Selecting the Right Batteries For Your Trail Camera
Trail Cameras can be a great tool for hunting or just for learning more about the wildlife where you live. But without batteries your trail camera is of no use at all. It might not take you long to realize after you have bought and set up your trail camera that the batteries didn’t last nearly as long as you expected.
This can be very discouraging when you go to check on the pictures taken and discover instead that the camera had stopped taking pictures days before because of dead batteries. Choosing the right batteries could help make this less of a problem and cut some of the disappointment down. It can also save you a lot of money in the long run to use batteries that will give you the best performance.
What Batteries to Choose For Your Trail Camera?
Most trail cameras (maybe all? But there is probably an exception) use AA batteries.
With any of these suggestions always look at the instructions and what the manufacturer recommends. Some cameras won’t run as well on different types of batteries, and while it might seem that the manufacturer just be telling you to use a more expensive type of battery, if you get better performance from then it will be worth the extra money.
Plus, sometimes spending a little bit extra for the batteries will mean a huge difference in the lifespan of the batteries, thus saving you a lot more money in the long run.
There are three types of batteries you will generally be able to choose between. Alkaline, Lithium and Rechargeable.
Alkaline Batteries for Trail Cameras
This is the type of battery you see most often. They are the type you can buy at any gas station or drug store. And they work well for most things.
For trail cameras though they aren’t the best.
Their standard output is 1.5V and they create between 6 and 12 volts operating voltage. The typical capacity of Alkaline batteries ranges between 1,000 to 1,500 mA of discharge. This amount of power isn’t that much for many of the functions that we rely on with trail cameras.
But the biggest problem with Alkaline batteries is they perform terrible in cold weather. The chemical reactions in the battery are effected by the temperature and will shorten the lifespan of the batteries considerably.
Also, as they start to lose power, the output from the batteries decreases, thus making it even more difficult for the camera to do all of its functions, which can lead to you not getting all the performance you are paying for in the trail camera you have bought.
Lithium Batteries for Your Trail Camera
The energy that flows from these batteries is more consistent than in Alkaline batteries. This is important, because with a steady voltage your camera will run smoother, and have less chances of malfunctioning when it doesn’t have enough power.
Lithium batteries also have fairly steady performance to temperatures as low as negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Especially if you are using your camera for the fall hunting season you won’t have to worry if there is some unseasonably cold weather that your camera will give up on you.
These batteries do cost more, but they generally have a much higher capacity and better performance than their Alkaline competitors.
Top Recommended Lithium AA Battery for Trail Cameras
The Energizer Ultimate Lithium is our recommendation for the best Lithium battery when it comes to lifespan, charge, and ability to perform in the coldest of weather.
It does cost a little more than some other batteries, but we have found that we make up for the cost in getting a lot of use out of each set of batteries, and not having to worry that our trail cameras will stop working or take faulty pictures because of the batteries acting inconsistently.
(Please note, that you should check your instruction manual or the manufactures website to see if the camera supports the type of batteries you choose, if they say that a type of battery won’t function correctly, only use that type at your own risk)
Rechargeable Batteries for Trail Cameras
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) Rechargeable Batteries
If the manufacturer doesn’t explicitly recommend staying away from rechargeable batteries these can be a great choice, especially if you are using your trail camera in the fall and winter.
Some people report problems with using rechargable batteries with their trail camera, but if you follow a few tips they should provide good performance and save you money over the long run.
First, make sure that you buy quality batteries. Spending a little more upfront will give you batteries that will hold a charge better and give you more consistent output of power.
You want to select batteries that have a small milliamp-hour (mah) capacity of 2500 or more. If you buy cheaper batteries that usually only have a mah capacities of 1200 to 1600, then you are just spending money on a battery that will probably perform worse than the average alkaline battery.
Second, buy a quality charger. This is where a lot of people trip themselves up. Cheap chargers will just charge your batteries at a set level for a set amount of time. This can be fine if you were always putting your batteries in the charger when they were empty, but if there is different levels of charges in a battery this can easily lead to over charging and decreasing the life and performance of your batteries.
Buying a smart charger that monitors the level of charge in each battery and then adjusts the amount of charge it gives the battery will protect you from inadvertently over charging your batteries.
Third, use you batteries immediately after removing them from the charger. Rechargeable batteries have a much higher self discharge rate than normal batteries. Charging them and then throwing them in a kitchen drawer until you are reading to head out to your scouting location will mean you are bringing batteries with you that have been slowly draining themselves, before you even put them in a trail camera.
Finally, NiMH Rechargable Batteries perform amazingly well, almost as well as Lithium batteries in the cold weather, but they perform awful in hot weather. If you are using your trail camera during the summer months, when the temperatures are close to or above 90 degrees, you will find their life span cut drastically. We’ve seen reports that put the lifespan at only 20% during summer months compared to use in mild or cold weather.