Comparison of AA battery chemistries

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HKJ
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Comparison of AA battery chemistries
Comparison of AA battery chemistries

DSC_3398

In this article I will look at the 3 different AA battery chemistries: Alkaline, Lithium and NiMH. Alkaline and Lithium are primary batteries, i.e. not rechargeable, NiMH is rechargeable.
I am not including carbon-zinc batteries, they have worse performance than alkaline and are mostly obsolete.

The standard size of AA batteries is 50.5 mm long (including plus pole) and 14.5 mm in diameter, this was standardized in 1947 by IEC (but the battery was in use long before that).



Naming

The AA battery has been around a long time and during that time many different names has been used, both from manufacturers and from standard organizations.
IEC uses R6 for the AA battery size and then places a letter before, depending on chemistry, the most common are: LR6=Alkaline AA, FR6=Lithium AA, HR6=NiMH AA
ANSI uses 15A for alkaline AA, 15LF for lithium AA and 1.2H2 for NiMH AA.
Some of the other names used for the AA cell size is: penlight, mingon, MN1500, M



Voltage, capacity and other info


Alkaline

DSC_3399

These batteries are rated 1.5 volt, their actual capacity is seldom specified, because it varies with load.
Energizer has a datasheet with specifications and their AA has about 2900mAh at 25mA load, but only about 1400mA at 500mA load.
According to Energizer the Alkaline battery will work down to -18°C, but with reduced capacity.
The shelf life can be up to 10 years.
The battery weights about 23 gram.

Alkaline batteries is also known to leak and destroy equipment, even unused cells can leak.



Lithium

DSC_3400

These batteries are rated with 1.5 volt and has around 3000mAh.
According to Energizer the battery will work down to -40°C, but with reduced capacity.
The shelf life can be up to 15 years.
Unloaded voltage will be around 1.8 volt.
The battery weights about 15 gram.

The lithium batteries compared here is lithium-iron (Li-FeS2) batteries, there does also exist lithium batteries with 3 volt, they are usual sold in other sizes (CR123, CR2), but can also be found in AA size, but cannot be used instead of ordinary AA batteries.



NiMH

DSC_3401

These batteries are rated with 1.2 volt, capacity is marked on the cell and is usual in the 2000mAh to 2700mAh range.

According to Sanyo the battery will work down to 0°C, but with reduced capacity.
The shelf life it not rated for rechargeable, but depending on type they can retain charge from a few weeks to a couple of years.

The battery weights 26 to 30 gram.



Comparison

AA%20batteries%20at%200.1A

First curve is at fairly low current. The alkaline battery lasts about 22 hours (2.2Ah at 0.1A), half the time is has higher voltage than the NiMH batteries, the rest of the time lower.
The lithium battery is the only battery that stays close to 1.5 volt and it is also the battery that delivers most energy.

AA%20batteries%20at%201A

Increasing the current to 1A is very hard on the alkaline battery, the voltage drops below the NiMH after a few minutes and continues down.
Again the lithium battery is the best, with highest voltage and most capacity, the capacity drop from 0.1A to 1A is small.



AA%20batteries%20at%203A

At 3A the alkaline battery cannot do much. NiMH works fine.
The lithium cell is also having problems, first the voltage drops, then it increase again while the cell heats.

capacity

The capacity shows how much current is in the batteries.

energy

With energy it is the product of voltage and current that is summed, a buck or boost can use this energy, i.e. it can use extra voltage for more brightness or runtime.

time

This table is just the capacity converted to time.



Conclusion

The voltage printed on the cells, does not have much relation to actual voltage when using the cell. Alkaline marked with 1.5 volt has lower voltage than NiMH marked with 1.2 volt at higher loads (Like a flashlight on high). At very low loads alkaline will be better than NiMH.
Lithium has the highest voltage in most cases and can handle high loads.



Battery reviews

AA rechargeable
Eneloop AA HR-3UTGB 1900mAh (White)
Eneloop AA HR-3UWXB 2450mAh (Black)


AA primary
Panasonic Pro Power AA
Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): http://lygte-info.dk/

Edited by: HKJ on 08/10/2013 - 11:32
HKJ
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A article more about batteries and it will be the last for now. The actual contents of this article is a bit on the light side, but I believe it is nice to have a comparison between the different chemistries.

As usual I like getting feedback, both mistakes and ideas to improve the article.

 

I plan on adding more review links, when I publish reviews for the different batteries.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): http://lygte-info.dk/

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Very cool review, thanks.

Do most alkalines have similar capacities when discharged at a very low current(0.1A)?

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HKJ
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ryansoh3 wrote:
Very cool review, thanks. Do most alkalines have similar capacities when discharged at a very low current(0.1A)?

 

Yes, alkaline are best at low current. 0.1A is not even a low current for alkaline, you need to get even lower to get maximum capacity.

 

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): http://lygte-info.dk/

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Excellent comparison HKJ. Thanks for the info!

HKJ wrote:

ryansoh3 wrote:
Very cool review, thanks. Do most alkalines have similar capacities when discharged at a very low current(0.1A)?

 

Yes, alkaline are best at low current. 0.1A is not even a low current for alkaline, you need to get even lower to get maximum capacity.

 

This may be why Alkalines are recommended over rechargeables in clocks.

Slewflash 

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Thank you! I have been wondering about this for a while. I guess as long as I can keep gettin the energizers at a huge discount I will keep using them primarily 

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leaftye wrote:

Lithium batteries are much lighter than the other two chemistries.  I take advantage of the reduced weight and higher capacity on long backpacking trips.  It’s also nice not to have to wait in trail towns for batteries to charge.  Just buy new AA’s and go.

The proper way is to carry at least 20 fully charged eneloops.

Slewflash 

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Slewflash wrote:
leaftye wrote:

Lithium batteries are much lighter than the other two chemistries.  I take advantage of the reduced weight and higher capacity on long backpacking trips.  It's also nice not to have to wait in trail towns for batteries to charge.  Just buy new AA's and go.

The proper way is to carry at least 20 fully charged eneloops.

Only when I have packers.

 

 

Naw, not even then.  The only device I use AA's now is my gps, and a set of batteries in it will last a few weeks with the way I use it.  Bringing a charger doesn't even make sense.  I'll just bring a pair of lithium AA's and start looking for a new pair after a couple weeks.  It costs more than nimh, but saves time and weight.  I've been considering getting an [AA phone](http://www.spareone.com/spareone/spareone-emergency-phone) though.  Probably not though since it's heavier and way more expensive than my burner phone.

The low mode should be lower.

Reviews: Efan IMR18350 700mAh 10.5A, <a href="http://

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It's not the first time I've been called an ass.

The low mode should be lower.

Reviews: Efan IMR18350 700mAh 10.5A, <a href="http://

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HKJ wrote:
As usual I like getting feedback, both mistakes and ideas to improve the article.

 

I plan on adding more review links, when I publish reviews for the different batteries.

Please test Nice lithium from Fasttech

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nekdo12 wrote:
Please test "Nice":http://www.fasttech.com/products/0/10001898/1136600-nice-15v-3000mah-aa-... lithium from Fasttech

I do not plan on testing a many primary batteries, they are a lot more work, even when I only test once at each current.

But I have ordered some of the NICE batteries and will probably test them.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): http://lygte-info.dk/

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HKJ wrote:

nekdo12 wrote:
Please test Nice lithium from Fasttech

I do not plan on testing a many primary batteries, they are a lot more work, even when I only test once at each current.

But I have ordered some of the NICE batteries and will probably test them.


i was going to ask for Duracell and Energizer AA battery tests, since they are the most popular name brand Alkaline.

The Journal of Alternative Facts TM

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Thanks for the review, HKJ!

Slewflash wrote:
This may be why Alkalines are recommended over rechargeables in clocks.

Don’t use Duraleaks though! (To be fair, P&G kindly reimbursed me for the damaged clock).

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Bort wrote:
i was going to ask for Duracell and Energizer AA battery tests, since they are the most popular name brand Alkaline.

Duracell is a possibility, they have been on sale lately and I got a large pile of "Plus power", but I do not know when (I have a lot of Sibeile batteries to test).

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): http://lygte-info.dk/

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HKJ wrote:

Bort wrote:
i was going to ask for Duracell and Energizer AA battery tests, since they are the most popular name brand Alkaline.

Duracell is a possibility, they have been on sale lately and I got a large pile of “Plus power”, but I do not know when (I have a lot of Sibeile batteries to test).


Thanks, i thought you may be able to settle the Duracell – Energizer rivalry by showing which is better, or if there is a difference between them at all

The Journal of Alternative Facts TM

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of alternative facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists"

 

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HKJ, awesome review and I can’t wait to read through some additional ones. This answered a lot of questions I had as to which cells are actually the best for different purposes, thank you!

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Bort wrote:
Thanks, i thought you may be able to settle the Duracell - Energizer rivalry by showing which is better, or if there is a difference between them at all

Not at the current time, also note that Duracell has multiple series of batteries, the "Plus power" is not their best battery.

tkmckay wrote:
HKJ, awesome review and I can't wait to read through some additional ones.

I will not really call this a review (Reviews will follow later), it is more of a comparison.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): http://lygte-info.dk/

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HKJ wrote:

Bort wrote:
Thanks, i thought you may be able to settle the Duracell – Energizer rivalry by showing which is better, or if there is a difference between them at all

Not at the current time, also note that Duracell has multiple series of batteries, the “Plus power” is not their best battery.

tkmckay wrote:
HKJ, awesome review and I can’t wait to read through some additional ones.

I will not really call this a review (Reviews will follow later), it is more of a comparison.


Very true, in the old days there was just the regular Duracell and Energizer

The Journal of Alternative Facts TM

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of alternative facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists"

 

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leaftye wrote:

Lithium batteries are much lighter than the other two chemistries.  I take advantage of the reduced weight and higher capacity on long backpacking trips.  It’s also nice not to have to wait in trail towns for batteries to charge.  Just buy new AA’s and go.

One problem. If you’re out hiking and encounter a small town, you may very well find that Energizer Ultimate Lithiums are not available. Whenever I’ve looked in a small town gas station or a small store in the middle of the Sierra (Things are probably the same elsewhere), about all you can get are basic alkaline AAA, AA, C and D batteries. Some stores even skip the AAA and C cells, selling only AA and D cells. In other words, I’m SURE you’ve probably been forced to use alkaleaks.

Speaking of taking time to charge NiMH batteries in small towns, ever consider a solar charger? Not sure where you hike. But at least in many of the western mountains, the powerful sunlight actually does a GREAT job charging batteries.

Without lamps, there’d be no light.

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Thanks for the very informative last couple of battery reviews. It was interesting to see the lithium battery drop from near on 1.75 volts to 1.53 volts with only .1 amp load but hold the voltage very well for the life of the cell. I bought my father some of these cells for his digital camera after using NiMH and he hasn’t gone back. They seem to last 10 times longer than anything else even though they are not cheap. Cheers.

My current and or voltage measurements are only relevent to anything that I measure.

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MRsDNF wrote:
Thanks for the very informative last couple of battery reviews. It was interesting to see the lithium battery drop from near on 1.75 volts to 1.53 volts with only .1 amp load but hold the voltage very well for the life of the cell. I bought my father some of these cells for his digital camera after using NiMH and he hasn’t gone back. They seem to last 10 times longer than anything else even though they are not cheap. Cheers.

Another possibility if higher voltages are needed is NiZn. This battery is actually quite similar to NiMH and Nicad in many of its characteristics (ie stable output voltage, high current capacity, etc). But it maintains a voltage of around 1.6V rather than 1.2V. They admittedly are not the most reliable cells in the world, and tend to develop problems like high self discharge and reduced capacity. And the high voltage can be damaging to some devices. But for applications NEEDING a hugher voltage, they can work quite well. Of course, unlike lithium primaries, they have the added benefit of being rechargeable (albeit with much lower cycle life compared to NiMH or Nicad).

Without lamps, there’d be no light.

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StorminMatt wrote:
leaftye wrote:

Lithium batteries are much lighter than the other two chemistries.  I take advantage of the reduced weight and higher capacity on long backpacking trips.  It's also nice not to have to wait in trail towns for batteries to charge.  Just buy new AA's and go.

One problem. If you're out hiking and encounter a small town, you may very well find that Energizer Ultimate Lithiums are not available. Whenever I've looked in a small town gas station or a small store in the middle of the Sierra (Things are probably the same elsewhere), about all you can get are basic alkaline AAA, AA, C and D batteries. Some stores even skip the AAA and C cells, selling only AA and D cells. In other words, I'm SURE you've probably been forced to use alkaleaks. Speaking of taking time to charge NiMH batteries in small towns, ever consider a solar charger? Not sure where you hike. But at least in many of the western mountains, the powerful sunlight actually does a GREAT job charging batteries.

I'm almost exclusively a Pacific Crest Trail hiker, and I've been through part of the Sierras.  Yeah, finding lithium AA's isn't guaranteed, but I can pass through a few trail towns before I need new ones, and I'm fine with throwing away AA's that still have juice left.

 

I'm trying to remember towns that have lithium AA's.  I'm pretty sure Mammoth and Wrightwood did.

 

If it got really tough to find, I'd just throw them in mail drops that I already use.  For those that don't know, mail drops are packages that I mail to myself at various post offices along the trail.

 

Solar sucks unless I'm camping out for a long time.  I wasn't joking about that pack train.  Aside from a couple hikes in 2010 to see if using a solar charger would fit my hiking style, the only time my solar charger has been on the trail was when I had pack support.  I'd leave the charger sitting on a boulder in camp all day.

 

Solar works better for north bound PCT hikers than on most other trails, but the weight and hassle isn't worth it even when they charge quickly.  Weight-wise it's better to carry more batteries, especially if you have a phone with a removable battery.  As far as battery use, my gps works for weeks because I only turn it on long enough to write down the coordinates and then remove the batteries to avoid parasitic drain.  My cell phone is only turned on in town, and I bring a charger to charge the battery externally because of a broken usb port.

The low mode should be lower.

Reviews: Efan IMR18350 700mAh 10.5A, <a href="http://

MRsDNF
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The secrets out leaftye. Do you have a blog or what on earth are you doing. Sounds interesting.

My current and or voltage measurements are only relevent to anything that I measure.

Budget light hobby proudly sponsored by my Mastercard and unknowingly paid for by a hard working wife. 

djozz said "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

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I always buy my AAs at Costco, their house brand alkaline AA works well, and the Eneloops are cheapest there too.

Oh, and HKJ, thanks for the reviews!!!

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I have a source for disposable Li-SOCl2 14500’s rated to 2450mAh @ 3.6v, I’m wondering if these wouldnt be good for daily use in my SC52 giving me the capacity of NiMH and the ~500lm’s like on Li-ion 14500’s (at the expense of one-time use) HKJ do you have any experience with any brand of these? If I sent you a couple could you do some tests? The brand I ran across is “ultralast”, not sure if there are others.

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Thanks HKJ, this comparison concurs with my findings, I only use Eneloops and keep the lithiums as backups due to long shelf life.

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Good read.

HKJ
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Cereal_killer wrote:
I have a source for disposable Li-SOCl2 14500's rated to 2450mAh @ 3.6v, I'm wondering if these wouldnt be good for daily use in my SC52 giving me the capacity of NiMH and the ~500lm's like on Li-ion 14500's (at the expense of one-time use) HKJ do you have any experience with any brand of these? If I sent you a couple could you do some tests? The brand I ran across is "ultralast", not sure if there are others.

I believe that these batteries can only deliver a low current, i.e. they are not good for flashlight usage.

At the current time I will not say yes to test them, I have way to many batteries in queue.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): http://lygte-info.dk/

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Guys, do lithium 1.5v AA batteries need any special charger to charge? Is Nitecore I4 suitable to charge them right?

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forgedon wrote:
Guys, do lithium 1.5v AA batteries need any special charger to charge? Is Nitecore I4 suitable to charge them right?

They are not rechargeable, you will have to buy a new battery when it is empty.

My website with reviews of many chargers and batteries (More than 1000): http://lygte-info.dk/

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Oh, I didn’t know. Thanks.

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