The nickel cadmium battery has long been the standard battery, for both disposable as well as rechargeable battery use. Over the last decade we’ve seen the standard nickel cadmium joined by nickel metal-hydride and then more recently the lithium batteries, but are these cutting edge batteries really worth the steep prices?
Of course there are various applications and various markets and battery prices, but across the board at this point in time, lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries cost anywhere from two to three times as much or more than any other types of batteries.
As battery technology and design continues to improve there are steady increases in charge capacity and length of charge viability. The nickel metal hydride battery showed noticeable improvements as far as overall charge quality is concerned.
One of the aims of the nickel metal hydride battery was also to overcome the disadvantage of nickel cadmium batteries where charge capacity becomes significantly diminished over time. While I believe this to have been accomplished, I do think that capacity is affected over time, but nearly as much as with nickel cadmium batteries.
The lithium ion battery is supposed to be a whole new strata of success in that it is impervious to the memory effect that decreases charge capacity over time. It holds a much higher density charge for much longer periods of time. Even power vampires like digital cameras can run for two to three times as long on a lithium ion battery.
But do lithium ion batteries always last two to three times as long? No. Depending on the device and usage habits, there are situations where a lithium ion battery will not last much longer than a nickel metal hydride battery.
For power hungry and frequently used devices like laptops, video game systems, media players and cell phones, you probably will notice the extended use time of a lithium ion battery, but for low demand devices or ones you don’t use that often I doubt that the difference would be worth the heftier price.
In fact, a lot of experimentation and research has shown that the charger we use can have more to do with overall rechargeable battery performance than the type of battery we choose. So it’s worth doing a little research on the current models of battery chargers before investing in a whole new type of battery and accessories.