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.