Can you explain this? ( 17 year old batteries)

Discussion in 'Power Electronics' started by Joseph Beasley, Sep 18, 2016.

  1. Joseph Beasley

    Thread Starter New Member

    Sep 18, 2016
    Forgive me if this seems like a stupid question. Lol it probably is.
    So the other day I was helping a friend clean some stuff out of a trailer and I found an old 35mm film camera with some AA batteries in it.

    It is hard to tell, but by the dates on the other stuff in the trailer and by the expiration date on the batteries; I would put them at being manufactured around 1999 to 2002.

    They were Duracell AA batteries, the old style with the built in tester tabs on the side where you push in to see the remaining charge. They had an expiration date of Dec 2003.

    They looked good, not corroded or busted open but I was certain they were dead. Nope.

    After taking these 15+ year old batteries out of the camera and putting them to a volt meter, i was getting a solid 1.5v. ??

    I tried the little tester buttons on the side and it showed a nearly 100% charge, so I put them in a flashlight.

    These 1999 batteries are still fully charged!

    Is it really possible for an alkaline battery to last 15-20 years? Or did I just happen upon the miracle fluke?
  2. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    When I consider the number of ruined flashlights, voltmeters, and cameras I have seen, it seems like a miracle to me.
    I can only hope the batteries of 2000 are that much better than the batteries of 1960 to 1990.
  3. NCSailor

    Active Member

    Jun 15, 2013
    I have had similar experiences. The old Duracells were almost bullet proof and as long as not exposed to abnormal storage temperatures, this could even be normal. I just installed two D cells in cheap flashlight. These cells are so old they have no expiration date and have been stored on my boat for over 14 years so are at least that old. Their voltage was about 1.56V each and the flashlight is old a disposable so I thought I would take a chance. But with that said, I would still be very cautious as the damage that a leaking cell can inflict can far outweigh the cost of the cells.

    There was a time... many years when Eveready batteries were sure to leak but in 25 years I never had a Duracell leak. But that all changed sometime in the past 5-8 years. The first time I encountered leaking Duracells, I expected to see "Made in China" on the cell. To my surprise, it said "Made in Mexico". The second time (only a few weeks later), they were "Made in USA". During the past two years I have experienced Duracell leakage in over 30 cells (interestingly half of these had expiration dates of 2022 and all were made in US or Mexico. I used to call Duracell and get coupons for free replacements... they even sent me check once for a damaged device... but I realized that the replacements were just as likely to leak and inflict further damage on my many repaired devices, so I quit bothering.
    Slightly off topic, I have been living in China for most of the past 10 years, So far I have still not had a "Made in China" Duracell, leak.

    While I would share #12's hope that more recent batteries are better quality, my experience with Duracell says otherwise. Maybe this is why Duracell is reportedly up for sale by P&G but the brand is certainly worth a lot less today in my mind than it was for a very long time.
    DNA Robotics likes this.
  4. tcmtech

    Distinguished Member

    Nov 4, 2013
    I run almost exclusively Rayovac batteries for may alcalines. Half the price of Duracell and I have yet to ever have yet leak that had not been used in a severe application.

    And speaking of old batteries, I helped a friend move earlier this summer and a small can of stuff got left behind under some wood along my shop. I opened it up to find some pretty old batteries. Interestingly enough the two Rayovac 9 volts tested good and they are a good 10 years over their stamped 'use by' dates. :cool:

    The double A's were junk though. :(
    #12 likes this.
  5. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
    When a battery ages or is consumed, the internal resistance of the battery increases (the load makes a voltage divider when in series with the internal battery resistance). A volt meter has very high input resistance (no cure t flow) so no voltage drop across the internal resistance of the battery.

    Once you put a real load on the batteries you may see that the working voltage is much less. I am not surprised they are still working, the seals on a battery are so much better than they were in the yester-year era that @#12 mentioned. They may not last long but some power is not unusual.
  6. takao21203

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 28, 2012
    when I used NIMH a lot almost all would become unrelieable, defective, loose capacity.

    The Duracell kinds worked without fail for many months. These were AA.
  7. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    I would suggest a load resistor on the leads of the volt meter. half a milliamp for coin cells, 10 ma for anything in the AAA to 9V range. Then wait 5 seconds before you believe the reading.
    GopherT likes this.
  8. hp1729

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2015
    Sounds like good material for a Duracell commercial.
  9. paulktreg

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 2, 2008
    Photographs or it didn't happen! ;)
  10. tranzz4md


    Apr 10, 2015
    Mind-bending I'd say. Heat and moisture are the biggest factors, but even galvanic corrosion at contact points where only humidity were present would establish the drain circuit.
  11. N11778


    Dec 4, 2015
    DuraLeek's AA batteries. I am at a loss to list how many things the DuraLeek's have ruined.
    Just a few. In a Weather Station they leeked twice before they were even half used.
    Voice pen (6months) Totally ruined. Numerous flashlights. meters Etc.
    Even Harbor Freights top of the line batteries dont Leek, they just dont have the same
    HorsePower as DuraLeek's about half the Horses.
    Anyway I of course I dont use them anymore took me way to long to figure it out
    Oh and by the way It used to be the only battery I used, because years go they DID NOT LEEK
    If I want Horsepower I use Bunny's now.
    Oh they even start Leeking unused before the Ex. Date.