NiZn rechargeable batteries claim to have higher capacity and longer life than NiMH rechargeable batteries. But for the extra cost, are they really worth it?
If you’re a digital camera, gadget, or electronics enthusiast, then you know that the rechargeable battery market never stands still — there is always a new kind of battery technology seeking to replace the status quo. For years, NiCd dominated the rechargeable battery landscape, until NiMH offered a higher quality, more eco-friendly replacement. And for quite a long time, NiMH has remained the standard for most consumer-based rechargeable batteries. Even many hybrid automobiles use NiMH rechargeable batteries.
In recent years, however, LiON batteries have come into vogue, particularly for high-profile gadgets like SLR digital cameras, some of which take AA batteries instead of digital camera battery packs. AA LiON batteries, however, are often not offered as rechargeable, meaning that camera hobbyistys and professionals alike run into the age-old problem of constantly having to invest in disposable batteries again, or otherwise using NiMH rechargeable batters for cameras that call for LiON.
A new kind of rechargeable battery technology, however — NiZn — has sought to replace NiMH rechargeable batteries as the next step toward the output of LiON. PowerGenix has come out with the first mainstream NiZn rechargeable batteries and battery charger, claiming big claims against standard NiMH rechargeable batteries. According to Steve’s Digicams, a reliable website on battery technology, “Their unique NiZn (Nickel-Zinc) batteries offer better voltage output when compared to NiMH rechargeable cells at about 1.6 volts (NiMH average around 1.2V). This means NiZn cells can deliver more than 0.4V of additional voltage (about 30% more than NiMH), whether at open circuit or under load.” As a result, PowerGenix says that you get higher power density in a smaller, lower-cost package, and in the end, they outperform NiMH rechargeable batteries.
But is this really the case?
Rechargeable battery gurus have begun to test these battery technologies side by side, and they are finding that their overall performances are quite similar. A recent test involved comparing fully charged PowerGenix head-to-head against some Rayovac NiMH rechargeable batteries. The tester noted that “The Power Genix are rated at 2500 mwh since wattage is a power reading. If you consider the Rayovacs are 1.2 volts and multiply that by their rated 2100 mah you arrive at 2550 mwh. Meaning they should be roughly equivalent.” So, given the fact that they share similar mAh, how did they perform?
Using a flashlight, the tester was able to get 97 minutes of of full brightness light from the flashlight before fading from the PowerGenix, whereas the Rayovacs provided 87 minutes. A 10-minute difference is nominal.
From a price standpoint, PowerGenix seems to be priced similarly between generic brand rechargeable batteries like Vapex and premium brands like Sanyo Eneloop. From what we can see thus far, PowerGenix’s NiZn rechargeable batteries really don’t live up to the hype, and offer little performance upgrades to your own trust NiMH rechargeable batteries.
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