Since Luigi Galvani first made a frog’s leg move while he was dissecting it, thanks to an interaction between the steel of the scalpel and a brass hook mankind has come to depend on the power that batteries provide.
Main types of battery
Batteries come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, weights and power strengths, according to the task they are required to perform. Primary batteries come in several forms including silver oxide, carbon zinc, alkaline and lithium. They are designed to be used until drained of power and then disposed of.
Secondary batteries are also known as rechargeable batteries. They include Lithium Ion (Li ion), Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) and Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) and are designed to be charged over and over again – often up to 1,000 times during their lifetime.
NiCd batteries work best when they are allowed to fully discharge before recharging. Failure to allow the battery to run down completely can cause it to ‘forget’ to charge fully on subsequent charges, which can cut short its working life.
NiMH batteries tend to outperform their NiCd equivalents and are slightly lighter in weight. Both types contain heavy metals and require careful disposal at the end of their working lives in order to minimise pollution.
One of the most widely used batteries in the home is the AA battery. Every parent knows only too well the importance of having plenty of these batteries to hand, particularly during the Christmas period as so many children’s toys and games depend on their use.
From television remote controls to hand-held kitchen equipment, the AA battery is used across a wide range of applications and most families will have performed the desperate ‘battery search’ as they try to poach batteries from one appliance to use in another.
The other most popular type of battery found in the home is the AAA battery. Smaller than the AA, the AAA battery is found in portable gaming devices, radios, alarm clocks, remote controls, keyboards and digital cameras amongst many other uses. Because their use within the home is so widespread, it makes sense to make sure that you have a stock of reliable AAA rechargeable batteries on hand so that you never run out of power or have to conduct a frantic search to find a spare and unused battery.
In these cash-strapped times we are all looking for ways to save money wherever possible. Buying primary batteries can be an expensive business and with so many household items relying on them for their power supply, the costs can soon add up. A set of rechargeable batteries allows you to keep using the same batteries over and over again, making sound financial sense. And although rechargeable batteries use more heavy metals in their manufacture, the prolonged lifespan more than makes up for that, making them a greener and cleaner alternative.
With rechargeable batteries there is no need to head off to the shops every time your batteries run down: simply recharge them and re-use them over and over again. No more searching through drawers and cupboards or raiding other pieces of equipment in order to find a battery that works.