Camping & Survival

Battery Basics — Are You Prepared?

A small pile of AA batteries from Sony

The common goal of most preppers is to simply be as self sufficient as possible. This means keeping an adequate supply of necessary items in case of an emergency. The number of what-if scenarios, which can happen and constitute an emergency, are as varied as the number of items you need to be stockpiling. One of those essential items for preppers is batteries. Batteries are vital for many of us who wish to maintain some sort of normalcy in the event of an emergency. During a mass emergency such as a hurricane or blizzard, batteries are one of the first items to fly off store shelves.

A small pile of AA batteries from Sony

Simple Stockpiling

There are several different types of batteries but Lead, Alkaline, Lithium, Non-Lithium and Nickel are most common. Knowing which battery to stockpile may get a little confusing, especially when you start thinking about the number of different types of batteries you use on a regular basis. However, that is the trick to creating any good stockpile.

Make a list of the THINGS you use on a daily basis such as auto, garage door openers, cell phones or laptops and list the types of batteries these items require. Then, make a list of other things you occasionally use such as a boat, tractor or specific tools and the type of battery these items require.

Batteries are like bread; you want the freshest you can find. Learn how to read and understand labels and the battery date code on batteries.

Prolonging the Power

Keeping an ample supply of necessary batteries is a good idea, but storing them is a challenge. Batteries are like humans and typically lose their strength with age. Temperature also affects the aging process, so the recommended storage temperature for the most common types of batteries is 59°F. Storing batteries in the hot sun can shorten their expected life. A common practice of the past was to store batteries in a freezer. However, many experts now frown on freezing batteries due to revelations regarding the effects of cold temperatures. Plus, in an emergency situation, if you loose power your freezer can become a wet, thawing mess. Excessive moisture is not good for batteries as the moisture increases the rate of corrosion. Instead, store batteries in a dark, cool, dry place.

Another tip to prolong the life of a battery is to remove it from equipment or devices if you expect a delay before use. For example, a cell phone (even when turned off) will continue to suck power from the battery.

Rechargeable Batteries

Car batter showing corrosion a terminal with severe corrosion
Batteries can mean the difference between safety or tragedy. Maintenance and care are critical.

One alternative to disposable batteries is rechargeable batteries and this option is available for the average types of batteries used such as AA, AAA and D. A rechargeable battery is a good idea that can save you time and money. As a bonus, it is considered a “green” option because you are not consuming, using and disposing of batteries as often. One thing to remember, however, is most rechargeable batteries also have a shelf life and are only good for a determinant number of recharges before needing to be replaced.

Solar Powered Charging Options

Sans electricity to pump power into the rechargeable units for your batteries, solar is the answer. The Goal Zero Yeti 400 Solar Generator 23000 is one option, which can provide hundreds of power cycles when you need them and most importantly this unit can be refueled from the sun. If you need an individual, smaller, portable solar powering option, consider the Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel Plus Guide 10 Battery Charger Kit. This compact unit is designed to draw solar energy to recharge handheld devices directly from its USB and 12 Volt DC charging ports, plus it gives you the option to charge your AA or AAA batteries from the sun or any USB port at the same time.

Think through future purchases of battery operated items. Although it might be the coolest gadget in the world if it takes hard-to-find batteries you might want to rethink buying it and instead opt for a similar item, which operates off of run-of-the-mill types of batteries.

Do you accounted for batteries in your emergency preparations? Tell us in the comment section.


The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (7)

  1. At the Dollar Store I bought dozens of solar-powered garden lights for a buck each. They come with a rechargeable AA or AAA battery inside, and the solar panel keeps them charged up. So you effectively get a rechargeable light and a rechargeable battery for a dollar and you can use the solar charger to charge all your other batteries as well.

  2. As to the storage of batteries, I have a shelf dedicated in my gun safe for keeping extra batteries, especially those required for sights and scopes. Check, all sorts of batteries for sale, especially large packs. Amazon just started charging sales tax to states, so weight the costs vs. Local purchase.

    I also keep three to four large silicon packs in safe.

  3. I stockpile standard sizes such as AA, AAA, & D. I also stock batteries for gun & bow sights and lights. (CR2032, 357, CR123A, & CR2)

    For my GHB, I used a a modified MTM Case Guard rifle ammo storage box to hold extra AA for my head lamp and flashlight.

  4. We have been stockpiling batteries of all kinds and sizes. My question is how do you tell when these batteries were made? Is it in code somewhere on the battery?

  5. During the Walmart black Friday sale last Thanksgiving, AA Alkaline batteries were on sale… a 40 pack of Rayovac for only $7. They have a guaranteed shelf life of 10 years. I bought $70 worth. I figure that over the next few years I will use many of them for one thing or another… and get replacement stock every other year or so at the Black Friday sales events. If the batteries should go bad, I have my receipt and can always get them replaced.

    I also bought two 500 lumen flashlights with all aluminum bodies that will run for 7.5 hours on 6AA batteries, 37 hours on the lower 100 lumen setting. They were only $20 each and now that I have seen how bright & white their light beam is.. I wish I had gotten several more.

    I picked up a rechargeable 750 lumen flashlight for $49.97. Sadly, it only has about a hour run time on high beam… but it does have a lithium battery and will recharge in about 10-15 minutes. Their 800 lumen Stream Light was $370-ish… the $50 750 lumen store brand light works just as well and the beam is about the same color of white.

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