ABC12 News puts battery shelf life to the test - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

ABC12 News puts battery shelf life to the test

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(02/03/14) - It's something you use and possibly rely on every single day - simple, AA batteries.

But how reliable are they, right off the store shelf?

Popular battery brands boast a long shelf life, but not everyone trusts their claims. We put a few of the most popular brands to the test.

In an emergency, a flashlight is a huge help - and it's all powered by batteries. But not everyone has a good experience with batteries right off the store shelf.

If you look at the packaging, most brands say their batteries will stay fresh on the shelf for a certain number of years - some up to 20.

We went to a battery expert and put it to the test.

"Anything foreign-made is not going to hold up but good American-made. American batteries are going to hold up, they will hold charge for up to 10 years in storage," said John Dombrowski, owner of Batteries Plus, Burton.

Dombrowski says five years ago, batteries might lose charge on the shelf over time - but technology's improved, and so has the shelf life.

"The Duracell Duracore technology, the new thing out, uses a 24 karat gold separator in there, not much, but enough to keep it from breaking down," he said.

We wanted to see for yourself just how much juice is in these batteries, straight from the store shelf. We used a battery tester and had three different brands of batteries - Duracell, Energizer and Rite Aid brand. Duracell claims to have a 10 year shelf life - and they were fully charged. Energizer says they're good for 20 years on the shelf - those were good, too. Rite Aid brand says they're good until the year 2023 - those were fine as well.

So, our experiment holds true with what John says - these are all fully charged and ready to go. But, if you're still unsure, a quick Google search claims there's an even easier way to test your batteries at home - using gravity.

Dombrowski is skeptical. Seven years in the battery business and he's not sure about this.

"My tendency is to think this is just that an urban myth, " he said.

The theory goes like this - when dropped, a good battery will fall over without bouncing, but a bad battery will bounce around being falling down. So, we tried it out.

First, we weighed a new and used battery.

"Twenty-four grams, OK, they are both 24 grams, weight's not an issue," Dombrowski said.

Then, we let them loose.

"This one, the charged battery, does seem to fall right over, but this one, the dead one does bounce," Dombrowski said.

Strange enough, it seems to work. John's not sure what to think about it - but he has a theory.

"As the battery breaks down, the separators between the anode and the cathode do become distorted, so it's possible it makes it unbalanced," he said.

Believe it or not, it's a quick test to try before you're in a pinch.

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