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Thread: Alkaline vs. Lithium Batteries: What You Need to Know

  1. #1

    Lightbulb Alkaline vs. Lithium Batteries: What You Need to Know

    Today, we are going to talk about Alkaline & Lithium batteries.

    Alkaline Batteries

    Sciencing.com stated an alkaline battery is a dry cell battery with a zinc anode (the positively charged end of the battery) and the cathode (the negative end) wrapped in a steel case filled with zinc.

    Alkaline batteries come in a variety of sizes for different purposes including AAA, AA, and C that are used in toys and other electronic devices, and button cell batteries that also come in different sizes and are often used in medical devices like hearing aids.

    Lithium Batteries

    How Stuff Works stated these batteries are often found in electronic devices such as cell phones and laptops because they can be recharged and used several times. They’re made from lithium and carbon and come in the same varieties as alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, button cell, etc.).

    What is the difference between those two batteries?

    POWER: lithium batteries last much longer.

    PRICE: alkaline cost substantially less than lithium batteries.

    VOLTAGE: If you decide to replace alkaline with lithium, it is important to check the replacement has both the appropriate voltage and type/size. The lithium AA batteries produce 1.5 volts, so they can be used to replace any regular alkaline AA units in most cases.

    OPERATING TEMPERATURE: Lithium batteries perform even in the most extreme temperatures, making lithium batteries perfect for outdoor devices. Lithium batteries operate in extremely cold climates or extremely hot climates where alkaline batteries cease to function.

    WEIGHT: Lithium batteries are much lighter than alkaline batteries. This is a great convenience for portable devices.

    Alkaline manganese dioxide batteries, commonly known as alkaline batteries, are good all-around batteries for everyday electronic devices and last longer than some other types. However, lithium iron disulfide batteries, or lithium batteries, designed to last longer, making them a good choice for high-tech and smart devices.

    Lithium can operate without failing in a very cold climate, so it's ideal for outdoor applications. Lithium batteries are lighter than alkaline batteries, so they offer an advantage when used with portable devices, especially cordless power tools.

    In short, a lithium battery can be used as a high-performing alternative to a standard alkaline battery. However, the benefits come at a cost: Lithium is a more expensive technology, which means a higher price point. These batteries can even outlast the normal lifespan of some inexpensive, noncritical devices, like toys, so the extra cost may not be justified in every case.

  2. #2
    KITROBASKIN's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alkaline vs. Lithium Batteries: What You Need to Know

    [QUOTE=XTAR Light;5397198] ...They’re made from lithium and carbon and come in the same varieties as alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, button cell, etc.).
    /QUOTE]

    Are you speaking only of primary lithium batteries in this thread? Just wondering what is your objective? Recently XTAR wrote about using lithium (lowered voltage) rechargeable batteries in place of alkaline.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Alkaline vs. Lithium Batteries: What You Need to Know

    Best use for Alkaline's that I've found yet is to immediately toss them in the trash can ASAP.

  4. #4
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Alkaline vs. Lithium Batteries: What You Need to Know

    I can’t figure the amount of $ I’ve lost bc of alkaline corroding my electronics & flashlights. I’ve salvaged a couple flashlights using vinegar to clean out corrosion. I use lithium AAA, AA & rechargeable as much as possible. In the end Alkaline can cost you way more bc of potential damage.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Alkaline vs. Lithium Batteries: What You Need to Know

    [QUOTE=KITROBASKIN;5397245]
    Quote Originally Posted by XTAR Light View Post
    ...They’re made from lithium and carbon and come in the same varieties as alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, button cell, etc.).
    /QUOTE]

    Are you speaking only of primary lithium batteries in this thread? Just wondering what is your objective? Recently XTAR wrote about using lithium (lowered voltage) rechargeable batteries in place of alkaline.
    I mean Li-ion. Sorry I should write Li-ion instead of lithium.

    I found that there are still so many devices using disposable alkaline batteries. But the alkaline is not eco-friendly. And alkaline has a short battery life. I was thinking a long time ago, whether there are rechargeable batteries of the same voltage to replace disposable non-rechargeable batteries. Currently there are few brand manufacturers making 1.5V rechargeable li-ion batteries. And XTAR begins too.

    Just think if we use less alkaline and more li-ion, will the environment be better?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Alkaline vs. Lithium Batteries: What You Need to Know

    Just think if we use less alkaline and more li-ion, will the environment be better?

    Not really, production of Li-ions have a very bad effect on the environment.

    And how about NiMH's? Aren't NiMH's a good replacement for alkalines?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Alkaline vs. Lithium Batteries: What You Need to Know

    Quote Originally Posted by xxo View Post
    Not really, production of Li-ions have a very bad effect on the environment.

    And how about NiMH's? Aren't NiMH's a good replacement for alkalines?
    The rechargeable NiMH cells can be cycled hundreds of times. That's also good. For the replacement, I think that depends on the different voltage requirement. If single 1.2V cell replaces single 1.5V alkaline, it is ok. But if replace with 1.2V battery pack, there seems be a problem in the total voltage. Did anyone tried this replacement? Maybe you can share the experience with us here.

  8. #8
    KITROBASKIN's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alkaline vs. Lithium Batteries: What You Need to Know

    Yes, we have a few devices that really need more than 1.2V for consistent, longer term function, more so during the cold time. Pulse oximeter is the only thing I can think of right now.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Alkaline vs. Lithium Batteries: What You Need to Know

    Quote Originally Posted by XTAR Light View Post
    The rechargeable NiMH cells can be cycled hundreds of times. That's also good. For the replacement, I think that depends on the different voltage requirement. If single 1.2V cell replaces single 1.5V alkaline, it is ok. But if replace with 1.2V battery pack, there seems be a problem in the total voltage. Did anyone tried this replacement? Maybe you can share the experience with us here.
    My take on the different AAA/AA options:


    Alakaline – cheap and ubiquitous. Good capacity under very low loads. Other than that, they suck. Alkaline's capacity and Voltage take a dive under load and they leak. They are also heavy, have high internal resistance, perform poorly in cold temperatures and they are not rechargeable.


    Low self discharge NiMH – superior to alkalines in just about every way except for slightly lower Voltage which can cause problems in some poorly designed devices that require close to 1.5 Volts (these devices typically will not work well with alkalines once they have been discharged below about 75% either). NiMH often do not work well with battery gages intended for alkalines and may deliver too much current for really cheap items that depend on alkaline's high internal resistance to limit current.


    NiMH's are capable of delivering much higher current than Alakalines, lose very little Voltage and capacity under load, plus they very rarely if ever leak and they are rechargeable. Good quality low self discharge NiMH, such as Japanese Eneloops/Fujiloops and various re-brands, can be stored for years without losing their charge. While quality NiMH's cost more than alkalines, the they quickly pay for themselves after a few recharges or devices saved from leaking alkalines.


    Energizer Ultimate Lithiums (Lithium Iron Disulfide) – Also superior to alkalines in every way except cost. Ultimate Lithiums are also capable of delivering more current than alkalines without significant loss of Voltage or capacity under load, though not as much as quality NiMH's. Ultimate Lithiums have further advantages of having very high capacity, very light weight and they can function in extreme low temperatures (-40) and withstand high storage temperatures. Ultimate Lithiums have a 20 year shelf light and they won't leak. Down sides are that they cost more tan alkalines and they are not rechargeable.



    1.5 Volt Lithium ions – the only one of these that I used are Tenavolts so I will refer to them specifically based on my experience. Similar advantages as NiMH except maintain a constant 1.5 Volt output, but can not deliver as much current as NiMH's and Tenavolts require a proprietary charger. The constant 1.5 Volts is great for items that need higher Voltage than NiMH's provide but since the Voltage stays at 1.5 Volts until they are dead, battery gages won't work and they die suddenly with little or no warning.


    Since the 1.5 Volt lithium ions, rely on a protection circuit, there is a question of long term reliability and safety. What happens if the protection fails? Could it cause 3.6 Volts to be delivered, potentially frying the device? The protection circuit also seems to cause significant self discharge (more than low self discharge NiMH's). Also li-ions are the most dangerous chemistry and least environmentally friendly to produce. They are fairly light weight when compared to alkalines and NiMh's but they are a little heavier than Ultimate lithiums. Prices for 1.5 Volt AAA/AA Li-ions is currently very high compared to NiMH.
    Last edited by xxo; 06-19-2020 at 01:01 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Alkaline vs. Lithium Batteries: What You Need to Know

    Quote Originally Posted by DayofReckoning View Post
    Best use for Alkaline's that I've found yet is to immediately toss them in the trash can ASAP.
    This.

    Haven't put an alkaleak in any device since one ruined my Zebralight H51.

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