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What's the difference between lithium batteries and alkaline batteries?

What's the difference between lithium batteries and alkaline batteries?

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Besides our smartphones and laptops, there are other smaller devices like watches and remote controls than need to be powered up as well. Most of these devices use disposable batteries that work once and are disposed thereafter. The reason we still have such batteries is because some devices like our regular watches do not need a lot of power and can be powered by a disposable battery for a couple of months and in some cases years.

Using rechargeable batteries for such devices is not economical since the manufacturers will have to add a charging system to the device design plus the adapter to charge the device. That's why the more economical decision is using disposable batteries. Some of the most used battery technologies in this category are alkaline and lithium batteries

The chemistry of these two technologies is totally different and it's the main reason these two batteries generate different voltages and power all together. Knowing the difference between the two will help you make the appropriate choice of which to use and where. Let's now discuss everything you need to know about how these two batteries differ

Can you replace an alkaline battery with a lithium battery?

Yes, it is possible to replace an alkaline battery with a lithium battery but there are some conditions that are supposed to be met;

  • The voltages of the two batteries should be the same: Alkaline and lithium batteries normally have different voltages. Lithium batteries normally have 3V and alkaline batteries normally 1.5V. However, there are some brands that have made lithium batteries of 1.5V. It is only in such a case that you can freely interchange the batteries and have no issues
  • The size of the batteries: Disposable batteries are standardized in terms of size. Most devices today use AA and AAA size batteries. AAA is the smaller one of the two. If you intend to replace the batteries, make sure the ones you are going to replace with are of the same size as the ones currently in the device
  • Price: Lithium batteries are still more expensive than alkaline batteries. This is mainly because they have a longer life and can tolerate more harsh conditions than Alkaline batteries. So, if you intend to switch to Lithium from Alkaline, you should be ready to spend more

What are the pros and cons of lithium batteries and Alkaline batteries?

Let’s start with Lithium

Pros

  • Lithium batteries are much lighter than Alkaline batteries
  • They also last longer than Alkaline batteries.
  • Lithium batteries also handle extreme temperatures better than alkaline batteries. This makes lithium batteries a better alternative for outdoor devices
  • They also have a very long shelf life. When a lithium battery is not in use, it can last between 10 to 15 years.

Cons

  • They are more expensive than alkaline batteries
  • At times high voltage can damage some devices. It is important you always check the recommended voltage for your device before you insert the battery into the device to avoid problems

Pros and cons of alkaline batteries

Pros

  • They are way cheaper than Lithium batteries
  • They are a more economical choice for devices that are not meant to last for so long
  • They are readily available even in local stores and shops

Cons

  • They have a shorter shelf life (about 5 to 7years)
  • They also have a shorter life while being used. For instance, in a digital camera, you take 100 to 200 flash photos with the lithium batteries but alkaline batteries can only take about 20 to 50 flash photos

So, all in all, lithium batteries are better in most of the aspects. The only thing that appears to be an advantage on the side of alkaline batteries is the price. This plays out especially for devices that normally don't last long. There are scenarios where lithium batteries can outlast the life of the device itself. In such cases, opting for alkaline batteries is a much better choice

How do you buy a lithium battery or an alkaline battery?

Now that you know the difference between these batteries and you have probably chosen between the two which ones work for you. It's now time to step out and buy the batteries either from your local supermarket or an online store. While buying these batteries, there are a few things you need to look at

  • Rechargeable or non-rechargeable: Both technologies have rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries so you need to choose the ones that work for you. In cases where the devices don't need a lot of power, non-rechargeable batteries are a more economical choice since they are almost 20 times less expensive than rechargeable ones
  • Specification of the power input of your device: Most devices always indicate the specification of their input power which should be the same as the power supplied by the batteries. Always be keen to avoid buying batteries with the wrong power rating
  • Size of the battery provision: You need to clearly look at the size of the battery provision on your device and determine whether you need AA batteries or AAA batteries. A AAA battery will obviously not fit in remote that was designed to use AA sized batteries. So always been keen with the size
  • Fake vs genuine: There are a lot of fake products in the market especially in countries that are not so strict on the quality of imports. So, while buying pay much attention to the weight of the batteries. Genuine batteries are always slightly heavier than the fake ones

Conclusion

These two types of battery technologies can all be used in low-power consuming devices. The choice of the two will mainly depend on which one you can afford and also what the manufacturers of your device recommends. If you want a battery that produces more energy and also lasts longer, then lithium should be your choice. However, you will have to pay more for it

On the other hand, if longevity is not what you're looking for, then the alkaline battery is more economical in such a case. So, weigh your options right and choose what will meet your power needs and your budget.

 

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