There was significant discussion on the CTDRT e-mail list the other day about the use of batteries for wireless mics. Many people suggested different places to get great deals and which ones they use. I suggested using rechargeables instead. That met with some resistance, much of it centered around a bad experience.
I'll say a the outset, I completely respect that view (and moreover, have a tremendous amount of respect for the people who hold those views). With that said, and at the risk of sounding argumentative (and I'm not really trying to be), here is why I use rechargeable batteries. It's really a philosophical decision I made a long time ago, and only refined it since.
We've All Been Burned
I think it's fair to say we've all been burned by rechargeable batteries. I would dare say I have more experience using them than most (consistent use for the last 4 years), and yes, I've had them go out on me. However, I've also had alkalines die. For that matter, I've had wireless mics act up. I had a $600 DPA headset mic crap out during a sermon. Heck, I've had wired mics fail (after someone rolled a piano over the cord). Does that mean I no longer use any of those devices? No. I've learned what caused the failure, and found ways not to repeat it.
We all use rechargeable batteries every day. Cell phones, car batteries, cordless phones, the list goes on. We all know we can't leave the car lights on for 16 hours and expect the car to start. So we don't. The same holds true with rechargeable batteries in wireless mics. If we don't ask them to do things they can't they won't disappoint us.
They Do Save Money
Rechargeable batteries are going to save you money. How much depends on how you use them. I've been at churches that spend an incredible sum of money each year on disposable batteries, often in the thousands of dollars. Switching to rechargeable cells costs a few hundred at most, and you're pretty much done for a few years. I've found I buy batteries to replace the ones that walk away or are accidentally thrown out. Once I've made the investment in chargers, my ongoing costs are well under $100/yr.
However, that's not why I use them.
It's About Stewardship
Though I don't mean stewardship of dollars. God's not broke. Spending or saving $500, 1,000 or even 3,000 on batteries a year isn't going to make or break the Kingdom. However, consider how much waste we generate with disposable batteries. I'm sure we all have a bucket or box in our equipment room that is overflowing with used batteries. By itself, it doesn't seem like much. But combine that with 100, 500, 1,000 or 2,000 other churches, and pretty soon, you have a mountain of trash. And it's not good trash. Add to that the energy consumed in mining the minerals, transportation, manufacture, packaging, transportation again, disposal and you have a pretty large (and dirty) carbon footprint.
Now again, you can make the case that in the grand scheme of things, it's a small drop in a very large bucket. And perhaps that's true. But is that a good reason to not change our behavior? I can't fix the problems with our planet's environment on my own. However, I can make a simple change that will help a little bit. If everyone did that, a little bit turns into a lot. Then we start looking for other ways to save (eg. my crusade for fluorescent and LED lights).
Whether or not you consider making the switch is entirely up to you. I just know that for me, personally, I am willing to make some adjustments to my production process to make a difference, however small.
If all that doesn't sway you, consider this: Cirque du Soleil has been using rechargeable batteries in their wireless mics for several years now. For whatever that's worth.