If you cheap out on alkaline batteries, there’s a noticeable difference in performance. But that might not be the case with rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries made in Japan. As Matthew Eargle discovered, the cheap LADDA rechargeables that Ikea sells might actually be rolling off the same production line as Panasonic’s pricier Eneloop Pro batteries.

To help add credence to his theory, which is thoroughly explained in this video, Eargle first digs into the long history of corporate takeovers and partnerships that resulted in the Sanyo-developed Eneloop batteries being taken over by Panasonic, with the newer Pro versions now being manufactured at the last remaining Fujitsu battery factory in Japan. If you find a pack of 2,450 mAh rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll find the words “Made in Japan” somewhere on the packaging.

But Panasonic is never going to cop to the fact that Ikea is essentially selling its pricier product with a boring label and a much cheaper price tag, so Eargle went one step further by thoroughly comparing the performance of a four-pack of Eneloop Pros versus a four-pack of Ikea LADDAs. After averaging the results, the Ikea batteries demonstrated the exact same discharge patterns as Panasonic’s did, and there was only five-one-hundredths of a percent performance difference between the two brands.

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Without sneaking into the Japanese factory to see the actual labels being applied, Eargle can’t 100 percent confirm that the Panasonic and Ikea batteries are exactly the same underneath. Even if they were, there could still be a minor quality control difference discovered during the factory’s testing that results in batteries being labelled as Eneloop Pros or LADDAs. But as a result of his research and continued testing months later, Eargle’s 99.957 percent sure you’re secretly getting a sweet deal on a set of Eneloop Pros when you buy a pack of Ikea LADDAs.

[YouTube via Taxi]