it comes to most survival situations, batteries are often
overlooked. Too many people assume that all they need
to do is make sure their battery operated survival gear
is ready to go with new alkaline batteries and that they
have a fresh pack of spares. This is an unfortunate assumption!
There are five primary battery sizes: D, C, AA, AAA
and 9 volt. Most batteries fall into three categories:
alkaline, lithium and nickel.
batteries are what the average person imagines
when they picture a battery. There are other similar
types, such as carbon zinc (aka: “heavy duty”),
but we won’t get into these battery types
that much because alkaline batteries should not
be used in survival situations. We’ll touch
more on this throughout the article.
batteries come in many varieties. There
are both rechargeable and non-rechargeable types.
Two of the more common rechargeable types are lithium-ion
and lithium-polymer. Two common non-rechargeable
types are lithium-iron disulfide (occasionally referred
to as “voltage compatible lithium batteries”)
and lithium-manganese dioxide (commonly referred
to as CR 123A batteries).
for Short-Term Survival Situations
In a survival situation lasting up to a few weeks,
you’ll want to use lithium-iron disulfide batteries
in AAA or AA size. These are currently sold as Energizer
If you have any flashlights,
radios, signaling devices, etc. that need batteries,
do you best to find devices that can use these batteries.
Energizer Lithium batteries are great for short-term
survival situations for several reasons:
They handle temperature extremes much better than
most batteries on the market. In freezing temperatures,
alkaline and nickel based batteries won’t
work or will have greatly reduced performance.
* They are lightweight.
* They have a very long shelf life. Energizer Lithium
batteries are advertised has having a 20 year shelf
* They don’t leak. Alkaline batteries often
leak, leaving a corrosive residue.
* Lithium-iron disulfide batteries can produce more
power for a longer period of time than alkaline
* While an alkaline battery is around 1.5 volts,
a lithium-iron disulfide battery has about 1.6 volts
(for the AA and AAA sizes).
So what are the disadvantages?
* They only come in AAA, AA and 9 volt sizes. You
may have survival equipment that only uses C or
D batteries, although this can often be remedied
by using a battery spacer.
* Compared to alkaline batteries, lithium-iron disulfide
batteries are more expensive.
* The slightly higher voltage could harm some electronic
devices. This is going to be a rare situation, but
it could arise, such as when powering an insulin
pump or other device with sensitive electronics.
* They’re not rechargeable.
* You might be wondering about CR123A lithium batteries
– why not use those, especially since they
have more power at 3.0 volts? You can, as they provide
excellent performance. However, more devices use
AA or AAA batteries than CR123A batteries. Additionally,
CR123A batteries are more expensive and typically
harder to find.
for Long-Term Survival Situations
If you need batteries to power devices in an extended
survival or off-grid situation, you’re going
to need a rechargeable option. I recommended the low
self-discharge (LSD) NiMH battery, and here’s
First, if you’re living off the grid for several
years or more, you’re most likely going to need
to recharge your batteries from a renewable source,
like solar, hydro or wind. Due to the very nature
of these power sources, you’re unlikely to have
a steady, reliable and consistent flow of electricity.
As a result, you need batteries that are forgiving
to interruptions or dips in power when recharging.
batteries are the most forgiving when it comes to
inconsistent charging, but only have about one-half
to one-third the mAh of a similarly sized NiMH battery.
LSD NiMH batteries will hold their charge while
being stored for a very long time. For example,
eneloops, which are a type of LSD NiMH battery,
will have 70% of its original charge after 10 years.
Most “regular” NiMH batteries will lose
most of its charge after only one year.
LSD NiMH batteries perform well in high current
draw applications, much better than alkaline and
comparable to lithium based batteries.
is essentially just one disadvantage to using LSD
NiMH batteries: It provides only 1.2 volts. To put
that in perspective, alkaline batteries use 1.5
volts, and lithium batteries use between 1.6 and
IT OR LOSE IT
degrade not only during use, but also when sitting idly
on a shelf. This is one reason why most manufacturers specify
not only a cycle life but also a calendar life for their
batteries. So a good approach to take is to treat batteries
and battery-powered devices like you do dairy products.
Buy the freshest one whenever given the choice. A slightly
older product is fine - particularly if you're offered an
outstanding discount - but expect it to expire sooner.