Buying Guide

Types of Batteries

Types of Batteries
Person adding new batteries to a remote control device.

Most batteries can be lumped into two categories: disposable and rechargeable. These basic categories contain many different types of batteries based on what a particular type of battery is made of and how it stores energy. Batteries such as alkaline, carbon zinc, lithium, lithium ion, silver oxide and sealed lead acid batteries and NiCad and NiMH batteries are all designed for different purposes and offer great benefits. For example:

Tip: Use only the size and type of batteries specified by the manufacturer of a device or choose an acceptable equivalent. 

Choose the Best Battery for Your Device
Feature/Benefits Recommended For
Alkaline - Household Batteries • May be used in many devices • May have a shelf life of 5 years or more • Lower initial cost • Suitable for both high- and low-drain devices • May be disposable or rechargeable • Rechargeable alkaline batteries have shorter run times than other types • Calculators • Cameras • Clocks • Flashlights • Games and toys • Pagers • Radios and stereos • Remote controls • Smoke detectors
Carbon Zinc - Household Batteries • Affordable • Disposable • Tend to have shorter run times • Best suited for low-drain devices • Clocks • Remote controls • Smoke detectors
Lithium Coin - Household Batteries • Good for high-drain devices • Disposable • Lighter than alkaline batteries • May have a shelf life of 10 years or more • Perform well at low temperatures • Digital cameras • Flashlights with halogen or krypton bulbs • Motorized toys • Portable TVs and music players
Lithium Ion - Household Batteries • Rechargeable • Good for high-drain devices • Lightweight • Shelf life of 10 years or more • Smart Home devices • Cell phones • Digital cameras • Laptop computers • Portable power tools • Camcorders
Ni-Cad - Power Tool Batteries • Rechargeable • Must be properly recycled • Slightly lower charge capacity • Limited shelf life • Better for infrequently used items • Work best when completely drained prior to being recharged • Cordless drills • Cordless saws • Cordless screwdrivers • Power tools
NiMH - Household Batteries • Very cost efficient • Ideal for frequently used, heavy-drain devices • Perform well at low temperatures • Interchangeable with disposable batteries of the same size • AC-power dependent • Limited shelf life • Rechargeable • Require more sophisticated chargers • Higher initial investment • Environmentally friendly • Camcorders • Cell phones • Cordless tools and appliances • Digital cameras and flash equipment • Laptop computers • Motorized remote control toys • Portable power tools
Disposable vs. Rechargeable Batteries
Rechargeable battery charger filled with batteries.

Sometimes called primary batteries, disposable household batteries are very common. They can range from coin-sized cells to large DD batteries. Rechargeable batteries require a higher upfront investment but can save money in the long run.

Disposable Batteries

  • Come fully charged and ready for use.
  • Should be discarded after power is fully drained.
  • Economical to purchase and holds charge for long periods of time when not in use.
  • Alkaline, lithium and carbon zinc types are best suited for low-drain devices.

Rechargeable Batteries

  • Can be charged hundreds of times before needing to be replaced.
  • Require a higher, up-front investment but more economical in the long run.
  • Best suited for frequently used, heavy-drain devices.
  • May require an adapter or converter for overseas use.

Tip: Look for “smart” chargers that charge batteries quickly and then slow the charge to a trickle when batteries are full to avoid overcharging.

Battery Storage and Disposal Tips
A white bucket with a recycle symbol full of used batteries.
  • Store batteries at room temperature. Excessive heat or cold makes a battery wear out faster.
  • Do not store with coins, paper clips or other metal objects because batteries may short-circuit and heat up.
  • Remove batteries from devices you don't use all the time and they will last longer.
  • Replace all batteries at the same time. 
  • Don't mix old and new batteries. This may cause them to leak or rupture.
  • Avoid mixing and matching batteries from different manufacturers in the same device.
  • Alkaline batteries such as D, C, AA, AAA and 9-volt can be disposed of in your regular trash. 
  • Make sure to prevent any fire risk by taping 9-volt terminals before tossing.  
  • NiCad batteries containing lead must be properly recycled to prevent environmental hazards.
  • Instead of tossing, consider recycling old batteries by taking them to a local battery recycling drop-off. 
  • Your local The Home Depot Store has free Call2Recycle bins that recycle rechargeable batteries.  

Tip: Not sure if the battery is recyclable? Look on the side of the battery and see if it says “Battery Must be Recycled” or if it has a recycling symbol.