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Thread: Odd battery find

  1. #1
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    Default Odd battery find

    I just found this carbon-zinc battery. We have hundreds of NiMH batteries, having replaced all the alkalines in all our small devices, but I didnít know we had one of these. I have no idea where it came from.

    I knew these batteries were developed from the original wet Leclanche batteries, and were basically the first dry cell batteries, but that was about it. I just finished the Wiki article, so now I know a lot more.

    Anyway, hereís a photo:

    https://imgbox.com/1sfbH8xl


    Anyone else here have any experience with them, or know anything about them?

    I just happened to look at it as it didnít look like any of my NiMH cells, which are mostly white and black colored eneloops, and then I noticed the label stating the type of cell.
    Last edited by magellan; 09-13-2018 at 09:53 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Odd battery find

    Carbon zinc AA/AAA are widely available economical alternatives to Alkaline, often marketed with names like "General Purpose" or "(Super) Heavy Duty" or similar.

    Below are key properties excerpted from Eveready's 12 page Handbook and Application Manual:

    • Less expensive than alkaline. Economical in terms of cost per hour on moderate current drains or use frequency
    • Less output capacity decrease than LeClanche as the drain rate increases
    • Less sensitive than LeClanche to changes in the discharge rate and/or duty cycle.
    • Lower internal resistance than LeClanche.
    • Better low temperature performance than LeClanche.
    • Energy density of approximately 2 to 2.5 watt hours per cubic inch.
    • Average service maintenance exceeds 90% after one year storage at 21įC on typical tests.
    • Higher open circuit and initial closed circuit voltage than LeClanche or alkaline.
    • Lower unit weight than alkaline.
    • Available in voltages ranging from 1.5 volts to 12 volts and in a variety of shapes and sizes.
    • Sloping discharge curve.
    Last edited by Gauss163; 09-13-2018 at 09:37 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Odd battery find

    Lots of carbon-zinc batteries still being sold or included with really cheap electronics, usually called "heavy duty" or something like that.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Odd battery find

    Awesome info, thanks!

    Iíve just never seen them, so I wondered how I might have gotten one.
    It is better to buy a beautiful, expensive, custom flashlight than to curse the darkness.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Odd battery find

    Quote Originally Posted by WalkIntoTheLight View Post
    Lots of carbon-zinc batteries still being sold or included with really cheap electronics, usually called "heavy duty" or something like that.
    Ahh. Maybe thatís why Iíve never seen one. I donít buy enough cheap electronics. ;-)

    So basically this is the type of battery that one might find bundled with those cheap transistor radios in the past, things like that. If even saving a fraction of a penny is important, it makes sense since they are lighter and cheaper than alkalines.
    It is better to buy a beautiful, expensive, custom flashlight than to curse the darkness.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Odd battery find

    Quote Originally Posted by magellan View Post
    Iíve just never seen them, so I wondered how I might have gotten one.
    You've probably seen and used them without realizing it since - unlike that Toshiba - most brands don't distinguish them with big "CARBON ZINC BATTERY" labels on the wrapper, so many consumers don't even realize that they are not alkaline. Often the only clue is the much cheaper price and the "heavy duty" or "general purpose" monikers.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Odd battery find

    When I was growing up, alkalines were fairly expensive and carbon zinc batteries (usually in the form of silver labeled Evereadys) or heavy duty batteries (black labeled Everreadys) were very popular - often I opted for the heavy dutys for my Walkman because of price and I would even partially recharge them on a dumb charger interned for NiCads (something I do NOT recommend). Now that alkalines are fairly cheap, you don't see these types of batteries that much in stores except for dollar stores (usually Sunbeam, Rayovac or Panasonic brands). Considering that even the (super) Heavy Duty varieties only last about 1/4 as long as alkalines, these no longer make much economic sense even if alkalines are typically about twice the price. They also have shorter shelf lives than alkalines and can not handle even moderate loads, though they often show up as the "batteries included" in remotes and cheap dollar store toys and lights. And like alkalines, they do leak. These types of batteries are still used a lot though out the third world though.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Odd battery find

    Quote Originally Posted by Gauss163 View Post
    You've probably seen and used them without realizing it since - unlike that Toshiba - most brands don't distinguish them with big "CARBON ZINC BATTERY" labels on the wrapper, so many consumers don't even realize that they are not alkaline. Often the only clue is the much cheaper price and the "heavy duty" or "general purpose" monikers.
    Good point. No doubt Iíve had them in the past without realizing it.

    I just thought it was cool getting to try out a different chemistry. I put it in my little Olight i3 EOS which puts out about about 120 lumens. No problem, but it was just for a few seconds, as I want to measure the voltage on it with my multimeter. I noted the Wiki article said they are 1.5V.
    It is better to buy a beautiful, expensive, custom flashlight than to curse the darkness.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Odd battery find

    Speaking of different battery types, I thought this was very interesting, from the Wiki article on lithium-titanate batteries (I happened to see the reference for the Wiki article on different battery types at the bottom of the carbon-zinc article):


    ďA lithiumĖtitanate battery is a modified lithium-ion battery that uses lithium-titanate nanocrystals, instead of carbon, on the surface of its anode. This gives the anode a surface area of about 100 square meters per gram, compared with 3 square meters per gram for carbon, allowing electrons to enter and leave the anode quickly. This makes fast recharging possible and provides high currents when needed.[6] Lithium Titanate cells also last 3000-7000 charge cycles, far longer than other battery chemistries.[7]Ē


    It reminded me of the 3D spinel structure of lithium manganese oxide batteries, which have better permeability also.
    Last edited by magellan; 09-13-2018 at 12:16 PM.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Odd battery find

    Quote Originally Posted by xxo View Post
    When I was growing up, alkalines were fairly expensive and carbon zinc batteries (usually in the form of silver labeled Evereadys) or heavy duty batteries (black labeled Everreadys) were very popular - often I opted for the heavy dutys for my Walkman because of price and I would even partially recharge them on a dumb charger interned for NiCads (something I do NOT recommend). Now that alkalines are fairly cheap, you don't see these types of batteries that much in stores except for dollar stores (usually Sunbeam, Rayovac or Panasonic brands). Considering that even the (super) Heavy Duty varieties only last about 1/4 as long as alkalines, these no longer make much economic sense even if alkalines are typically about twice the price. They also have shorter shelf lives than alkalines and can not handle even moderate loads, though they often show up as the "batteries included" in remotes and cheap dollar store toys and lights. And like alkalines, they do leak. These types of batteries are still used a lot though out the third world though.
    Great observations on carbon-zinc vs. alkalines.

    And since the metallic zinc can or container corrodes, it strikes me that carbon-zincs have the same leakage issues that alkaleaks have.
    Last edited by magellan; 09-13-2018 at 12:21 PM.
    It is better to buy a beautiful, expensive, custom flashlight than to curse the darkness.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Odd battery find

    Zinc carbon batteries are still widely used in the larger sizes.
    Tail lights on freight trains use a pair of zinc carbon 6 volt batteries, as do the warning lights around road works.
    Screw terminal lantern batteries are usually zinc carbon.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Odd battery find

    Very interesting. Ya know, I think I recall hearing about those railroad lights years ago.

    I also recall those bulky 6V lanterns or flashlights from decades ago; they had a big, vertically adjustable reflector up front, and had a smaller red signal light in the back, and used these big heavy batteries. Iím guessing those batteries were carbon-zinc now like you said.
    Last edited by magellan; 09-13-2018 at 07:44 PM.
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Odd battery find

    So just a brief follow up on this battery.

    I just tested it and the voltage was 1.51V. This is despite having sat in a drawer for probably two or three years. Maybe modern carbon-zinc batteries donít self-discharge as fast as in the past?
    It is better to buy a beautiful, expensive, custom flashlight than to curse the darkness.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Odd battery find

    Quote Originally Posted by magellan View Post
    So just a brief follow up on this battery.

    I just tested it and the voltage was 1.51V. This is despite having sat in a drawer for probably two or three years. Maybe modern carbon-zinc batteries donít self-discharge as fast as in the past?
    Neither Zinc-Carbon or alkaline will discharge much in a couple of years. They should still have most of their charge. Check them in 10 years, and you'll probably notice more discharge.

    BTW, resting voltage isn't really a good way to measure how much charge is left in a battery. But, it's probably a reasonable approximation, given that other methods are more difficult.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Odd battery find

    Yes, I should try putting a load on it and measure it again.

    Thatís good to know about the self discharge. I think I might have been thinking carbon-zincs tend to self-discharge because of the traditional corrosion problem. Maybe thatís not as much of an issue anymore with modern designs.
    It is better to buy a beautiful, expensive, custom flashlight than to curse the darkness.

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