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It’s déjà vu all over again: Duracell® originally released batteries with the built-in power gauge back in 1996, but now it’s “new” apparently because the battery is the new Ultra Advanced. As before, you press the two white dots and a bar appears, showing how much power the battery has left. The Ultra Advanced, which “lasts up to 30 percent longer in toys than the previous Ultra Digital,” is available “at a small additional cost to regular CopperTop batteries.”

Have any Toolmongers tried these? Are they worth “a small additional cost?”

[Manufacturer’s Site]

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28 Responses to Hot Or Not? Duracell Powercheck

  1. ToolGuyd says:

    If this feature costs extra, then I’ll stick to regular batteries. I’ve used this type of battery before, but was never really thrilled about the powercheck capabilities. Seeing as how most of my AA sized batteries are fresh in their packaging or in the devices they’re powering, the powercheck function is a cost that I could do without.

  2. Gene says:

    I would love to see something like this on rechargeable batteries.

  3. Chris says:

    I don’t think those gauges — at least, not in their former iteration; I haven’t used the new one — were all that accurate. I’ve seen them register “good” when the batteries tested out at about 1.3V on a multimeter and wouldn’t power anything but an old incandescent flashlight, and even that was very dim.

    I sure wouldn’t pay extra for them. That’s why I have a multimeter.


  4. Chris W says:

    Chris, even a nearly dead cell can seem good on a multimeter. A battery needs to be under load to be tested. I wonder whether the self test puts a load on the battery.

  5. LennyNero says:

    The self tester by its very nature (a resistor strip that heats up and makes a thermochromic strip change color) is a load-test not just a static voltage test.

  6. David Bryan says:

    Chris, an incandescent bulb isn’t a good test of how much life is left in a battery. I gather up batteries that people think won’t work any more and use them in my led flashlights.

  7. Chris says:

    Modern electronics are pretty voltage-sensitive; if you want proof, pull the batteries out of a digital camera that is showing “dead” batteries and measure their voltage on a meter. Standard alkaline dry-cell “1.5V” batteries will show about 1.6V when they’re new, and once they drop below about 1.4V, they won’t power most devices like digital cameras (or even some LED flashlights). Those batteries will still work in an old-school analog device, though not for as long as they would if they were new.

    Regardless, I think you’ve all read my post backwards: I’ve seen batteries *indicate* “good” with these self-testers, yet those very same “good” batteries wouldn’t power anything. These testers don’t seem to be too terribly accurate, therefore they’re not particularly useful.


  8. David Bryan says:

    Chris, not all electronics are so voltage sensitive, and the inverters used in led flashlights that have them aren’t very voltage sensitive– they’ll operate at voltages that won’t light an led without an inverter. Led flashlights without inverters that use 3 cells will give you usable light when they won’t make an incandescent bulb glow at all. It’s something I’ve seen with my own two eyes many times. I use a lot of worn-out batteries that come right out of a digital camera for my flashlights, and they still make bright light.

  9. Kris says:


    Duracell & Eveready are already too expensive – probably to fund their massive ad campaigns. I test using a separate battery tester that I trust more.

    I buy my AA batteries at Costco – house brand – they seem to work just as well as the brand names at much lower cost.

  10. Brau says:

    “house brand – they seem to work just as well as the brand names at much lower cost.”

    As a wireless security system installer I can attest to using thousands of batteries and different brands. Duracells and Energizers actually do give you about 25% more life, but at near twice the price. That also means that two of those cheap batteries give you about 150% of energy *for the same price*.

    The lowdown: Use the cheap batteries in all your toys and non-critical items but use brand names where you need them to last (the wedding pictures!). Your wallet will thank you. Your eco-conscience? Well, that’s up to you.

  11. Chris says:

    Brau: better yet, don’t use disposable alkaline batteries at all and use rechargeables instead (and carry a spare set with you in critical applications).

    I think I could pretty much give up disposable batteries entirely if rechargeable 9V batteries were more readily available. Paying $10 for a lithium 9V that’s still disposable is ridiculous.


  12. Andrew says:

    I always hated those old Duracell batteries with the “meter.” They were slightly thicker than a normal AA battery and I often had trouble getting them into some battery holders. And as everyone has noted, the meter is nothing but a sales gimmick–it has no useful purpose.

  13. Cameron says:

    I’ll stick to Rayovac batteries. Generally cheaper than the others.
    HD currently has 60 AAs for $10!

  14. Brau says:

    @ Chris

    Rechargeables are okay for some things (toys) but have a couple problems in that they put out less voltage (only 1.2V) and they don’t keep their charge when sitting unused for extended periods (emerg. lamps).

    As for Lithuim batteries, they too have their place. They outlast alkalines by a large margin and are the battery of choice for people using battery operated smoke detectors in remote summer cabins that only get visited once a year.

  15. Fabian says:

    Anyone know why most home smoke detector manuals say not to use rechargeable 9v batteries? I was going to get some since I have 8 detectors in the house, but then I read the manual.


  16. David Bryan says:

    Most rechargeable batteries won’t hold a charge over significant periods of time, and they shouldn’t be relied upon to work on demand in a device you’re going to expect to leave unattended for any length of time.

  17. Chris says:

    Also, what’s the actual voltage of the “9V” rechargeable battery? It may be less than 9V, which could be a problem in some smoke detectors.

    David’s very much correct about the self-discharge; I can’t think of any rechargeable battery technology that’s in wide use that doesn’t have a very high self-discharge rate compared to a standard alkaline battery.


  18. David Bryan says:

    Most nickel cadmium and nickel metal hydride PP3 or “9 volt” sized batteries are rated at 7.2 or 8.4 volts. You can find them rated at 9.6 volts. Thomas Distributing has ’em. And there are some low-discharge ones available. I’ve never tried them. Never have cared for rechargeable 9 volts.

  19. @Chris:

    I’ve found that the self discharge on the hybrid rechargeables like Eneloop and the Rayovac batteries is tolerable. I can put them in devices like my wireless mouse or digital cameras (one that we don’t use very often) and have them last 6 months to a year.

  20. Chris says:

    Benjamen: Right, for something that’s being used somewhat regularly, they’re probably OK. (Heck, rechargeables work great in laptops, cell phones, cordless phones, flashlights, etc.) Not sure how they’d hold up in something like a smoke detector. Maybe Consumer Reports should do a test :-p

    But then again, in the example above of the summer cabin that only gets visited once a year, if there’s nobody around to hear the smoke detector alarm, why even have a battery in it in the first place while you’re gone? Why not just take a battery with you, put it in while you’re there, then remove it again when you leave?


  21. Zathrus says:

    LiIon rechargables have a negligible discharge rate, but I haven’t seen them in a 9V form factor.

    I had one smoke detector that I bought at my old house that came with a Lithium (I think) 9V battery that claimed to be good for 10 years.

  22. kirk says:

    It have no sense in non-rechargable battery…maybe in rechargable battery it will be a nice feature but in alkaline? I have this one in 1998 in my bicycle lights, it was nice to see if the battery is empty but much more previously you saw that on lights 😀

  23. qwe says:

    Where is the dots??? I see only one! HELP!!!!

  24. qwe says:

    thx ive found them xDDD
    they arent white ))

  25. jeri says:

    they are pretty exciting

  26. Ken says:

    I don’t seem to get the same amount of power from these as I do the Regular batteries so I avoid all self-test.

    One thing I have noticed is that When “regular” Duracell are at end of life my $5 battery tester show’s them way down in the Red or “Replace” where as the self test are done at Yellow or “Low”! Also the self-test don’t light up the yellow bar.

  27. Joyce says:

    …so yellow is supposed to represent good, & the red at the bottom portion of the battery increases as the battery loses power? If you don’t know how to read it, what good is it? I bought a pkg of 24, claiming they’d be good for 10 years, but they don’t seem to last long out of the pkg. As of april 9th, I’m on my 3rd set in my wireless mouse since Christmas, so what’s that 2 months give or take, that doesn’t seem like very long to me???

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