6 Reasons You Should Still Use Disposable Batteries

With the latest battery technology, such as Lifepo4, NiMH, and Ni-Cd, rechargeable batteries have become the go-to choice for powering all things electronic. Although rechargeable batteries have indeed revolutionized how we store energy, they still have certain problems and shortcomings that need to be solved before we fully commit to only using rechargeable batteries.


Until then, disposable batteries still have their place and aren’t obsolete, as many people assume.

Aren’t rechargeable batteries better since they reduce e-waste and can be reused for hundreds of recharge cycles? So why exactly should we keep using disposables?

1. Disposables Are Safer

By nature, disposable batteries are safer than rechargeable batteries. The reason is that process of recharging batteries can have multiple points of failure. This is further aggravated by the fact that people often lose their original battery chargers and replace them with low-quality third-party chargers, which aren’t optimized for the specific battery. The act of recharging itself already poses problems when it comes to safety. Disposable batteries simply don’t have these problems.

2. Disposables Are Easier To Recycle

The majority of rechargeable batteries are hard to recycle. The only way to properly dispose of these batteries is for you to surrender them to the nearest disposal center or to find an e-waste bin to throw your dead batteries.

So how many people do you know will actually take their time to go to these centers and properly surrender dead batteries? Probably few, if any.

On the other hand, since disposable batteries (except Lithium) are made from non-hazardous materials, you can conveniently dispose of them as you would with your regular household trash. Now, we’d always advise you to take the extra steps to recycle responsibly, but as per the USDA, “Regular alkaline, manganese, and carbon-zinc batteries are not considered hazardous waste and can be disposed of with ordinary trash.”

Remember, that doesn’t apply to Lithium-based batteries, so make sure you check what you’re putting in the trash, because it could cause a major issue.

3. Less Hazardous to the Environment

Although rechargeable batteries lessen e-waste, it doesn’t always mean it automatically reduces the negative impacts of e-waste on the environment.

Rechargeable batteries are made from highly toxic materials such as Lead, Cadmium, and Cobalt. These materials are hard to recycle and are an environmental hazard. They are so hazardous that laws and initiatives have been established to mandate or pressure manufacturers to handle the end-of-life phase of rechargeable batteries by providing disposal centers and making logs and reports to confirm their efforts.

In contrast, disposable batteries are made from non-hazardous materials like Alkaline and Zinc Carbon. Although again, it’s not recommended that you just throw alkaline batteries anywhere!

4. Disposables Store Energy Longer

Disposable batteries typically store energy longer compared to rechargeable ones. This is because disposables often have low self-discharge, holding up to 90% of their charge for years. Depending on the materials used, disposable batteries can hold a charge for years after post-production. For example, carbon-zinc batteries can hold a charge for 2-3 years, Alkaline for 5-10 years, and Lithium disposable batteries for 10-12 years!

Disposable batteries are also more weather tolerant than their rechargeable counterparts. As long as you don’t puncture or intentionally heat disposable batteries, they will keep their charge and have low chances of exploding or leaking. In addition, keeping disposable batteries in tightly sealed packaging will further protect them, making them even more weather resistant.

Having the ability to store energy for years and years is one of the biggest pros of disposable batteries. With such a long shelf life, they are significantly more convenient to use than rechargeable ones that lose charge in a matter of weeks and are more susceptible to leakage. It also doesn’t help that rechargeable batteries need to be stored at 50% charge if you are planning to keep them for the long term with good battery health.

5. Disposables Are More Energy-Dense Than Rechargeable Batteries

Lithium batteries offer the highest energy density in relation to their size. A double A (AA) battery can store energy equivalent to 2,700-3,400 mAh, around the same as the much bigger rechargeable batteries used in vapes and power banks.

If you don’t like the hazardous material used in lithium batteries, Alkaline batteries can still hold a respectable 2,500 mAh of energy on a double A (AA) size body. This level of energy density is still significantly better than most rechargeable batteries when size is factored in.

6. Disposables Have Lower Upfront Cost

Disposable batteries are much less expensive than rechargeable batteries, especially considering that you also have to buy a charger to continue reusing rechargeable batteries. Although it is true that rechargeable batteries will actually save you money in the long term, this ultimately won’t matter if you consider that disposable batteries are used for low drain applications, meaning you shouldn’t need to keep buying new disposable batteries.

What Are the Best Applications for Disposable Batteries?

Although rechargeables are the preferred battery for most applications, there are still scenarios where using disposable batteries would be the better option.

The low discharge rate of disposable batteries helps them retain their charge for long periods. With this in mind, the best time to use disposable batteries would be on electronics designed to use small amounts of power to work or devices used every once in a while.

For example, coin or silver oxide batteries are used for quartz watches, powering your computer’s bios for time and date keeping, and all kinds of embedded applications. Alkaline and zinc-carbon batteries are best used on passive electronics such as smoke detectors, door alarms, weighing scales, and wall clocks.

Lithium batteries are energy dense, have the longest stand-by and shelf life, and are the most weather resistant of all disposable batteries. For these reasons, Lithium batteries are best used for disaster preparedness and emergency applications where you can’t have batteries failing on you. These include backup/emergency flashlights, handheld weather band radios, walkie-talkies, GPS, and general stockpiling.

Disposable Batteries Are Unlikely to Become Obsolete

The trend for newer revolutionary technology is to make their predecessors obsolete: Digital cameras replacing film, CDs replaced by flash drives, SSDs replacing HDDs, and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beginning to make wired low-energy devices obsolete.

This, however, doesn’t necessarily apply to batteries, at least for the near future. Battery development is more in the fields of specialized chemistry than it is in electronics. Therefore, unless researchers discover some revolutionary method or material to create new batteries, disposable batteries will never go obsolete.


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