Alkaline vs Lithium

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
Depends on the use. If the device is a high draw like a light alkaline is the choice because they can supply high current over a period of time. However, for low current draw devices like smoke detectors and your multimeter lithium is the choice. They can supply a steady low current for up to their shelf life of seven years.

Keep in mind also that lithiums rarely if ever leak so I like to use them in high value test equipment that I never remember to check the batteries in.

-Hal
 

tom baker

First Chief Moderator
Staff member
Speaking of leaking batteries, every device I had the Costco Kirkland brand batteries in, those batteries had leaked. Good tip on lithium. AAA, C and D never leak,AA are the most common, and more likely to leak. 🙁
 
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synchro

Senior Member
Location
Chicago, IL
Occupation
EE
I and many of my acquaintances have experienced leakage from Duracell alkalines, bad enough that we avoid them like the plague.
Maybe I've just been lucky with other brands, but I've never had them leak.
I guess that's the reason they don't call them "dry cell" batteries like the old carbon-zinc ones. ;)
 

suemarkp

Senior Member
Location
Kent, WA
Occupation
Retired Engineer
They must have taken something useful out of batteries now, perhaps mercury? Used to be Duracells never leaked. Now, they all seem to, whether its Duracell, Kirkland (rebadged Duracell), EverReady, ...
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
Depends on the use. If the device is a high draw like a light alkaline is the choice because they can supply high current over a period of time. However, for low current draw devices like smoke detectors and your multimeter lithium is the choice. They can supply a steady low current for up to their shelf life of seven years.

Keep in mind also that lithiums rarely if ever leak so I like to use them in high value test equipment that I never remember to check the batteries in.

-Hal
I have heard that Li batteries have a relatively steep voltage roll-off curve. This may cause a device's low battery warning light to provide a very reduced window of opportunity to replace the batteries before they go dead, especially since they already have a lower operating voltage than alkalines.
 

synchro

Senior Member
Location
Chicago, IL
Occupation
EE
They must have taken something useful out of batteries now, perhaps mercury? Used to be Duracells never leaked. Now, they all seem to, whether its Duracell, Kirkland (rebadged Duracell), EverReady, ...

They used to be domestically manufactured, and so that might be a factor in why they were better in the past.
 

ggunn

PE (Electrical), NABCEP certified
Location
Austin, TX, USA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer - Photovoltaic Systems
I have heard that Li batteries have a relatively steep voltage roll-off curve.
This is true, at least for the Li ion battery things I have. They run full speed until the last 20 seconds or so before they crap out. I barely have time to notice the drop in performance before they stop completely.
 

texie

Senior Member
Location
Fort Collins, Colorado
Occupation
Electrician, Contractor, Inspector
I'm in the camp that uses only lithium batteries where they are OK as I have had to much issue with leaking alkaline batteries. Even Duracells leak.
 

ggunn

PE (Electrical), NABCEP certified
Location
Austin, TX, USA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer - Photovoltaic Systems
This is true, at least for the Li ion battery things I have. They run full speed until the last 20 seconds or so before they crap out. I barely have time to notice the drop in performance before they stop completely.
Several times I have had a half shaved face for a while until my shaver got enough of a charge for me to finish. :D
 

synchro

Senior Member
Location
Chicago, IL
Occupation
EE
Speaking of which, have you ever noticed that the outer case of alkaline batteries is the positive terminal?

I did notice that some time ago, but thanks for reminding me of that. It's interesting that the alkaline cell construction is kind of inside-out from that of the old cylindrical zinc-carbon dry cells. In alkaline cells the zinc anode is in the center, while in dry cells the zinc anode is the can on the outside.

When we were kids we used to take apart old dry cells to get the zinc and carbon rod out of them. You could put the zinc in muriatic acid to get hydrogen for experiments. We found that Burgess dry cells had a lot of zinc left after they were worn out. But Eveready cells had very little zinc left in them. Maybe that's why Burgess went out of business and Eveready is still around. ;)
The carbon rods could be used for doing electrolysis to get hydrogen and oxygen from water (and also chlorine if you put table salt into the water). The powdery black stuff inside of dry cells was manganese dioxide, and if you put some of it into hydrogen peroxide it would generate oxygen.
 
Location
United kingdom
Occupation
Builder
I did notice that some time ago, but thanks for reminding me of that. It's interesting that the alkaline cell construction is kind of inside-out from that of the old cylindrical zinc-carbon dry cells. In alkaline cells the zinc anode is in the center, while in dry cells the zinc anode is the can on the outside.

When we were kids we used to take apart old dry cells to get the zinc and carbon rod out of them. You could put the zinc in muriatic acid to get hydrogen for experiments. We found that Burgess dry cells had a lot of zinc left after they were worn out. But Eveready cells had very little zinc left in them. Maybe that's why Burgess went out of business and Eveready is still around. ;)
The carbon rods could be used for doing electrolysis to get hydrogen and oxygen from water (and also chlorine if you put table salt into the water). The powdery black stuff inside of dry cells was manganese dioxide, and if you put some of it into hydrogen peroxide it would generate oxygen.
I want to add my points in this debate that the alkaline batteries we use today made their debut in 1959. By the mid-1980s, they had surpassed zinc-carbon batteries as the most popular battery chemistries. Since their introduction billions [probably trillions] of units have been consumed in every part of the world. As far back as 2009, there were an estimated 50 billion alkaline battery units in circulation, amounting to an average of between 7 to 8 units per individual each year. Today, the alkaline battery market is a multi-billion-dollar industry projected to grow further in the future. This success, even in the face of competition from other battery chemistries is due to some distinct properties of the alkaline chemistry. There are a few factors behind its popularity among others such as high energy density, cost-effectiveness, lower temperatures, longer shelf life, design improvements, suitable for potting, can be connected serially, and easy to dispose of. It was a short alkaline battery overview by me, you may disagree with it. Thanks!
 

Phoenix8

Member
Location
New York
Occupation
engineer
Lithium, an exceedingly mild metallic, offers lithium batteries the very best electricity density of any battery mobile. therefore, they could shop greater power than alkaline batteries or any single-use battery of a comparable length. And they're top notch performers in severe temperatures, each hot and cold.Lithium batteries, in preference to alkaline, are capable of giving off a sturdy electricity surge after a long duration of low discharge. This makes them ideal for hearth alarms. Alkaline batteries provide desirable, lengthy-time period power, however they lose energy over time.
 

retirede

Senior Member
Location
Illinois
Lithium, an exceedingly mild metallic, offers lithium batteries the very best electricity density of any battery mobile. therefore, they could shop greater power than alkaline batteries or any single-use battery of a comparable length. And they're top notch performers in severe temperatures[*URL='https://myhomewatertreatment.com/blog/can-pregnant-women-drink-alkaline-water/'],[/URL] each hot and cold.Lithium batteries, in preference to alkaline, are capable of giving off a sturdy electricity surge after a long duration of low discharge. This makes them ideal for hearth alarms[*URL='https://myhomewatertreatment.com/blog/can-pregnant-women-drink-alkaline-water/'].[/URL] Alkaline batteries provide desirable, lengthy-time period power, however they lose energy over time.

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