The top rated, best Lithium Ion AA (“double A” or “L91”) and AAA (“triple A” or “L92”) batteries have a shelf life of 20 years, and active usage of up to 10 years. Leading brands for the best batteries include Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA/AAA, Duracell Ultra Lithium AA/AAA and Amazon Basics Lithium Ion. The best batteries can be inexpensive, with the cheapest a little over $1 for AA and $1.50 for AAA in bulk packs. Use these long life batteries for devices like wireless contact alarms and security devices, smoke alarms, low power LED lighting, computer mouse / trackball / keyboard, outdoor monitors and cameras. Of course, how long a battery lasts depends on how much usage it gets. For comparison, it’s best to consider the milli-amp-hours (mAh) of storage in the battery.
We’ll cover the Alkaline and rechargeable batteries in another article, since they are categories all to themselves.
Below are the best in class batteries; We follow this with a description of Alkaline versus Lithium Ion, and then about the testing / evaluation.
Energizer “Ultimate” Lithium Ion Batteries
AA Size Batteries
In addition to being great for digital cameras, toys and LED flashlights we have also used these in wireless keyboards, travel mouse and TV/DVR remotes. For higher power devices, like motorized devices, you can get a continuous 2.5A from the battery.
Energizer promotes these as “leak proof”, and after using many of these over the last 4 years, we haven’t had any issues. Other brands have oxidized and left a crusty white powered inside of cameras and flashlights – never a pleasant surprise when you open a dead item to find it’s been ruined by the battery!
The storage temperature and the operating temperature are -40°F to 140°F (-40°C to 60°C). Here you can find a complete .pdf data sheet for the Energizer Ultimate AA battery .
Here are the links and spot prices on Amazon for batteries sold direct by Energizer at time of publishing. These can change based on demand and other competitor prices for various package sizes. Also note that many places will sell “bulk” batteries, that are not in the sealed blister packs. There are mixed reviews about the quality of these batteries, so if you aren’t buying directly from Energizer then carefully check the reviews / seller ratings.
Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA Batteries, 2 Count
Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA Batteries, 4 Count
Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA Batteries, 8 Count
Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA Batteries, 12 Count
Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA Batteries, 18 Count
Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA Batteries, 24 Count
AAA Size Batteries
As with the other batteries in the “Ultimate” series, you get 20 year shelf life and the “leak proof” guarantee. Energy capacity is about 1250 mAh, with a maximum continuous 1.5A discharge from the battery.
The storage temperature and the operating temperature are -40°F to 140°F (-40°C to 60°C). Here you can find a complete .pdf data sheet for the Energizer Ultimate AAA battery .
Energizer Ultimate Lithium AAA Batteries, 8 Count
Energizer Ultimate Lithium AAA Batteries, 12 Count
Choosing Lithium Ion versus Alkaline Batteries
We cover the advantages, trade-offs and technology in-depth in a related article, and give the highlights here. In another article we have our recommendations for best Alkaline batteries to buy right now.
Price: Alkaline batteries are much cheaper than Lithium Ion. You can expect to pay from $0.25 to $0.75 (depending on the brand and the quantity) for AAA, compared with $1.50. The Alkaline AA run about the same price as the AAA, $0.25 to $0.75.
Energy Capacity: Lithium Ion chemistry allows for a much higher energy storage in the same volume, and for a better discharge profile. Depending on the usage, you can get an average of 9x more life from the Lithium Ion versus the Alkaline.
Weight: Lithium Ion batteries can weigh about 1/3 less than standard Alkaline batteries. At about 0.5 ounces (15 grams) for an AA, 0.3 ounces (7.6 grams) for AAA Lithium Ion batteries, it may make a difference when you are carrying your camera, flashlight, and other devices around in your travel bag, purse or backpack.
Storage: Lithium Ion can safely sit on your shelf or in the drawer for 20 years, compared with 10 years for the Alkaline.
Test Case Examples
Our long term test involved AAA Lithium Ion batteries in the wireless, contact security sensors for the windows and doors at the office. Just over 3 years ago, we upgraded the sensors and put in new batteries; Putting in some new sensors we are testing, it was a good time to check how the original batteries were doing.
Each battery comes with a shelf-life date, usually at the top end (“+” side), and a manufactured date in lighter print along the side. We used 6 Energizer “Advanced”, 6 Energizer “Ultimate” and 6 other mixed Lithium Ion batteries. The Advanced had manufactured (sometimes called the “born on date”) date of 0314, with use by date of 12-2026, which is in line with the 12 year shelf life. The Ultimate were dated 0913 and 03-2033, which is what it should be for the 20 year shelf life.
We tested each battery out of the package with a volt meter and each of the Energizers was a respectable 1.81V or 1.82V. And after more than 3 years in the security sensors, with typical usage, they measured 1.76V or 1.77V, still well above the 1.5V rating for an AAA battery. The other mixed 6 started out at 1.55V to 1.73V, and finished at 1.47V to 1.51V, which was not very promising.
With that example in mind, you can save a lot of time research batteries and use the lists (and related articles) above for selecting the best of the Alkaline and Lithium Ion batteries for your home and business use. (Note – this review is not a guide if you are using batteries for medical or life-sustaining equipment; please check with your medical profession or the manufacturer for their recommendation.)