I use a lot of AA batteries. So many in fact that finding them all and getting them charged up for a gig has become a significant bottleneck in my workflow.
I have finally realized that it is time for a more sophisticated system to actually manage all of the batteries that I need – as opposed to the old system which mostly consisted of pulling batteries out of my kid’s toys, TV remotes (or wherever else my AA batteries had migrated to) and then shoving them into ten different chargers the day before a big shoot.
The above photo is all of my photography accessories that take AA batteries.
Here is a quick breakdown:
- Pocket Wizards – three FlexTT5’s and a PlusX at two batteries each = 8 AA batteries.
- Strobes – five SB-800’s and a SB-600 at four batteries each = 24 AA batteries.
- Zoom H1 Handy Recorder – 1 AA battery.
So in total, I need 33 AA batteries charged and ready to rock before I leave the studio.
Of course, I don’t always use six strobes for every gig. But three or four would be typical for me, so I am going to plan my AA battery strategy based on using four strobes. That still results in a minimum of 25 AA batteries.
And then there are backups.
I am OK without having dedicated backups for the Pocket Wizards and the recorder, they are all pretty light on power usage. But, I defiantly want a set of backup batteries for the strobes – so if I’m planning on using four strobes, that adds another 16 AA batteries.
In total that works out to a minimum of 41 AA batteries!
My Current Battery Charging “System”
Over the years I have collected an ad hoc assortment of rechargeable AA batteries and chargers.
I have about twenty four Energizer 2450 mAh rechargeable AA batteries (about half of which are AWOL) and an 8 bay charger that I have been using for years. A lot of the Energizer batteries no longer take a charge and the ones that do are becoming unreliable.
The Energizer batteries are also older technology, and they don’t hold a charge for very long – meaning they need a full fresh charge every time you use them.
Then, I have twelve Duracell 2000 mAh rechargeable AA batteries and a four bay Duracell 15 Minute quick charger. I know that a 15 Minute quick charge is pretty hard on batteries, but I quite like the Duracell batteries because I can charge all of them fairly quickly in succession, and because they hold their charge for up to a year.
Of course that also means that these batteries often migrate into other devices when they’re not being used for photography, and I have to go searching for them.
I also have eight Sanyo 1900 mAh Eneloop rechargeable AA batteries and a four bay Sanyo charger. The Sanyo charger is a slow charger and I usually have to leave it overnight to completely charge a set of batteries.
So with my current system, I have 44 AA batteries available, but the problem is that I can only charge 16 of them at a time – which means that I have to start charging batteries days in advance, which is a royal pain in the butt.
Battery Charging Bottlenecks
I am going to re-appropriate the Duracell 2000 mAh batteries and charger to household accessories – which is where most of them end up anyway. Since they hold a charge for a long time, they are good for things like TV remotes, computer accessories etc.
The 2450 Energizer batteries are unreliable right now, but I think that most of them can probably be reconditioned. I am going to send them to work in the salt mines (ie. kids toys).
The Sanyo 1900 mAh Eneloops are solid. But I can only charge four of them at once, and they take all night with the factory charger.