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Battery Types &  Specifications

Values given for size and weight are typical of indicated batteries. Charge and discharge characteristics are quite distinct for each chemistry, so links to applications notes are provided above for most types. I wrote an article on my experience with Li-Po batteries that you might be interested in reading.

There are two categories of battery cells, Primary Cells and Secondary Cells. Here is the basic difference:

Primary Cells are not rechargeable (disposable).
Secondary Cells are rechargeable.

Worthy of note is the newest battery chemistry on the commercial market: Lithium Manganese (LiMn). This battery has all the advantages of LiPo and LiIon, only without the sensitivity to overcharging and heating that causes explosions. As you might expect, LiMn cells and battery packs are even more expensive that the already overpriced LiPo and LiIon varieties. I keep expecting prices to reduce as more and more consumer products use them, but as with printer ink cartridges, there does not seems to be any relief in sight.

(2005 data)

NiCadNiMHLead AcidLi-IonLi-PolymerRechargeable
Gravimetric Energy Density (Wh/kg)45 - 8060 - 12030 - 50110 - 160100 - 15080 (initial)
Internal Resistance  (mΩ)
(includes peripheral circuits)
100 - 200
6V pack
200 - 300
6V pack
12V pack
150 - 250
7.2V pack
200 - 300
7.2V pack
200 - 2000
6V pack
Cycle Life (to 80% of initial capacity)1500300 - 500200 - 300500 - 1000300 - 50050
(to 50%)
Fast Charge Time1h typical2-4h8-16h2-4h2-4h2-3h
Overcharge Tolerancemoderatelowhighvery lowlowmoderate
Self-discharge / Month (room temp)20%30%5%10%10%0.3%
Cell Voltage
Load Current*
  -    peak
  -    best result


0.5C or less


5C or less

5C or less

0.2C or less
Operating Temperature-40 - 60°C-20 - 60°C-20 - 60°C-20 - 60°C0 - 60°C0 - 65°C
Maintenance Requirement30 - 60 days60 - 90 days3 - 6 monthsnot req.not req.not req.
Typical Battery Cost5.0

* "C" is a unit that specifies the peak current supply capability of the battery. Multiply the mAh rating by the "C" value to arrive at
   the peak current. For example a 1000 mAh battery with a 20C rating can supply a peak current of 20,000 mA = 20 A.

Physical Specifications of Common Cells
Li-Ion Variable 3.7
NiCadAA0.57 x 1.99 1.20
NiMHAA0.57 x 1.99 1.25
Li-Polymer Variable 3.7
Carbon ZincD1.34 x 2.423.071.5
Zinc ChlorideD1.34 x 2.423.741.5
AlkalineD1.34 x 2.424.501.5
NiCadD1.34 x 2.425.301.25
Carbon ZincC1.02 x 1.971.591.5
Zinc ChlorideC1.02 x 1.971.801.5
AlkalineC1.02 x 1.972.201.5
NiCadC1.02 x 1.972.501.25
Carbon ZincAA0.57 x 1.990.531.5
Zinc ChlorideAA0.57 x 1.990.711.5
AlkalineAA0.57 x 1.990.751.5
NiCadAA0.57 x 1.990.851.25
Zinc ChlorideAAA0.41 x 1.750.321.5
AlkalineAAA0.41 x 1.750.401.5
Zinc ChlorideN0.47 x
Carbon Zinc9V1.03 x 1.94 x .691.319.0
Zinc Chloride9V1.03 x 1.94 x .691.369.0
Alkaline9V1.03 x 1.94 x .691.599.0
NiCad9V1.03 x 1.94 x .691.259.0
Lead Acid12VVariable  

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