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Which Batteries are the Best? Alkaline vs. Lithium


which batteries are the best

There are two main types of batteries which are sold in various sizes like AA, AAA, C and D: alkaline and lithium. Both are available as one-time use (disposable) and rechargeable. Some are better than others depending on what you need the battery for.  Smart consumers choose depending on the task. So, which batteries are the best?

ALKALINE batteries are best for: 

LITHIUM batteries are best for: 

LOW DRAIN devices- devices that do not drain the battery

HIGH DRAIN devices- devices that utilize more power and may need battery changes frequently if using alkaline batteries

LOW USE devices- devices that are turned off most of the time

HIGH USE devices- devices that are turned on most of the time, if not turned on permanently

NON-CRUCIAL  devices- devices that are not going to interrupt tasks or will not have memory affected if power was lost suddenly

CRUCIAL devices- devices that would pose a danger if power was lost suddenly; i.e. data gets lost/ damaged.


  • Remote controls
  • Flashlights
  • Portable devices such as radios
  • Toys


  • Clocks
  • Video equipment and digital cameras
  • Answering machines
  • Calculators


Since both alkaline and lithium are available in one-time use and rechargeable varieties, what are the PROS AND CONS of ONE-TIME USE VS. RE-CHARGEABLE?


ONE-TIME batteries




Cost less at the register (making it an economical purchase for low drain, low use, non-crucial devices)

Can be used again and again (reducing need to buy replacements and reducing impact on environment)

Ready-to-use right out of the package. No charging, no wait.

Last longer (during use and overall lifespan, even though these lose lifespan, too, over time)



Can only be used once, requiring purchase of replacements

Cost more

Do not last as long as rechargeable (during use and overall lifespan)

Must be charged before use (including first use). Overcharging is common. This damages the battery, resulting in a shorter life span during use and overall.


I hope this information was helpful in your search of the best battery! This blog is the first installment of a five-part series on batteries. Keep an eye out for blog entries coming soon regarding: how to get the most of your batteries, how to safely use batteries, how to safely dispose of batteries, and the unique challenges of lithium batteries. 


Thanks for a very concise and informative piece of information comparing these various batteries.
Posted @ Monday, December 31, 2012 12:36 PM by Pc
I have 3V boot warmer that uses a dual/double battery holder for 2 AA (alkaline or Ni-Mh rechargeable) batteries. Can I change it to a single AA battery holder and use one 3.2V lithium battery? 
Posted @ Sunday, February 23, 2014 9:10 PM by WD
You sure can.
Posted @ Monday, February 24, 2014 10:03 AM by Jon Hoppstetter
Thanks for the informative post. I would just add to the rechargeable battery cons that some devices don't like (or won't even run on) the 1.2 V full charge of rechargeables vs the 1.5 V full charge of primary types.
Posted @ Saturday, April 26, 2014 5:45 PM by Lee
Posted @ Tuesday, November 18, 2014 11:37 AM by pablo
Of One-Time Alkaline or Lithium batteries, which is best for domestic fire alarms, typically attached to ceilings; ie they are low use but switched on from begin until they die. Thank you, Richard Starte, Cambridge, England
Posted @ Monday, January 05, 2015 1:53 PM by Richard Starte
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