A Detailed Guide: Types and Sizes of Batteries

A battery consists of one or more cells that go under chemical reactions in order to generate the flow of electrons within a circuit. The technology of battery is continuously evolving; smaller, better, and much more efficient batteries are being introduced in the market. But what was the purpose of creating batteries in the first place? They came into play due to the need to store electrical energy. 

The higher the amount of energy was being generated, the more essential it got to store that energy so it can be used when there is no more generation. 

If you are looking for in-depth information about different types and sizes of batteries, you are in the right place. In this article, we will take you through a detailed guide regarding batteries and at the end of this article, you will be much more informed about them than ever! So, without any further ado, let’s get started.

A Battery’s Main Components

Battery cells are typically made up of three major components: 

  1. The Anode (also known as a negative electrode)
  2. The Cathode (also known as a positive electrode)
  3. The Electrolytes (a liquid or gel that contains both these electrodes)

Types of Batteries

We can classify batteries into many different types and categories, ranging from size, form factor, power, chemical composition, and use cases, but all of this fall under two major battery types:

  1. Primary Batteries
  2. Secondary Batteries

Primary Batteries

In simple words, primary batteries are the batteries that cannot be recharged once they are completely depleted. This is because these batteries are made of electrochemical cells whose chemical reaction cannot be reversed at all. Primary batteries range from small coin cells to AA batteries and are used in standalone applications where it is not practical or possible to charge them once depleted. 

A good example is military-grade devices that use primary batteries because it will be impractical to use rechargeable batteries where recharging them will be the last thing in the mind of soldiers. 

Primary batteries contain high specific energy, and they are always used in the devices that consume a low amount of power so the battery can last longer. Some other popular examples of equipment that use primary batteries include animal trackers, remote controls, pacemakers, wristwatches, and kids’ toys. 

The most common type of primary batteries is alkaline batteries. They are environment-friendly, cost-effective, have high specific energy, and do not leak even when fully charged. Alkaline batteries can contain charge for several years and can also be carried on an aircraft without any problem. 

The only big letdown of alkaline batteries is the low load current, which means that you cannot use them in the devices with low current requirements such as flashlights, remote controls, and entertainment devices (portable ones).

Here are different types of primary batteries:

Lithium (Primary)

These dry-cell batteries are sealed, non-rechargeable, and come in small sizes.

  • Available Formats: AA, AAA, button cells, 9-volt, custom sizes, and small-cylinder
  • Common uses: alarms, watches, handheld electronics, memory backup, tire-pressure sensors, cameras, pacemakers, remote car locks, etc.
  • Safety: non-toxic, non-spillable, and can explode or overheat if short-circuited. 


These dry-cell batteries are sealed, non-rechargeable, and come in small sizes. 

  • Available Formats: AA, button cells, 9-volt, custom sizes, and small-cylinder
  • Common uses: military, cameras, medical devices
  • Safety: toxic, non-spillable, and produces highly toxic vapors

Alkaline & Zinc Carbon

These dry-cell batteries are sealed, non-rechargeable, and come in small sizes (labeled heavy-duty or general-purpose).

  • Available Formats: AA, AAA, button cells, 9-volt, C, D
  • Safety: non-toxic, non-spillable, and can leak with age
  • Common Uses: Cameras, handheld electronics, watches, toys

Silver Oxide

These dry-cell batteries are sealed, non-rechargeable, and come in small to large sizes 

  • Available Formats: high-voltage small-cylinder, button cells, and large custom sizes
  • Common Uses: hearing aids, torpedoes, aircraft, cameras, and watches
  • Safety: Non-toxic, non-spillable

Zinc Air

These small dry-cell batteries are sealed, and non-rechargeable

  • Available Formats: 9-volt, button cells, and custom sizes
  • Common Uses: watches, electric vehicles (mechanically recharged), hearing aids
  • Safety: non-toxic, non-spillable

Secondary Batteries

Secondary batteries are also discussed as rechargeable batteries, which have electrochemical cells whose chemical reactions can be reversed upon applying a certain voltage to the battery in the inverted direction. This means that unlike primary batteries, the secondary batteries can be recharged once they are depleted. 

These type of batteries are used in the applications where it will be either too impractical or expensive to use primary batteries because of their high energy usage. Devices that use small capacity secondary batteries are mobile phones, Bluetooth headphones, torchlight, and other gadgets, while high drain applications such as electric vehicles, load-leveling in electricity generation, etc. use heavy-duty secondary batteries. 

Although a rechargeable battery’s cost might seem like a whole lot higher than those of single charge batteries, they are the most cost-effective solution for long-term usage. 

Based on their chemistry, secondary batteries can be further divided into several other types. Here are some:


There are four major chemistries when it comes to rechargeable batteries:


  • Lithium-ion (Li-ion)


This is one of the most popular types that is found in several different portable devices such as mobile phones, smart devices, and other battery appliances used at home. Also, due to their lightweight nature, lithium-ion batteries are used in aerospace and military applications. 

Lithium-ion batteries possess high-energy density and have low self-discharge as compared to most other types of rechargeable batteries. Lithium-ion batteries’ cost and performance vary based on different use cases. They offer the best performance-to-weight ratio, while lithium Sulphur batteries offer the highest ratio. 

Some common attributes of lithium-ion batteries are as following:

  • Cycle Durability: 400: 1200 cycles
  • Specific Power: 250: 340 W/kg
  • Specific Energy: 100: 265W-h/kg
  • Charge/discharge percentage: 80-90%


Lead-acid batteries are used in heavy-duty, non-portable applications such as vehicle ignition and lights, backup power, load-leveling in power generation, and solar-panel energy storage etc. because of their large size and massive weight. Although lead-acid batteries are the oldest type of rechargeable batteries, they are still significant even in today’s world. 

These batteries have a relatively low energy-to-volume ratio but high power-to-weight ratio, which means they can supply huge surge currents when needed. 

  • Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd)

These type of batteries are developed using nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium as electrodes. They excel in holding the charge and maintaining voltage when not in use. However, the only downside to Ni-Cd batteries is that they can become the victim of “memory” effect when a partially charged battery is charged, which lowers its future capacity. 

If we compare Ni-Cd batteries to other types of batteries, Ni-Cd batteries offer excellent life cycle and perform exceptionally well at low temperatures. Also, these batteries are capable of delivering their full rated capacity even at high discharge rates. Ni-Cd batteries come in different sizes; small packs are used in electronic toys and small portable devices while the bigger batteries find their applications in aerospace, automotive, and standby power supply. 

Some common attributes of Nickel Cadmium batteries are as following:

  • Cycle Durability: 2000 cycles
  • Specific Power: 150W/kg
  • Specific Energy: 40-60W-h/kg
  • Self-discharge percentage: 10% per month
  • Charge/discharge efficiency: 70-90%

Nickel-Metal Hydride(Ni-MH)

Both Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries and Nickel Cadmium batteries have the same chemical reaction at the positive electrode (cathode), with both using the same nickel oxide hydroxide. However, the only difference between them is that the anodes in Ni-MH batteries use a hydrogen-absorbing alloy instead of cadmium.

Ni-MH batteries offer high capacity and energy density, which is the reason these batteries find applications in high drain devices. The best thing about a Ni-MH battery over a Ni-Cd battery is that it can possess two to three times the capacity of Ni-Cd battery of the same size. Moreover, Ni-MH batteries, unlike Ni-Cd batteries, don’t fall victim to the “memory” effect. 

Some common attributes of Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries are as following:

  • Cycle Durability: 180 to 2000
  • Specific Power: 250-1000 W/kg
  • Specific Energy: 60-120h/kg
  • Self-discharge percentage: 1.3-2.9% per month at 20oC
  • Charge/discharge efficiency: 66% to 92%

Industrial Batteries

An everyday battery user may never need to run into industrial batteries because they are used for powering the heavy-duty applications like machinery, backup power for data centers, railroad, telecommunications, etc. 


  • These batteries are large, vented, rechargeable, and have lead-acid and cadmium inside.
  • Come in a rectangular format in steel racks.
  • It is commonly used in solar arrays, uninterruptible power supply, telecommunications systems, railroad switchgear and signals.
  • Safety: Non-spillable, toxic (lead), contains acid electrolyte

Nickel Iron

  • These batteries are vented, rechargeable, very long-lasting, and are available in medium to large sizes. 
  • Come in a rectangular format in a metal case.
  • Commonly used in mining operations, railroad signals
  • Safety: Spill-able, non-toxic

Wet Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd)

  • These are flooded cell batteries that are vented, rechargeable, and are available in small to large sizes. 
  • Come in a tall rectangular format in a hard case, while the multi-cell batteries come in a metal or a wood case. 
  • Commonly used in solar arrays, emergency power, railroad switching gear, and they also find their applications in marine and aviation applications
  • Safety: Spill-able, toxic (cadmium)

Large Flooded Cell

  • These flooded cell batteries are vented, rechargeable, have lead-acid (typically), and are available in large sizes. 
  • Come in a rectangular format in a hard case.
  • Commonly used in utility systems, Stationary Power, uninterruptible power supply, telecommunications systems
  • Safety: Spill-able, toxic (lead), contains a large quantity of acid electrolyte, electrolyte corrosive (if spilled), extremely heavy

Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)

  • These flooded cell batteries typically contain lead-acid, are vented, rechargeable, and are available in medium to large sizes. 
  • Come in a rectangular format in a hard case while the multi-cell battery comes in steel racks. 
  • Commonly used in stationary power, uninterruptible power supply
  • Safety: Non-spillable and contains some acid electrolyte

Steel Case

  • These flooded cell batteries contain lead-acid, are vented, rechargeable, and are available in large sizes.
  • Come as individual cells encased within a steel casing. 
  • Commonly used in motive power, forklifts, industrial machinery
  • Safety: Spill-able, toxic (lead), contains acid electrolyte that is corrosive (if spilled)

Vehicle Batteries

  • Lead Acid
  • Hybrid & Electric Automotive
  • VRLA

Batteries Sizes

AA Batteries

  • Used in both household devices and even industrial applications
  • Are usually 1.5V
  • Also known as LR6 batteries

AAA Batteries

  • Used in a large variety of household devices as well as some industrial applications. 
  • Available in both alkaline and lithium

C Batteries

  • Used in a variety of devices ranging from low drain equipment to everyday items such as clocks and TV remotes. These batteries can also have industrial applications. 
  • Non-rechargeable
  • Deliver reliable and long-lasting power

D Batteries

  • Used in a variety of devices ranging from low drain equipment to high power ones such as torches, TV remotes, audio equipment, and digital cameras.
  • Are single-use and non-rechargeable batteries

9V PP3 Batteries

  • Used in a variety of devices such as smoke alarms, remote-controlled toys, radios, and walkie talkie devices. Plus, they also find their uses in industrial applications, TV and Film industry, and the healthcare industry.

6LR61 Batteries

  • Made from six LR61 (AAAA) cylindrical batteries.
  • Have a tighter wrapped casing as compared to other versions.

N LR1 Batteries

  • Most commonly used in pagers and clocks.

AAAA Batteries

Ideal to be used in electronic equipment such as laser pointers and penlite style torches. 

Some more battery sizes:

  • LR1 Clock Batteries
  • CR123 CR123A Batteries 3V
  • CR2 Batteries
  • CR2032 Batteries
  • LR44 Batteries
  • CR2025 Batteries
  • Button Cell Batteries
  • CR2016 Batteries
  • Lithium Coin Batteries
  • Lithium AA AAA Batteries
  • Lithium CR123, CR123A, CR2
  • Lithium 9V PP3 Batteries

Which Battery is Right for Me?

Whatever the battery you opt for completely depends on your requirements. 9V PP3 batteries are a newcomer in the consumer market. They have been used in the industrial applications for several years due to their capability of providing the most power to high drain applications. You can use these batteries in smoke alarms, security equipment, home safety, as well as other 9V applications. 

Before buying a battery for your application, you should consider these factors:

  • Life cycle durability
  • Energy Density
  • Power Density
  • Cost

Final Verdict

We hope that this guide has provided you with all the important information about batteries and their types in detail. If you were looking for the right type of battery for your solar power generator or any project but were confused because of the overwhelming amount of options available, now you will be cleared on which one to opt for.