Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Duracell Quantum Batteries: Unnecessary for the 99% of Us

Recently I checked out the new Duracell Quantum battery which came out this summer.  Advertised as the "world's most advanced Alkaline battery" with the longest battery life and featuring an on device battery tester. It sounded like the latest and greatest.  At roughly twice the price of a regular brand name battery and three times the price of a generic battery, I researched it online to see if it made sense to pay the premium.  After a ton of internet searches I couldn't find any scientific studies that mentioned exactly how much better it was. I found this very odd and could find nothing even on the Duracell site.  All I could find were tons of references about how Duracell was giving away a million of these batteries to First Responders which began to sound more and more like marketing speak (Duracell Quantum for First Responders announcement).

So I decided to test the new Quantum batteries against existing batteries to see if they are worth the additional cost. The result: Save your money and do not buy the new Duracell Quantum batteries!



I view Alkaline batteries as commodity items which have changed little in the last 100 years; I tend to buy whatever is available or on sale, and have zero loyalty toward any brand. With three kids and a ton of toys, I go through batteries by the case and fill more landfills than I should. To keep up with the demand, I typically buy large packs of generic AA and AAA batteries at Costco or other discount stores. I am aware of higher end batteries such as the Energizer E2 but never considered buying them since they are expensive and are not geared toward general usage. 

There are many kinds of battery tests and some specifically say "better for point and shoot cameras" or "battery operated flash". Plus, many of the comparisons, like the one below, compare the amount of flashes and the recharge time. But seriously, how many people are using these types of devices? And does the average guy on the street really care if it takes 4 seconds or 7 seconds for his flash to go off?  Some studies rate batteries on how many years they can last in storage without losing charge or leaking. Most of us are neither emergency workers nor outdoorsmen, so this is also irrelevant.  I just want to know which battery is going to power one of my son's toy trains for as long as possible without needing a replacement.





I decided to consider everyday devices where I use batteries. Flashlights, remote controls and toys. In the interest of saving time I sacrificed some scientific integrity and scratched "remote controls" off the list; it would take me months to analyze battery usage in remotes.  I started with a simple flashlight tests; I have three brand new Duracell battery operated flashlights which are rated, per Duracell, to run for an hour at maximum illumination on three AAA batteries.  I used three types of batteries for my test, Duracell Quantum, Duracell CopperTop and Costco's Kirkland brand. Here are the results:

Duracell Quantum:
Lasted 2 hours 1 minute.
Cost: Roughly $1/battery ($21.94 for 20 on Amazon)

Duracell CopperTop Regular: 
Lasted 2 hour 24 minutes.
Cost: About $.57/battery ($11.99 for 20 on Amazon)

Costco Kirkland Brand:
Lasted 1 hour 20 minutes.
Cost: $.38/battery ($18.22 for 48 at Costco.com)

In all three cases the flashlight dimmed in the last 15 to 20 minutes and the time I measured was until the flashlight was effectively useless in a dark room. Looking at the results, the winner by a landslide was the Duracell CopperTop and NOT the Quantum. It lasted significantly longer than the Quantum and twice as long as the generic.  At less than twice the price of the generic, its a no-brainer. It doesn't make any sense how Duracell's latest and greatest battery got outperformed by their base model. 

And by the way, the highly touted "Power Meter" feature is a useless gimmick. All it's good for is to tell if a battery is fully charged or discharged.  I ran a toy non-stop until it was almost dead and the battery power still showed that the battery had 75% charge.  A re-calibration is in order.  

The Duracell Quantum might be your battery of choice for the few folks who still use a battery operated flash, want a battery that can sit in storage for 10 years or have money to burn. The rest of us can stick with the good old CopperTop or commodity batteries.


30 comments:

  1. Thanks For The Review... I Just Purchased A 6~Pack Of Duracell's NEW Quantum Batteres For My SONY Walkman. I'm Already Pre~Disappointed Thanks To Your Review. LOL I Hae Buying Generic Anything Though... That's Just Me. Could You Recommend The Best/Cost~Effective Brand Name Battery For Me. Thanks In Advance.

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    Replies
    1. How did the batteries work out?

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    2. you have a walkmam?....

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    3. I agree the term "Walkman" is decidedly 1980s but Sony does indeed have a line of current Walkman products that include DVD, MP3 and CD players. :). Probably they are trying to milk the brand name for whatever its worth.

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  2. Frankly, I think the cheapest thing to do is go to the 99 cent store and pick up whatever they have at the time. Else going to to a Costco or Walmart and buying a large pack is second best.

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  3. AMAZON Has 100 packs for like 35.00

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    Replies
    1. The ONLY thing that counts is that you buy ALKALINE batteries, no zinc carbon. They are soooo poor in capacity, they are ampty quicker than you can change them ;-)
      Zinc carbon is suited for remotes and quartz clocks ONLY (low drain devices).
      Definitely the best are primary lithium cells, especially when used in high drain devices. Alkaline AA batts effctively loose up to 50%(!) of their capacity when loaded too heavy (more than let's say 500mA). The ONLY battery that will sustain loads of up to 1000mA without any capacity decrease is this lithium battery. It has 3000mAh against 2500mAh for alkaline, which SEEMS a small difference... until you load the alkaline enough to see that 2500 plummet to around 1500 or less... The best buy however are some Sanyo Eneloop NiMH rechargeable batteries. Long lasting and will deliver up to 1000mA without problems.

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    2. The difference is even more in favor of the Lithium if your device is constant-power or otherwise can pull more runtime out of the increased voltage (which is not the case for unregulated flashlights or motorized devices). http://lygte-info.dk/info/ComparisonOfAABatteryChemistry%20UK.html even at 0.1A they have 35% more energy. Below an amp, save some money and get the Advanced instead of Ultimate lithiums. Still, unless you need the 10-20 year shelf-life and wide temperature range, it is FAR more economical to use Eneloop (or other LSD NiMH) rechargeables.

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  4. Cool I just saw a groupon discount 48 count Duracell coppertop for $19+3 shipping and thought maybe buying the more expensive quantum, but this review helps save $20. Thanks for the sacrifice. Also saw this and thought it was a cool vid that might be useful
    Looks tricky so be careful.

    John

    http://youtu.be/cV6kxQYGVs0

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  5. I bought a 6-pack of the Quantums yesterday and popped 2 in my camera. They lasted ten minutes. Ray-o-vac gets me an hour or two. The Duracell quantums are just awful and I won't buy Duracell again.

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    Replies
    1. I don't believe you.

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    2. I put four in my Fujifilm Finepix S and they lasted roughly 4 hours.

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  6. Staples "Daily Deal" for today is a 24-pack of Duracell Quantum batteries for $7.99. Although "Quantum" makes these batteries sound high end, just before I submitted the order, I thought maybe I should look for a review and found this page. Since I usually pay $1 for between 2 and 4 AA batteries, $7.99 is either a VERY good deal or not too bad. There aren't any kids in this house, but we do seem to go thru AA batteries pretty quickly, so this should keep us well-stocked for a couple of years! BTW, shipping was free and I paid for them with a Staples Reward Card (rebate on a previous purchase for 5 reams of paper which ended up being essentially free -- only had to pay sales tax!).

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    Replies
    1. Was considering buying them. This is how I found this review as well. Decided to go on eBay instead and found 108 regular Duracell batteries for $25.79 = 24 cents per battery.

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  7. I buy AA, or AAA alkalines on sale, anywhere, when the price is about, $ .33 each. Lately, I've been buying at Pep Boys. A 24 pack, around $ 6.00, or $ .25 each. Can't beat that. I think that D and C cells, are going to be harder to find. Everything in running on these tiny batteries, now.

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  8. came across your site as i was comparing performance of batteries. thanks for the blog.
    fyi: staples is offering Duracell Battery Quantum Alkaline AA, 24/Pack for $7.99. Thats $.33 per battery but this daily deal is good until may 1st.

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  9. I've been using Duracell coppertops in my rain gauge for several years. I insert new batteries on January 1st hoping for a full years service. However, like clockwork, the coppertops always give out 2-3 weeks before the end of the year. This year I installed Quantum batteries hoping for them to last the extra 2-3 weeks for the entire year. Numerous reviews across the internet indicate this battery is actually inferior to the coppertop. For me, time will tell.

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    Replies
    1. Please report back with your findings. My analysis is far from scientific, so any corroborating or contradicting evidence would be appreciated. I'm pretty sure that these Quantum batteries may end up being better for high current draw (flash photography) or long life. But for low current draw like your rain gauge or my flashlights, the Coppertops are better.

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  10. Hi,

    Have you ever tried any Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries? They seem to outlast everything except for rechargeables.

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    Replies
    1. I have not and perhaps I should get some and use the same flashlights. Reading the print I was led to believe that the Energizer Ultimate were better suited for high draw battery applications. Why don't I do that and update this post.

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      Delete
  12. I picked up pack of Duracell Quantums for use in my Xbox 360 controller out of pure curiosity in battery life. I'll start by saying that rayovacs last about 2 weeks of heavy halftime before being completely dead. Not a good choice for me. Duracell Coppertops last about a month before being completely dead. Better. But the Duracell Quantums last about two and a half months before being completely drained. Not exactly sure why I'm getting massively different results than you, unless its something to do with the type of device. In the long run with the different results I'm seeing it depends on the type of device you're using it in. And although the Quantums seem to last twice as long for me I may go back to generics or maybe rechargeable batteries simply because of the hefty price on the Quantums. I hope this reply is helpful to others, although my tests are also far from scientific.

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  13. Glad you posted, I too can not find any decent info. This is currently the best-on-the-web -- not to be disparaging of your article, but WTF?

    Anyway, I notice several people going for the cheapest even though the coppertops last longer, and given Costco's prices the length of use per penny calculation seems to go to the coppertop.

    That said, I've gone almost completely to Eneloops (NiMH rechargeable, was Sanyo, now Panasonic). I've had a few coppertops leak and damage equipment. I've yet to have an eneloop do that. They might not last as long, but being rechargeable, that's not an issue (and I'm not sure that they don't last as long).

    With heavy use just replace (and recharge) every month. So you need two (2) sets. Long term they will be cheaper, and you don't lose anything by replacing them with a recharged set. Oh yes, get a GOOD recharger.

    WARNING: Certain devices (wireless mice, keyboards, some remotes) will not work (or not very long) with eneloops. iGO are rechargeable alkaline batteries, and work fine. They can come with a good (I think) recharger from Amazon. They aren't as good for most uses as eneloops, but they work where eneloops don't.

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    Replies
    1. maybe certain ones won't, but all the mice, keyboards, and remotes I've tried work just fine off NiMH. Logitech and Apple brands, at least.

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  14. I just opened a 16-pack of Quantum AA batteries that I bought last fall/early winter. They were all dead! No charge. (Well, only one had about 20% charge by its own measure.) I just had stored them in my kitchen drawer (nothing unusual). Hoping to get money returned somewhere, but without exact sales receipt, I'm probably out of luck. Definitely will never buy Quantums again.

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  15. I did fall for the advertising for the Duracell Quantum - bought the large pack - primarily for my camera. Yep - I use a real camera for speed "professional" photo taking. Last night was my first run at an event using the Quantum batteries. Strange happenings. After only a couple shots, my camera behaved as if the batteries were totally dead and would shut down. For some reason, the Quantum batteries function differently in that they discharge power and then need to rest and regroup before they will discharge another burst of power. It was a night event and I needed continual flash function. I will not use the Quantum batteries for photo taking again. Perhaps they do indeed last longer? But they are problematic in usability for speed photo taking where you need to take multiple shots consecutively. The batteries simply refuse to function. Will change back to my reliable coppertops for tonight's event.

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