Battery Facts and FAQ's

How is a lithium battery different from an alkaline battery?

Battery chemistry and construction differ in the two systems. Since lithium is a very active material, it provides a great deal of power relative to the amount of material used in a battery. The lithium discharge curve is longer and flatter than alkaline, providing a consistently higher voltage throughout the life of the battery.[Return to Top]

What is the difference between lithium batteries and lithium Ion batteries?

There are several important differences. The practical difference between Lithium batteries and Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries is that most Lithium batteries are not rechargeable but Li-ion batteries are rechargeable. From a chemical standpoint Lithium batteries use lithium in it's pure metallic form. Li-ion batteries use lithium compounds which are much more stable than the elemental lithium used in lithium batteries. A lithium battery should never be recharged while lithium-ion batteries are designed to be recharged hundreds of times.[Return to Top]

What are the advantages of lithium Ion batteries compared to other rechargeable batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries have several advantages: They have a higher energy density than most other types of rechargeables. This means that for their size or weight they can store more energy than other rechargeable batteries. They also operate at higher voltages than other rechargeables, typically about 3.7 volts for lithium-ion vs. 1.2 volts for NiMH or NiCd. This means a single cell can often be used rather than multiple NiMH or NiCd cells. Lithium-ion batteries also have a lower self discharge rate than other types of rechargeable batteries. This means that once they are charged they will retain their charge for a longer time than other types of rechargeable batteries. NiMH and NiCd batteries can lose anywhere from 1-5% of their charge per day, (depending on the storage temperature) even if they are not installed in a device. Lithium-ion batteries will retain most of their charge even after months of storage. So in summary; lithium-ion batteries can be smaller or lighter, have a higher voltage and hold a charge much longer than other types of batteries.[Return to Top]

What is the difference between Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) and Nickel Metal Hydride (NIMH) batteries?

Both NiCad and NiMH batteries are rechargeable. The main difference between the two is the fact that NIMH batteries offer higher energy densities than NiCads. In other words, pound for pound, NIMH delivers approximately 30% more capacity than its NiCad counterpart. What this translates into is increased runtime from the battery with no additional bulk. NIMH also offers another major advantage: NiCad batteries tend to suffer from what is called a "memory effect". What this means is that when a NiCad battery is only partially discharged before charging, the battery "forgets" that it has the capacity to further discharge all the way down.

To illustrate: If you, on a regular basis, fully charge your battery and then use only 40% of its capacity before the next recharge,

eventually the battery will become unaware of its extra 60% capacity which had remained unused. Your battery will remain functional, but only at 40% of its original capacity.

The way to avoid the dreaded "memory effect" is to fully cycle your NiCad battery at least once a month. In other words, fully discharge your battery and then fully charge it.

Batteries can be discharged by allowing the device to run on the battery until it ceases to function. This will insure your battery remains healthy. NIMH batteries are "memory free" - they do not suffer from this affliction. Thus, if you have a NIMH battery, the only time it is necessary to cycle it is during its initial use and after a long storage period. This is done to "exercise" the battery and bring it up to full capacity. [Return to Top]