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Understanding your Batteries

Updated on September 20, 2011

There are various types of batteries available for your electronic devices and which type is more suitable can sometimes be puzzling. Here is a guide that will help you better understand the choices available.

Alkaline Batteries

These types of batteries are widely used in our daily life, from household appliances to toy. They are not able to charge, and must replace new one when low power. If these batteries are to be used in digital cameras, they’ll drain off very fast, therefore they are not the best battery of choice for digital cameras. Alkaline batteries have a shelf life of around 2 years.

Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) Batteries

NiCds are most lower priced if compared with other types of rechargeable battery. The measurement for battery is milliamp-hours (mAh), and that the overall charge capacity of battery. The higher mAh mean will provide the longer battery life or better battery performance, hence the higher mAh batteries are more costly, but are worth to pay for it, if you are using for high drain devices like portable electronic devices.
The charge in these types of batteries will gradually decrease if they are keeping unused for around 4 weeks, unlike alkaline batteries. However, we can fully charge them anytime but be warned that NiCds have one major problem which is known as “memory effect”. If you direct charge the NiCd batteries before fully discharging, their capacity will reduce. Eventually this make them become gradually less powerful until they become useless. In order to solve this problem, we need a charger which has discharging feature, discharging the battery before commencing charge. This type of charger definitely more expensive than the normal charger, but you will obtain more consistent performance from your batteries.

Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) Batteries

Next type of battery is NiMH batteries which are more expensive than NiCds. NiMH have different energy storage technology, resulting in more efficient output. They can provide longer battery power but having the same draining over time problem if keep for long period unused. NiMH batteries no “memory effect” issue like NiCds. Buy a advanced charger which can be discharge the battery before charging it for the better battery performance. The highest mAh battery will provide the longer battery life, so the highest mAh rating batteries are more recommended.

Lithium Batteries

Lithium batteries are not rechargeable battery and the price is more expensive than other battery. The most advantage of Lithium battery is can last for around 10 years with very low power drains. There are 4 common sizes of Lithium battery; 2CR5, CRP2P, 123A and CR2, most are generally used in compact cameras, small SLRs. The last and the most commonly used is AA lithium, which is the substitute for NiCds, NiMH and alkaline batteries. Highly recommended for high drain devices like digital cameras and flashguns, etc.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

The different between Lithium-Ion batteries and standard Lithium batteries, the Lithium-Ion batteries are rechargeable and light weight with high power. Because of the lower weight plus higher capacity they are more suitable for those high drain products. Rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries are popular and wide used for portable electronics, because of high power capacity, no “memory effect” and the battery life can keep for more long period of time if not in use.

Charging Precautions

Since NiCd batteries suffer from “memory effect”, therefore, it is best to purchase a more advanced charger that can discharge the battery before charging it, to makes sure that no "memory effect" can happen.
The advanced charger or smart charger normally quick charges a battery up to around 90% of its maximum capacity in one hour, then will auto-switched to trickle charging, which will take few hours to complete the full capacity.
All batteries must not over charge, should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. If batteries are left charging or over charge, its power capacity may be reduce, may even burn or explore!


Hopefully by now you are well versed with the different types of batteries available and will eventually lead to an informed purchase.


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    • calvinlau88 profile image

      calvinlau88 6 years ago from Malaysia

      great info

    • klyyong profile image

      klyyong 6 years ago

      My knowledge about batteries is very limited until I read your article. Very detail sharing, thanks.

    • profile image

      abacus2000bc 6 years ago

      I have never care about managing different type of batteries. Now I know. Thanks.

    • bjtutu profile image

      bjtutu 6 years ago from Malaysia

      I don't really know that battery also got "memory" problem. Thanks for sharing

    • doubleH profile image

      doubleH 6 years ago from Singapore

      mrcan, the life of a rechargeable battery is around 500 to 800 charge-discharge cycles (if operated under normal conditions)

    • doubleH profile image

      doubleH 6 years ago from Singapore

      dandelion1127, all modern/original charger are featured with auto power cut-off, but don't let your charger power on for long period of time, this may damage your charger

    • mrcan profile image

      mrcan 6 years ago from Malaysia

      The lifespan of the batteries will vary considerably with how it is used, how it is maintained and charged, temperature, and other factors. Thanks for sharing!

    • dandelion1127 profile image

      dandelion1127 6 years ago

      Interesting and Informative article. Does normal mobile phone has the cut off feature whereby the charging will stop after the bettery is fully charged?

      Thank you for the sharing. You are a real Battery Expert!

    • doubleH profile image

      doubleH 6 years ago from Singapore

      idex231, you need to buy a "good" charger with the Independent Charging Circuits. choose that charger with fast charge and soft charge mode, the soft charge delivers the highest battery life and allows 100% compatibility with older, lower capacity batteries.

      and the last thing is look for thr charger with Precision Microprocessor Controlled, this microprocessor will charge batteries to their maximum capacity without overcharging or undercharging.

      Hopefully these info will help you

    • idex231 profile image

      idex231 6 years ago from MY

      Thanks for the batteries insights! Just wonder, is there any good way to manage the battery recharging time so that we won't overcharge the battery to extend the battery life span?

    • calvincho profile image

      calvincho 6 years ago from George Town

      Good batteries knowledge sharing..

    • beginners-dslr profile image

      beginners-dslr 6 years ago from Malaysia

      Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) chemistry often comes with negligible memory effect and can be recharged at any time, without discharging the battery in advanced. It's environmental friendly and does not contain Cadmium & Mercury, thus it has always been my choice in my flashguns usage.

    • My Footprints profile image

      My Footprints 6 years ago from MY

      All batteries have a certain shelf life. So long as we get the maximum results and using the right battery for the right devices - we should be fine.

    • doubleH profile image

      doubleH 6 years ago from Singapore

      ilitek, Lithium-Ion Batteries are the best battery for our cell phone, DSLR or others portable devices

    • ilitek profile image

      ilitek 6 years ago

      that means those cheap batteries in the market are useless.