Batteries are ubiquitous in modern life. Cars, computers, clocks, camping lanterns even candles; anything that moves or glows and is portable has at least one battery in it. They are not all the same though. They come in a huge range of sizes, compositions and even technologies. There are standards though, lets have a look at some different types.

Basic Information

Despite coming in a multitude of shapes and sizes, batteries all have essentially the same basic design. They are made up of one or more cells. Each cell is has two electrodes of differing metals and an electrolyte (the chemical that fuels the whole process). For detailed yet easy to understand explanation about the anatomy of a battery cell and how it generates electricity have a look at this article at Explainthatstuff.

Battery Types and Sizes

Broadly, there are two main types: Primary (or single use) and Secondary (or rechargeable) batteries.

Primary (Single Use)

There are three main kinds of primary battery, zinc carbon, alkaline, and lithium. These have no liquid in them and so we often refer to them as dry cells. Zinc carbon and alkaline are the everyday batteries you’re used to dealing with. From the A sizes to C’s and D’s they are common in torches, toys, remote controls and other everyday devices. You find lithium batteries more in the button or watch battery shapes.

Secondary (Rechargeable)

The main types of rechargeable battery are lead-acid, nickel-cadmium (NiCd or nicad) and nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH), and Lithium-ion (Li-ion). Traditional car batteries are generally lead-acid. Nicads are the rechargeable version of  single use batteries for things like torches and remotes. They contain the very dangerous element cadmium and develop a “memory” if not allowed to discharge fully before recharging. Because, NiMHs work in a similar way but are less toxic and less likely to develop “memory” and they often replace nicads. Lithium-ion batteries are hugely popular and you find them in cellphones, laptop computers and music players.

To read more about the types have a look at this table. Wikipedia actually has a very good break-down of the different sizes and capacities over here.

Of course we’re telling you this because we stock all sorts of batteries, have a look at what else we stock

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