Any dark spots in the casing are indications that the guts are leaking through a crack. Leave those behind to be recycled as God and the engineers intended.

Step Three: Charge and Enjoy

You are now living large as a card-carrying member of the electrified elite. No more buying pounds and pounds of batteries at Costco and feeling guilty about contributing to the death of the planet. No more thrashing around looking for an elusive live AAA battery for a new device. Congrats!

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Charge That Xbox 360 Controller

charge xbox 360 controllerCharge Your Xbox 360 Controller the Smart Way

Recharging an Xbox 360 controller is totally different than charging a PS3 controller. An Xbox 360 controller, unlike the PS3 controller, has many removable battery options. If you choose, you can run your Xbox 360 controller off disposable AA batteries. However, buying new batteries and disposing of the old batteries* gets tiresome quickly.

Chances are that you have bitten the bullet on an Xbox 360 Rechargeable Battery Pack and are now looking for tips on charging your Xbox 360 controller with the RBP.

Inside the Xbox 360 Rechargeable Battery Pack

To figure out the proper way to charge your Xbox 360 controller, you gotta know what kind of batteries are inside it. And once again we have a little visual aid to show you exactly that. The answer: two Sanyo NiMH AA batteries.

Charging an Xbox 360 Controller the NiMH Way

No, NiMH doesn’t have anything to do with Mrs. Frisby and talking rats; it stands for nickel metal hydride. And as the kind folks at Battery University can attest, NiMH batteries do suffer from a memory effect and are best used in nearly-full recharge cycles. Avoid recharging your Xbox 360 controller after every use. Instead, run the battery pack down to about 20% charge and then give it a good full charge before using it again.

* Your neighborhood Radio Shack will recycle old batteries for you free. Cheers to the Shack.