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Overview of Common Battery Types and Their Purposes

Published: 2019-06-16
Author: Disabled World | Contact:
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A

Synopsis: List of various types of batteries includes the main purpose they were designed for, and whether a specific battery type will be suitable for your application. Flooded lead-acid batteries contain an electrolyte that is free to move around in the battery encasement. The lead acid battery is the preferred choice for hospital equipment, wheelchairs, emergency lighting and UPS systems.


Main Digest

Today, there are a multitude of different battery technologies available which can result in confusion when trying to decide which type of battery your device requires, which battery is best for the application, which battery will last longer over it's lifetime, how long will the batteries take to charge etc.

This article is part our digest of 7 publications relating to Accessories and Parts that include:

A good rule of thumb to remember when choosing a suitable battery type for your device or vehicle - design and quality make a lot of difference. When a battery is intended to last for years, choosing the highest quality battery currently available for the purpose you require can significantly reduce the total maintenance costs over the lifetime of the device.

Types of Batteries

Assortment of AA and AAA Alkaline batteries as used in household items such as toys, electronics etc.
Assortment of AA and AAA Alkaline batteries as used in household items such as toys, electronics etc.

There are four main types of batteries currently available.

Batteries can also be further classified into three broad sectors:

General Types of Batteries

Alkaline Batteries

Alkaline batteries, such as the common AA, AAA sizes, are used in toys, electronics etc. Alkaline Batteries are popular due to their low self-discharge rate, a long shelf life, and don't contain toxic heavy metals like lead or cadmium.

Flooded Lead-Acid Batteries

Flooded lead-acid batteries contain an electrolyte that is free to move around in the battery encasement. When charged, the battery acid and lead plates react to store electricity. These batteries are meant to be mounted upright so that the electrolyte does not leak out of the caps on top. While this is the most economic battery on the market, it will only reach its potential lifespan if they are maintained properly. The levels must be checked monthly and topped off with distilled water to ensure the longest possible lifespan.

Sealed Lead-Acid Batteries

Sometimes referred to as VRLA (valve regulated lead-acid) batteries, because they have a small valve to allow for the escape of the gasses that occur during charging. These sealed lead-acid batteries are very similar to the flooded version, but there is no access to the inside compartment. This means that you do not have to add distilled water. The electrolyte is sealed inside, and there is enough to allow the battery to live out a calculated number of cycles. Most economical for larger power applications where weight is of little concern. The lead acid battery is the preferred choice for hospital equipment, electric wheelchairs and mobility scooter batteries, emergency lighting and UPS systems.

Gel Batteries

Gel batteries are another VRLA battery very much like Absorbent Glass Mat batteries, but they use a thick paste rather than fiberglass mat. The main difference between gel and AGM batteries is the charge rates - AGM batteries can handle higher charge and discharge rates than gel batteries.

Gel batteries are the most costly of the VRLA batteries, but excellent candidates for projects that need a very slow deep discharge. They also last longer in hotter temperatures, so you might pick them if you are concerned about high ambient temperatures in the space where the batteries are enclosed.

Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) Batteries

Absorbent Glass Mat batteries are the most popular VRLA (valve regulated lead-acid) battery because they can work in a wide range of conditions. The electrolyte is suspended in a thin fiberglass mat that is situated between the lead plates. This allows the battery to be resistant to vibration.

AGM batteries are more expensive than flooded lead-acid batteries, and they do not last quite as long. These batteries are perfect for mobile applications, places where leaked acid would be problematic, remote locations where maintenance will not be possible on a regular basis, and places where the batteries could be subject to extremely cold temperatures. Absorbent Glass Mat batteries can be mounted in any orientation - even on their sides.

Lithium Batteries

Lithium is a premium battery technology with a longer lifespan and higher efficiency. The best lithium batteries are the Lithium Iron Phosphate, shorted to LiFePO4 or LFP batteries. This new technology lasts longer and can be put through deeper cycles and requires no maintenance or venting, unlike lead-acid batteries. Lithium batteries may cost more initially, but the extra efficiency means you can potentially spend less per kilowatt-hour of capacity over the lifespan of the battery.

Nickel Cadmium (NiCd)

The NiCd is used where long life, high discharge rate and economical price are important. Main applications are two-way radios, biomedical equipment, professional video cameras and power tools. The NiCd contains toxic metals and is environmentally unfriendly.

Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH)

Has a higher energy density compared to the NiCd at the expense of reduced cycle life. NiMH contains no toxic metals. The active components of a rechargeable NiMH battery in the charged state consist of nickel hydroxide (NiOOH) in the positive electrode and a hydrogen storing metal alloy (MH) in the negative electrode as well as a potassium hydroxide (KOH) electrolyte. Applications include mobile phones and laptop computers. Compared to rechargeable NiCd batteries, NiMH batteries have a higher energy density per volume and weight.


Lithium-sulphur batteries have the potential to be a much less costly alternative to current lithium-ion options, as sulphur is both cheap, and abundant.

Redox Flow

A redox flow battery does not use reactive electrodes. Instead, redox flow batteries uses the electrolyte solution to transfer electrons that create the current. The battery still has an anode side and a cathode side but, instead of the metal electrodes that give up and accept electrons, it has two tanks full of electrolyte solutions, where the active chemicals are dissolved. As redox flow batteries don't have solid electrodes, they don't degrade over time like rechargable battery types. Thus they have very long lives, and are particularly suitable for solar or wind farm use.


Developed at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Ultrabattery ( is a souped-up version of a lead-acid battery. The Australian designed Ultrabattery combines standard lead-acid battery technology with a supercapacitor. The UltraBattery is also comparatively cheap to make, around 70% cheaper than the lithium-ion batteries currently in use in hybrid electric cars.

List of Current Notable Battery Types
Primary Cells (Non-rechargeable)Secondary Cells (Rechargeable)
Alkaline battery (zinc manganese oxide, carbon)
Aluminium-air battery
Atomic battery
Optoelectric nuclear battery
Nuclear micro-battery
Bunsen cell
Chromic acid cell (Poggendorff cell)
Clark cell
Daniell cell
Dry cell
Earth battery
Frog battery
Galvanic cell
Grove cell
Leclanché cell
Lemon/potato battery
Lithium battery
Lithium air battery
Magnesium battery
Mercury battery
Molten salt battery
Nickel oxyhydroxide battery
Oxyride battery
Organic radical battery
Paper battery
Pulvermacher's chain
Silver-oxide battery
Solid-state battery
Sugar battery
Voltaic pile
Penny battery
Trough battery
Water-activated battery
Weston cell
Zinc-air battery
Zinc-carbon battery
Zinc chloride battery
Aluminium-ion battery
Carbon Battery
Single Carbon Battery
Dual carbon battery
Flow battery
Vanadium redox battery
Zinc-bromine battery
Zinc-cerium battery
Lead-acid battery
Deep cycle battery
VRLA battery
AGM battery
Gel battery
Glass battery
Lithium-ion battery
Lithium ion lithium cobalt oxide battery (ICR)
Lithium ion manganese oxide battery (IMR)
Lithium ion polymer battery
Lithium iron phosphate battery
Lithium-sulfur battery
Lithium-titanate battery
Thin film lithium-ion battery
Lithium ceramic battery
Magnesium-ion battery
Metal-air electrochemical cells
Lithium air battery
Aluminium-air battery
Germanium air battery
Calcium air battery
Iron air battery
Potassium-ion battery
Silicon-air battery
Zinc-air battery
Tin air battery
Sodium-air battery
Beryllium air battery
Molten salt battery
Nickel-cadmium battery
Nickel-cadmium battery vented cell type
Nickel hydrogen battery
Nickel-iron battery
Nickel metal hydride battery
Low self-discharge NiMH battery
Nickel-zinc battery
Organic radical battery
Polymer-based battery
Polysulfide bromide battery
Potassium-ion battery
Rechargeable alkaline battery
Rechargeable fuel battery
Sand battery
Silicon air battery
Silver-zinc battery
Silver calcium battery
Silver-cadmium battery
Sodium-ion battery
Sodium-sulfur battery
Solid-state battery
Super iron battery
Zinc ion battery


Maintaining Mobility Scooter Batteries. Taking care of a mobility scooter battery is essential to maintain its performance in terms of speed and distance per charge.

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Cite This Page (APA): Disabled World. (2019, June 16). Overview of Common Battery Types and Their Purposes. Disabled World. Retrieved August 10, 2022 from

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