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NiCad vs NiMH Batteries

Both NiCad and NiMH batteries are popular rechargeable battery options, but they feature certain differences that you should know when deciding which to use. The key differences between these batteries involve memory effect, capacity, and eco-friendliness, which could influence your decision. The following details the specific features of each type of battery and how they differ from one another.

NiCad Batteries

Nickel-cadmium (NiCad or NiCD) batteries are a useful solution for many applications. They consist of a nickel(III) oxide-hydroxide positive electrode plate, a potassium hydroxide electrolyte, a cadmium negative electrode plate, and a separator. In 1899, a Swedish scientist developed the first NiCad battery, and many developments have since made these batteries more efficient and durable over the years.

Benefits of NiCad Batteries

NiCad batteries offer several advantages that make them suitable for many applications. These batteries are:

  • Inexpensive
  • Quick to charge
  • Easy to store and ship
  • Capable of handling a high number of chargers
  • Functional in low temperatures

These batteries are capable of withstanding high-rate discharge applications and are often used in medical equipment, electric razors, toys, two-way radios, emergency lighting, power tools, and a variety of commercial and industrial products.

While these batteries offer plenty of benefits, they also come with certain disadvantages. NiCad batteries aren’t as powerful as NiMH and other rechargeable batteries. They also have a tendency to self-discharge when stored. In addition, they contain certain toxic chemicals that make them less eco-friendly compared to other rechargeable batteries. However, many applications rely on them because of their convenience, affordability, amp-load capabilities, and ability to withstand extreme temperatures.

NiMH Batteries

The Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery entered the scene much more recently than its NiCad counterpart. After 20 years of research and development, the NiMH battery was completed in 1987.   These batteries consist of a nickel hydroxide positive electrode plate, a hydrogen ion negative electrode plate, potassium hydroxide or another alkaline electrolyte, and a separator. NiMH batteries feature a higher capacity than NiCad batteries, enabling them to hold a charge for longer. Additionally, they are more environmentally friendly and they don’t experience the same memory effect as NiCad batteries, which means they continue to achieve a full charge with each use.

Benefits of NiMH Batteries

NiMH batteries come with several advantages, including:

  • A higher capacity compared to NiCad and other rechargeable batteries
  • Resistance to over-charging and over-discharging
  • Lightweight construction
  • Environmentally friendly

These benefits make NiMH batteries popular for many applications — specifically for consumer products. NiMH batteries are frequently used in medical instruments, cell phones, automotive batteries, digital cameras and camcorders, pagers, and electric toothbrushes.

Like NiCad batteries, NiMH batteries come with some drawbacks. They’re more expensive than NiCad and other rechargeable batteries, and they have a tendency to cut power suddenly as opposed to gradually. Like NiCad batteries, they are prone to rapid self-discharge when stored, and some are compatible only with the manufacturer’s charger. Despite these disadvantages, their increased capacity, light weight, and environmentally friendly design make these batteries among the most popular.

Reliable Rechargeable NiCad and NiMH Batteries from EVS Supply

Keeping the differences between NiCD and NiMH batteries in mind, you can make the right choice for your application. Both batteries offer numerous advantages that other rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries don’t offer. EVS Supply carries a wide selection of both rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, including high-quality NiCad and NiMH batteries. Some of the leading brands we sell include FDK, Panasonic, PowerEx, SAFT, Vinnic, and Varta.

For more information about our selection of batteries, including custom batteries that meet unique application requirements, contact us today to learn more and request a quote for any of our products. 

Alkaline vs. Lithium Batteries

When it comes to portable energy, batteries help make the world go round. The two most common battery types—alkaline and lithium—have some critical differences that make each better suited to specific situations. Before buying batteries, it helps to understand these variables so that you can make the right choice for your needs. This page will break down these batteries, how they function, the advantages that they bring, and their ideal application scenarios.

 Lithium Batteries – An Overview

A gray lithium battery

All batteries, including lithium models, use an anode (negative terminal), cathode (positive terminal), electrolyte (conductive material), and a separator to keep the two electrodes apart. When the battery operates, charged lithium ions move from anode to cathode. This transfer generates electricity until all the ions have moved from one side to the other. When charging a lithium battery, the ions return to the anode for reuse.

Features and Benefits of Lithium Batteries

  • Reusability. Unlike most alkaline batteries, lithium products can be charged and reused. These batteries typically have a shelf life of two to three years, regardless of how often they’re used.
  • Consistent output. Since the lithium ions can move back and forth between both electrodes, these batteries don’t lose voltage as they work. While older models can be less efficient, the electrical output should be the same whether the battery is fully charged or nearly empty.
  • Customizable. While alkaline batteries come in standard sizes, lithium batteries can be built to fit different needs. For example, a compact model may work well in a digital camera, while a large piece of portable medical equipment requires a larger battery solution.

When to Use Lithium Batteries

Because of their consistent output, lithium batteries work best in applications where a loss of power is unacceptable. Some examples of products that benefit the most from lithium batteries include:

  • Medical equipment
  • Cameras and photography
  • Wireless outdoor machinery
  • Radio and communication devices

Alkaline Batteries – An Overview

Alkaline batteries work the same as lithium models, but they only transfer ions in one direction. As ions move from the anode to the cathode, the battery will lose voltage as it drains, and the system can’t be recharged. Most standard alkaline batteries use zinc for the anode and manganese dioxide as the cathode. Other varieties, such as those made from nickel and cadmium, are rechargeable, though not as reliably as lithium.

Features and Benefits of Alkaline Batteries

  • Recyclable. Lithium-ion batteries have an exceptionally difficult recycling process, and many recycling centers don’t participate. Alkaline batteries are much easier to recycle.
  • Cost-effective. Because alkaline batteries are mostly single-use items and utilize cheap materials, they cost significantly less than lithium batteries.
  • Lower fire hazard. Where lithium batteries pose a fire hazard when damaged, alkaline batteries have a very low fire risk.

White gold and black realistic alkaline battery set, different types isolated on white background

When to Use Alkaline Batteries

Overall, alkaline batteries work best for items that don’t need a consistent voltage for extended periods. Some examples of ideal products for alkaline batteries include:

  • Consumer Electronics (i.e., flashlights, remote controls, etc.)
  • Wireless microphones
  • Smoke alarms

Get Your Batteries From EVS Supply

Whether you need alkaline or lithium batteries, make sure that you buy them from a reliable supplier. EVS Supply distributes both types of batteries and much more. We can also custom-build batteries to suit your specific needs. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.