Battery Review

A number of batteries commonly found on supermarket shelves and hardware stores in Australia were recently put to the test in the Garmin Vista HCx GPS units commonly used by BSAR. Fresh batteries were purchased in packs of 4 and the standard price noted per battery. Batteries were placed in a GPS unit. The unit was turned on and operated such that it displayed the Main Menu screen. The GPS unit was placed on a shelf at room temperature. Using the track logs, results were obtained of how long the unit was able to operate until operating voltage was insufficient. Here are the results:

Operating Duration for Various Batteries
Battery Operating Duration
      (hh:mm)
Price per Battery
     ($AU)
Varta Longlife Extra (Alkaline)   28:12    $0.75
Energizer Max (Alkaline)   28:10    $1.87
Energizer e2 Titanium (Alkaline)   29:30    $2.08
Energizer Rechargeable 2500mAh (NiMH)   19:10    $5:83
Varta Ready2Use 2100mAh (longlife NiMH)   25:30    $5:00
Sanyo eneloop 2000mAh (longlife NiMH)   25:17    $5:50
Energizer Ultimate Lithium   46:10    $5:00
Duracell Coppertop (Alkaline)   28:58    $1.88
Eveready Super Heavy Duty   09:10    $1.25

Conclusion
Standard Alkalines: All standard alkaline batteries from each of the manufacturers operated for a similar period of time. However, the Varta brand was considerably cheaper than the offerings from Energizer and Duracell.

Lithiums: The Energizer lithium batteries performed the best but were also the most expensive of the non-rechargeable batteries.

Zinc-Carbons: The Eveready Super Heavy Duty battery performed the worst of all the batteries tested

NiMH rechargeables. The Energizer rechargeable batteries performed reasonably but the long life versions from Sanyo and Varta performed better - even though their stated capacity is lower. This is likely due to the the higher operating voltage of these batteries - the GPS units will shut down once a lower limit voltage is reached. The other good point to note about the long life rechargeables is that they maintain a capacity of around 85% after 12 months on the shelf. Standard rechargeables will lose most of their capacity within 6 months.

Not recommended: Eveready Super Heavy Duty
Recommended: Varta Longlife Extra Alkaline, Varta Ready2Use and Sanyo eneloops
Best performer: Energizer Ultimate Lithium

Author: Frank Zgoznik

Update 18 Nov 09: Long life rechargeables added to the review. Stay tuned for more results in the coming weeks when using these batteries at low temperatures.