Even in the world of rechargeable batteries, comparison shopping can be extremely difficult. The market is saturated with underpriced, underpowered, and downright dangerous rechargeable batteries. However, even among the high quality batteries, choosing the right one can be nothing more than trial and error. Naturally, all rechargeable batteries are not all created equal. Some will operate better for heavy draw devices that require large amounts of power delivered quickly. Some will work better for long life, able to produce lesser amounts of power over long periods of time. Some will be preferable for creating your own battery packs to save money. Some are better for the environment, and some have a greater shelf life which makes them much better choices for placement in emergency gear.
Really, when it comes to rechargeable batteries, there are two primary choices: the Sanyo Eneloop and the Vapex line of batteries. The Eneloop works better for devices with a higher energy demand on the battery, while the Vapex batteries are far more economical, costing a fraction of the price of the Eneloop, so they are preferred by anyone looking for a bargain.
While the Vapex batteries are cheaper initially, they can also only be recharged approximately 1000 times, while the Sanyo Eneloop boasts that it can be recharged up to 1500 times, depending on conditions. The extra money that goes into an Eneloop could mean the difference between nearly half again more charges than the Vapex would be able to deliver, but some experimentation is necessary to determine the actual usage the batteries can deliver for you.
When it comes to eco-friendliness, both batteries use comparable technology. Both the Vapex and Sanyo Eneloop are Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), which is very easy on the environment, and make them significantly better choices than the average disposable alkaline battery that is only good for a single use before it must be disposed of in specific ways due to their Mercury content.
The two areas where Vapex really shine are in the type of recharger they use, as well as constructing your own battery packs. Vapex had the ingenious notion of adding solder tags to their batteries, which makes building battery packs for any large devices a simple feat, while the Eneloop is intended more for principle battery use and aren’t designed with battery packs in mind. They can still be used to make a battery pack for portable electric tools, but often the battery packs will not be as easy to recharge as any made with Vapex.
The reason homemade Eneloop battery packs have difficulty with recharging is that Sanyo doesn’t recommend that their Eneloop batteries be used in any charger that isn’t specifically Eneloop approved. They have specific needs, and any charger not designed by Sanyo or Panasonic (the new owner of Sanyo) often creates problems with the Eneloop batteries. Using alternative chargers for them could drastically affect battery life both for short term use, and over the life of the battery. This means that anyone that wishes to use an Eneloop battery will need to spend a premium for a Sanyo charger, which makes their initial cost even higher.
Vapex is designed to be a more versatile battery that can work with any number of chargers, making it the choice for anyone that already has a battery charger, or simply has a brand preference outside of Sanyo’s proprietary recharging stations.
The final failing of the Eneloop is that they currently are only produced in the smaller AA and AAA battery sizes. With the use of a C or D cell adapter the smaller Eneloop batteries can be used, but their lifespan will be significantly shortened when compared to regular C and D cells. Vapex makes batteries in all sizes, enabling longer life for larger products, as well as further assisting with construction of larger battery packs.
When it comes to power, the batteries are reasonably well matched, with both coming in at the standard 1.2V of power output, as well as high mAh capacities. The Vapex have a high 2600 mAh and the Eneloop come in at a comparable 2000 mAh, making them some of the longest lasting batteries on the market right now.
Where Eneloop tends to shine is both in its ability to work in extreme cold without suffering changes in power output, as well as their ability to hold a charge for a longer period of time. Eneloops can be stored for up to 3 years and still retain 75% of their charge. This is nearly on par with disposable Alkaline batteries that hold on to 90% of their charge after two years.
To choose a rechargeable battery, the way to pick is what you intend to use your batteries for. For high draw, high output devices, the Eneloop is going to provide the power you need. They are especially good for devices you don’t necessarily use every day, as they can hold a charge longer. Vapex batteries are less expensive, both in the cost of the batteries as well as the charger. They can also be used for a wider variety of products, making them more the “go-to” battery for everyday use. Their solder tags further broaden their horizons in that they can save you even more money by allowing you to make your own battery packs. For anyone that uses several mobile tools, this can save hundreds of dollars in battery packs.
Both batteries have solid power outputs and neither one would be a wrong choice when it comes to protecting the environment. Sanyo Eneloop‘s impressive shelf-life as well as ability to operate in the most diverse of conditions make it a better decision for high-end battery users that need something that is always reliable. Vapex is geared more toward the average consumer that doesn’t want or need to spend a lot on batteries or chargers, and just seeking basic household use for their batteries. For true value, either way saves you over disposable batteries and is a kindness to the Earth.
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