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Is it the real deal? Device claims to give dead batteries juice

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Ellie Hirsch is a mom with three boys. They range in age from 2 to 7 years old, and it seems most of their favorite toys are electronic.

“It seems everything uses batteries,” Hirsch said.

As a stay-at-home mom and professional blogger of her website, MommyMasters.com, she calls her quest for a long-lasting battery endless.

“In a month, I probably go through over 30 batteries in all different sizes,” Hirsch said. She's tried all the tricks to get more battery for her buck, like buying them in bulk at the discount stores to less conventional methods. “I’ve heard putting them in the refrigerator has worked. It hasn't worked for me." 

Some say they have found the answer to extend the life of your batteries in alkaline battery charger stations.

The devices have been gaining popularity with cost-conscious consumers, and they promise to take those dead batteries and give them life again. We wanted to see if these one-size-fits-all-batteries rechargers were worth their $30 price tag.

We tested two different brands of chargers and used two of the leading brands of alkaline batteries. We tested brand new AA, AAA and D batteries and placed them on the rechargers once the juice ran out.

Our unscientific test found a remote control car with AA batteries got another two-and-a-half hours of juice after we recharged them. Unfortunately, that was only 17 percent of the original life we got when they were brand new. The D batteries were perhaps the most disappointing of all the tests. Tested twice, they barely gave a recharge compared to when they were brand new.

Perhaps the surprise of the test was the AAA battery-powered toothbrush. After we recharged those AAA batteries for 11 hours it put a full charge back into what was an otherwise dead battery.     

We took the alkaline rechargers to Brett Kappes of PCG Computers and Electronics for his take.

“You're getting something that would be thrown away otherwise and breathing a little bit of life back into it,” Kappes said.

However, he was quick to point out that battery manufacturers warn on their packaging against recharging alkaline batteries.

“They say it could cause them to explode,” Kappes said. He also advised not to expect to get a full charge back on your dead batteries. “It's basically the law of diminishing returns. The first charge may be 25 percent. Then after that you might get 18 percent, and then it keeps going down."

Hirsch said getting some added hours out of a battery feels like a victory.

“A product like that would be phenomenal for this household,” Hirsch said.

Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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