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Are All Batteries the Same? The Difference Between Lithium-Ion, Nickel Metal Hydride and Nickel Cadmium Batteries?

Ever since battery operated electronic gadgets began appearing in ultra-portable sizes, their use has resulted in batteries becoming a permanent part of consumer's lives. And much like the different types and varieties of electronic devices, not all batteries are the same. In fact, there is a good chance that the average home has devices powered by lithium-ion batteries, nickel cadmium batteries and nickel metal hydride batteries. Determining which battery type to choose as a replacement is often confusing, since different batteries may power similar gadgets. Knowing the differences between these battery types is important, as they are not interchangeable in electronic devices.

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) Battery Features

NiMH batteries are energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. This type of battery is commonly used in devices such as: • Digital CamerasLaptop Computers • GPS units • MP3 players

The big advantage of NiMH batteries is that you get a lot of recharging uses, however Energizer notes that NiMH batteries have a high self-discharge rate when not in use. Additionally, the average lifespan of a NiMH battery is between two and five years. Despite the self-discharge rate, NiMH batteries offer a good value for the money as they recharge quickly and recycling options are available for them.

Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) Battery Features

Though the nickel cadmium battery looks a lot like the NiMH battery, it has a smaller capacity. Even more so, if not fully discharged before charging, the NiCd battery will offer reduced power time. Fortunately, several full discharge and recharge cycles fix this memory effect issue. This battery type is commonly used in:

• portable garden tools • men's shavers • electronic toothbrushes • calculators • tape recorders

According to Energizer, this battery type can take more physical and electrical abuse than any other type and still function properly. The average life span for a nickel cadmium battery is between three and five years.

Lithium-Ion Battery Features

Lithium ion batteries usually have a higher cost than NiMH or NiCd batteries, however they offer more to consumers. Lithium-ion batteries don't suffer from memory effect issues, and instead give a full charge each and every time. Additionally, this type of battery is more lightweight and has a longer life span than the NiMH and NiCd batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries are commonly seen in consumer electronics such as:

Laptop Computers Video Cameras Digital CamerasCell Phones

Of the three types, this battery is more eco-friendly as it contains lithium metallic oxide and carbon material as opposed to more environmentally toxic substances like cadmium.

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