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Replace AA Batteries with Lithium-Replacement and Adaptation

Replace AA Batteries with Lithium-Replacement and Adaptation

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Lithium batteries are commonly used to power a wide range of devices, being found in remote control toys, computers backup batteries, calculators, hearing aids, MP3 players, laser pointers, remote car locks, thermometers and many others. Automotive applications, medical equipment, electric tools and aeronautical technologies are some of the areas that have been benefitted from research about the use of lithium and lithium-ion batteries.

The main difference among Li-ion or Lithium-ion batteries and common Lithium batteries is that the latter are not rechargeable, but they are designed to keep a considerable amount of energy and to have a great life-span and endurance; while Lithium-ion batteries are designed to function altogether with chargers during a great amount of time.

Can you replace a lithium battery with AA battery?

In some common devices (e.g. cameras, clocks) you can use Lithium batteries instead of alkaline cell batteries, which brings about many benefits, such as the wider termperature range in which they work and the lighter weight. However, lithium batteries may develop a higher voltage than alkaline cell batteries, so this is a fact that can damage the device. It must be checked whether the device can tolerate the higher voltage before using lithium batteries as an adequate replacement of alkaline cell batteries.

Some commercial brands, such as Energizer, offer Lithium AA sized batteries which function with 1.5 volts, the same that normal AA alkaline cell batteries, making it possible to replace the latter with their lithium siblings and expect normal performance of the device in most cases, even enjoying of the benefits of lithium batteries. However, not only the pure commercial solutions are available, but also there are ways to adapt lithium batteries to work with devices designed for usage with alkaline cell batteries or at least with commercial sized batteries.

How do you adapt lithium battery to replace AA battery?

A general rule is that one (1) lithium-ion battery is equal to three (3) alkaline batteries of the Nimh type – the most common type, roughly.

For example, if a remote controller needs eight (8) AA alkaline cell batteries, you could use three (3) lithium-ion batteries instead (for example, of the 14500 type), and you could use dummy batteries to make up for the remaining five blank spaces of the original 8 battery capacity.

Alkaline cell batteries come off the charger at approximately 1.60 volts while lithium-ion batteries come off the charger at 4.20 volts, meaning that they have three times the voltage of the alkaline cell batteries, even if the 14500 type is almost the same size of the AA. This is why they can be easily replaced, following the 3:1 rule.

Another trick may be found in whether using the batteries in series or in parallel, because a series usage sums up the voltage of the batteries while a parallel usages leaves the same voltage. For example, if a lantern needs 3 AA alkaline cell batteries, that means it needs 4.5 volts. You could two lithium-ion 18650 in parallel to achieve the needed voltage, while if using them in series, you could fry the lantern with an excess of voltage.

Batteries can be easily glued with hard glue. Connecting the poles of the batteries can be done welding nickel strips through the appropriate poles of the batteries, depending on the type of connection, series or parallel. Series connections puts positive poles against negative poles, while parallel connections puts together all of the positive poles and all of the negative poles.

Lastly you would need to weld the appropriate wires to the nickel strips of the battery you had just created and to the device you want to power up, making sure that positive and negative ends of the battery and the device are connected by a wire each, matching appropriately.

What is the difference between lithium battery and AA battery?

Usually, AA batteries are alkaline cell batteries, and this type of battery consist on a single cell containing the electrolyte, a separator, and the electrodes. Lithium batteries, on the other hand, consist on a battery pack, or a number of the previously mentioned cells, altogether with protection and control electronics, electrical connections and housing.

Lithium batteries are more expensive, but they will also last longer, in turn causing a minimization of the need to replace the battery, which is a constant complain regarding devices using alkaline cell batteries. Another advantage of lithium-ion batteries is the lighter weight they offer in comparison to alkaline cell batteries, which is a great deal when it comes to smartphones and other similar portable technological devices such as tablets, laptops, game consoles and many others.

Lithium batteries can provide a higher voltage (e.g. 3 volt batteries) than alkaline cell batteries that usually cope for 1.5 volts. Also, lithium batteries can sustain this increased voltage for a larger period than the alkaline cell batteries, and they can easily endure the quick but great current demand needed for the proper functioning of some devices as digital cameras.

Lithium and lithium-ion batteries can function in a wider range of temperatures: from a minimum temperature of -40 degrees Fahrenheit to a maximum temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Alkaline cell batteries function in a less wide range: from 0 degrees Fahrenheit up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

As the most common presentation shape available for alkaline cell batteries is the classic cylindrical shape (AAA, AA, C, D), lithium and lithium-ion batteries can appear in a wide array of shapes and presentations, which have also evolved through time since their first market launch. For instance, we can find them in the small cylindrical shape, a large cylindrical shape, pouch or flat shape (common in nowadays’ laptops and smartphones) and enclosed in a rigid plastic protection with thread terminals (common in automotive traction packages).

Lithium and lithium-ion batteries have proven to be superior to alkaline cell batteries in terms of life span, charge duration, working temperature range and many other features, so it is worth to use them as much as we can, without disregarding the appropriate way to dispose of any battery we won’t be using anymore.

 

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