The AA Batteries and Your Radio

Luckily most handheld radios and some QRP Rigs (Low Power shortwave radios) have an alternate AA battery option. It is prudent to include a AA case for any radio you own, but DO TEST it first.

Do not make the assumption that all will work fine, there are two hidden bugs particular to any radio.

These are:

– Voltage incompatibility depending on the type of batteries you use.

– The radio dropping its power on AA batteries.


So in the past few days we have been testing our Baofeng with various kind of AAA batteries options. Also Kenwood has details enough on final power out in the manual of the TH-F6 handheld that we also own. To summarize both:

Radio Battery Test

We were disappointed by the Lithium’s performance in our Kenwood, ‘cos till now we thought that the extra voltage would bring power back up.

So it takes some testing to learn how your radio will act and perform.

General knowledge on AA & AAA Batteries

Now is a good time to cover the particular characteristics of the main typew of AA (and AAA) batteries.



Cheap, find-everywhere with good storage life (10years). Discount brands are a good option for non-demanding uses. But from this on their drawbacks continue. Prone to leaking irrespective of brand and quality. Cannot handle loads well, mediocre in low temperatures.

Tech Stuff: Voltage at 1.5-1.6 Volts, Nominal Capacity 2900mAh (but decreases rapidly with load)


NiMh Rechargeables

The new kind of, the LSD (low self discharge ones) maintain their charge well. (75% over a year). Do not look any further. Available in 2000 and 2500mAh capacities but the lower the capacity the better NiMhs handle load.

Eneloop is the main brand in the market and there are just as good from other manufacturers. But over extensive use Eneloops seem to keep their edge on the competitors and price difference is a non-issue.

The drawbacks are that they do not have good performance around or below freezing, and that they cannot stand trickle (maintenance) charging, but that is somewhat irrelevant in our case.

Tech Stuff: Voltage nominal 1.2V, actual 1.4 Volts, Capacity 1700-2700mAh. (2000-2500mAh for the Eneloops)


Single-Use Lithiums

Energizer with the Ultimate and Advanced Lithiums leads the way. These are the crown of the non-rechargable batteries. More capacity and energy stored compared to the Alkalines, do not leak, good for big loads, work even bellow freezing temperatures. Cost can be an issue, but if you are to buy expensive Alkalines, you better opt for the Lithiums.

Only drawback is their own power, the increased voltage. So check for compatibility with your radio.

Tech Stuff: Voltage at 1.8 Volts, Capacity 2900mAh


Realtime Use Runtime and Cost Test

Courtesy of Hank Curmudgeon we will include a use test of different batteries on a Baofeng UV-5R.

BL-5 AA Battery Adapter Lifespan Test

Both in cost and performance Lithium Rules!


4 thoughts on “The AA Batteries and Your Radio

  1. Thanks for the detailed analysis about a complex topic.

    The only thing I can add is that some radios will work with different batteries but you might have to change menu settings or move a jumper.

    Great article, thanks.


  2. A long, long time ago in an era known as The 70’s, the CB Radio Craze happened, in which the use of handheld portable radios really took off.

    In those days (1970’s), with the only choice battery power was: #1 a dry battery (carbon, alkaline chemistry) at 1.5 volts, or a rechargeable Nickel-Cadmium battery at 1.2 volts.

    The solution in those days was a inert, “dummy battery”, used to fill the position in the battery case, but not add additional voltage, preventing an overvoltage situation. Some were fancy cast metal. Others were a simple plastic rod with a wire from each-end to make the connection.

    Liked by 1 person

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