Battery buying guide

Battery buying guide

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

Guide written by:

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

Batteries are a part of our day-to-day lives and make things easier for us. However, it's vital to choose the right ones for your needs. Saline, alkaline, lithium, standard or button cell, disposable or rechargeable: there's a battery to cater for every need. Read on to find the right battery for you.

Important features

  • Type
  • Composition
  • Version
  • Uses
Shop our standard batteries

Main criteria for choosing a battery

Main criteria for choosing a battery

While the voltage and type of battery is normally governed by the appliance that needs power, you will sometimes have a choice of technology. Inexpensive saline batteries are being used less and less nowadays.

Alkaline batteries are still inexpensive, and are suitable for all uses. Lithium batteries are increasing in price as well as in performance. As for button batteries, their mini format means they fit into small devices such as watches.

Another important factor: choosing between disposable or rechargeable batteries.

Disposable batteries

Disposable batteries

These make up 80% of all batteries sold. It must be noted that they are cheaper than buying rechargeable batteries.

Rechargeable batteries

Rechargeable batteries

These are nothing other than storage cells and can be reused several hundred times. That can add up to a tidy sum in the long term! Additionally, rechargeable batteries are highly efficient, storing more energy than disposable batteries. They also limit waste, with an environmental impact that is 2.5 times lower.

The number of milliamperes (mA) indicates the strength of the battery's electrical current. The higher it is, the more powerful the rechargeable batteries are. Note, however, that when not in use, rechargeable batteries quickly discharge. You also have to factor in the price of a battery charger.

The use of rechargeable batteries is therefore recommended for frequently used energy-intensive appliances, while disposable ones are suitable for devices that consume little energy and are used relatively rarely. Whichever type you go for, make sure you never throw them in the bin - take them instead to a specially-designated collection point for recycling.

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Batteries: saline vs alkaline vs lithium

Each battery type has its own technology, advantages and uses.

Saline batteries

Saline batteries

Invented in 1866, saline batteries, also known as Leclanché cells after their inventor, are made up of a zinc housing with an acidic electrolyte (a conducting solution) of ammonium chloride. Inexpensive, nowadays they are used less and less due to being pretty inefficient. Keep saline batteries for appliances such as lighting for construction sites or emergency lighting.

Alkaline batteries

Alkaline batteries

A bit pricier than saline batteries although not expensive, alkaline batteries comprise steel housing with a basic electrolyte, generally sodium or potassium-based.

All-purpose, and with a longer battery life than saline cells, alkaline batteries are ideal for use in low-power appliances as well as high-performance ones. These are suitable for remote controls, digital cameras and so on.

Lithium batteries

Lithium batteries

Lithium batteries are the most expensive type, as well as the most powerful. They are often made from steel housing, lithium (a light, highly efficient metal), and often manganese. Their battery life is 7 times higher than alkaline cells and they deliver 3.5 V compared to alkaline batteries which produce 1.5 V. They're also lighter, resistant to extreme temperatures, and can be stored for far longer.

Lithium batteries are used in safety devices, smoke detectors, GPS, etc. Make sure your devices are compatible with this type of battery.

Button batteries

Button batteries

Button cell batteries can be made from either alkaline or lithium. They release a low voltage, but over a longer period of time, especially as they discharge more slowly than other batteries when in standby mode.

Button cells are used for hearing aids, wireless alarms, toys, watches, remote controls, etc.

Different battery types and uses

Standard batteries have two names, one international (LR) and another from the manufacturer, which varies from country to country.

AA batteries

AA batteries

Also called LR06, these cylinder batteries measure 50 mm in length and deliver 1.5 V for the disposable version (1.2 V for rechargeable). Alkaline, saline, lithium or rechargeable (by the name HR6), these are the most commonly used batteries in electric appliances.

AAA batteries

AAA batteries

Also known as LR03, these are smaller cylinder batteries (44.5 mm) and also deliver 1.5 V (1.2 V for the rechargeable version), but with a shorter battery life. Alkaline, saline, lithium or rechargeable (HR03), these are used in computer mice, nightlights, etc.

AAAA batteries

AAAA batteries

Also known as LR61, these are the smallest cylindrical cell batteries (42.5 mm) available, delivering 1.5 V (1.2 V for the rechargeable version). These are alkaline, can be rechargeable and are often used for photography, wireless headphones, etc.

C batteries

C batteries

Also known as LR14 batteries or Baby C, these are large batteries (26 mm diameter) that deliver 1.5 V (1.2 V for the rechargeable version), for a higher power supply over time. Alkaline, saline or rechargeable (HR14), they can be found in power-hungry devices, such as torches, radios, etc.

D batteries

D batteries

Also known as LR20 or Mono-D batteries, these cells measure 58 mm in diameter and deliver 1.5 V (1.2. V for the rechargeable version) for a substantial power supply. Alkaline, saline or rechargeable (HR20), these are found in portable speakers, remote control toys, etc.

E batteries

E batteries

Also known as PP3, 6LR61 or E-Block, these rectangular batteries deliver 9 V (8.4 V for the rechargeable version) for a very limited battery life. Alkaline, saline, lithium or rechargeable (HR22), they can be found in smoke detectors, alarms, etc.

3LR12 batteries

3LR12 batteries

Also called Normal, these batteries are large and square, delivering 4.5 V of power. Alkaline or saline, they can be found in power-hungry devices such as electronic toys, torches etc.

Button batteries

Button batteries

Some of the most common options are:

  • LR44 batteries - the most common button battery. They deliver a current of 1.5 V. Commonly found in watches, clocks, etc. ;

  • PR batteries - delivering 1.4 V, these are hearing aid batteries;

  • CR batteries are a type of lithium button battery delivering 3 V. They are often found in remote controls.

Remember that the battery type is indicated on the back of the battery and that the diameter and thickness of the different button cells can vary considerably.

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Remote controls and transmitters
 
Shop our standard batteries

Guide written by:

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

Pauline, Self-taught DIYer, Leeds

With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral, I learned the basics of DIY and the customisation of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from a sander to varnish. I have two favourite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the tip that will become a friend’s centrepiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications and I constantly research low-cost ideas.

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