How to Choose the right batteries for your headlamp

Following on in our series of ‘How to ….’ articles we have Batteries. This article was written for headlamps but applies exactly the same for MP3 players, GPS units, Radios or anything.

The article can also be seen on the Facewest website – How to choose the right batteries

Once you have choosen your new headlamp, which is no easy feat with all the lighting technologies now available, you still need to decide which batteries are best for you in order to get the best from your headlamp. If you haven’t yet choosen your new lamp or are thinking of upgrading then please read this page – How to Choose a Headlamp.

There are 3 main battery types.

Battery Type
(4 batteries)
Cost – Relatively inexpensive for occaional use.
Life – Reasonable life at 20C
See note 1.Tests by Lyon equipment (petzl UK) show that branded batteries like Energizer do outperform generic no brand batteries.
Life – Battery life drops off markedly at lower temperatures and is very poor at -20 C

Life – The longest battery life of all the types
Battery life is hardly affected by temperature
Weight – Lithiums are 43% lighter than Alkaline and 48% lighter then rechargeables

Cost – Relatively expensive at 20C where alkalines perform well but cheaper at -20C when alkalines degrade
Cost – So cheap that it laughs at disposible batteries for the regular user
Life – Performance equal to alkalines at 20C but better as temperature drops. Only slightly affected ay temperature
Weight – The heaviest battery option

Note 1 – Tests by Lyon equipment (petzl UK) show that branded batteries like Energizer do outperform generic no brand batteries so it is actually cheaper to buy better quality alkalines
Note 2 – Rechargeables are NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydrides) not NiCad (Nickel Cadmium). NiMH’s can be recharged at any time without impairing performance while NiCad’s must be fully discharged before recharging to retain performance. NiMH’s are much more flexible to use.

Below you can see which types of battery suits the various conditions of use

Conditions / Usage Best Battery Type/Combination
Warm environment & Occasional Use Alkaline Batteries. For a small amount of use Alkalines will be cheaper and perform just as well as any other option
Frequent use in all conditions Rechargeables have the lowest running costs, £28 for 2000 AA’s (including buying the charger) as opposed to £1400 for disposible alkalines and offer the same or better performance than alkalines. Carry a spare set of lithiums as a back up in case you forget to recharge! (lightweight and long shelf life)
Expedition and competition use Lithiums. Excellent performance in all conditions especially the cold and the lightest battery option

Although this research was done powering headlamps, it applies just as well to any battery powered device (gps, radio etc)

Original tests carries out by Lyon Equipment UK.

See all Batteries from Facewest Here