When A Battery Dies

We’ve owned a handheld, rechargeable so-called “one-million candlepower” spotlight for going on four/five years now. I bought it at Pep Boys for $9.99. We’ve used it primarily to illuminate the backyard for wild critters prior to letting the dogs out for their nighttime pee.

No surprise: in the past few months the battery’s been on its last legs. Despite a full 12-hour charge, that used to keep the device shining bright for a week or more, the light has started dimming — now to the point where we only get a few seconds of brightness before it fades to black.

My first inclination was to pitch it and go get a new one, but I decided to crack it open and see if the battery was replaceable. Or if not that, at least recycled properly. Sure enough, I unscrew the six screws holding the thing together and find her powerplant to be a 6-volt, 4.5Ah brick of sealed lead-acid deadness. Hopping on the webernets, voila: I’m soon clicking a link to a battery warehouse site  where I find an exact duplicate for $7.95. Nice, but the trouble is shipping the thing’s going to cost me an additional $9.25 bringing the total cost to $17.20 (not including tax). I sigh and look at another battery website and their version is $12.95. I don’t bother checking the shipping. Instead I go over to Amazon and locate a new “one-million candlepower” light for $38.99. I’m pretty sure I could walk into any auto part/hardware store and find a high-powered spotlight for less than that, but then again… maybe $17.20 isn’t such a bad deal after all.

For my last trick, I load the battery up in my pack and bike it across town, on my way to work stopping in BatteriesPlus, a dedicated battery store on Sepulveda Boulevard in Culver City. The clerk tells me they normally stock that type, but they’re presently sold out and won’t get a new shipment in until Friday afternoon.

The cost? $19.95. I’m not sure if I’ll go back there, order it online or just get a totally new one, but at least I was able to leave the dead battery with the clerk who said he’d see it was properly recycled.

Epilogue: You can chalk this post up as one of life’s more trivial trivialities, but to me this shows me why our trashcans are loaded with items like these — and the batteries,too. It may not be entirely cheaper to throw the old out and go buy an entirely new one, but it’s certainly easier.

Published by


Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with laonstage.com, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."