Your new Battery System - The "Wranglerstar" Way
If you haven't caught Wranglerstars video on rechargeable batteries, he has revealed their "Dirty Little Secret." If you want to know what that is, go watch his video, but more important to me is the streamlined minimalistic battery system he has developed through years of disarray.
But why have a battery system? If you've ever assessed your productivity, you've realized that in this age of consumerism, stuff causes this weird interference with your life. The more stuff you have, the more you have to look at, the more you have to process, the more you have to sift through, and the more things get in your way when you're trying to find that something that's somewhere. Strategies to reduce this noise involve both having less stuff and developing systems to manage the stuff you still have.
Whether a journey to streamline your life, or a quest for minimalism, chances are that batteries will always be part of it in some way. So where are your batteries at? Are they in a drawer? In a box somewhere? Maybe they're in the freezer? Whereever they are, maybe they should all be in one spot, where you don't have to hunt for them, where you could tell anyone else how to find them, where you can take quick visual inventory and know exactly how many you have at a glance.
Storing your precious energy packs
As with most systems, the bread and butter here is with storage and accessibility. In so many cases I myself have 2 simple criteria: 1) Can you contain the things? 2) Can you see the things? So most of the time it's just about finding the right box. Wranglerstar lives a much different life than I, and his life happens to include ammunition. Wouldn't you know it, that there are some inexpensive, off the shelf, ready to go, no mods needed ammo containers, which near-perfectly fit our favorite batteries, both AA and AAA.
Wranglerstar himself uses these high capacity containers for generic one time use batteries, the ones you can justify buying in bulk. Ultimately though, it depends on your use case. If you never have a high quantity of any type of battery you probably won't use these at all. Before you scoff at buying 50-100 batteries at once, know that a good Alkaline battery has a 5-10 yr shelf life and a Lithium battery had a 10-15 yr shelf life (*when properly stored).
Container Pro Points
Color Variations for Different Sizes
Cell Dividers (Batteries leak afterall)
Low Cost ($4-$5 each)
Ultimately though, it depends on your use case, how you budget, how prepared you like to be, and what level of convenience you like to have. If you never have a high quantity of any type of battery you probably won't use these at all. Before you scoff at buying 50-100 batteries at once, know that a good Alkaline battery has a 5-10 yr shelf life and a good Lithium battery has a 10-15 yr shelf life when stored properly.
For those who don't need to keep batteries on hand (rarely used or too little space to stockpile) there is a more low-profile way to keep your batteries together, these mini caddies are the way to go. These things were originally designed for aircraft as a way to keep things together, secure, and accessible. Now branded as Storacell by Powerpax, this sleek open concept allows you to quickly see what batteries you have, and how many are on hand. You can still color code you batteries by type, and keep track of which ones are spent by flipping them over into the case.
Caddy Pro Points
- Slim Design
- Custom Sizes
- Color Variations
- 3D Printable
The Best Batteries out there
So what are the best batteries that you can get right now? What's the biggest bang for your buck? Wranglerstar, who has been doing camera work for a number of years and has tried all the batteries out there claims that eneloop Pro (black) batteries are the best ones out there for him. Keeping in mind he does professional work, the standard eneloop (white) batteries also come highly recommended. The difference between the two is cost and capacity, which again comes down to your needs and your budget. The AA Pro's(black) cost around $4 each and store 2500mAh while the standards (whites) cost around $2.75 and store 2000mAh. Is the extra 500mAh worth another $1.25? Not for me, but then again I'm not a professional. I can't actually say I even use batteries right now aside from the one in my phone, so even the eneloop standards are not in my budget. I had altogether written off rechargeables until Wranglerstar shared the dirty little secret he discovered.
So what is the dirty little secret behind good rechargeable batteries? As a result of some comparison trials, it is suspected that the Amazon basics line is private labeling batteries from the same manufacturer of eneloop batteries. This is only mere speculation, as the comparison results only show that there is no discernable difference in performance between the two. AA Amazon high capacities are around $2.40 each for 2400mAh and the amazon standards are around $1.60 each for 2000mAh. As someone who doesn't use that many batteries, $25 for 10+ years of battery usage sounds good to me.
**It would seem amazon is still attempting to balance their cost and value in their batteries among different manufacturers (ie packaging may vary), do test any batteries they send you as you may need to request replacements or full/partial refund.
Adapting your batteries
Do you still use D and C size batteries? Let me introduce you to some fabulous adapters! This is a system after all, what type of system would it be if we avoided some common battery types. If you are looking to simplify your battery inventory, you might just rid yourself of anything needing batteries you don't have, but the other solution is some reusable capsules which adapt your common AA batteries to run your D and C devices. The voltage of AA, D, and C batteries are all the same voltage at 1.5V. The difference is diameter and amp hour capacity. This means an adapted AA battery may not last as long as a standard D or C battery. The result of adapting a good rechargable AA battery is that you store the plastic cases in your devices, and replace the AA batteries as need. No additional batteries to track, buy, carry, or charge.
How do they work? They are simply plastic shells. C batteries are the same length as AA batteries, so you can 3D print your own shells, or even roll them with paper in a pinch to keep them centered and making contact. D batteries are a little longer, so the cases include some extended spring-loaded contacts. In either case, these adapters are cheap enough and hold your batteries snug. If it suits your needs they are worth a look.
Charging Your Rechargables
When it comes to recharging your investment of rechargable batteries, you want to recharge them right. The one I recommend on Amazon is the Panasonic BQ-CC17 Advanded. Battery chargers work in a variety of ways, but only a few do it right. Here's what I recommend you look for in a battery charger:
AA and AAA capacity. The two batteries likely in your battery system will be AA and AAA. If the goal is to simplify and streamline your battery system, the last thing you need is separate chargers. Thankfully, most of the rechargers out there will accept both AA and AAA batteries, but not all of them will let you charge both types at the same time.
Charge to a standard, not to time. Your batteries should be charged until they are full, period. Some chargers work on a time and will charge batteries for X minutes, regardless of how much charge is already in them. This is not the way to do things, as you will shorten the lifespan and usage of your batteries. You want a charger that will detect your battery is 20% charged, and only charge it 80% more, if it's 60% charged it charges 40% more. It should charge your batteries only until they are full.
Charge Each Battery Individually. Many battery chargers cut costs by charging 2 or 4 batteries together. This is fine to do if your batteries all have the same charge, and if you always have X batteries to charge at once. Problems arise when you have one battery empty, and another half charged, or when you want to charge a AA and AAA at the same time. Batteries with different levels of charge that are charged together will overcharge the battery most full. Even if your charger detects voltage, it will be decting both batteries not knowing that one is full and the other is half charged, and will continue to charge for the 25% deficit. Charging individually solves this issues, lets you charge AA and AAA together, and allows you to utilize any of your charged batteries without needing to wait for all of them to finish.
Built in battery tester. Not necessary, but a huge plus. Batteries all look the same, so being able to test them at the charger is a big time saver. You can of course buy a separate battery tester with more exact indications, or even reach for your voltmeter. Benefits of this feature is that it saves time and simplifies your workflow.
I hope this has been an insightful look into a wonderful battery system, and that you would take the best parts and adapt it to your own new system. Utilizing any affiliate links to make a purchase is a big help to me, and sharing this with a friend is even more helpful. If you have the time, let me know about your battery system or how I can improve mine.