It's interesting how a person's understanding of a particular topic is directly related to personal experience. Take batteries. Most consumers don't know how many different types of batteries are out there. Why? Because our knowledge is limited to only those batteries we tend to use regularly.
So, how many different types of batteries are there? A lot. That's the easy answer. It would be challenging to list them all simply because there isn't just one way to categorize them. You can list battery types by technology, application, size, form factor, and on and on. And if you were to list every unique battery ever made, you'd end up with hundreds of them.
Primary vs. Secondary Cells
One way to divide battery types is to look at primary and secondary cells. A primary cell is a single-use battery. It cannot be recharged. It is charged at the time of manufacture, the consumer uses it until it fully discharges, and then it gets disposed of. A secondary cell is just the opposite— a rechargeable battery like lithium-ion or nickel-cadmium.
Regular Paleblue blog readers know that the primary cell we focus on most often is the alkaline battery. If primary cells had a poster child, the alkaline battery would be it. But there are plenty of others, including:
- aluminum-air batteries
- dry cell batteries
- magnesium batteries
- nickel oxyhydroxide batteries
- solid-state batteries
- zinc-carbon batteries.
We can classify different types of batteries by their applications. One of the first that comes to mind is the deep-cycle battery commonly used to power things like golf carts and marine equipment. Deep cycle batteries tend to be lead-acid cells that can store a lot of potential energy. They can handle heavy loads, too.
Other batteries categorized by application include:
- automotive batteries
- laptop batteries
- cell phone batteries
- button batteries
- electric vehicle (EV) batteries.
When you look at different types of batteries categorized by application, you discover that you can often group them together by technology. That leads us directly to our next classification.
When we speak of battery technology, we are usually talking about the internal components that make a battery work. For instance, the technology on which our USB-C rechargeable batteries are based is lithium-ion technology. Our batteries utilize lithium along with on-board battery management systems (BMS) to store and discharge energy and manage the battery’s performance, reliability and safety.
Nickel cadmium (NiCad) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH) are perhaps the two alternative rechargeable technologies most people are familiar with. Of course, alkaline batteries are a separate technology unto themselves.
Battery Form Factor
There are several other ways to look at battery type that we will not get into. The last one we will discuss in this post is form factor. Where consumer batteries are concerned, there are a number of form factors that nearly everyone is familiar with:
- 9 Volt
- C and D batteries
- AAA, AA, and A batteries.
A more recent addition to the form factor category is the soft pack battery. Laptop manufacturers are pretty fond of them these days. Soft pack batteries tend to be based on lithium-ion technology, but they are not necessarily manufactured to a static size or shape. They are designed to fit into the space and shape that a manufacturer has available on the host product. They are soft and flexible for that purpose.
Trying to figure out how many types of batteries are out there is like trying to count all the different makes and models of cars. There is a lot today and no doubt there will be more and more in the future.
- Tags: Batteries