Comparing the Electrical Output of "AA" Batteries at 21° and -15° Celsius

Researched Rachel L.



The first original purpose of this experiment was to determine the electrical output of several brands of AA batteries, comparing popular brands like Duracell and Energizer with less expensive generic brands.  The second purpose was to compare the output of batteries at room temperature versus frozen batteries.  The final purpose was to compare the output of disposable batteries to that of rechargeable batteries

I became interested in this idea when I realized how many devices require batteries:  automobiles, flashlights, laptop computers, cell phones, remote controls, toys, tools, and much more.

The information gained from this experiment will help consumers make good purchasing decisions.  If the best batteries were  selected, then fewer batteries would have to be purchased, so this would be better for the environment.



My first hypothesis was that the batteries at room temperature would work the best. 
I base my hypothesis on my observation of how cars have a harder time starting and to keep running in the winter because of the car battery being frozen. I also think that the Duracell battery will last the longest because my family uses Duracell in all of our battery operated appliances and they seem to last longer than Energizer, which is used at my mom’s house.  Finally, I think that the disposable batteries would provide more burn time than rechargeable batteries, because rechargeable batteries have never seemed to last long for my family



The constants in this study were:

  • The size of the battery
  • Expiration date of the battery
  • The size of the light bulb and the wattage
  • Entire testing device 
  • Temperature of the light bulb 
  • The way I time the experiment (record the "burn time")
  • The size of the battery/ type
  • The length of the wires
  • Number of batteries used in devise per trial
The three manipulated variables were
1. The brand of batteries
2. The te       mperature of the batteries
3. Disposable verses rechargeable batteries 

The responding variable was the electrical output of the battery.

To measure the responding variable I determined the batteries’ "burn time" using a watch.  When the light bulb went dark, the electronic clock stopped and the "burn time" ended.  I recorded the time shown on the clock.




Duracell AA batteries
Energizer AA batteries
8 Radio Shack AA batteries
8 Ever Ready AA generic batteries
 Radio Shack Nickel Metal Hydride Rechargeable AA batteries
4  Energizer Nickel Metal Hydride Rechargeable AA batteries
1  Battery charger
1  Electronic clock
 Battery Pack 
2 22 gauge copper wires that are 75 cm. 




A.  Obtain all materials
B. Build test device
1) Cut 2 pieces of 22-gauge wire about 75 cm. long.
2) Strip 1 cm of insulation from each end of both wires
3) Solder one end of one wire to the + end of the AA battery holder.
4) Solder the other end of that wire to one side of a lamp holder.
5) Repeat this process with the other wire, soldering it to the ? end of the battery holder and to the other side of the lamp holder.
6) Solder a 10-cm piece of 22-gauge wire to a small alligator clip.
7) Solder the other end of this wire to one side of the lamp holder mentioned above.
8) Repeat steps 6 and seven, but solder to the opposite side of the lamp holder.
9) To use this device, attach the alligator clip from the + side of the battery holder to the + side of a small electric travel clock.  Attach the alligator clip from the ?side of the battery holder to the ? side of the clock.  It will be hooked up in parallel with the light bulb holder.
10) Screw a light bulb into the holder to provide an electrical "load" on the circuit. 
C.     Conduct trials
11) Select one brand of disposable batteries to test first. Make sure all 4 batteries have sat at room temperature (20 degrees C.) for at least 6 hours.
12) Set the clock hands to 12:00:00.  Attach the alligator clips to the clock.  Make sure the light bulb is screwed in snugly.
13) Insert one new AA battery into the battery holder mentioned above with the + end of the battery in the + end of the holder.
14)  Double check the bulb to make sure it is lit and the clock to make sure the hands are moving.  Check this device about every 30 minutes throughout the test to make sure all is working correctly.
15) Continue this test until the lamp goes out and the clock stops.  Record the time on the clock on the data sheet.
16) Repeat steps 12-15 with the remaining 3 batteries of the current brand.
17) Repeat steps 11-16 with a different brand of disposable battery.  Continue this process until all 4 brands have been tested.
18) Put all remaining disposable batteries in the freezer for at least 6 hours.
19) Repeat steps 12-17 for all 4 batteries of all 4 brands.  NOTE: the battery and battery holder must remain in the freezer during the entire test, BUT the light bulb and clock must remain outside the freezer to be observed.  (The long wires allow the door to close tightly.)
20) Repeat the entire process in steps 11-19, except use only 2 brands of rechargeable batteries.  Immediately before the testing, all batteries of a certain brand must be recharged, then cooled to the correct temperature (5 to ?15   degrees C.) for at least 6 hours or more.



The first original purpose of this experiment was to determine the electrical output of several brands of AA batteries, comparing popular brands like Duracell and Energizer with less expensive generic brands.  The second purpose was to compare the output of batteries at room temperature versus frozen batteries.  The final purpose was to compare the output of disposable batteries to that of rechargeable batteries

The results of the experiment were the room temperature disposable Radio Shack battery lasted the longest and the disposable Energizer battery lasted the longest in the freezer.The Radio Shack rechargeable battery lasted the longest for the room and the freezing  temperatures.

See the Table and Graph



1. My first hypothesis was that the room temperature batteries would have the longest " burn time".  This hypothesis should be excepted because all of the room temperature batteries  had the longest "Burn time"

2. My second hypothesis was that the Duracell would last longer that all of the batteries including the rechargeables. This hypothesis should be rejected because the Radio Shack  rechargeables lasted the longest in the freezer out of all of the batteries and the Energizer for the room temperature. 

3.  My third hypothesis was that the disposable battery would last longer than the rechargeable batteries. I was part right that the disposable battery would last longer than the rechargeable in room temperature but it did not in the freezing temperature. 


Electricity is the force created by moving electrons.  It is so useful to society that we have become dependent upon it.  Batteries, which store electricity, are found in an enormous number of common devices.  We use millions of batteries each year, most of which end up in garbage dumps.  Batteries often are made of toxic chemicals, so all of these chemicals add to the pollution problems in our world.


Electricity is a main force in the universe. When the word electricity is said most people think of light, television, computers, and other things powered by electricity. Uses of electricity are found in homes, industry, communication, and transportation. All the mater in the universe is made up of two kinds of tiny particles of called electrons and protons. An atom can lose or gain one or more electrons. When it gains an electron the atom take a negative charge. When it loses an atom it will get a positive charge. Atoms that have an electric charge are called ions.


A battery is basically a can full of electrons.  Moving electrons are what we call electricity.  If you look at a battery there are two terminals, the protruding terminal is the positive, the flat side of the battery is the negative terminal. Electrons gather on the negative terminal of the battery; if you were to connect a wire between the positive and negative terminals the electrons would flow from the negative to the positive terminal creating electricity. This would wear your battery out very quickly and it is also dangerous especially with big batteries. You should connect some kind of  "load" to the battery with the wire, the load might be a light bulb or some kind of motor. 

To provide the electricity in a battery a chemical reaction must occur that produces the electrons. The electrons MUST go from negative to the positive to make the chemical reaction which makes the electricity. That is why batteries can sit for long periods of time and still work. Once you have connected a wire the chemical reaction starts.  There are two different types of batteries. One is the dry primary cell battery. A dry cell battery is the most widely used type. Batteries differ in many different ways yet they all have certain basic parts. All dry primary cell batteries have two structures that are called electrodes. Each electrode has a different kind of chemical material. There is something called an electrolyte between the electrodes which  causes one of them called the anode, to become negatively charged and the other, called the cathode, to be positively charged. The electrolyte helps create the chemical reactions. There are three major primary batteries: carbon-zinc cells, alkaline, and mercury cells. 


Pollution is one of the biggest problems we face today. Our air is polluted with gases and smoke. We poison the water with chemicals and other substances. Nearly everybody contributes to the pollution problem even though we may not know it. Everyone would like to reduce pollution but it is hard because things that benefit us cause pollution. For example vehicle exhaust from our own cars and the smoke caused by factories that we buy goods from pollute the air every day. Batteries cause pollution when they are thrown in the garbage and put in a garbage dump, because batteries will decompose and the chemicals will eventually leak out into the soil and water. Some batteries have lead or mercury and those chemicals are really bad for living organisms. 


As you can see without batteries and electricity we would not be able to use many electric powered devices that we depend on. Unfortunately batteries add to the pollution problem.




Bartlett, David F. " Electricity," The World Book Encyclopedia. 1991 Vol.6 pg. 188

"Battery,"   World Book Encyclopedia 1991 vol.2 pgs.168-171

"Electric Current," World Book Encyclopedia 1991 Vol.6 pgs. 165-166

"How Batteries Work, " (online) Available

James, Stanley D. "How Dry Primary batteries Work" World Book Encyclopedia. 1998 Vol. 2 Pg.170.

McGowan, Allan. "Environmental Pollution," World Book Encyclopedia," 1991 Vol. 6 pg.330


Thank You

I would like to thank my father Ray for helping me with my board. I would also like to thank my teacher Mr. Newkirk  for staying after school to help me finish my experiment. With out the help of these people I would have finished my project.

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