The Lithium AA Battery Is Often A Best Choice – Here’s Why..
Lithium AA batteries. The AA battery is the most common size/type consumer battery. While most of them have an Alkaline chemistry and are perfectly fine for most applications, Lithium has become quite popular for a number of reasons. The lithium AA battery may be best (or worth the extra cost) for some uses.
I do use lithium AA batteries for some things. In addition to having some lithium AA batteries (and other sizes), I also have a quantity of rechargeable batteries. The most common battery chemistry for this is called ‘NiMH’ (article linked below). With that said, nowadays lithium rechargeable batteries are becoming increasingly available (you need to use a specific charger for them).
List of reasons why lithium batteries may be the best, depending on your use
I always have a pack of these lithium AA’s around:
High Power Density
Perhaps the biggest advantage of lithium AA batteries over alkaline..
Lithium batteries have more than three times the energy density of alkaline batteries ! (4.32 MJ/L versus 1.3 MJ/L). In fact the next apparent step up from that is Hydrogen at 5.6 MJ/L, so as you can see, these batteries pack quite a punch.
What does this mean? It means that the lithium battery will run significantly longer than a similarly sized alkaline battery.
‘Energizer® says (for their ‘AA’ lithium battery), “World’s longest-lasting AA battery in high-tech devices lasts 6x longer than the other leading brand in digital cameras.”
For some applications this might not be exceedingly important, and maybe not worth the extra money. However for certain emergency or other uses this is most definitely an important consideration. A longer run time.
Low Self Discharge
All batteries will slowly discharge over time. Some faster than others.
Often, a so called ’emergency’ device may not be in use for a long time. But if and when it comes time to use it, you surely want to be sure that it works and the batteries have not discharged and become weak over time…
Cold Weather Performance
Lithium AA batteries have excellent cold weather performance!
A major reason why lithium batteries are best for some applications is due to their resilience in cold weather climates. Other batteries will diminish (some significantly!) when they get cold. But the lithium will hold up very, very well in cold weather.
From the Energizer® website, their ‘AA’ lithium battery “performs in extreme temperatures from -40°F to 140°F “.
For example I use ‘AA’ lithium batteries in my driveway alarm transmitters (winter gets very cold up here in north-country). They have been working great! I also use them in my flashlight for the truck.
Long Shelf Life
Outstanding shelf life. Because of the inherent low self-discharge properties, the shelf life of a lithium battery is outstanding.
Lithium batteries can ‘sit on the shelf’ for a very long time and still maintain most of their energy. Again from ‘Energizer®’, they claim that they will “hold power for 20 years when not in use.”
The lithium AA battery weighs 1/3 less than standard alkaline batteries.
This may or not be important to you (depends on application), however it is notable. This can add up to be significant for things like hiking, etc..
Energizer® claims “No leaks Guaranteed” for their Energizer® Ultimate Lithium Batteries. A leaking battery will damage your electronic device, and traditional alkaline batteries tend to leak/corrode at the battery terminals over a long time of non-use.
Though they cost more, I have been incorporating them into my electronic devices where applicable. I still keep a supply of NiMH rechargeable batteries for many things, as well as a supply of Energizer Max AA batteries (and other sizes). However the lithium AA batteries are great for other applications as listed above.
[ Read: Best AA Rechargeable Batteries ]
[ Read: Batteries That Don’t Leak Or Corrode ]
I did read in my new Crane radio manual that lithium is not recommended. Why?
It is my understanding that the LI batteries are of a slightly higher voltage than the standard AAs
I’m sure someone will correct me if incorrect.
Alkaline batteries have a voltage curve when being discharged, that is, as the battery capacity is being used up, the voltage drops. This voltage drop is how the battery meter in most equipment is able to approximate the remaining battery capacity.
Lithium batteries have a *slightly* higher voltage when brand new than alkaline batteries do, and their voltage curve is nearly flat. As the battery capacity is being used up, the voltage remains about the same, until the battery is almost completely discharged.
To expand on why lithium is not recommended by some manufacturers:
Some of the internal electronic components have maximum voltage ratings, and some mfg will use a lower voltage rated component to save a fraction of a cent here and there. Some designs are right on the edge of that voltage rating when using alkaline batteries, but would go over that edge when using lithium batteries.
Rechargeable lithium ion batteries (18650, for example) with a nominal voltage on 3.6 volts are a whole nutha discussion for another time.
Thanks for the input.
Now ya have me wondering if Crane is concerned about the “slightly” higher voltage or the battery metering….. Hummm
I do knows with the dabbling I’ve done in electronics it’s very easy to fry something, go on, ask me how I know 😵💫😵💫😵💫
When I was 10 or so, I built a voltage doubler with diodes and capacitors, not understanding a thing about voltage ratings at the time. Exploded some elytrolytic caps, I did. Since then, I’ve fried and destroyed my fair share of electronics. 😏
But stories are fun. Tell us yours. 😂
About the same age I built my first Jacob’s Lader with a Neon Transformer. Won the County Science Fair with that one, was pushing somewhere around 15kv. After that I move into the Small voltage stuff.
But we’re getting wayyyyy off topic here, unless I say my experiment was powered by Lithium Batteries, but I think Ken would see through that one.