When Should You Avoid Rechargeable Batteries?

Consumer Reports looks at the problems and benefits of rechargeable batteries

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Batteries are something many of us rely on to power up TV remotes and flashlights, and if you have kids, you know the constant demand for fresh batteries to turn on all those toys.

While rechargeable batteries can help save money and the planet there are times you should not use them, according to Consumer Reports.

Both rechargeable and single-use batteries contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals that can pollute the environment. They both also require water and energy in the manufacturing process and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Rechargeable batteries are more sustainable than disposables only after you’ve used them at least 50 times, and that’s something that shouldn’t be a problem for many families, according to a 2016 study in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment says that.

Toys and wireless mice are a great place to use rechargeable batteries because they usually draw a lot of power over a short period of time. 

Also, make sure you also buy a charger that can accommodate all the different sizes of rechargeable batteries you’ll be using.

As for single-use batteries, CR said, they hold a charge longer and are best for things like smoke detectors and emergency tools, such as flashlights. They’re designed to have a slow discharge for those types of items that you need at the ready.

All batteries — even rechargeable ones — eventually die. And if you’ve ever left batteries in an old device and found that they leaked, you can just imagine what happens to them in a landfill. To help keep those toxic chemicals out of the environment, CR suggests that you recycle them. That goes for all batteries, whether they start your car or run your watch.

But don't gather them all in a bag or container. Old batteries can spark if they are not handled carefully. Line them up side-by-side so their contact points do not touch anything conductive. When it's time to get rid of them, check with your local government or community for recycling rules and events. In California, t is illegal to throw a single-use battery in the trash.

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