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What are the Best AA Batteries to Use in Winter?

Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 12/5/2022

Different Colored Alkaline Batteries in the shape of a question mark

AA batteries are one of the most common battery types used today. They combine a high energy density with a long shelf life, making them the ideal choice for a variety of everyday and industrial applications, including clocks, flashlights, TV remotes, games, toys, blood pressure monitors, 2-way radios and security cameras. Unfortunately, while AAs are a great energy source, they do have one weakness: cold weather. Today, we'll be taking a closer look at how cold affects batteries and what type of AAs perform best in winter weather.

What Type of Batteries are AA?

What many people don't realize is that AA is not a type of battery, but rather a size. AA batteries actually come in two different chemistries, which are briefly outlined below.

Alkaline AA Batteries

  • The most common type of disposable AA battery
  • Lowest upfront cost
  • Performs best in temperatures of 0℉ to 131℉
  • Best used in low to moderate drain devices
  • Can hold power for up to 10 years in storage

Lithium AA Batteries

  • Higher upfront cost than alkaline batteries
  • Lasts up to 6X longer than an alkaline battery
  • Weighs approx. 33% less than an alkaline battery
  • Perform best in temperatures of -40℉ to 140℉
  • Best used in high-drain devices
  • Can hold power for up to 20 years in storage

Are AA Batteries Affected By Temperature?

Batteries create power through a series of reactions that occur between the chemical components inside them. Alkaline batteries are strongly affected by cold because they contain a water-based electrolyte. When the temperature drops below zero, the lower temperatures cause the electrolyte to freeze. This slows down the chemical reactions inside that create current, leading to a drop in the battery's performance, runtime or both.

Lithium batteries, on the other hand, contain a non-aqueous electrolyte. Since there is no water inside them, they are less impacted by lower temperatures, which allows them to perform without the same drop off in performance that plagues alkaline batteries.

How Do Rechargeable AA Batteries Perform In the Cold?

AA batteries are also available in a rechargeable option. These rechargeable AA batteries contain their own unique chemical makeup, most often nickel cadmium (NiCd) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH).

While rechargeable batteries offer a number of advantages over disposable batteries, they don't perform any better in the cold. This is because, just like with alkaline batteries, both NiCD and NiMH batteries contain water-based electrolytes that slow down once the temperature drops.

How Can I Keep a Battery Working In Cold Weather?

While the chemistry of the battery you choose will have the biggest impact on its performance, you can also try keeping the battery itself warm. One easy way to do this is by placing small, battery-powered devices in your pocket. If the device has a storage or carrying case, be sure to place it inside when it isn't being used. This will help keep the battery from completely freezing and may reduce the negative impacts of temperature.

Batteries Plus Carries the Best AA Batteries

Shop our selection of alkaline and disposable lithium batteries either in-store or online. Batteries Plus also carries rechargeable batteries in common sizes like AA, AAA and more.

Want to learn more? Visit the Alkaline Battery Buying Guide for a breakdown of the different battery brands that we offer. You'll also find additional information in our blog entitled "What are the Differences Between Lithium and Alkaline Batteries."

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