Read how giving people a pre-charged option for buying NiMH rechargeable batteries changed the industry forever — and what the real differences are between standard and “instant” rechargeable batteries.
For the decades that NiCad rechargeable batteries were king, one of the main reasons why they failed to catch on in mainstream popularity were the fact that many consumers couldn’t be bothered to charge them initially. While NiCad rechargeable battery technology was toxic and clumsy compared to today’s NiMH rechargeable batteries, it was nothing more than the fact that NiCads didn’t come pre-charged in their packs. Simply put, batteries are often purchased on an as-needed basis, making an uncharged pack of rechargeable batteries unhelpful for many consumers who are not shrewd enough to plan their battery useage schedule.
It is for this reason why, in today’s consumer electronics market, more and more NiMH rechargeable battery manufacturers are offering pre-charged or ” “instant” alternatives to their standard rechargeable batteries. Now, when your digital camera is completely dead, or if you’re an organisation who recently invested in a large quantity of devices that all need AA rechargeable batteries, you can now go to the store and pick up NiMH rechargeable batteries that offer both the “instant gratification” of alkalines with the longevity of rechargeables. It was the rechargeable battery industry’s way of further competing with the immediacy of disposable alkaline batteries.
Now that the choice between pre-charged and standard rechargeable batteries exists, which ones are better?
Vapex’s AA rechargeable batteries offer the best comparison. In price, they are generally identical — you can pick them up on EW’s website for AUD$14.99 a 4-pack. So, if the prices are the same, why would anyone buy the un-chanrged over the pre=charged? The answer has to do with battery capacity and mAh.
All rechargeable battery companies are careful to make sure that they give their standard NiMH rechargeable batteries a bit more capacity than their pre-charged counterparts, as an incentive for investing in them over the instants. Using the Vapex example, they just recently released an upgrade of their instant model — they now have a quite impressive Instant AA 2500mAh NIMH Rechargeable Battery option. These Vapex “instant rechargeable batteries” actually feature more mAh than even Sanyo Eneloop’s competing model.
But for as impressive as this may be, Vapex’s standard AA Rechargeable Batteries are 2900 mAh. So, what you lack in an instant charge, you make up for in capacity.
To be sure, the set-up for standard NiMH rechargeable batteries can take much longer. Imagine, for example, that you need to buy several dozen AA rechargeable batteries for a set of new walkie talkies. It could take you days to charge all of them, which may not be an option if you need them to work straight away. In this case, you’re going to probably want to go with instants.
In the end, the decision on whether to buy instant or standard rechargeable batteries will depend on how important mAh is in your purchase, and how much time you have to charge them (if any at all).