Choosing the Right Battery for the Job

A hospitality property has hundreds of upfront and behind-the-scenes battery power needs. At the front desk: pagers, cordless phones, calculators, wall clocks, and pencil sharpeners. In a typical guest room: electronic door locks, remote controls, smoke detectors, safes, deodorizers, clock radios. In maintenance and security: flashlights, two-way radios, pagers, penlights, remote entry car locks, power tools. In conference rooms: keyboards, audiovisual controllers, laser pointers, cordless microphones and more.

But which kind? Which brand? Rechargeable or not? Sometimes called “general purpose,” heavy-duty batteries are really light uty. They’re good for low-drain devices, such as wall clocks, and have one-third the capacity of alkaline batteries, which don’t cost much more.

Alkaline batteries work well and are economical for most applications except high-drain devices, such as digital cameras and audio players.

Super alkaline batteries are designed for high-drain devices and last about 50 percent longer. Lithium batteries, also for high-drain devices, last much longer than alkalines but are more expensive.

Rechargeable batteries are more expensive up front but cheaper in the long run, even with the cost of a charger and electricity. They lose power while idle; however, you can recharge batteries 200 or more times. Choose nickel metal hydride (NiMH) over nickel cadmium (NiCad). The new hybrid NiMH cells come charged, lose power at a slower rate, and maintain 85 percent of their charge even after sitting idle for a year. Rechargeable batteries must be recycled.

You can get a charger and four rechargeable batteries for $30 to $50. When compared with 50-cent disposables, you could save $350 after 200 charges. If the rechargeables yield 500 charges, $1 disposables end up being $1,950 more expensive. Electricity cost for charging is negligible.

If you only buy one type of battery, choose all-purpose alkaline. Independent tests have shown that no brand seems to be consistently better, and generics are often the best value. Most alkaline batteries have a shelf life of five to seven years, so you can stock up. Buying larger quantities gets you a much better cost per battery.

You can get a charger and four rechargeable batteries for $30 to $50. When compared with 50-cent disposables, you could save $350 after 200 charges. If the rechargeables yield 500 charges, $1 disposables end up being $1,950 more expensive. Electricity cost for charging is negligible.

Change out all your batteries on a regular schedule; Daylight Savings Time changes are a great reminder. And check with your local and state recycling or household hazardous waste coordinators for your area’s battery disposal program.

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