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February 7, 2023

Discharge tests of AA Batteries, Alkaline and NiMH

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Results of AA Discharge testing by PowerStream engineers


1. New Batteries are purchased from a retailer to make sure they are fresh.

2. In the case of PowerStream batteries, cells were pulled from stock that has been sitting around for a few months and freshly charged.

3. I am using a CBA II computerized battery analyzer. This is reliable only above 100 mA, so the discharge tests below are for relatively high currents, in other words digital cameras. The performance rankings may be different for low current applications.
Summary of tests, see discharge curves below
Size Brand Code in Charts Date of Test Sell By Date Termination voltage used in test Amp-Hours at 100 mA Discharge rate Amp-hours at 500 mA Discharge Rate Amp-hours at 1 Amp Discharge Rate Amp-hours at 2 Amps Discharge Rate Amp-Hours at 5 Amps Discharge Rate
AA Alkaline Radio Shack Enercell Plus RS April 2006 2010 0.1 Volt 2.13 AH 1.31 AH 0.98 AH 0.72 AH  
AA Alkaline Duracell Coppertop DC April 2020 2026 0.1 Volt 2.20 AH 1.30 AH 0.83 AH 0.54 AH  
AA Alkaline Energizer Titanium ET May 2020 2024 0.1 Volt   1.84 AH 1.41 AH 1.18 AH  
AA Alkaline Energizer Max EM May 2020 2024 0.1 Volt   1.17 AH 0.93 AH 0.70 AH  
AA Alkaline Eveready Gold EG May 2020 2024 0.1 Volt   1.28 AH 0.95 AH 0.78 AH  
AA Lithium Metal Energizer Lithium E2 May 2020 2027 0.1 Volt       2.8 AH  

Chart showing the voltage during discharge of AA alkaline cells at 2 amps discharge current This test compares the different manufacturer's cells at 2 amps discharge rate. The manufacturer codes are listed in the table above.

Note that at 2 Amps discharge rate the Radio Shack (RS) has higher voltage and more amp hours than the Duracell Coppertop (DC).
graph showing voltage versus discharge current for AA alkaline cells at 1 amp discharge At 1 Amp discharge rate the Radio Shack still has some advantage over the Duracell Coppertop  
graph showing AA battery discharge curves at 500 mA discharge current At 500 mA discharge rate the Radio Shack and Duracell are neck and neck.  
graph showing AA battery discharge curves at 100 mA discharge rate At a slow discharge rate the Duracell pulls out ahead slightly, both for the voltage and the amp hours. I don't have the patience to run it at lower amp rates, but for very low discharge applications you might find that the Coppertop excels the Radio Shack even more. Evidently the Radio Shack cell was designed for high current and the Coppertop is designed for low current.  
NiMH AA cell voltage during discharge at  200mA discharge current This is the PowerStream 2000 mAH Nickel Metal Hydride cell. I was surprised at how this cell shines for high current applications. The green and red curves were the same cell run twice at 2 amps.

Evidently for high current applications the rechargeable battery is a much better choice, both for amp hours and for keeping the voltage high during discharge. I still use the disposable because of the convenience, but both for total cost and number of pictures between battery change-out there is a good reason to use these rechargeable cells.
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