Energizer Varta and Duracell Batteries

Alkaline Batteries or Rechargeable Batteries for my Headlamp?

It’s an ever returning questions: Shall I buy genuine Duracells or just some cheaper brand batteries? Or, shall I even go for expensive rechargeables? Does my choice make a difference at all and do genuine batteries last longer?

Headlamp Model

We think(!) we’ve noticed that Duracells always last a bit longer than other brand batteries. But they’re more expensive than other brands and at the end of the day it may not make a big difference which brand to buy. Rechargeables instead are a whole lot more expensive but therefore pay off over time, depending on the number of recharges. They are definitely good for the environment, but also may not reach the performance level of good regular alkaline batteries. In terms of output power, as well as runtime.

So, what should we put in our headlamps? Is there a chance that the type of batteries we’re using has an effect on the light output of our headlamps? We’re curious and we wanted to find out. Because we had a feeling that battery type and light output may be related to each other. Maybe more than we would think.

So, we decided to test run one of our headlamps with the 3 different kinds of AAA batteries and record the different outputs curves with our light meter. In our tests we used DURACELL® batteries, ENERGIZER® batteries and VARTA® rechargeable batteries. Please note, that this is not a scientific test. We only had the feeling we needed to do this out of curiosity and fun.

Comparison Graph for different Batteries

In the test above, the headlamp is picked it out of a price segment of app. US$ 55.00 and uses AAA size batteries. A price segment where you can expect a well designed output curve. The headlamp has a beam mode which we used for our measurement.

Looking at the Graph above, it seems that the headlamp’s electronic is regulating the light output well. Independent from the kind of batteries, until the power drop-off starts. This is where we can see some difference.

Energizer Varta Comparison

In the test above, the headlamp is out of the mid-priced segment of app. US$ 30.00 and uses AAA size batteries. The headlamp has several flood light modes and no beam mode. We measured the highest flood light mode.

Looking at the Graph above, it seems the headlamp’s not doing anything to even out the differences in battery performance. We were surprised that the rechargeable batteries outperform the alkaline batteries. And by the way, the manufacturer promises 20 hours of light output for that product (!)

In another test we used a high performance headlamp out of the US$ 90.00 segment. Not knowing if it was regulated or not. We compared AA Panasonic@ Alkaline Batteries and VARTA® 2400mAh rechargeable Batteries. Surprisingly, we see a huge difference in light output and performance.

Comparison Panasonic and Varta AA

At first we could not believe such a huge difference in performance and double checked the alkaline batteries. We found, they actually recovered. 7 hours after running empty in our first test. So we decided to start the recording again. Showing the output performance after recovery.

Alkaline Battery Recovery


The above output curves are quite interesting to study. But what do they tell us? We think it is far more important to choose a good headlamp with a well regulated output curve. That allows you to be independent from the brand of batteries you use. The electronics in our first headlamp seems to be able to eliminate different battery behaviors. It levels them out and guaranties very similar output. No matter which battery you use. Only towards the end of battery life it seems there’s no chance to control the batteries any more.

Our 90.00$ headlamp seems to be very depending on the kind of batteries you use. We are still shocked about the poor performance of the PANASONIC® batteries. So we decided to retest in the near future…

Until then, thanks for reading!

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