Big-Name Batteries Can’t Top This Dollar Store Brand

Man holding an AA battery
Octavian Lazar / Shutterstock.com

If you want great performance from a battery, you don’t have to waste money buying expensive brand names. A dollar-store brand will do just fine, according to a recent test of AA disposable batteries.

A brand you can find at Dollar Tree — E-Circuit alkaline — performed nearly as well and lasted almost as long as more famous brands, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Marketplace” program.

Here’s the kicker: Dollar Tree sells a pack of four E-Circuit alkaline AA batteries for just $1.25.

“Marketplace” and researchers at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa tested 240 AA disposable batteries from the following brands:

  • Energizer
  • Duracell
  • Canadian Tire’s Noma
  • Walmart’s Great Value
  • Dollar Tree’s E-Circuit
  • Panasonic batteries from Dollar Tree and Dollarama (a Canadian dollar store chain)

The researchers put the batteries through their paces under three drain scenarios — low, medium and high.

In a CBC recap of the results, Ontario Tech engineering assistant professor Xianke Lin, who supervised the test, says:

“Usually people think it’s cheap and shouldn’t have the best value, but [E-Circuit alkaline] turns out to be the best capacity per dollar you spend.”

However, while alkaline dollar-store batteries exceeded expectations, another type of dollar-store battery — carbon zinc — performed poorly.

These batteries are commonly found at dollar stores and are marketed as being for low-drain devices. In such devices, dollar-store carbon zinc batteries by both E-Circuit and Panasonic lasted for about seven to eight hours.

By contrast, an alkaline battery in a low-drain device may last for more than 20 hours.

Columbia University engineering associate professor Dan Steingart studies the performance of disposable batteries and has run battery tests similar to those that “Marketplace” undertook. He tells the CBC:

“I couldn’t find a single use case where the zinc carbon outperformed in any way the alkaline cells. … There’s no reason to sell a zinc carbon system in 2022.”

Buying needlessly expensive batteries is not the only way we waste our cash. For more, check out “11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet.”

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