Best AA Batteries for Winter

What are the best AA batteries for winter you ask? Well, the answer may surprise you! And since AA’s are used for so many different applications these days, it only makes sense to make sure they’re usefulness includes extreme temperatures as well.

Different Battery Chemistry

Before we go any further let’s differentiate the types of AA battery chemistry for which you, the average consumer, might be using.

Carbon-zinc Heavy Duty AA Battery

These are your run-of-the-mill, (sometimes no-name) dollar store batteries that are usually $1 per 4-pack. They’re cheap, because they don’t last long and their power capacities are less. They also won’t work too well in temperatures below 20°F (-6°C) and have a shorter shelf-life. At a temperature of 0°F (-17°C) they quickly lose 75% of their service life.

Operating a battery-powered puppy on Christmas morning, (while probably a blessing) will only get a couple of hours worth of ear-piercing yelps before these AA cells crap out! And if you live in an igloo… oh well.


The gold-standard. The one that’s readily available at every corner store, gas station, subway station, supermarket, big-box store and shoeshine stand the world over. You know the brands too. Basically Duracell and Energizer are your choices.

When compared to the carbon-zinc variety, their claim to fame is long-lasting power. Temperature-wise, they’ll be pretty good down to about 0°F. But…go BELOW zero (-17C) and their useful life is decreased by about 60%. They can also sit unused for up to decade and still provide useful power. The downside…they’ve been known to leak on occasion…whether used or not. Some users refer to them as “alkaleaks”.

Unless you have earplugs, that Christmas morning toy-puppy may end up under the wheels of a snowplow, (going-going…gone) when the promises of the “Energizer bunny” become apparent.

Lithium  Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA

The ultimate ones! So, here’s where your question about the best AA battery in cold weather, get’s closer to getting answered!

First of all, a lithium AA won’t offer the identical lasting power as  an alkaline AA. BUT, and this is a BIG BUT…its operating temperature is good to -40°F! — which happens to be the same temperature in Celsius! Shelf life is still good for ten years, and even though SOME of their resources are robbed once temps go sub-zero, it’s only around 20%.

Rechargeable Nickel-Metal-Hydride (NiMH)  Sanyo Eneloop

We talk about NiMH a lot here at Lightsngear… and with good reason. They’re very economical and they hold their charge on the shelf up to a year. The downsides are that their total capacity is about half of what the average alkaline is, and they won’t perform too well at sub-zero temperatures.

My Best Recommendation

So from the information above, it’s recommended that the best type of AA battery for the winter are the lithium variety. Keep in mind these are 100% disposable. So as much as I recommend rechargeable batteries for just about EVERY application, these are better for use in very cold weather.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the section below.



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  1. Hello and thank you for a great website and a really interesting article on batteries. I’ve often wondered about the different types but now at last I know what they are and what are the benefits of each.
    Cheers. Peter

  2. I honestly didn’t think that the makeup of the various batteries really impacted their performance. I suppose it makes sense, and it especially does now after having read your post.

  3. I am glad to know about these things about AA batteries. Thanks for the very informative post.

  4. Hello, when you say Rechargeable Nickel-Metal-Hydride won’t perform too well at sub-zero temperatures, do you mean not recommended below freezing (32 F) or not recommended below 0 F? We have outdoor security sensors and won’t regularly go below 0 F, but much of winter is in the teens and twenties. Knowing that the cold drains batteries, I’d like to use rechargeable, but not expect to change them out more than once a month. Thank you!

    • Hello, and I apologize for the late reply.

      Sub-zero basically refers to below zero fahrenheit. Now, whereas the NiMH batteries will probably be okay in temps that hover in the 20’s and 30’s… if you want complete piece of mind, just in case the temp takes a dive for an extended period, I might go with lithium (disposable) AA’s, which aren’t so susceptible to cold. Even though they’re designed for higher-drain devices like digital cameras, they should do well in your sensors as well.

      Thanks for the question!

      • For my cams (Northern WI) I use the Energizer Ultimate lithium’s for November through February when I take them in (The Advanced Lithiums are cheaper but don’t work in sub zero temps). I then set those batteries aside and use Alkaline batteries or rechargeables for the summer. For non-cellular cameras I can use a set of the ultimate lithium’s for 2 to 3 winters before changing them out. This keeps costs down, rather than wasting the expensive batteries in the summer when the cheaper option will work just fine. I haven’t found any other batteries that work well in consistently freezing temps. This was a good article. confirmed that I really don’t have any better options right now. Thanks

  5. thanks for sharing nice input.
    good work.

  6. Curious about previously bought Panasonic AA batteries, Ni-MH 2050 mAh, rechargeable, HHR-3MRA. I could leave them in a trail camera in Darby MT for about six months, late December to early June and they still have a 30-40% charge and had taken 3-400 photographs of animals along the creek bed. Nobody believes such batteries ever existed and I cannot any AA batteries like this in battery stores or on the Internet. Any comments or advice? Thanks, JBA

    • Thanks for the question!

      Do you still have these batteries? If not, I wouldn’t be too concerned if you can’t find them anymore. There are several good brands of NiMH, the best of which are probably Eneloop by Sanyo. Amazon also has a line of their own batteries which seem quite good. I would also recommend Powerex as well.

      Good luck with your photography!

  7. You’ve just helped me figure out why our outdoor -40F rated thermometers are not working in the fridge and freezer in the garage! It’s the batteries. I will pick up some lithium AAs very soon. The back story is we had our backup fridge and freezer die on us and by the time I found out all our meats were thawed in the freezer. We lost a lot of expensive stuff. So I wanted to wirelessly monitor the temps from the kitchen. I got 4 acurite indoor outdoor units, labeled them and set them up. Slowly the freezer one quit first, then freezer 2…. Now I think changing our batteries will do the trick.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience! I truly hope the better batteries will solve the problem!

    • I tried this with a refrigerator, and found the Acurite sensor wouldn’t penetrate the metal exterior of the fridge. Were you able to receive a signal eventually? If so, which model of sensor do you use?

      • Timothy Wayne Kuhner

        I got a cheap dual display unit off of eBay. I actually got 2 which is a good thing because one of the remotes loses signal until you reset the base unit. I have them 30 feet away in deep freezers at -15 F. They have been working for a week with Publix cheap batteries through metal doors. The only model numbers are WA50 with two sensors.

  8. Christine Hartmann

    Fabulous information in this post. I did a web search for best cold weather batteries. – Your tutorial on AA batteries popped up as the first option at the top of the screen. I need look no further. I had thought I remembered that lithium batteries would handle the cold better than regular batteries, so was glad to have that thought confirmed.

    I want to get an outdoor clock so that when I’m working in the yard I know when to come in to feed the dog, or start dinner, or get a glass of water. I may need to bring the clock in for the winter, but I think for at least one cold season I’ll test it out to see if the lithium batteries (and the clock itself) can handle the cold. A clock that is made for outdoors is obviously intended to withstand the rain, so maybe it can handle the driven snow, as well.

    • Thanks for the comment Christine!

      Good luck with the clock. I hope it serves your purpose well, and that the batteries you choose, hold for the winter. As long as they’re lithium, I can’t imagine you’ll have a problem.

  9. I have solar light tubes that have a solar powered night light in them. The label in the fixture says the nimh battery must be rated for >70c.the existing battery is rated @ 1500 mha. I can’t find any that are rated at that temperature except Eneloop pro. They are hi capacity and the recharge cycles are less than desirable. Unfortunately the manufacturer of the solar tubes has the batteries made for them but don’t offer them for sale
    Any suggestions?.

    • Hello Woody,

      I’d probably need to see a link to the solar light, to get an idea of battery acceptance. If it DOES accept Eneloops, I would use them, because they can still be charged hundreds of times.

  10. Do you have lithium D size batteries?

  11. Wow, I had no idea that lithium batteries can work in temperatures below -40 degrees Fahrenheit. I am going to Canada for Christmas and I need some batteries to work my flashlights. We plan on going hiking but it will be super cold so I’ll get a couple packs of lithium batteries just in case.

    • Hey Chris!

      Sounds like a plan! (except as of this writing, the border is closed to cross travel, otherwise I would be going to Canada as well!)

      Anyway, yes lithium cells are great. However if you’re using AA flashlights, please don’t confuse DISPOSABLE lithium batteries (1.5v) with RECHARGEABLE lithium cells at 3.7v There’s a HUGE difference between them, and any light that uses TWO AA’s cannot use 3.7v batteries.

      Thanks, and be safe!

  12. Hi,

    How about rechargeable lithium in very cold temp ?
    Are they as good as disposable lithim battery ?


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