Blog Post

Establish a solid battery strategy for all your peripherals

Batteries are decidedly evil. My desk is littered with gear that requires them, and I’d be at a loss to watch movies, control my computer and television, and use many of my Mac (s aapl) peripherals without them. So how can you create a plan that will ensure you’re always ready when you need some juice?

I first thought I could get by using just my Apple battery charger and the batteries that come with it, but that proved woefully inadequate. For one thing, the Apple charger is quite particular about its charging, and often you’ll come back to find a flashing amber light, indicating that the charge wasn’t successful for some reason. For another, those Apple batteries don’t keep their charge long, so there’s no use preparing backups.

So to ensure my Apple Wireless Keyboards, Trackpads, Mighty Mice and third-party peripherals always have power at the ready, I’ve created the following three-point plan:

1. Too many batteries is impossible

I always seem to think I have enough batteries to satisfy all my needs, and then I end up needing more. Obviously, don’t go crazy, but always try to have at least four more batteries on hand than you have actual need of for devices. I’m primarily talking about rechargeable, NiMH batteries, but it never hurts to have a supply of alkalines for backup, too, in case you get caught between charging cycles.

2. Low self-discharge is your best friend

People who may have ditched rechargeable batteries years ago because of the headaches of cycling, battery memory, and batteries that rapidly lose charge have a good reason to come back. Low self-discharge batteries are now available, which can retain up to 85 percent of their charge for up to a year. They also often come pre-charged, so you can use them right away, and newer batteries don’t have the same problem with charge memory as their predecessors.

My personal recommendation for good low self-discharge batteries are the Powerex Imedion variety. They carry a high-capacity compared to most (2400mah) and should be longer-lasting in digital devices like cameras and computer peripherals.

3. Two chargers is better than one

Getting a good battery charger will always help you keep thing properly powered up. Again, Powerex is a good, dependable brand in my experience. Their chargers are a little more expensive than most, but they provide a wealth of customizable options so that you can extend the life of your batteries and save money in the long run. The WizardOne is a good place to start, providing four charging slots for either AA or AAA NiMH batteries, with a backlit panel that lets you select charge/discharge rates and perform advanced tasks like complete battery cycling and break-ins for new batteries.

But in addition to a good charger, I also have a bad one. The Duracell 15 Minute Charger actually does what it claims to, but it makes a lot of noise and gets quite hot. Note, however, that frequent use will degrade the quality and life of your batteries (hence the “bad” descriptor), which is why I use the Duracell for emergencies only (like when my keyboard dies and I’m on a tight deadline).

Batteries are probably the biggest limiting factor when it comes to the enjoyment of consumer electronics, which is why having a good battery plan in place is crucial for gadget-lovers. Now that I’ve shared mine, do you have any other suggestions to add?

5 Responses to “Establish a solid battery strategy for all your peripherals”

  1. Marco A.

    You forgot to mention keeping a secret stash of coffee in the back of the freezer and an extra tube of toothpaste in your sock drawer. Just in case.

  2. Stephen

    Keep my batteries charged? Pro tip bro.

    How about “keep a spare wired keyboard and mouse in your closet”. I’ve had a cup of coffee go into my main keyboard. Five minutes of cussing and commotion later, I am back in action.

  3. Ben Nash

    I have a helpful system. One jar has a big + on it for charged batteries. Another has a big – on it for the dead ones. This simple label has really helped keep the batteries organized. Prior, my haste to change a set often led to recharging charged ones.

  4. TotallyNotASockPuppet

    I have to agree with @Simon. Is “You need to have batteries, use them, and recharge them” really GigaOm material?

  5. Simon

    Seriously Darrell? Another pointless post – batteries suck, we know. We need to charge them, we know. How in the world is this apple related? Really? When you sit down and think about was this article worth your time to write?

    This is similar to your iPhone camera article from a few days ago which, I notice, disappeared after my comment (good choice – it was atrocious writing)