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Battery Types & Specifications

Periodic Table of the Elements Mouse Pad - RF CafeValues given for size and weight are typical of indicated batteries. Charge and discharge characteristics are quite distinct for each chemistry, so links to applications notes are provided above for most types. I wrote an article on my experience with Li-Po batteries that you might be interested in reading.

There are two categories of battery cells, Primary Cells and Secondary Cells. Here is the basic difference:

Primary Cells are not rechargeable (disposable). Secondary Cells are rechargeable.

Worthy of note is the newest battery chemistry on the commercial market: Lithium Manganese (LiMn). This battery has all the advantages of LiPo and LiIon, only without the sensitivity to overcharging and heating that causes explosions. As you might expect, LiMn cells and battery packs are even more expensive that the already overpriced LiPo and LiIon varieties. I keep expecting prices to reduce as more and more consumer products use them, but as with printer ink cartridges, there does not seems to be any relief in sight.

(2005 data) NiCad NiMH Lead Acid Li-Ion Li-Polymer Rechargeable


Gravimetric Energy Density (Wh/kg) 45 - 80 60 - 120 30 - 50 110 - 160 100 - 150 80 (initial)
Internal Resistance  (mΩ)

(includes peripheral circuits)

100 - 200

6V pack

200 - 300

6V pack


12V pack

150 - 250

7.2V pack

200 - 300

7.2V pack

200 - 2000

6V pack

Cycle Life (to 80% of initial capacity) 1500 300 - 500 200 - 300 500 - 1000 300 - 500 50

(to 50%)

Fast Charge Time 1h typical 2-4h 8-16h 2-4h 2-4h 2-3h
Overcharge Tolerance moderate low high very low low moderate
Self-discharge / Month (room temp) 20% 30% 5% 10% 10% 0.3%
Cell Voltage


1.25V 1.25V 2V 3.6V 3.6V 1.5V
Load Current*

  -    peak

  -    best result




0.5C or less




5C or less


5C or less


0.2C or less

Operating Temperature -40 - 60°C -20 - 60°C -20 - 60°C -20 - 60°C 0 - 60°C 0 - 65°C
Maintenance Requirement 30 - 60 days 60 - 90 days 3 - 6 months not req. not req. not req.
Typical Battery Cost 5.0












Introduction 1950 1990 1970 1991 1999 1992

* "C" is a unit that specifies the peak current supply capability of the battery. Multiply the mAh rating by the "C" value to arrive at

   the peak current. For example a 1000 mAh battery with a 20C rating can supply a peak current of 20,000 mA = 20 A.

Physical Specifications of Common Cells
Type Size Dimensions






Li-Ion   Variable   3.7
NiCad AA 0.57 x 1.99   1.20
NiMH AA 0.57 x 1.99   1.25
Li-Polymer   Variable   3.7
Carbon Zinc D 1.34 x 2.42 3.07 1.5
Zinc Chloride D 1.34 x 2.42 3.74 1.5
Alkaline D 1.34 x 2.42 4.50 1.5
NiCad D 1.34 x 2.42 5.30 1.25
Carbon Zinc C 1.02 x 1.97 1.59 1.5
Zinc Chloride C 1.02 x 1.97 1.80 1.5
Alkaline C 1.02 x 1.97 2.20 1.5
NiCad C 1.02 x 1.97 2.50 1.25
Carbon Zinc AA 0.57 x 1.99 0.53 1.5
Zinc Chloride AA 0.57 x 1.99 0.71 1.5
Alkaline AA 0.57 x 1.99 0.75 1.5
NiCad AA 0.57 x 1.99 0.85 1.25
Zinc Chloride AAA 0.41 x 1.75 0.32 1.5
Alkaline AAA 0.41 x 1.75 0.40 1.5
Zinc Chloride N 0.47 x 1.18 0.23 1.5
Carbon Zinc 9V 1.03 x 1.94 x .69 1.31 9.0
Zinc Chloride 9V 1.03 x 1.94 x .69 1.36 9.0
Alkaline 9V 1.03 x 1.94 x .69 1.59 9.0
NiCad 9V 1.03 x 1.94 x .69 1.25 9.0
Lead Acid 12V Variable    

Related Pages on RF Cafe:

- Battery Drawings

- Battery Vendors

- Li-Po or Li-Poly Battery Characteristics

- Inside a 9-Volt Battery

- How Many AA Batteries Would to Take to Power a Human?

- Ray-O-Vac Ad, August 25, 1945, Saturday Evening Post

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    Kirt Blattenberger,


RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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