Batteries and Elon Musk’s Brighter Tomorrow

Recently, Elon Musk announced two new products for Tesla, a stunning solar roof system that cheaply and attractively enables homes to generate their own power, and the Powerwall 2, an updated version of its battery pack to give households a power reserve that can be used without the solar tiles simply to provide backup power during outages.

People are stunned and praising it for its obvious environmental potential. Previously, many have criticized electric cars as paradoxically having a higher carbon footprint due to the heavily polluting ways we generate a lot of our electricity. Tesla has long offered charging stations with entirely solar-generated power, but until now, there was not an affordable way to enable people to do the same at home, which is ultimately where people are going to be doing a lot of their charging.

While many are praising the affordability and style of the solar tiles, the other half of the equation has an equal role to play: the battery. For years, people have pointed to the plummeting price per kilowatt-hour of generating solar power, but they were not giving enough attention to the problem of storage. Fossil fuel-based and nuclear power plants are savvy at providing a steady output of power around the clock. Solar’s output levels vary a lot, peaking in the middle of the day, producing none at night, and having mixed results in any kind of less-than-sunny weather.

This is where batteries can be their greenest: acting as a reservoir to store excess energy in peak hours to use later. Doing this in a cost-effective way that both enables minimal loss of energy and longevity of the battery is tricky. However, Tesla has taken what they have learned working on the batteries for their cars and applied it to this problem with a high degree of success.

We are watching as the concerns over practicality and cost over green technologies melt away (hopefully faster than the ice caps!) as they mature under the guidance of people like Mr. Musk. People have famously compared him to Tony Stark (without the womanizing), and it reflects the very real power these sorts of technologies have. The threats in our world that need superheroes aren’t supervillains but instead issues like the environment.

Batteries.com loves being in an industry that provides one of the important tools in the green movement. Through not only recycling, such as we discussed in our last post, Call2Recycle Your Batteries, but also utilizing batteries as a power reserve, we can help make batteries energize not only our devices but a greener future.

Call2Recycle Your Batteries

We know that savvy battery shoppers like our customers are thoughtful about where they buy their batteries, but we encourage you to be thoughtful about where you dispose them too. There are several organizations and efforts worldwide to collect batteries to not only recycle them but keep the dangerous chemicals that many of them contain out of the environment.

One great option to consider is Call2Recycle, a recycler that has dropoff locations all around the United States and Canada. They even offer a program to let you easily start a new collection location of your own. Many larger companies are even starting internal collection sites to help ensure their company can be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Our only complaint is that many locations do not collect single use alkaline or lithium batteries. All of the locations in Vermont accept them, but elsewhere, it varies, and most of the ones we checked did not. But that should not deter you from making as much of a positive impact as you can!

They also accept cellphones, though many are opting to drop their old smartphones at the “ecoATMs” setup in places like grocery stores that will accept old phones and give a small rebate. Most will not get more than a few dollars, but it’s a low effort way to do something both responsible and rewarding. Please note, however, that the Samsung Note 7 batteries should only be returned to Samsung directly.

While we of course encourage our readers to find other ways to be more environmentally friendly, recycling batteries is one of the most impactful things you can do, and Call2Recycle makes it easy to work into your routine. With many collection sites at places like The Home Depot and Best Buy, it’s easy to find ways to work your recycling into your day-to-day life so it just becomes a matter of setting them aside for the next time you go shopping at some of your favorite spots.

If we all work together, we can make a big impact. As Tesla is demonstrating with the Powerwall, we can work towards a future where batteries are part of the solution, not the problem. We are committed to helping our customers find easy ways to help make that happen.

Are Your Batteries Living a Lie?

When people think knock-off goods, often their mind goes to handbags and sunglasses. However, one of the most counterfeited consumer goods is batteries. While the fakes may work, they never have the same level of charge or quality control as their legitimate counterparts.

Though faulty AAs may not pose as much of a danger as a Note 7, they are more prone to leaks. If you’ve ever opened the battery compartment of your remote to find them coated in white crystals, you know how frustrating it can be. Energizer even offers a no leak guarantee, and will replace electronics damaged if their batteries leak.

This kind of insurance might give a lot of consumers peace of mind, but the guarantee only applies to legitimate Energizer batteries. Many people have bought Energizer batteries online specifically for this guarantee, only to find themselves out of luck because Energizer is better at determining whether or not a battery is a fake than they are.

A lot of people wrongly think if it came in an Amazon box, they’re safe. However, there are a lot of reports the past several months about even the “Fulfilled by Amazon” program being rife with counterfeit goods, so even those 9-volts you got through Prime aren’t safe!

You might even encounter these batteries in retail. If you’re like me, in the past, you bought a bunch of batteries at a store where everything is a dollar, thinking you had gotten the deal of the century, only for your calculator to die in the middle of your calculus exam.

Many fakes have a worthwhile amount of charge when they are fresh, but the big players in the industry have invested a lot of research and development money into making sure that there is little appreciable loss of charge for years after they leave the factory.

This is why the deal-conscious shopper who is happy to change out their key fob’s batteries more than once a year should still steer clear of fakes at all costs: it only is economical if they are both fresh and used up quickly. Even if a seller gives you expiration dates, if they’re selling counterfeits, the dates will likely be as fake as the product itself!

The great news is that there are companies like us, Batteries.com, that can both guarantee the authenticity of our products and offer you prices below what you will pay in the grocery store. We take our supply chain seriously and only partner with the most trustworthy vendors to ensure that we can stand by every single battery in our warehouses.