The Lowest Priced Alkaline Batteries

By Shalin Shah

Why does the price of a plain old AA battery vary so much? My local drug store wants $5.49 for a pack of four. If I'm willing to buy in bulk, I might be able to get the price down from $1.37 each to about half as much. But is there a difference from one brand to another? My testing suggests that there is.

Jameco started carrying the Lexcell brand of alkaline batteries recently and since I wanted to write about the Parallax Stingray Robot, I decided to write about the two together and use the Stingray to test the batteries.

The Stingray uses 6 AA batteries. I started my day loading up the Stingray and turning it on and watching the clock. It lasted almost 5 hours or 292 minutes. Not bad. But how would that compare to those expensive Energizer batteries? Well, in this case, the brand name batteries definitely out performed our house brand. Energizer lasted 5 hours and 23 minutes, which I'm sure would make the bunny proud.

But the real factor is the cost per hour. I looked around the Web for different pricing and concluded that a reasonable price for an Energizer battery was as low as 57¢. While you can pay a lot more for a brand name battery, I assumed that Jameco customers would be comfortable buying in large quantities in exchange for a lower price. Although there may be lower prices out there, Energizer's cost to run the Stingray is about 1¢ per min. While the Lexcell only delivered 90% of the life as did Energizer, the cost per minute was only 41¢ per min!

Although there may be a place for brand name batteries, I think most of us would opt for the lower cost per minute. Jameco carries AA, AAA, C, D, and 9-V alkaline batteries at extremely low prices.

Parallax Stingray Robot


Parallax, a company that is known for designing and manufacturing products for virtually any electronics hobbyist, has jumped on the robotics bandwagon with the Stingray Robot.
The Stingray Robot provides a mid-size platform for a wide range of robotics projects and experiments. The Propeller Robot Control Board is the brains of the system, providing a multiprocessor control system capable of simultaneously performing multiple tasks. This makes the Stingray a perfect choice for advanced robotics.

We had fun letting the Stingray roam around the office and were impressed at how easy it was to get it running.

My Recommendation


Does the Stingray get my recommendation? Yes. I have to say, however, that there are a few design issues that need to be addressed. The placement of the front motion sensors and head unit makes it quite difficult for the robot to sustain head-on collisions, especially for the more ‘adventurous’ users.