Lithium vs Alkaline Battery – Which is Best?

Lithium vs alkaline battery – Which battery to use? This question will be there in the minds of most people who are looking to select between these two batteries. It is essential to understand the differences between lithium and alkaline cells. It will help you pick the right battery.

Let us get started.


1. Cost Factor

When you decide any product, you want the cost to be kept as low as possible. So, the battery cost is an important parameter to consider. The alkaline battery costs less than a lithium battery. But you must not only compare the price of the battery alone. There are other costs also. It includes operational costs and maintenance costs.

Lithium vs Alkaline Battery -1
Lithium vs Alkaline Battery -1

When you use an alkaline battery instead of a lithium battery on your device, you will have to replace the battery soon if the power consumption of the device is more. Thus, you will end up paying more for the replacement batteries.


2. Battery Size and Weight

The alkaline battery weighs more than the lithium battery. It is almost 30 percent lower than the alkaline one.


3. Difference in Battery Chemistry

The construction and the chemistry of alkaline and lithium battery are completely different. If you take the case of an alkaline battery, it is made up of a mixture of zinc, graphite, plastic, and paper. It uses a Zinc anode and Magnesium oxide cathode. The electrolyte is potassium hydroxide. In recent designs, some amount of carbon is also mixed with the Magnesium oxide cathode.

Lithium vs Alkaline Battery -2
Lithium vs Alkaline Battery -2

If you take the case of a lithium battery, it consists of 4 parts. The cathode is made up of lithium. The anode is made of graphite. Here, the electrolyte consists of a solvent that is filled with salts of lithium. There will be separators made of plastic and polyethylene.


4. Size Customization

Certain applications demand custom battery sizes. Alkaline batteries are available only in standard sizes. You will not be able to get it in a customized size. One main advantage of the lithium battery is the customization of size. You can get lithium batteries in different size variations. So, lithium battery wins when it comes to the size customization factor.


5. Lifespan

Most applications demand batteries with a long lifespan. It will ensure that you don’t have to change the batteries very often. The lithium batteries come with a very long lifespan if you compare with alkaline ones So, if you are looking for a battery with a long lifespan, go with the lithium battery.

Lithium vs Alkaline Battery -3
Lithium vs Alkaline Battery -3

You can get an alkaline battery for around 300 cycles, typically. In the case of lithium batteries, it can go up to 4000 cycles. There will be some amount of power drop happening on a daily basis in the case of the alkaline batteries. Also, the capacity deteriorates if you don’t put it to use.


6. Output Consistency

Consistency of the output power is another factor that you need to consider. Thus, the output voltage of the battery remains constant for a lithium battery. There can be output consistency issues with the alkaline battery because of its cell chemistry.


7. Recyclability

It is easy to recycle alkaline batteries. But recycling lithium batteries is a complicated procedure. So, most of the recycling centres accept alkaline batteries than lithium batteries. If you are looking for a recyclability feature, alkaline will be a better choice.

Lithium vs Alkaline Battery -4
Lithium vs Alkaline Battery -4


8. Battery Operating Temperature

If you are looking for a battery that needs to work in cold temperature conditions, you must select the battery carefully. If you take the performance of alkaline battery in cold conditions, it is not up to the mark. It is due to the chemical reactions that occur inside an alkaline battery. It will slow down at cold temperatures. But the performance of lithium ones are far better in cold temperature conditions. The performance will be good only up to the specified limit by the manufacturer. The performance of the lithium battery is good, up to -20 degrees Celsius.

The lithium battery performance is satisfactory in hot conditions. It is one of the main reasons why outdoor applications prefer lithium batteries over alkaline batteries. The typical working temperature range of a lithium battery is from -20 to 60 degrees Celsius. You must always check the lithium battery manufacturer’s specifications to know the exact temperature limits of your battery model. If you make the battery operate beyond this range, there will be a huge impact on the performance of the battery.


9. Voltage Levels of the Battery

Another important parameter that you must check is the working voltage of the battery. The working voltage of an alkaline cell is 1.5 volts per cell. The working voltage of the lithium battery is in the range of 1.5 V to 3.0 V.

Lithium battery is always the best choice when your device demand bigger voltage levels. You can also connect lithium battery backs in series to get higher voltage levels. If you try to do the same with alkaline batteries, you will need lots of alkaline cells. It will eat up lots of space in the application.


10. Recharge Factor

Lithium and alkaline batteries are available in both rechargeable and non-rechargeable forms. If you try to recharge the non-rechargeable variants, you will end up damaging/ exploding these batteries. So, never try to recharge them.

You can also get the rechargeable versions of these batteries too. They are called rechargeable secondary cells. They can also get heated due to overcharging. Rechargeable lithium batteries are more safe to use when you compare it with the rechargeable version of the alkaline batteries.


11. Battery Capacity

The battery capacity is another factor that you need to consider while choosing a battery for your application. The battery capacity of lithium cells are pretty high. Alkaline batteries come with a low battery capacity. The energy holding capability of lithium cells is pretty high.


12. Internal Battery Resistance

The value of internal resistance is pretty high for alkaline batteries. There will be reduction in the total output energy because of this high value of internal resistance. Thus, the output voltage will be low. It is one major drawback of the alkaline battery. The internal resistance of lithium cell is pretty low. Thus, there won’t be any considerable drop in the output energy for the lithium ones.


13. Disposal

If you take the case of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, they are environmentally friendly. You can dispose of it along with the household waste. It is because of the fact that they do not contain mercury. The small amount of potassium hydroxide in the cell can cause some irritation when it comes in contact with the skin.

Also, lithium batteries can catch fire. You need to check the manufacturer’s disposal instruction to dispose of the lithium battery. It is because there will be slight variations in the instructions based on the type of the battery.


Final Thoughts

High lifespan, high battery capacity, wide operating temperature range, and consistent output power are some of the factors that make lithium batteries a favorable option for customers. Also, most industries now prefers lithium batteries in their devices. Always ensure that the battery specifications meets your design requirements while making the selection.

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