Given the proliferation of wireless keyboards, mice, and other computer peripherals, battery consumption has become an increasingly important consideration. This seems especially true for Apple Macintosh users, as by default iMac computers come with wireless keyboards and mice, plus many MacBook users supplement their laptops with those same wireless devices. I am receiving questions from my clients more and more often asking about the best batteries to buy for their wireless gadgets.
The first thing to realize is that most wireless keyboards and mice will eat regular alkaline batteries for lunch. This is where most of my clients have gone wrong. It seems they are replacing batteries in a device around every month or even more often. For an office full of wireless devices, this can add up very quickly. Plus it also seems that certain devices act inconsistently with regular alkaline batteries. If you need to purchase a non-rechargeable battery for your wireless devices, you should purchase the “advanced” or “performance” type of batteries such as the Energizer Lithium or Duracell Quantum brands. For what it’s worth, the Apple devices usually come with Energizer Lithium brand batteries. However, high performance batteries are more expensive than alkaline batteries and their cost will add up over time. So I don’t recommend buying these batteries except in a pinch.
What I really recommend are a particular type of rechargeable battery called low-discharge Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH). I believe many people stay away from rechargeable batteries because of misconceptions based upon past generations of rechargeable batteries. Many people perceive rechargeable batteries as expensive and prone to failure. But the worst stigma associated with rechargeable batteries are that they don’t hold their charge and never seem to be ready when they are needed. The reality is that today’s new generation of low-discharge NiHM rechargeable batteries have resolved many of the issues that previous batteries suffered from. Low-discharge NiMH batteries hold their power on the order of months or years after charging. Unlike previous iterations of rechargeable batteries that lost their charge quickly, you can charge these batteries any time and they will be ready for use when you need them.
My first recommendation is Apple’s Battery Charger – even if you don’t own an Apple brand device. The first reason behind my recommendation is that this product comes with 6 batteries plus the charger for $29. This may be a little confusing given the picture on the box only shows 2 batteries, but trust me there are 6 batteries in the box. For $29, I think this is a very good price for high quality batteries and a high quality charger. For an individual this is a great solution, assuming your devices use AA batteries, as most keyboards and mice use 2 batteries each, leaving 2 spare for when you need them. But the main reason behind my recommendation is that the battery Apple uses is a low-discharge NiMH. Your spare batteries will be ready to go when you need fresh ones.
However, if you run an office full of wireless devices, the cost effectiveness of Apple’s Battery Charger goes down quickly if you purchase multiple units. Unfortunately, Apple does not sell their batteries separately. So I did some research into the type of battery that Apple uses and found out that they are most likely an OEM re-branding of the Sanyo Eneloop batteries. Eneloop were the first common brand to utilize the technology that allows for long storage life. What I also found was that there are now other brands of long storage life batteries and that pricing varied. I finally found a very knowledgeable supplier with great prices.
Thomas Distributing is a company based in Paris, Illinois, which is in central Illinois near the Indiana border. If you are curious, you can do a lot of reading about different battery technologies on their web site. But for simplicity’s sake, I’ll sum it up for you. After much research I choose a product called Maha Imedion as my battery of choice. Maha is an excellent brand and their Imedion series offers a high capacity, low-discharge battery at a great price. I’ll point out some items you should look at.
If your wireless devices use AAA batteries:
If you need 9-volt batteries for something like a smoke detector:
Finally, you should also invest in a high-quality charger, as the charger can make a big difference in the performance of your rechargeable batteries. Apple’s Battery Charger is a good choice, but if you need to charge more than 2 batteries at a time, I recommend these chargers:
Maha MH-C9000 Advanced Battery Charger (can charge 4 AA or AAA batteries at once)
Maha MH-C801D Battery Charger (can charge 8 AA or AAA batteries at once)
Maha Powerex MH-C490F-DC 9 Volt (9V) Battery Charger 4-Channel Smart Battery Charger (can charge 4 9-volt batteries at once)
In addition to wireless mice and keyboards, low-discharge NiMH batteries can work great in other electronic gadgets such an Nintendo Wii controllers, remote controls, and some children’s toys. I have been steadily adding to my collection of these batteries over the last couple of years and have nearly phased out our use of alkaline batteries altogether.
If you have any questions about battery technology, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.