The top picks tested and reviewed


While rechargeable batteries may be able to cope with most tasks, nothing can beat the convenience of a set of pre-charged AA and AAA batteries. Here, we’re rounding up the best alkaline batteries in both AA and AAA sizes.

Alkaline batteries, such as these, are all designed to have a shelf life of ten years or longer. And, unlike rechargeable models, they don’t lose charge while they’re sat dormant, so they’re always ready to go. This makes them particularly well suited to remote controls, where you only use a tiny amount of power when you hit a button; you then don’t lose power while the remote sits unused. There are some devices that require alkaline batteries, such as smoke alarms.

We test all of our batteries for total capacity, using a dedicated battery tester. This allows us to give more accurate results than, say, using a toy car or torch to measure how long a cell lasts. We also take into account the use a battery may be put to: high drain (for devices that use a lot of power quickly, such as toys and torches) or low drain (for devices that use a little bit of power irregularly, such as remote controls).

We also consider price: sometimes cheaper batteries are a better investment despite having lower power. Our reviews below explain everything.

How we test

How we test alkaline batteries

We test four AA batteries from the same manufacturer and then average the results. We test all alkaline batteries using an Ansmann Energy XC 3000 battery tester. Using this, we first test that the batteries have a starting voltage of t least 1.5V.

Next, we measure capacity in mAh (milliamp hours), which is a standard rating for batteries. Our battery tester discharges batteries with a 600mA load (+/-20%) and stops when the voltage hits 0.94V. After an initial test, we give the batteries an hour to cool down, and then run the test again to see if there’s any additional charge.

We present all three figures: initial capacity, capacity after the second drain, and the final total capacity. The first figure tells us how good the battery is under high-drain loads, such as games controllers and torches; the total figure tells us how much capacity the battery holds and how useful it is for low-drain use, where not much power is required, such as for remote controls.

GP Ultra AA

The best overall AA batteries

Pros

  • Low price
  • High capacity
  • Available in wide range of pack sizes

Cons

  • Higher drain batteries available

According to our tests, if you’re looking for flexibility and overall power, then the GP Ultra AA batteries are the best that you can currently get. These batteries delivered a total capacity of 1680.5mAh in our tests, which is the highest that we’ve ever seen.

This result was delivered from two results. First, we had the initial drain result, which showed that the batteries held 1302.25mAh, which puts these batteries close to the top in our tests. After giving the batteries time to cool down, we re-ran the test and found they could deliver another 378.25mAh.

This makes the GP Ultra AA particularly well suited for low-drain uses, such as clocks and remote controls, where power is used more slowly over a longer period. However, the high result from the first test, shows that these batteries are a good choice for higher-drain uses, such as toys and batteries.

If you only want high-drain use, then the Duracell Plus AA may be better for you, but if you want batteries in your cupboard for a variety of uses, then these are currently the best choice.

Full review: GP Ultra AA review

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Amazon Basics Alkaline AAA

The best AAA batteries

Pros

  • Excellent high-drain performance
  • High capacity
  • Low price

When we tested AAA batteries, we were expecting a similar spread of results to the AA models, but we were wrong: the Amazon Basics Alkaline AAA batteries were by far the best at everything in our tests.

We performed an initial drain test and found that the batteries held 559.75mAh, which was highest by a lot. Running a second drain test after the batteries had cooled down, we found that they held an additional 25.25mAh, for a total of 585mAh. That’s second overall, but only 12mAh less than the GP Ultra AAA batteries.

That shows that pretty much the full capacity can be used by high drain devices, such as games controllers, toys and torches. Yet, the overall capacity is high, making these batteries suitable for low-drain uses, such as remote controls, where longevity is important.

The other batteries that we tested just weren’t as good: they had much lower results in the initial result, and most had lower overall capacities. That makes the Amazon Basics Alkaline AAA batteries the best overall at everything.

Full review: Amazon Basics Alkaline AAA review

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Amazon Basics Alkaline AA

The best budget AA batteries

Pros

  • High capacity
  • Perform well under high loads
  • Excellent value

Cons

  • Amazon doesn’t quote detailed specs

The word ‘budget’ often has bad connotations, but the Amazon Basics Alkaline AA batteries avoid that trap. While these are undoubtedly cheap batteries, particular when bought in bulk.

Running these batteries through our normal tests, we measured them with an initial capacity of 1376mAh, which is only slightly behind the Duracell Plus AA. This amount of power shows that these batteries are an excellent choice for high-drain uses, such as torches and toys.

We then ran the batteries through a second drain test, which delivered an additional 219mAh, for a total capacity of 1595mAh, which is only just behind the GP Ultra AA batteries. That makes these batteries a good choice for lower-drain use, such as clocks and remote controls.

While the GP Ultra batteries may be slightly more flexible, if you’re on a tighter budget, these are a great choice, particularly if you want to buy in bulk.

Full review: Amazon Basics Alkaline AA review

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Duracell Plus AA

The best high-power AA batteries

Pros

  • Very high performance
  • Performs well for high-drain use
  • Widely available

If it’s raw power that you want, then the Duracell Plus AA alkaline batteries are for you. These proved to be real power-houses in our tests.

Our initial drain test showed that these batteries were capable of delivering 1442mAh: this is the highest that we’ve seen. We then performed a second test after the batteries had cooled down, and they delivered an additional 176mAh, giving a total of 1618mAh.

While this makes the GP Ultra AA batteries more powerful overall, the Duracell AA’s initial result shows that these batteries are much more powerful for high-drain use, such as toys and torches. If that’s the main use that you want batteries for, then there’s nothing better that we’ve tested.

These batteries are quite expensive, and the Amazon Basics AA may be better choice if you’re on a tighter budget.

Full review: Duracell Plus AA review

Reviewer: David Ludlow

We also considered…

FAQs

What are the benefits of alkaline batteries over rechargeable ones?

Alkaline batteries hold their charge and don’t dissipate power when not in use. That’s an important consideration with devices such as smart locks: if you use rechargeable batteries, power will dissipate over time, and your lock may suddenly not work; with alkaline batteries, you’ll get a warning and a chance to replace them.

Alkaline batteries have a higher starting voltage than rechargeable models, of at least 1.5V. However, most devices that take AA or AAA cells are rated to work at lower voltages, so this generally isn’t an advantage. Besides, alkaline batteries rapidly lose voltage over use, so devices need to be able to cope with this voltage drop. That said, alkaline batteries are a requirement for some devices, such as smoke alarms.

We’ve also found that some devices can complain if rechargeable batteries are used: our smart lock warns of low battery power when we use rechargeable batteries.

Does capacity differ with use?

Yes, it does. Most batteries will show a higher capacity when used with lower-power devices, and lower charge when used with higher capacity devices. Our results still indicate which batteries are better overall.

Why do alkaline batteries seem to ‘come back to life’ when left?

It’s all to do with how the batteries are created and the chemical construction. After use, a battery’s voltage will drop to the point where it can no longer be used. When left to rest, the voltage can recover, giving batteries a shorter second wind. For that reason, we test alkaline batteries twice: for an initial drain, and then again after a rest.

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