We use batteries more than we realize in our day to day lives. With so many devices and gadgets we’re often dependent on batteries as a power source. It’s important to understand when and how you can recharge batteries safely in preparation for an emergency situation.
You need to know about how to recharge regular alkaline batteries, especially if you don’t have access to rechargeable batteries. If you’re in an emergency situation and an alkaline battery is the only option available to you, knowing how to recharge it could save your life.
Not having a battery to hand when you’re in an emergency situation and may be unable to access a regular power source can be extremely stressful. It can also mean that you may go without warmth or food, so it’s always best to know as much as possible about how to make your battery rechargeable.
Are All Batteries Rechargeable?
It’s highly advisable to only attempt to recharge batteries that are specifically labeled ‘rechargeable’.
You can tell whether a battery is rechargeable as it will show its charging capacity (measured in mAh / milli amp hours) as a number printed on both the battery packaging and the battery itself.
The most common type of rechargeable batteries are:
- NiCd (Nickel-Cadmium)
- NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride)
- Li-ion (Lithium Ion)
Recharging a battery that is not designed to be recharged can cause gas to be produced in the battery which creates the risk of a ruptured seal and leakage of the battery’s contents.
What are Alkaline Batteries?
Alkaline batteries are batteries that use potassium oxide’s alkaline electrolyte. This is different to other batteries that use elements such as zinc, ammonium chloride, nickel metal hydride and nickel cadmium.
This type of battery can vary in size to fit the different compartments within different devices. The most common sizes of alkaline batteries are AA and AAA batteries. These are used for common appliances and electronic devices such as remote controls for TVs.
Alkaline batteries have traditionally been popular for a number of different reasons including the fact that they are cheap to buy and that they have a long shelf life. Both of these qualities make them useful to have in your emergency bug out bag.
Should You Recharge Alkaline Batteries?
The short answer is no, it’s not generally advisable to recharge alkaline batteries. However we understand that when SHTF your options for a power source could be extremely limited and in a disaster situation you may have to take calculated risks.
If you are in a situation where you urgently need to recharge alkaline batteries, you need to be prepared for the risks involved and to exercise extreme caution.
When you attempt to recharge an alkaline battery, you’ll produce gas within the battery. An alkaline battery is usually sealed which means that the presence of gas will create very high pressure within it.
High pressure within a sealed alkaline battery can lead to a rupture of the seal which usually leads to two outcomes:
- Leakage of the battery’s contents
- Explosion of the battery itself
Alkaline batteries are not the best option of rechargeable batteries for several other reasons including:
- Long recharge time (up to 16 hours)
- Decrease in run time after each charge cycle is complete
- Often need to be recharged after only part usage
Differences Between Rechargeable Batteries & Alkaline Batteries
We can break down the differences between rechargeable and alkaline batteries into a few different categories.
Both types of battery are efficient and will work well with different devices.
Reusable batteries start with a lower voltage (1.2V) whereas alkaline batteries start with a more powerful voltage (1.5V).
You need to consider however that rechargeable batteries can maintain their voltage for longer than alkaline batteries.
Obviously the service life of batteries depends on the device that they are powering and how often they are in use.
Generally however, rechargeable batteries have a longer service life. They will easily last up to 5 years and they can recharged hundreds of times. Once an alkaline battery runs out, it will be simply be disposed of.
It’s shocking to know that 40 billion alkaline batteries were thrown to trash in 2021.
Rechargeable batteries are a much more sustainable option that alkaline batteries. When their charge expires you can simply recharge them instead of throwing them away and purchasing more.
Rechargeable batteries are more expensive than standard alkaline batteries when buying upfront. If you calculate how long they’ll last however, rechargeable batteries quickly become a more economic option.
If you’re able to invest in the upfront cost of rechargeable batteries, you’ll save money long term over buying and replacing alkaline batteries.
Ready to Use
One of the advantages of alkaline batteries is that they are ready to use straight from the pack. This means that you can be confident that they are ready to go in the event of an emergency and you can use them to power a device immediately.
Some rechargeable batteries may state on the packaging that they are “Pre Charged” or “Ready to Use”. If they don’t state this, make sure you have your rechargeable batteries charged up and ready to go at all times.
How To Charge Alkaline Batteries
What To Expect
You need to be prepared that you might not be able to recharge all alkaline batteries. If you collect up a large number of dead alkaline batteries (you can ask friends and family to donate these to you when they no longer need them) you can simply work through them and see which ones are successful.
You must be fully prepared for the risks involved. By recharging an alkaline battery you are potentially going to experience rupture in the seal of the battery which could lead to explosion.
Being prepared for the worst case scenario is important. You need to be aware that gas building up inside the battery you are recharging will cause internal pressure to increase. If this pressure becomes too great, the seal of the battery canister will break.
This can cause the battery acid to leak from the battery. In extreme circumstances, the battery may explode.
Always make sure you protect your eyes and skin from any potential leaks by wearing safety goggles and gloves.
It’s important to be aware that you should expect recharged alkaline batteries to operate between 70-90% of their original capacity.
Things You Will Need
- Battery Charger : make sure that you get a battery charger specifically designed for alkaline batteries.
- Battery Tester: you don’t need to spend a lot of money on this as all devices do the same job
- You may want to think about getting a battery storage case to store and organize all your batteries effectively.
- Collect up all your old batteries and keep them in a designated pile or space so that you know these are the dead ones. Do not mix them with your current working alkaline batteries!
- Always check through the batteries for any that have leaked. You must not recharge these. Dispose of them safely.
- Test each of the dead batteries to confirm that they have no charge by using your battery tester.
The Charging Process
- Begin inserting the dead batteries into the battery charger. Monitor them carefully for any noises, heat or obvious changes in appearance
- Use the instructions on your charger to figure out exactly how long the batteries should be charged for. There may be a display telling you when charging is complete. This will vary between different models of battery chargers.
- Test out your newly charged alkaline batteries on low power devices such as a low voltage flash light or a computer mouse
- Store all your recharged batteries in a specific section of your battery storage case so that you are aware which batteries have been recharged and which are new.
Should You Leave Batteries In The Charger?
It’s not recommended to leave batteries in a charger for more than 24 hours. Once they are fully charged you can take them out of the charger and store them securely in a cool, dry setting.
Some intelligent chargers will trickle charge once a rechargeable battery is fully charged in order to stop any damage to the battery. However, if you’re able to, simply remove them from the charger once they’re ready.
It’s always good to have as much knowledge as possible when it comes to making survival decisions. When you need a battery to power a device you may not have a choice as to which one you use.
Recharging alkaline batteries carries significant risks and isn’t ideal, but it’s important to know how to do it as safely as possible in the event of an emergency.
With some preparation, you can invest in rechargeable batteries and ensure that they are fully charged and stocked up ready to go at all times. Don’t let yourself get into a situation with no access to power for you and your loved ones – get your battery situation sorted today!