What type of battery should you use in your avalanche transceiver?
Recently, technological innovation has presented the public with even more battery options, including USB rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (AA or AAA). While these new products may be beneficial in most day-to-day life, the use of the wrong batteries in avalanche transceivers can be life-threatening in the backcountry.
Were not here to beat a dead horse about only using alkaline batteries in your transceiver: we expect you already know this. We would, however, like to raise a big red flag to all backcountry travelers about the dangers of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and remind you of the threats that accompany using batteries other than alkaline.While they don't emit electromagnetic noise that will disrupt your transceiver, non-rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have their own set of issues. They are manufactured to operate at different voltages that can damage the electronics in your device. Many lithium batteries are 1.8 volts, like the Energizer Ultimate Lithium, or even 3.7 volts, like the Trustfire Lithium Battery. Transceivers are engineered with some leeway, but they are designed to operate with 1.5-volt alkaline batteries. This difference in voltage when multiplied by the number of batteries is dangerously close to or completely exceeds the maximum voltage capacity of the electronics. Too much voltage can cause critical electronic failure. If you operate your device with lithium batteries and are fortunate enough to avoid critical failure you are still giving yourself a huge disadvantage. All lithium batteries fail to offer accurate battery capacity readings: in other words; your gas gauge will not work.
We highly recommend using name brand alkaline batteries from a trusted source. Name brand because off-brand or dollar-store batteries often have zinc-carbon cells that have a significantly lower charge capacity and exceptionally poor performance in cold temperatures. We suggest purchasing through a trustworthy vendor because batteries have been counterfeited, leaving users with a lower quality item than they are led to believe.
We hope that all backcountry users understand the importance of using only alkaline batteries in their transceivers and regularly practice with their equipment to ensure efficiency in emergency situations. As always, keep electronics at least 20cm away from your transceiver in transmit mode and at least 50cm away in search mode. For more information on how electronic noise affects your transceiver please view our blog Electronic Noise and What It Means for Your Avalanche Transceiver.