Cooking A Turkey With 880 AA Batteries

Cooking a turkey right is serious business this time of year. With major holidays on the line, there’s no room for error – any mistake can leave guests disgruntled and starving. [Stephen Farnsworth] took a risk, though, and attempted to cook a turkey using AA batteries.

The allure of the AA for such a task is precisely because it’s such a poor choice. Designed for portability rather than high power output, it was never designed to be the energy source for a major cooking job. To get things over the line, [Steve] busted out the math to figure out how many batteries would be required. This involved computing cooking efficiencies, battery thermal performance, and the specific heat of the bird itself. With the numbers coming together a 300W slow cooker was put on duty, in order to avoid over-draining the batteries.

With 880 AAs loaded into a custom carrier, [Steve] hooked up the power meter and the cooker and kept a close eye on the temperatures. After a couple of hours, the battery pack started to heat up, so additional cooling was brought in to avoid fire. At just before the six hour mark, the turkey was cooked through and ready to eat. Estimates are that the batteries still had plenty of capacity to keep going for a few hours yet, too.

It’s not a fast or effective way to cook a turkey, but it’s certainly achievable. We fully expect [Steve] to submit the coin-cell turkey cook-off next year, too. Remember, a little engineering always helps, especially in the kitchen. Video after the break.

52 thoughts on “Cooking A Turkey With 880 AA Batteries

  1. Back in the time before time (aka the 1980s, aka my childhood) I remember an episode of the show “Mr. Wizard” or was it “Mr. Wizard’s world”? It was something like that. Anyway, clearly the adults of these days were more interested in raising kids to have a healthy curiosity. They must have wanted kids with a productive interest in science and technology rather than mere consumerist pansies most turned out as. I wonder where they went wrong?

    Anyway, in this particular episode they cooked a hot dog with electricity… directly. “Mr. Wizard” stuck a fork in each side of the hotdog, wired each fork to one side of a lamp cord and plugged it in!

    If I remember right the hotdog blew up. But.. it did cook!

    Anyway, that’s what I expected here after reading the title. I thought we were going to see big bird ride the lightning.

    Oh well. Maybe next year!

    1. Ah yes… Commercialized in the “Hot Dogger”, the hot dog electrocutor of the 1970’s. Put 4 or 5 hot dogs on the nails, close the cover and a few exciting moments later, voila! Hot dogs. Always tasted of chlorine to me.

    2. This reminded me, in the army we had very little time between the drills so instead of proper take-your-time-and-enjoy-it, it was plastic mug, two razor blades at the stripped ends of the wires and straight into the 220V socket … coffee in no time at all. And some nice electrolysis to go along with it.

  2. That’s 880 AAs to cook a turkey! Great ego trip of genius, but if our “genius” had considered the environment for a minute. He might ponder, Just How many AA’s it would take to cook the real turkey here.

    I’m sorry, I know this is Hackaday and all that… but really.

    1. Yeah it is kind of a ludicrous setup for a youtube-gape video thumbnail. Plug it into a stationary bicycle generator, at least you’d be knocking out some of those turkey calories on the way.

        1. That’s because a toaster typically uses 600 – 1200 Watts. Add up the inefficiency of the generator, and your olympic level biker is pretty much working at their maximum output.

          Meanwhile, the functional power threshold of a normal male cyclist is between 200 – 350 Watts. That means the amount of power they can sustain for at least an hour. This is approximately the point where the average human metabolism can keep up a continuous supply of energy and oxygen to the muscles.

          So yeah, if you wanted to, you could slow cook a turkey – as long as your cooker uses 200 Watts or less.

          1. >”Totally possible, but that’s the equivalent of riding 100-150 miles straight.”

            You need a very good bike, no wind and level ground, to reach that. I’m calculating about 15 kph average speed and 75-120 km (47 -75 mi)

      1. To me this isn’t really even cooking a turkey “with” 880 AA’s… it’s cooking one using a slow cooker powered by 880 AA batteries. It’s pretty clickbaity, I was expecting something way more interesting.

        1. Exactly.

          ” After a couple of hours, the battery pack started to heat up, so additional cooling was brought in to avoid fire.”

          Seems like a source of heat to use to cook a bird to me. :)

        2. Not really sure what you expected from the title. Clearly batteries have to power some device. Were you thinking they were an ingredient? Soup made with 880 batteries and a turkey? Or are you thinking that a turkey should only be roasted, so it should have been a AA battery powered oven?

          1. The batteries could have been wired to skewers stuck in the turkey, to cook it by passing the electricity through the meat.

            This is like someone putting up a YouTube video about “Cooking a thanksgiving dinner with GASOLINE” in which the gasoline fuels a generator that powers an oven.

            But at the end of the day, the only part of this video that’s noteworthy is the waste of 880 batteries. “Electricity used to power electric cooker” is not itself a novelty.

          2. The novelty is how to use the batteries, not that batteries were used.

            It’s not trivial to use AA batteries to power anything – especially if it requires more power than a TV remote.

    2. I wish I could up-vote you. This is an excessive display of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” – this idiot is doing this just to get youtube visits. I hope it cost him more for the batteries than he will make in youtube revenue. Shame on this electronics-bro for such a wasteful and pointless thing.

  3. The crazy thing about battery retail pricing is that D cells have the best energy per dollar in my country. Most of the sizes are priced roughly the same per 1.5V cell. 9V is the most expensive per energy cost here. There is a disconnect with the actual cost vs cost of chemicals used.

    1. 9V are also probably the worst in terms of energy to volume ratio.

      That is assuming that your D cells is actually all battery and isn’t just a AA cell inside a large spacer, which I’ve seen before.

        1. Sometimes they’re four AAAA cells in series. In any case, the cost of the 9V battery is mostly due to having more metal and plastic in it than active chemicals.

          The original purpose of the 9 Volt battery was to provide grid bias in vacuum tube radios. There were various “power packs” (PP) available at that voltage, equivalent to the “C” battery in the US. When transistor radios got better, the PP3 battery was used to power them as a “miniature” version of the larger power packs. Then it became to be used in smoke alarms etc.

          1. Six AAAA cells. Those come in handy for various things, or if you really need to shave grams off a project you can remove the case from the 9V battery without worrying about the cells leaking ot drying out. The ones made from 6 stacked rectangular cells are usually pretty open, sealed in a plastic sleeve inside the metal case.

    1. Slow cooker and sous vide usually heat the same way (resistive), but sous vide has a lot of extra water mass that has to be heated up. I’d venture a guess that most people’s water bath is also less insulated than a typical slow cooker, which also hurts the efficiency. So I’d say sous vide is probably less efficient in common use, but it’s also likely that sous vide will come out on top if you used a well insulated container and were constantly cooking dishes (like in a restaurant).

      1. Or if you are doing a couple of items in parallel in thier own bags. Depends on the setup though, insulated cooler water baths were quite popular a while back, I aded a neoprene sleeve on mine and evaporation is usually the biggest heat loss so a lid is a big factor.

  4. Here in Germany I can get ten Alkaline AAs for 1,99 Euros ($2,30 or so). Feels like a good deal capacity-wise. A double pack of D-Cells sets you back about 2,99 Euros. If you assume 2,5Ah for the AAs and 12-13Ah for the Ds, the AAs are a better deal.

  5. I get there are still applications for ordinary AA batteries, but using so many of them for an experiment with expectable results just seems inconsiderate, taking into account the nasty stuff they contain…

    1. They dont.

      A regular alkaline battery is zinc, manganese dioxide, and potassium hydroxide. Zinc and manganese are used as health supplements, and potassium hydroxide is a food additive.

      Of course they can be harsh if you’re exposed to the raw chemicals from a leaking battery, but they’re not exactly toxic waste like NiCd or lithium batteries. There’s no special rules for disposing them, and there’s actually not that much value in recycling them either. They’re mostly thrown in landfill.

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