11 batteries put to the test – cheap ones are often better than branded products

TECHNOLOGY BUTTON has tested 11 popular battery models. There are products from well-known manufacturers such as Varta and Duracell, but also inexpensive models from Aldi, Ikea and Rossmann.

Disposable AA batteries continue to be widely used. Many devices such as flashlights, clocks and RC toys rely on this type of battery. And although there are also AA-size batteries, the disposable version is the most popular with buyers. TECHNOLOGY BUTTON has therefore tested eleven different battery brands to find out how much power they really have.

The battery models in the test

Cheap batteries

  • Aldi Activ Energy / Topcraft – 10 pieces for 1.99 euros (20 cents each)
  • Ikea Alkalisk – 10 pieces for 1.99 euros (20 cents each)
  • Rossmann Rubin – 8 pieces for 1.59 euros (20 cents each)

Middle class batteries

  • Varta Longlife – 8 pieces for 4.99 euros (63 cents each)
  • Energizer Alkaline Power – 4 pieces for 3.99 euros (1 euro each)
  • Varta Longlife Power – 4 pieces for 4.99 euros (1.25 euros each)
  • Duracell Plus – 4 pieces for 5.99 euros (1.5 euros each)

High performance batteries

  • Duracell Ultra – 4 pieces for 6.99 euros (1.75 euros each)
  • Varta Longlife Max Power – 4 pieces for 6.99 (1.75 euros each)
  • Varta Ultra Lithium – 4 pieces for about 8 euros (2 euros each)
  • Energizer Ultimate Lithium – 4 pieces for 7.99 euros (2 euros each)

Most of the models tested in our test are conventional alkaline manganese batteries. To find out whether supposedly high-performance cells based on lithium iron sulfide are worthwhile, we also tested two different models with this chemical composition.

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Different battery chemistry

Batteries based on alkaline manganese are the most common. But there are also other types such as zinc-carbon. However, lithium iron sulfide is considered the most powerful battery chemistry. This type of battery is usually recommended for use in digital cameras and flashes due to its higher load capacity.

Test setup

In order to get meaningful results for the test, we asked for advice from physicist D. Schicke (M.Sc.). With his support, we have committed ourselves to a test procedure, after which we have measured the battery voltage at five consecutive points in time. Based on an initial measurement before the start of the test, we measured after two, five, seven and ten hours.

The batteries were tested in an LED camping lamp. Even without measuring the voltage, the lamps provide an indication of how empty or full the batteries are – by shining weaker or brighter.

For the test, we opted for a practical, everyday variant with an LED camping lamp with three battery slots. We measured the battery condition with a conventional digital voltmeter. This enabled us to determine how quickly the individual battery models lost their voltage.

After the initial measurement, we looked at all further measurements to see how much voltage was lost across all three cells. To do this, we averaged the three measurements to find out the average voltage. That gave us a good picture of how the batteries still deliver energy even after several hours of running. Because even if one cell were to lose a massive amount of voltage, the other two could compensate for this loss.

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Measurement results

We divided the test into five measurement points as described. A preliminary measurement to show the voltage at rest and then four more measurements after two, five, seven and ten hours.

First measuring point

In the preliminary measurements, all higher-priced models from Varta, Energizer and Duracell showed a voltage of 1.63 to 1.64 volts. Cheaper battery models from Aldi, Ikea and Rossmann start with a slightly lower voltage between 1.6 and 1.62 volts. Our two models of the lithium iron sulfide type fall out of the series. Since these are intended for particularly power-hungry devices, they have a voltage of comparatively high 1.79 volts (Energizer Ultimate Lithium) and 1.84 volts (Varta Ultra Lithium).

The curve clearly shows that all tested batteries lost the most voltage within the first 5 hours.

Second measuring point

Particularly noteworthy is the rapid voltage drop within the first two hours, which can be observed in the battery test for all models.

Above all, the high-priced models from Varta (Longlife Power and Longlife Max Power) perform well with alkali-manganese cells. Both models average 1.22 volts on the second measurement. The Duracell Ultra and Duracell Plus are also at the forefront with 1.2 and 1.22 volts, respectively. This is followed by Ikea Alkalisk with 1.19 volts and Rossmann Rubin with 1.17 volts. Varta Longlife and Energizer Alkaline Power are also at a similar level with 1.16 volts and 1.15 volts. The model Activ Energy from Aldi brings up the rear with just under 1.1 volts.

The two lithium iron sulfide models remain a special feature here too. With 1.47 volts (Energizer Ultimate Lithium) and 1.46 volts (Varta Ultra Lithium), both are significantly stronger than the alkaline competition. In both cases, however, the batteries are extremely hot when measured, so that they can hardly be touched. We’ll see in a moment what that means.

Third measuring point

After the second measurement point (two hours), the average voltage of our test candidates hardly changes. This is because the greatly reduced voltage of a single cell is compensated for by the other two.

While we were able to record a real voltage dip at the second measurement point, the values ​​drop only moderately after five hours during the third measurement. The batteries lose an average voltage between 0.1 and 0.2 volts. Aldi Activ Energy emerged as the surprising winner in this round with a value of 1.063 volts. After the batteries crashed quickly in the second measurement, they seem to have stabilized. The other candidates are all at 1.01 to 1.05 volts. The outliers and taillights are the lithium cells, which have been so strong up to now. Both Varta and Energizer have dropped below 1 volt. Energizer only reaches 0.89 volts and Varta 0.9 volts. In comparison, both provide a significantly weaker light than the competition.

Fourth and fifth measuring points

The last two measurements (after seven and after ten hours) provide a relatively compliant picture. None of the models loses more than 0.13 volts (determined by Varta Longlife Power). We were able to determine the lowest loss with the Energizer Alkaline Power with 0.002 volts, which in the end reached a respectable value of 1.003 volts. The worst came off the lithium models, which only achieved 0.85 volts (Energizer Ultimate Lithium) and 0.843 volts (Varta Ultra Lithium). With both of them the light was so weak that it could hardly be seen under the sun.

Very clearly recognizable: Although the expensive Varta Longlife Power got high, the Aldi Activ Energy can keep the tension better in the end.

The Aldi Activ Energy batteries deliver a surprising test result with 1.063 volts after ten hours of running time, followed by Duracell Plus with 1.015 volts. Ikea Alkalisk and Energizer Alkaline Power also made it with 1.006 volts and 1.003 volts, respectively just over one volt. This is followed by Duracell Ultra (0.973 volt), Rossmann Rubin (0.95 volt), Varta Longlife Power Max (0.946 volt), Varta Longlife Power (0.926 volt) and Varta Longlife (0.903).

model Output voltage Tension after 2 hours Tension after 5 hours Tension after 7 hours Tension after 10 hours
Varta Longlife Power 1.635 V 1.22V 1.056 V 0.94 V 0.926 V
Duracell Ultra 1.627 V 1.2V 0.953 V 0.95 V 0.973 V
Energizer Alkaline Power 1.621 V 1.15V 1.006 V 1.003 V 1.013 V
Varta Longlife Max Power 1.6435 V 1.22V 1 V 1.036 V 0.946 V
Aldi Activ Energy 1.618 V 1.1V 1.07V 1.073 V 1.063 V
Duracell Plus 1.625 V 1.22V 1.013 V 1.016 V 1.015 V
Varta Longlife 1.64V 1.16V 0.963 V 0.916 V 0.903 V
Energizer Ultimate Lithium 1.793 V 1.471 V 0.886 V 0.883 V 0.85V
Varta Ultra Lithium 1.837 V 1.4643 V 0.9V 0.86V 0.843 V
Ikea Alkalisk 1.6V 1.19 V 1.01V 1.01V 1.006 V
Rossmann Ruby 1.61 V 1.17V 1.026 V 0.986 V 0.95 V


Conclusion: Aldi batteries surprise with high performance in everyday tests

For everyday objects with low voltage such as toys, lamps, remote controls and the like, it is not worthwhile to use expensive branded batteries. The models from Varta, Duracell and Energizer only have more power in the first five hours. After that, all tested models settled on a similar level. Surprisingly, the inexpensive discounter batteries from Aldi are right at the top of the performance in our runtime test. The counterparts of the Rossmann drugstore and the Ikea furniture store do just as well in the long term as the expensive competition.

This is also noticeable in the wallet. AA batteries from Ikea, Rossmann and Aldi cost 20 cents each. Brand manufacturers, on the other hand, charge between one and two euros per battery. Already with ten batteries a price saving of eight to 18 euros.

The higher output voltage of the expensive brand models, however, has an advantage in certain exceptional situations. If you really need high voltage from a device, you should use models from Varta, Duracell and Energizer. We’re talking about exceptions. These battery guzzlers from the 90s and early 00s, such as digital cameras and handheld consoles, have been powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for years. Nowadays there are only a few devices that justify the use of expensive AA batteries.

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