AmazonBasics batteries: How do they compare for Australians?

By Marc Terrano

Amazon recently launched in Australia to a somewhat muted response. The launch included the AmazonBasics line of generic household items including cables, bags, cases and more. While Amazon is yet to launch its AmazonBasics battery range here, it's likely to do so in the near future, so we decided to have a look at how competitive its offering is and how it might disrupt the Australian battery market.

Batteries can be a tricky product to compare. Many brands offer basic, premium and lithium ranges, and the quantities in packs vary widely. Testing battery quality is also difficult because different types of use favour different battery types. Constant drain (think a flashlight) has very different requirements to high drain (like a camera flash).

What is AmazonBasics?

AmazonBasics is Amazon’s brand of no-frills household goods, covering everything from puppy pads to extension cords. Batteries are a core part of the line, with AA, AAA, D, C, 9V and some rechargeable batteries on offer.

Some of these batteries have glowing reviews which adds to their allure. For example, the AA Performance Alkaline Batteries have a 4.5 star review from over 16,000 customer reviews.

How do AmazonBasics batteries compare on price?

We compared the price of a pack of AmazonBasics batteries to what we can currently buy at Woolworths, Coles, Kogan, Kmart, Bunnings, Officeworks and IKEA.

We compared the prices on 14 December 2017. We excluded sale or special prices and combo packs which featured different sizes or chargers.

Prices for Amazon products were calculated using the current shipping charges from the United States to our Sydney office. We also calculated their cost with a $5.99 shipping charge (Amazon Australia's standard delivery fee) and free shipping (which Amazon might eventually offer when it launches Amazon Prime in Australia).

So how did Amazon fare against those big retailers? We crunched the numbers and compared AAs, AA rechargeables, AAAs, AAA rechargeables and C batteries. Read on to see the results.

AA batteries: Amazon can’t compete

We compared 12 battery brands from 8 retailers and found batteries as cheap as 21 cents each and as expensive as $7 each.

ProductFinal price per battery
Kmart AA Carbon Zinc Batteries - 24pk$0.21
Varta AA Alkaline Batteries - 30pk$0.33
Kogan QuantuMAX AA Alkaline Batteries - 100pk$0.35
IKEA ALKALISK 10pk$0.40
Kmart High Performance Alkaline Batteries -18pk$0.42
Kogan QuantuMAX AA Alkaline Batteries - 40pk$0.48
Varta Longlife Extra Alkaline AA Batteries - 10pk$0.50
Eveready Super Heavy Duty 20pk$0.50
Coles Alkaline AA Battery - 10pk$0.55
Chevron Aa Batteries Super Heavy Duty - 10pk$0.55
Chevron Aa Batteries Alkaline - 10pk$0.55
Coles Alkaline AA Battery - 4pk$0.63
Chevron Aa Batteries Super Heavy Duty - 4pk$0.63
Varta AA Alkaline Batteries - 4pk$0.63
Energizer Max AA - 38 pk$0.66
Duracell Coppertop AA Alkaline Batteries - 30 pk$0.67
AmazonBasics AA Performance Alkaline Batteries - 48 pk$0.72
Eveready Gold AA Batteries - 20pk$0.75

If you were to buy the 48 pack of AmazonBasics AA Performance Alkaline Batteries and have them shipped over to Australia, they would cost you about 72 cents per battery. This slots the AmazonBasics AA batteries at number 17 in our price comparison.

Many of the cheaper batteries were no frills or generic brands from the likes of IKEA, Kmart, Kogan, Bunnings and Officeworks.

As with all of the batteries we compared, prices generally got cheaper the more you bought. For example, in our list of the ten cheapest AA batteries, the smallest pack size was eight batteries and the largest was 100.

The obvious downside to buying batteries in bulk is that batteries can lose their capacity over time, which limits the number of batteries you can physically keep on hand at any one time.

If cheaper or free shipping was offered they would present better value.

With Amazon Australia’s standard $5.99 shipping charge to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra metro areas, its batteries move up to 7th place with a total per battery cost of $0.48 cents each.

If Amazon launches a free shipping program as part of Amazon Prime, this brings the cost of the batteries down to $0.36 cents per battery and moves it to fourth place.

ProductFinal price per battery
Kmart AA Carbon Zinc Batteries - 24pk$0.21
Varta AA Alkaline Batteries - 30pk$0.33
Kogan QuantuMAX AA Alkaline Batteries - 100pk$0.35
AmazonBasics AA Performance Alkaline Batteries - 48pk - free shipping$0.36
IKEA ALKALISK - 10pk$0.40
Kmart High Performance Alkaline Batteries - 18pk$0.42
Kogan QuantuMAX AA Alkaline Batteries - 40pk$0.48
AmazonBasics AA Performance Alkaline Batteries - 48pk - $5.99 shipping$0.48
Varta Longlife Extra Alkaline AA Batteries - 10pk$0.50
Eveready Super Heavy Duty - 20pk$0.50
Coles Alkaline AA Battery - 10pk$0.55
Chevron Aa Batteries Super Heavy Duty - 10pk$0.55
Chevron Aa Batteries Alkaline - 10pk$0.55
Coles Alkaline AA Battery - 4pk$0.63
Chevron Aa Batteries Super Heavy Duty 4pk$0.63
Varta AA Alkaline Batteries - 4pk$0.63
Energizer Max AA - 38 pk$0.66
Duracell Coppertop AA Alkaline Batteries - 30pk$0.67
Eveready Gold AA Batteries - 20pk$0.75

It’s also worth noting that if this were to happen none of the three batteries ahead of the AmazonBasics batteries would be recognised brand-name products. The cheapest batteries in our comparison included no-frills options from Bunnings, Kmart and Kogan respectively.

Again this isn’t strictly like for like: if you were buying the Kogan batteries you’d need to buy the 100 pack to net the 36 cents per battery price, getting you an extra 52 batteries compared to the AmazonBasics battery pack.

AAA batteries: Amazon’s expensive

Our AAA battery comparison highlighted how much of a discount you can expect when buying in bulk.

Out of the top ten cheapest batteries in our comparison, there were two 100 packs of batteries: Kogan and AmazonBasics.

In our AAA comparison, the 100 pack of AmazonBasics shipped to Australia at the exchange rate of the day resulted in a cost of 52 cents per battery. This put it in ninth place behind batteries from Bunnings, Kmart, Kogan and IKEA.

ProductFinal price per battery
Super Heavy Duty Carbon Zinc Batteries - 24 pk$0.21
Kogan QuantuMAX AAA Alkaline Batteries - 100 pk$0.35
ALKALISK - 10pk$0.40
Varta AAA Alkaline Batteries - 24pk$0.41
High Performance Alkaline Batteries - 18 pk$0.42
Kogan QuantuMAX AAA Alkaline Batteries - 40 pk$0.48
Varta AAA Alkaline Batteries - 10pk$0.50
Eveready Super Heavy Duty AAA Batteries - 20pk$0.50
AmazonBasics AAA Performance Alkaline Batteries - 100pk$0.52
Coles Alkaline AAA Battery - 10pk$0.55

A more reasonably-sized 36 pack became significantly more expensive at 64 cents per battery, pushing it down to 15th place.

Again in our "what if" scenarios the prices become more competitive. If Amazon offers free shipping, the 100 pack and 36 pack slot in at 2nd and 3rd place respectively with per battery prices of 29 and 34 cents.

ProductFinal price per battery
Super Heavy Duty Carbon Zinc Batteries - 24pk$0.21
AmazonBasics AAA Performance Alkaline Batteries - 100pk - no shipping$0.29
AmazonBasics AAA Performance Alkaline Batteries - 36pk - no shipping$0.34
AmazonBasics AAA Performance Alkaline Batteries - 100pk - $5.99 shipping$0.35
Kogan QuantuMAX AAA Alkaline Batteries - 100pk$0.35
ALKALISK - 10pk$0.40
Varta AAA Alkaline Batteries - 24pk$0.41
High Performance Alkaline Batteries - 18pk$0.42
Kogan QuantuMAX AAA Alkaline Batteries - 40pk$0.48
AmazonBasics AAA Performance Alkaline Batteries - 20pk - no shipping$0.48
Varta AAA Alkaline Batteries - 10pk$0.50
Eveready Super Heavy Duty AAA Batteries - 20pk$0.50
AmazonBasics AAA Performance Alkaline Batteries - 36pk- $5.99 shipping$0.51
Coles Alkaline AAA Battery - 10pk$0.55

C batteries: Amazon’s in the middle of the pack

C batteries are sold in smaller quantities and there are fewer choices both online and in stores compared to AA and AAA batteries.

Buying the AmazonBasics C Cell Everyday Alkaline Batteries in a 12 pack costed $2.50 per battery once shipped to our Sydney address, putting it in 12th place above mostly no-frills brands from Woolworths and Coles as well as some more well known brand names.

ProductFinal price per battery
Chevron Type C Batteries - 4pk$1.25
Coles Alkaline C Battery - 2pk$1.50
Duracell Coppertop C Batteries - 12pk$1.74
Varta C Alkaline Batteries - 4pk$1.86
Varta C Alkaline Batteries - 2pk$1.99
Eveready Super Heavy Duty Type C Batteries - 4pk$2.00
Duracell C8 Batteries - 8pk$2.12
Eveready Gold C Batteries - 4pk$2.47
Energizer Max C Alkaline Batteries - 4pk$2.49
Duracell C Alkaline Batteries - 4pk$2.50
Eveready Gold Type C Batteries - 4pk$2.50
AmazonBasics C Cell Everyday Alkaline Batteries - 12pk$2.50

In our "what if" shipping scenario, free shipping and $5.99 shipping pushed the C Cells from AmazonBasics up to 2nd and 3rd place respectively behind the Chevron C Batteries 4 pack from Woolworths.

ProductFinal price per battery
Chevron Type C Batteries - 4pk$1.25
AmazonBasics C Cell Everyday Alkaline Batteries - 12pk - no shipping$1.27
AmazonBasics C Cell Everyday Alkaline Batteries - 12pk- $5.99 shipping$1.44
Coles Alkaline C Battery - 2pk$1.50
Duracell Coppertop C Batteries - 12pk$1.74
Varta C Alkaline Batteries - 4pk$1.86
Varta C Alkaline Batteries - 2pk$1.99
Eveready Super Heavy Duty Type C Batteries - 4pk$2.00
Duracell C8 Batteries - 8pk$2.12
Eveready Gold C Batteries - 4pk$2.47
Energizer Max C Alkaline Batteries - 4pk$2.49
Duracell C Alkaline Batteries - 4pk$2.50
Eveready Gold Type C Batteries - 4pk$2.50

AA rechargeables: Amazon is good value

Amazon offers two types of rechargeable batteries: regular 2000mAh and the 2400mAh high capacity variation. The high capacity batteries are better regarded, with a 4.5 star rating from 3,854 reviews vs a 4-star rating on the regular rechargeables from 3,502 reviews.

In terms of price, the 16 pack of 2000mAh batteries came in at number 4, below no-frills brand products from IKEA, Coles and Bunnings. It had had a price per battery of $2.32.

The high capacity 2400mAh rechargeable batteries slotted in at 7h place, below the 2000mAh Amazon batteries as well as IKEAS 2450 mAh batteries. They had a price per battery of $3.82.

ProductFinal price per battery
Ladda Rechargeable battery 1000 - 4pk$1.25
Coles Rechargeable AA Battery - 4pk$1.75
Solar Magic 600mAh Nickel Metal Rechargeable AA Batteries - 4pk$2.23
AmazonBasics AA Rechargeable Batteries - 16pk$2.32
Solar Magic 1000mAh Nickel Metal Rechargeable AA Batteries - 4pk$2.48
Ladda Rechargeable battery 2450 - 4pk$2.50
AmazonBasics AA High-Capacity Rechargeable Batteries Pre-charged - 8pk$3.82
Eveready Aa Rechargeable Batteries - 4pk$4.25
AmazonBasics AA High-Capacity Rechargeable Batteries Pre-charged - 4pk$4.47
Eveready Recharge AA Batteries - 4pk$4.49

If Amazon were to offer free shipping on these batteries it would push the 16 pack of 2000mAh batteries up to 3rd place below batteries from IKEA and Coles. The price per battery in this example would be $1.96.

ProductFinal price per battery
Ladda Rechargeable battery 1000 - 4pk$1.25
Coles Rechargeable AA Battery - 4pk$1.75
AmazonBasics AA Rechargeable Batteries - 16pk - no shipping$1.96
AmazonBasics AA Rechargeable Batteries - 16pk - $5.99 shipping$2.15
Solar Magic 600mAh Nickel Metal Rechargeable AA Batteries - 4pk$2.23
Solar Magic 1000mAh Nickel Metal Rechargeable AA Batteries - 4pk$2.48
Ladda Rechargeable battery 2450 - 4pk$2.50
AmazonBasics AA High-Capacity Rechargeable Batteries Pre-charged - 8pk - no shipping$3.25
AmazonBasics AA High-Capacity Rechargeable Batteries Pre-charged - 8pk - $5.99 shipping$3.62
Eveready Aa Rechargeable Batteries 4pk$4.25
Eveready Recharge AA Batteries - 4pk$4.49

If shipping cost $5.99 it would be slightly more expensive at $2.15 per battery, but would still take 3rd place.

AAA rechargeables: Amazon’s a winner

Like the AA rechargeable batteries in the AmazonBasics line, the AAA batteries come in two flavours: 800mAh and 850mAh. In our comparison they ranked 3rd and 7th with a price per battery of $2.09 and $4.11 respectively, beaten by no-frills/cheaper batteries from IKEA, Coles, Bunnings and Kogan.

ProductFinal price per battery
LADDA Rechargeable Battery AAA - 500 - 4pk$1.12
Coles Rechargeable AAA battery - 4pk$1.75
AmazonBasics AAA Rechargeable Batteries - 12pk$2.09
Solar Magic 600mAh Nickel Metal Rechargeable AAA Batteries - 4pk$2.23
LADDA Rechargeable Battery AAA - 900 - 4pk$2.25
Kogan Rechargeable AAA Batteries - 8pk$2.38
AmazonBasics AAA High-Capacity Rechargeable Batteries - 8pk$4.11

If shipping is reduced to $5.99 this pushes the batteries up to fourth place with a per battery cost of $1.87 and if free shipping is offered the batteries slot into second place below IKEA’s rechargeable batteries.

ProductFinal price per battery
LADDA Rechargeable Battery AAA - 500 - 4pk$1.12
AmazonBasics AAA Rechargeable Batteries - 12pk - no shipping$1.37
Coles Rechargeable AAA battery - 4pk$1.75
AmazonBasics AAA Rechargeable Batteries - 12pk - $5.99 shipping$1.87
Solar Magic 600mAh Nickel Metal Rechargeable AAA Batteries - 4pk$2.23
LADDA Rechargeable Battery AAA - 900 - 4pk$2.25
Kogan Rechargeable AAA Batteries - 8pk$2.38

The question of quality

Even if Amazon’s batteries become a valid option for Australians, there's another key question: are they any good?

There are many ways to test battery performance, but to get a basic idea of performance we ran a simple test to see which batteries lasted the longest in the same flashlight.

 

Here are the results from our AA and AAA battery tests.

AA flashlight test

As you can see, in our AA battery test the Kmart Carbon Zinc batteries came first with a final time of approximately 15 hours and 40 minutes (albeit at a severely reduced output towards the end). We ran this test more than once to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. The AmazonBasics Performance Alkaline batteries finished in the middle of the pack with a final time of approximately 5 hours and 35 minutes. Again we tested this twice to ensure it wasn’t just a bad battery.

AAA flashlight test

As you can see in the AAA battery tests, the Energizer Lithium battery won with a final approximate time of 8 hours and 55 minutes.

The Amazon Performance Alkaline batteries slotted in at fourth place with an approximate run time of 7 hours. The AmazonBasics Rechargeable AAA batteries slotted in second-last place with a total running time of approximately 4 hours and 25 minutes.

Another way of assessing quality is through customer reviews on Amazon itself.

The AmazonBasics AA and AAA Performance Alkaline Batteries have a 4.4 star review from 17,509 customer reviews, which indicates a high level of satisfaction and far eclipses the number of reviews for the other battery products we compared.

After the AmazonBasics AA Performance Alkaline Batteries the next highest number of reviews were the Energizer Max AAs with a 4.5 star review based on 1,522 customer reviews, and the Duracell Coppertop AAs with a 4 star review based on 1460 customer reviews.

Is Amazon going to dominate the Australian battery market?

There’s no doubt Amazon will sell a bucketload of batteries in Australia, but based on its current pricing they’re not going to be cheapest or best. This might change once they launch their battery line in Australia and have lower shipping costs or even offer free shipping with Amazon Prime. Nonetheless, if you charge towards Amazon for batteries you run a real risk of being overcharged.

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