Rant: AAA batteries

Why do some device manufacturers insist on using tiny AAA batteries in large devices that have plenty of room to hold regular AA batteries?

Here in Canada, AAA batteries cost twice as much as AA batteries, even though AAA batteries have less than half the capacity of AA.

This means that AAA batteries need to be replaced at least twice as often as AA batteries, and the overall cost of batteries is at least 4 times higher with AAA than with AA batteries.

AAA batteries are designed for really tiny applications. There is no reason to use them in devices such as cordless phones, children's toys, or TV remotes that have enough room to hold AA batteries.

I saw one use of AAA batteries that just blew me away. Two of them were used to power a strobe light in a road safety cone - you know, the kind you put on the side of the road to warn approaching drivers that your stalled car is parked there. This cone measures 9½" x 9½" x 16" and weighs over 2 lbs. There is so much room inside this thing - why not use an extra couple of millimeters and fit AA batteries in instead?

The next time you buy an electronic device, make sure it uses AA batteries instead of AAA, in order to keep your battery costs down and have to replace them less frequently. Unless it's a very small or thin device that's too small for AA, there's just no excuse.

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While I'm on the subject of batteries, here are two good things to know:

1. Alkaline batteries are always cheaper in the long term than carbon batteries (the ones marked "super heavy duty" such as Eveready or Mallory). Although the cost of the batteries themselves can be higher, they last so much longer that it costs you less over the life of the battery, plus you don't have to replace them as often. In many applications, alkaline batteries last 5 times longer than carbon batteries. In high-drain applications, only alkaline batteries will work properly.

2. There is no good reason to buy expensive premium-brand alkaline batteries, such as Duracell or Energizer, over generic alkaline batteries. There is no significant difference in battery life, but the cost difference can really add up. What you're paying for is fancy TV commercials designed to make you think there is a difference. I use the Kirkland Signature alkaline batteries from Costco or the Truly alkaline batteries from Zellers and I have not noticed any difference compared to Duracell or Energizer. Your best bet is to buy the cheapest batteries you can find, as long as they are alkaline.

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