Batteries are the power source for virtually everything in our homes. These small, unassuming things can pack years of power if you invest wisely.
The best batteries bring out the best in your tools and devices. But there are just so many options to pick from that sometimes it can feel very confusing which type to opt for.
The 14500 rechargeable and the standard AA battery are two of the most popular batteries. These two power cells can work for various devices, are often inexpensive, and are readily available. No doubt you’ve tried both already, but which is the best battery to buy?
This article will explore everything you need to know about these two battery staples. We’ll compare the two types across various criteria and ultimately recommend which we feel is the superior buy for you.
Table of Contents
To understand which battery performs better, let’s take a quick look at what makes each truly special.
The 14500 battery is a lithium-ion battery with standard dimensions of 14mm by 50mm. This makes it an ideal choice for many small devices, including remotes, flashlights, and power tools.
Most, if not all, 14500 batteries are considered rechargeable. Some come with USB built-in charging ports, while others require an additional charger to power up from. This allows them to be charged, discharged, and recharged again and again for continued service. They have an average life cycle count of up to 4,000.
Although they look similar to an AA battery, 14500 batteries are chemically different. Most use a LiCoO2 (lithium carbon-oxide) ICR chemistry and reach a voltage of 3.6V to 3.7V.
Similarly, AA batteries are dry cell batteries that differ slightly in dimensions from that of 14500 batteries, typically measuring 14mm by 51mm.
AA batteries also power small handheld devices, granting them the nickname ‘penlight batteries. They have a voltage range of 1.5V and may come in rechargeable form, but disposable aa batteries are the most commonly sold.
Which is better? The 14500 Battery Vs AA Battery
Now it’s time to compare batteries under five key categories. We’ll detail their differences in each and ultimately recommend which type is the superior choice. That said, always check your device’s user manual so that the type, power, and material of the battery are ultimately compatible.
Capacity is one of the most important things about a battery, defining how much energy it can store and how long it can hold on to this energy. The higher the energy density, the better, as your battery can hold its charge for longer and at higher amounts.
Ultimately, a 14500 rechargeable lithium battery has more capacity at 2000mAh, than a standard AA battery, which averages between 600-1500mAh. If you buy rechargeable AA batteries such as NiMH batteries, these are known to self-discharge by about 1% per day, reducing their optimal capacity.
Additionally, rechargeable batteries, by their nature, are much more convenient than disposable batteries. If they run low, you recharge them at that moment instead of waiting to buy brand-new ones. Additionally, many chargers feature a power meter, allowing you to know when power is required ahead of time.
Cost can be a tricky thing when it comes to batteries. Sure, AA batteries may seem inexpensive, and a set may only set you back a couple of dollars, but you must factor into the equation that most AA batteries sold are single-use. After they’re exhausted, you must repurchase new ones, which can become costly.
On the other hand, 14500 lithium rechargeable batteries can be charged, discharged, and charged thousands of times again over. Although they may seem more expensive initially, they are an investment that makes much more sense in the long run.
That said, do remember to invest in high-quality smart chargers for your battery. Cheap, fast chargers can deplete the battery’s charge cycles, leading to overheating, discharge, and worse – complete failure.
Voltage is essentially the power of the battery. The higher the voltage, the more demanding tasks the battery can perform. And both these types of batteries have different voltages that make for a clear winner in terms of strength.
While it ultimately depends on what tools or devices you’re powering and what battery will suit you, you’ll generally want to go for a higher voltage. 14500 batteries typically have a much higher voltage between 3.6–3.7, whereas AA batteries can only muster 1.5 volts on average.
Simply put, 14500 batteries have a much higher rating than their AA counterparts and will produce stronger light, more powerful speeds, and keep up with the demands of an energy-hungry power tool.
4. mAh per hour
mAh stands for milliampere per hour and is used to record just how long a battery will perform before recharging. The higher this number, the more time you will get from every charge and subsequent recharge.
If you’re using batteries to power small tools like flashlights, the 14500 and typical AA batteries will do the job in equal measure. Both reach an average mAH of between 2000 and 3000.
That said, certain AA rechargeable batteries like the AA Nimh record a much lower mAH at 1,200-2,000. Always check specific battery brands, as the mAH may vary depending on the issue of the battery. Although batteries with a higher mAH may cost more, they may perform their tasks more efficiently in the long run.
5. Type of material
There are several types of battery material out there, each one with its own unique properties and selling points. Ultimately, it depends on what your battery is made of on if it’s the real winner in this category.
The most effective ingredient is graphite because it is involved in a process known as intercalation. This essentially means it is an excellent material for storing energy inside.
The average AA battery comprises steel and a mix of zinc, manganese, potassium, and graphite. This standard formula hasn’t changed much since the batteries became mass-produced in the 1900s. Similarly, 14500 rechargeable batteries are made of lithium, graphite, cobalt, and manganese.
If in doubt, check that the battery contains graphite, especially if it is rechargeable, and you should be good to go.
Expert battery tips
- Compatibility: Always check your device’s user manual to check battery compatibility. Some tools may require different amps, watts, and general dimensions for the compartment.
- Capacity: Choose higher energy density batteries for high-draining devices. This ensures they will have a long run time.
- Chemistry: Lithium ion chemistry (Li-on)
- Size matters: Some batteries have protective cases that add to their overall length. This can make them too big for specific battery compartments – always check the dimensions before purchasing.
- Shelf-life: All batteries have a shelf-life. As they sit idly by, they self-discharge. It would be best to store batteries in a cool, dry place to extend their runtime– even when they aren’t connected to anything.
- Reuse: Rechargeable batteries have the added benefit of lasting between two to five years, ensuring great value for money. They’re also the more environmentally friendly option.
- Charging habits: Avoid leaving batteries in the charger for longer than necessary, as this can deplete their capacity.
- Please don’t skimp on chargers: Invest in high-quality rechargers to preserve your battery’s health and maximize its lifespan. This includes branded USB cables and USB chargers.
Although small in size, batteries pack a punch. And they are necessary for so many, if not all, our power tools, electronic devices, and more.
It’s no wonder that batteries are perhaps one of the most mass-produced things in the world, coming in various shapes, sizes, powers, and chemistries.
Arguably the two most common types are the 14500 and the AA, and as our article demonstrates, the 14500 is the clear winner in most cases. For that reason, buying these rechargeable batteries is the best investment.
The 14500 stores more power, can deliver more consistent energy, and as a rechargeable, is a cost-effective investment to make. That’s not to say the AA battery is terrible – but whenever possible, and if your device allows it, we recommend the 14500 every time.
Still, have questions about 14500 or AA batteries? Wondering about a specific difference and can’t choose between them? Then please leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you.
But when shopping for a battery, remember the following:
- Always check your device’s manual and its requirements. They often recommend the make, model, and size of a battery best suited.
- In most cases, 14500 batteries outperform AA batteries across power, volt, capacity, and, most importantly, price!
- Rechargeable batteries may cost more initially, but they will save you time, effort, and money by working for up to five years!