Go cord-free and ensure long life to your appliances with the proper batteries

Batteries come in all shapes and sizes that range from tiny watch batteries to enormous car batteries. It is important to choose the right type of battery for the object it will be powering. This guide will explain the features and benefits of different types of batteries.

Tip: Use only the size and type of batteries specified by the manufacturer of a device. Avoid mixing and matching batteries from different manufacturers in the same device. 

Battery Types

Alkaline, carbon zinc, lithium, lithium ion, NiCad and NiMH batteries are all designed for different purposes.  

Type Features Uses


  • 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

  • Generally have the lowest initial cost
  • Disposable
  • Tend to have shorter run times
  • Best suited for low-drain devices
  • Clocks
  • Remote controls
  • Smoke detectors


  • Well suited for high-drain devices
  • Disposable
  • Lighter than alkaline batteries
  • May have a shelf life of 10 years or more
  • Perform well at low temperatures
  • Cell phone backup power
  • Digital cameras
  • Halogen- and krypton-bulb
  • Motorized toys
  • Portable TVs and music

Lithium Ion

  • Rechargeable
  • Longer shelf life than other rechargeable batteries
  • More expensive
  • Provide higher energy capacity
  • Require more sophisticated chargers
  • May be more sensitive to overcharging
  • Very lightweight
  • Camcorders
  • Cell phones
  • Digital cameras
  • Laptop computers
  • Portable power tools
  • Portable televisions


  • Rechargeable
  • Must be properly recycled
  • May have a slightly lower charge capacity
  • Limited shelf life
  • Better for infrequently used items
  • Work best when completely discharged prior to being
  • Camcorders
  • Cell phones
  • Electric razors
  • Laptop computers


  • Highly 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 purchase price
  • More environmentally friendly
  • Camcorders
  • Cell phones
  • Cordless tools and appliances
  • Digital cameras and flash
  • Laptop computers
  • Motorized remote control toys
  • Portable power tools

Disposable vs. Rechargeable Batteries

Choose between standard disposable batteries that will eventually need to be thrown away and replaced and eco-friendly rechargeable batteries that have a slightly higher up-front cost.

Disposable (Primary) 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.
  • Three most common types are alkaline, lithium and carbon zinc or “heavy duty” which are best suited for low-drain devices.

Rechargeable Batteries

  • Can be charged hundreds of times before needing to be replaced.
  • Usually have a higher up-front cost and require the purchase of a charger, but is a more economical option in the long run.
  • Best suited for frequently used, heavy-drain devices.
  • Look for “smart” chargers that charge batteries quickly and then slow the charge to a trickle when batteries are full to avoid overcharging.
  • Remember on overseas trips you may need an adapter or converter to ensure proper use of rechargeable batteries.

Storage & Disposal

All batteries will gradually lose their charge over time. Excessive heat or cold speeds this up so store at room temperature. Remove batteries from objects that you won’t be using for a long period of time to help preserve their charge.  


  • Do not store with coins, paper clips or other metal objects because batteries may short-circuit and heat up.
  • Replace all batteries at the same time. Mixing old and new batteries may cause them to leak or rupture.


  • Alkaline batteries can be safely disposed of with household waste.
  • NiCad batteries containing lead must be properly recycled to prevent environmental hazards.
  • Recycle old batteries by taking them to a local battery recycling drop-off.