A battery is an electrochemical cell (or enclosed and protected material) that can be charged electrically to provide a static potential for power or released electrical charge when needed.

A battery generally consists of an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte.

Common types of commercial batteries and some of their characteristics and advantages are summarized in the following table. Battery types not shown include the Zinc-Air, Flooded Lead Acid, and Alkaline batteries.


Battery Type Characteristics Typical Uses Advantages
Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) battery Can hold a charge for up to 3 years Backup emergency power source Inexpensive
Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd) battery Fast, even energy discharge Appliances, audio and video equipment, toys; most popular batter Relatively inexpensive; widely available
Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery Typical power capacity i1.2 V - 1200 to 1500 mAh; extended life 2300 mAh; 2.5 to 4 hours battery life Portable computers; cellular phones; same as for Ni-Cd batteries No memory effect; unused capacity remains usable
Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery Stable and safe; highest energy capacity Portable computers; cellular phones; same as for Ni-Cd batteries Twice the charge capacity of Ni-Cd; slow self-discharge
This was last updated in May 2007

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