Common Types of Batteries & Their Uses

Did you know that the history of rechargeable batteries spans 161 years? These batteries were useful in lighting train carriages during stopovers in the late 1800s. Today, batteries have come of age with technological advancements and the growing demand for energy sources.

Are you eager to learn more about the different types of batteries? You’re in the right place.

While batteries fall into two main classes, you’ll realize in this article that these classes further cluster into six common types of batteries. These different kinds of cells differ depending on the applications.

Here, we break down the different types of batteries and their uses for you.

What Are the Different Types of Batteries?

When assessing the different types of batteries, it’s essential to understand the main classes of batteries from a broad perspective. Batteries generally fall into two main categories.

1. Non-Rechargeable Batteries

Non- rechargeable batteries, also known as primary batteries, are only useful once in their lifecycle. As the name suggests, these batteries cannot be rechargeable beyond their expected lifespan. These batteries fall into the falling types.

Alkaline Batteries

Alkaline batteries are useful in powering applications with a density demand below 100 Wh/Kg. The cells comprise Zinc, potassium hydroxide, and Magnesium dioxide, which make them purely alkaline.  These batteries have a longer cycle and shelf life, making them more efficient for powering up portable devices.

Alkaline batteries are small but show high levels of efficiency. They also have low leakage risks due to low internal resistance. The common uses of alkaline batteries include lighting torches, remotes, and other small portable gadgets.

Coin Cell Batteries

Coin batteries are also alkaline. However, they have lithium and silver oxide chemicals to enhance their steadiness and stability. These batteries supply power application needs that fall under 270 Wh/Kg. Coin cell batteries are light in weight and cost less.

With these batteries, longer shelf life is an assurance. You’ll also enjoy high voltages with these batteries when arranged in a series format. Coin cell batteries are conventional in watches, wall clocks, and numerous other electronic products.

2. Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable Batteries also refer to as secondary batteries. They are the opposite of primary batteries. These batteries are rechargeable and reusable to facilitate different applications.

Although the cost of rechargeable batteries is much higher than that of primary batteries, they have a considerable lifespan. These are some of the common types of secondary batteries.

Lead- Acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries are the most common rechargeable batteries in use today. These batteries are useful in lighting automobiles. Lead-acid batteries are preferable only when used in specific products such as vehicles. This is primarily due to their bulky nature.

Most lead-acid batteries have a nominal voltage of between 2V to 24 volts. You may find a wide range of lead-acid batteries in between this range. However, all Lead batteries have an average weight density of 7Wh/Kg.

Lead-acid batteries have a critical advantage related to cost. You’ll incur less when you opt for this option, given the ease of recharging. These batteries also offer high output capability, which is critical to specific products.

When compared to other rechargeable batteries, lead-acid batteries are bulky. You may need to consider space as a matter of concern. Further, lead- cells have a lower power density, which means that the time rate of energy transfer is also lower.

The primary use of lead-acid batteries is in the automotive industry. Lead-acid batteries support the process of starting, lighting, and igniting cars. Lead batteries are also useful in communication systems and emergency lighting.

Nickel – Cadmium Batteries

The Ni-Cd batteries and the Nickel-Cadmium batteries are the oldest kinds of cells. They’re made of Nickel and Cadmium chemicals. You can find Nickel and Cadmium chemical compositions in AA, AAA, and C sizes.

Most of these batteries have a voltage of 1.2 volts. However, you can combine three or more of these batteries to provide collective energy that suits your needs.

An essential advantage of Nickel and cadmium batteries is the ease of recharging. You can use these options in any environment. The other critical benefit of using these batteries is that they come in all standard sizes.

You might consider the application of Nickel-Cadmium batteries in RC toys, cordless phones, and other gadgets. Such gadgets require a density of less than 60 Wh/Kg.

Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are more common than most other cells. Since their invention a couple of decades ago, these batteries have changed the electronics market. Today, more than 50% of the entire market for cells embraces the use of lithium-ion batteries.

These batteries are very light in weight, which makes them useful in portable gadgets. Most lithium-ion batteries also have an overly high power density.

Lithium-ion batteries have a high cell voltage. This characteristic makes them a favorite in most products that use rechargeable technology.

Most portable electronic devices, such as cameras, mobile phones, and laptops, use these batteries. You’ll also find lithium-ion batteries in radios, CD players, and keyboards.

Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries

Nickel metal hydride or Ni- MH is the other common type of battery. Compared to the Ni-Cad, these batteries have a higher preference primarily because of their environmental friendliness. These batteries have a nominal voltage of 1.25 V.

Most Ni-MH batteries have a higher power density of around 100 Wh/Kg. You can find these kinds of cells in all standard sizes. Apart from having a high power density, these batteries are also easily rechargeable.

The only downside to Ni-MH batteries is the fact that their self-discharge is very high. This means that they can only be useful in all high-drain devices.

How to Choose the Most Suitable Type of battery

When settling for the right type of battery, it’s essential to consider energy density and power density. These two factors determine the total amount of energy stored and the kind of applications they can serve. This is why sizing your battery is vital before deciding what to settle for, given the full range of choices you might have.

Sizing allows you to assess the energy demands for each specific application. You also get a chance to assess power retention and ease of recharging.

Apart from paying attention to safety, durability and total energy requirements are essential considerations. You must ponder on the maximum power needs for any application or gadget you might have in use before settling for a specific kind of battery.

Having the Right Information Is Critical When settling for a battery.

The market is now flooded with different types of batteries. Understanding the two classes of cells and their specific clustering is critical before deciding to buy.

Once you understand the different types of batteries, you can then size your battery based on your specific needs. Always pay attention to quality and safety when buying a battery to avoid disappointments.

Keep reading to explore more insightful content.


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