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This page should probably be titled "Something About Batteries" as we don't really cover everything, rather we try to give a reasonable background to the most common types.

There are lots of different types of batteries, but on this site we are mainly concerned with the "Normal" styles of batteries we all use, like AAA, AA, C, D & PP3 batteries. Of these there are 2 main categories to consider. PRIMARY batteries which are normal disposable or single use batteries and SECONDARY batteries which are normally rechargeable.

Battery Sizes

Common Reference Also Know As Typical Size
AAA R03, LR03, MN2400, UM4, 824, HP16 10.5mm Diameter x 44.5mm Long
AA R6, LR6, MN1500, UM3, 815, HP7 14.5mm Diameter x 50.5mm Long
C R14, LR14, MN1400, UM2, 814, HP11 26.2mm Diameter x 50.0mm Long
D R20, LR20, MN1300, UM1, 813, HP2 34.2mm Diameter x 61.5mm Long
PP3 6F22, 6LR61, MN1604, 0068, A1604 26.5mm x 17.5mm x 48.5mm

Primary Batteries -Disposable Batteries

Primary batteries are normal disposable cells, like a Duracell and they come with various chemical combinations designed to be good at certain things. For example Alkaline batteries are good for the more power hungry devices like an electric tooth brush or a portable CD player, whilst the normal Zinc Carbon batteries are fine for the low drain requirements of a wall clock or TV remote control.

There are also a range of Lithium disposable cells that are often used in the photography market, these have great energy density, are lighter than normal Alkaline batteries and have excellent low/high temperature usage, the down side is that they are also quite expensive at up to 6x the cost of a normal Alkaline.

There are plenty of other chemistries available, but these are the ones we are all most likely to come across in our normal everyday lives.

Secondary Batteries - Rechargeable Batteries

Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) Rechargeable Batteries

NiCd rechargeable batteries were amongst the first readily available rechargeable batteries, designed to replace the standard consumer batteries used in everyday equipment. They are still available today and have their place in certain applications, but their relatively low capacity make them poorly suited to today's high drain equipment. They are also manufactured with Cadmium, a rather nasty heavy metal that is very bad for the environment, this is due to be banned from use in consumer equipment within the next couple of years, which should be enough to convince us all not to buy them any more.

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) Rechargeable Batteries

These are currently the most economical, powerful & readily available rechargeable versions of the normal consumer cells and have become hugely popular in the digital photography market. They are cheap to buy, costing just a few pounds for a set of 4 AA's, can be charged very quickly, have 2 - 3 times the capacity of the older NiCad's, and out perform Alkaline batteries by a factor of 10 in high drain applications.

But if the fact that a NiMH battery will out perform an Alkaline in most applications isn't enough to convince you to use them, then think about this:-

NiMH Rechargeable Batteries Will Save You A Fortune!

You can buy a basic charger and a set of 4 x rechargeable AA batteries for less than 12.50, that equivalent to about 3 or 4 sets of Duracell AA's, yet these rechargeable AA batteries will take about 10 times as many pictures in a digital camera than the Duracell AA's AND they can be recharged between 500 and 1000 times! Even if you buy one of the best chargers available and a set of Ansmann 2850mAh AA's this will cost you less than 50.00 equivalent to about 15 sets of Duracell AA's and you are still saving money after just 2 charge cycles!

That is equivalent to something like 2000 - 4000 saved over the life of the rechargeable NiMH battery.

NiMH batteries are not ideal for all situations though, their self-discharge rate of about 1% per day does not make them a good choice for low drain situations, like in TV remote controls, and the fact that they fade more quickly when they are near empty doesn't make them a good choice for safety equipment like Smoke Alarms.


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