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Batteries for Household Uses

Learn which type of battery should be used with your household devices.

In this day and age, most portable devices require battery power. Choices may seem endless when trying to choose the best battery for your needs. You may need to support a device that drains a lot of battery power. You may also be looking for a battery that has a long shelf life. You could even be looking for a battery that suits a combination of needs. All batteries have their own advantages that make them the best selection for each device. Learn about the different battery types, and their common uses.

Alkaline Batteries

Batteries for Household Uses
We use batteries in a number of devices every day: digital cameras, remote controls, toys…the list goes on. With so many battery types to choose from, it might seem like a difficult choice to make. Find out which batteries you need to save money and keep your devices running for a long time.

Alkaline batteries are the most popular batteries and are also known as general purpose batteries. At regular strength, they wouldn’t be the best option for high drain devices such as digital cameras. However, alkaline batteries can be used for most battery powered devices.

Pros

Alkaline is the least expensive battery option. They have a very long shelf life, making them the perfect choice when you need to stock up. They’re also widely available, and provide great power for a variety of devices.

Cons

These batteries only have a one time use, and can’t be recharged. While not typical, alkaline batteries can be prone to leaking when used in cold temperatures or wet environments. You can prevent leakage by storing the batteries in a dry place. Also make sure to change the batteries all at once. Don’t try to recharge non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. If you’re using a device that drains a lot of battery, this is not your best choice.

Rechargeable Alkaline Batteries

These batteries can basically be used where you would use an alkaline battery. The main difference is that these are rechargeable, whereas regular alkaline batteries are not.

Pros

Of all the rechargeable batteries, these have the longest shelf life. They’re great for most commonly used household and portable devices.

Cons

Like the regular alkaline battery, they are prone to leaking in wet or cold environments. The shelf life drops after each recharge. They can’t be recharged as many times as other rechargeable batteries. This type does not work well with high drain devices.

NiMH Batteries

Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries are good for most uses except when a long shelf life is needed. If you need a battery with a longer shelf life, select LSD (low self-discharge) NiMH batteries.

Pros

NiMH are rechargeable, so you’re able to get multiple uses. They also work great for devices that typically drain a lot of battery life. This is the most economical and environmentally friendly type of battery you’ll find.

Cons

A NiMH battery comes with less voltage, which means the lights may be dimmer or the device will work slower. When they go unused, they quickly lose their charge.

Lithium Batteries

These batteries are more expensive but have a very long and useful life. Lithium is a very light metal that is highly energy reactive. You can increase the shelf life of lithium or NiMH batteries by storing them in the freezer. By storing them at freezing, the battery will hold more than 90 percent of its charge. Before using frozen batteries, bring them back up to room temperature. If you don’t want batteries in your freezer, make sure to store the batteries in a cool, dry place.

Pros

Lithium batteries provide lots of power, making them ideal for high drain devices. They’re also perfect for a variety of situations because they work well in sub-freezing weather. They have a low self-discharge and very long shelf life. They’re also lightweight, which makes them perfect for backpacking or hiking.

Cons

Household sizes, such as AA and AAA, can’t be recharged. They are more expensive than the other types of batteries. The high voltage they produce can be too much for some devices. If you use a lithium battery with a device that can’t handle the high voltage, it can damage the device’s circuitry.

Rechargeable Solar Batteries

If your solar powered lawn and garden lighting is getting dim, these are the perfect battery option. They will recharge daily from the sun, giving your batteries a natural, cost-effective charging source.

Pros

They are recharged by the sun, which supports a healthy environment. Their price, combined with their long shelf life, makes these batteries cost-effective.

Cons

They can’t be used indoors or in shaded lawn areas because they won’t charge. These batteries also have a low cell voltage.

Type of BatteryCommon Uses
AlkalineFlashlights
Remotes
Garage door openers
Video remote controls
Toys
Games
Alarm clocks
Rechargeable AlkalineRemotes
Clocks
Radios
NiMHElectric razors
Electric toothbrushes
Camcorders
Cameras
Pagers
Telecoms
LithiumKey-less remotes
Heart rate monitors
Glucose monitors
Computer memory protection
Watches
Medical implants
Smoke detectors
Rechargeable SolarSolar garden lighting
Solar lawn lighting

Rechargeable vs. Non-Rechargeable

There are several reasons to use rechargeable batteries over non-rechargeable. You can get more uses out of a rechargeable battery than with a non-rechargeable one. Most rechargeable ones are more environmentally friendly than the non-rechargeable ones. Some products will only take a rechargeable battery. You cannot put a non-rechargeable battery in a charger made for rechargeable batteries. You risk ruining the battery and the charger. If the product calls for one type of rechargeable battery it is best to use it. Putting in a non-rechargeable one can be harmful to the product.

Proper Disposable

Some manufacturers claim that it is safe to simply throw a dead battery in the trash. However, batteries should be recycled when possible instead of thrown away in the garbage. Batteries can break down in the landfill. This can release harmful chemicals and toxins, causing soil damage and water pollution.

Older batteries were made with mercury, which is harmful to the environment. Most batteries that are made now can be recycled. Some batteries cannot be recycled due to the materials they’re made from. Check dates and manufacturer’s guidelines when it comes to disposing of old batteries. Check your local newspapers and recycling center to find out places in your town that collect and recycle household batteries.

Going Green

If you want to be eco-friendly, lithium and NiMH batteries are your best choice. They’re rechargeable, which means you’ll be also saving money while helping the environment. NiMH batteries are the most green general purpose batteries since they contain no toxins. Rechargeable solar batteries are also a green choice because they rely on renewable energy from the sun.

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