Power up your device with the right battery
Power up your device with the right battery
Last Edited: 22/Oct/2015

With so many batteries out there, how do you know which one is right for your purpose? It really depends on the power requirements of each device. Some devices require more energy than others, and can use up a battery’s energy supply in a shorter time, while others just require a slow, steady stream of electricity. The three main types of battery you might come across are zinc, alkaline and lithium ion, and each has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Very low drain - zinc

Zinc batteries have been around for hundreds of years – literally. They provide steady but minimal output, and are perfect for low drain devices like calculators, wall clocks, radios, bedside alarm clocks, or remote controls. Anything which requires more power than these would not be suitable for a zinc battery, as the battery would be exhausted very quickly, and you’d be disappointed. Zinc batteries are also the cheapest type of battery you can buy, – lower power for lower prices.

Low/medium drain = alkaline

Commonly available, the alkaline battery is a good solution to many battery-powered gadget needs. Items which require a low to medium power source includes torches, walkie talkies, games controllers, wireless mice, electric toothbrushes, scales, toy remote controllers or laser pointers. These sorts of batteries are the sort you would expect to use daily, and as such they will last a reasonable amount of time.

High drain = lithium ion

A high drain device would be something like a carbon monoxide detector, MP3 player, microphone, or digital camera. Anything with moving parts or motors will drain a battery quickly; think of all the movements your battery has to power. For that reason, an alkaline battery probably wouldn’t last as long as you would want. Research by HP Cameras show that you’ll get about 30 pictures out of an alkaline powered camera, so if you want more than that, you’re much better off choosing a lithium battery.

If you’re not sure, here are three helpful rules:

  • If battery life is measured in months or longer, it’s a low-drain device.
  • If battery life is measured in days, it’s a medium-drain device.
  • If battery life is measured in minutes or hours, it’s a high-drain device.