The One Show filming batteries

Published on December 17th, 2014 | by WMG Editor


Fully charged for Christmas

WMG was approached by the BBC’s popular magazine programme, The One Show, to help them find out which AA batteries were the best performing.

We’re more used to testing batteries for transport, including cars, trains and motorsport but, as it’s Christmas, experts were more than happy to help reporter, Anita Rani with a scientific test to understand how a range of different AA batteries available on the high street might perform.

Mark Amor-Segan with Anita RaniHaving accepted the task, battery experts Mark Amor-Segan, Principal Engineer and Shane Beattie, Technical Manager, for the Battery Scale-up Facility, were sent 16 different AA batteries. The batteries came taped so there was no way of knowing where they were from.

The One Show were keen to test a range of batteries so what Mark and Shane did know were the chemistry families that were being tested, which were:

  1. zinc-chloride
  2. alkaline
  3. lithium

All 16 batteries were blind tested at a constant current of 500 mA down to 1.1 V. The voltage profile was recorded using a highly accurate battery cycler. All batteries were kept at 20 degrees using a thermal chamber to provide a controlled test environment.

Having conducted the tests, The One Show were keen to demonstrate for their viewers what this actually meant. So Anita came armed with 16 toy puppies. Each were fitted with the 16 different types of batteries. It was going to be a noisy day!

Keeping the puppies in a make shift pen and at 20 degrees, the same temperature used to test the batteries, they were watched over by a researcher. Together Anita and Shane set the puppies off to see which would last the longest.

During filming we popped by to see how the puppies were performing. We all had our favourites, which you can’t blame us for, as they were all so cute. I can understand why the researcher came armed with ear muffs with all the barking.

By the time filming had finished we had our results. Thankfully the scientific results, undertaken by Mark and Shane, correlated with puppy test.

We can reveal that the worst performing battery for longevity was zinc-chloride and the longest lasting was lithium. However, once you add in the cost of run time/p, the alkaline out performs the others.

These are interesting test results and it shows that it is the chemical recipe within a battery that determines the life it has, as well as what item it is being used in.

So depending on what you are using an AA battery for you might want to think about the type of battery you buy. For example if you want a torch or small toy to last a reasonable amount of time, then an alkaline battery is the best for the job based on cost, with an average run time of 80 minutes at 500 mA and a price as low as 15 p/cell. However if you are using a camcorder or digital camera and don’t want to run out of battery, then a lithium battery is the best choice, and will last up to 350 minutes at 500 mA.

Here are our test results:

battery chart


battery graph


bar chart






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