The remote starts acting wonky, your mouse dies. If your household is like most, then you’re probably almost always in need of batteries. AAs, AAAs, sometimes Cs—it seems that pretty much everything in your home is powered by batteries. But how long do batteries last? Naturally, it all comes down to care and usage.
Apparently, there’s this whole fascinating world of batteries that you might not know about. How long your batteries last really depends upon three factors, according to Battery Universe: run time, shelf life, and cycle life. Run time refers to the amount of time your battery will run on a single use (think turning on a flashlight, or changing the channel on your remote, for example). Shelf life, on the other hand, means exactly what you think it does: how long your battery will last sitting stuck in a drawer. The length of time that your battery holds its charge is referred to as its shelf life. Thing is, your batteries have two known enemies: humidity and temperature. If you stick your batteries in a hot and humid place like an attic (or conversely, in a freezing cold garage), you’re going to greatly reduce the life of the battery.
And then cycle life is something entirely different. It refers to how many times you use the battery (i.e. the times that it charges and discharges), but that only pertains to rechargeable batteries. Sadly, there is no cycle life for non-rechargeable batteries. (Womp womp.)
So how long will your batteries really last? As with all things, everything depends on everything else. Where (and how) you store them will greatly determine their shelf life, while usage (or non-usage) will make them last longer or shorter. So if you have a high drain device (such as a camera, a battery-powered toy, or a gaming controller), your batteries will naturally deplete faster. The front runners when it comes to which batteries will last the longest are Duracell, Kirkland, Rite Aid, and Energizer, a report by NBC 12 found. But under the most optimal of conditions, your alkaline batteries have a shelf life of 5-10 years.
Ultimately, your batteries will last longer if you take proper care of them and try not to drain them too quickly. Which in reality means that you’re probably going to need to put AA’s on your shopping list again sooner rather than later.