Friday, January 9, 2009

La Crosse Technology BC-900 AlphaPower Battery Charger

One of my interests is the environment, and so I think that this item, while definitely falling in the "luxury Friday" category due to the price, can easily be justified, especially if you are in a household that uses a lot of batteries.

If you don't believe it's worth the effort, or if you're not sure how to figure out whether the charger is cost effective in the long run, well, don't worry -- fortunately someone has done that work for us! One of the blogs I read regularly is The Simple Dollar by Trent Hamm. This is a money-saving and financial advice blog that covers everything from getting the most out of your leftovers to retirement savings information. Trent had a great post last April in which he wrote about comparing the start-up cost of buying the charger plus 36 rechargeable AA batteries that can be used again and again, versus the cost of not buying the charger and instead buying 36 regular AA batteries each year. I urge you to read his entire post, but in the meantime, the long story short is that if you're using 36 AA batteries per year (which is entirely possible if your kids have a lot of battery-operated toys or you have a lot of gadgets), you have the potential of saving over $75 per year -- after you've recouped the costs, which takes a little under two years -- with the charger. That's $75 in savings year after year.

To me, though, the real reason to do this is the environment. If you use 36 regular AA batteries in a year, multiply that by 10 or 20 years. That's 360 or 720 of these little monsters in our landfills, each with the potential to leach toxic substances into our groundwater. Plus, you save the energy it takes to keep manufacturing new regular batteries. So, even though I know I don't use 36 AA batteries per year, I'm planning to get one of these chargers.

This particular charger, by the way, charges both AA and AAA batteries, up to four at a time. Read the first customer review on Amazon, by "NLee the Engineer" -- it's incredibly informative.

And whoops! Now that I'm off my soapbox, I'll get back to the "stocking" part of this post! Amazon indicates that the charger measures 5.1 x 3 x 1.5 inches, but of course that may not account for packaging. So if the charger doesn't fit down inside the recipient's stocking, why not put the 4-pack of rechargeable batteries in there and wrap up the charger separately, making a great paired gift? (And of course, this would also make a terrific Father's Day gift.)

What: La Crosse Technology BC-900 AlphaPower Battery Charger
.... and don't forget SANYO eneloop 4 Pack AA NiMH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries
Where: Amazon or elsewhere
How much (as of today's post): $49.95 for charger and $11.23 for 4 AA batteries (plus shipping)

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