How to Buy Batteries

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How to Buy Batteries

The development of batteries and improvements in their overall longevity seem to be directly linked to the evolution of electronic devices and the need for advancement in mobility. Without batteries, all electrical devices would require connectivity to a power source, making portability and mobility difficult. Improvements in batteries, including size, stability, and function, seem to be directly correlated to the technological developments of handheld and portable electronic devices.

While technological advances in gadgets seem overwhelming, the improvement of batteries has not evolved at the same pace. Electronic manufacturers, and those who purchase and use the electronics, have created the need for more energy sustained over longer periods of time. The demand for these batteries also increased the need for more batteries at a reasonable price which are also safe to manufacture and safe for users. These demands have slowly transformed the technology which powers technology.

Shopping for batteries is as simple as stopping by the nearest grocery store to stock up on various sized alkaline batteries to power gadgets or toys. Alternatively, consumers can shop in electronics stores for specific types of cell phone or laptop batteries. Most replacement batteries for mobile devices have to be specially ordered, so it is more advantageous to shop in places with an organised inventory or detailed and varied listings. eBay is an online marketplace which offers various types of batteries as well as the ability to shop for very specific types of batteries, for example, or categorically for a range of battery types.

Primary Batteries

There is no universal battery which covers all products available or a battery that adapts to any and every application. This is one of the reasons why there are a variety of battery types which offer a range of advantages and disadvantages for powering various electronics and devices. Disposable batteries are considered to be batteries which are not rechargeable and are thrown away after one use. Although the recent growth in the use and development of secondary batteries is significant, there is still a need for primary batteries, as energy density of primary batteries is far greater than secondary batteries.

Primary batteries most commonly power items that use smaller-sized batteries such as electronic car keys, remote controls, and watches. Children's toys also often require primary batteries. In any situation where recharging is either impractical or not a possibility, such as military expeditions or rescue services, primary batteries are a necessity. The consistent use of primary batteries, however, is oftentimes very costly, as they do not have the ability to be recharged.


Carbon-zinc batteries are the least expensive batteries to purchase and are often included with consumer electronics. Remote controls, flashlights, clocks, some children's toys, and other electronic devices with batteries included are often powered by a carbon-zinc composition. These batteries are general purpose; therefore, they fit a range of applications in which there is a low drain on power. Carbon-zinc batteries leak when the power is depleted, as the zinc is attacked by ammonium chloride. These batteries also have a very short shelf life.


Often referred to as simply alkaline, these batteries are the most commonly purchased in primary batteries. Invented in 1949 by Lewis Urry while in the Eveready lab, these batteries are designed to produce more energy at higher currents than their predecessor. Alkaline batteries are more expensive than carbon-zinc, but do not leak contents when depleted. There can be some leaking with alkaline batteries as hydrogen gases build up and cause corrosion. Typical alkaline batteries purchased for the household provides 50 per cent more energy than a lithium-ion or the type of batteries used in cellphones and laptops.

Lithium Iron Disulfide

These batteries are relatively new and offer an improved performance over their primary predecessors. Developed as an alternative to carbon-zinc and alkaline, lithium iron disulfide batteries deliver 1.5 volts in AA and AAA formats. Although lithium batteries deliver 3 volts or higher as compared to carbon-zinc, they are also more costly to manufacture and purchase. This battery type is considered ideal for digital cameras, is highly resistant to leakage, has a low weight, and can be stored for 15 years without losing power.

Secondary Batteries

Any rechargeable batteries are considered secondary batteries. Rechargeable batteries are called secondary cell batteries because the electrochemical reaction is reversible, since they are filled or drained. These batteries are often less expensive for total use than disposable batteries and have less of an impact on the environment due to less waste disposal. While the initial cost of rechargeable batteries seem higher than primary batteries, they are reused for years.

Lead Acid

Developed by Gaston Plante in 1859, lead acid batteries are the oldest type of rechargeable batteries. With a relatively low cost, these batteries are most commonly used in wheelchairs, golf carts, backup power for alarms or computer systems, for starting automobiles, and in other small people moving vehicles. These batteries also have a low-battery capacity to weight and a limited life cycle. Eventually these batteries lose any of their capacity to hold a charge.

Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd)

Nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries has been in use since 1899, and they offer a discharge of approximately 1.2 volts. NiCd batteries are most commonly used in power tools, high-powered flashlights, photography equipment, emergency lighting, and some portable electronic devices. Nickel cadmium batteries offer a long service life, high discharge current, and they are fairly inexpensive. Recent environmental concerns regarding the disposal of this battery type have reduced the production of nickel-cadmium batteries.

Nickel-Metal-Hydride (NiMH)

Nickel-metal-hydride batteries were developed as a replacement for the nickel-cadmium battery and can have two to three times the NiCd capacity with fewer toxic metals. NiMH batteries are used in the same types of tools and devices as NiCd. They serve as replacements for various sizes of alkaline batteries, as well. In addition to consumer electronics, this battery is also used in electric vehicles and even hybrid vehicles.


Most portable electronic products and electric powertrains for vehicles use lithium-ionbatteries. More expensive than nickel or lead alternatives, lithium-ion batteries also require a protection circuit for safety. Lithium ions move from the negative to the positive electrodes when discharging and back from positive to negative when charging. These batteries have no memory effect and only a very small loss of charge when not being used.

There are three major lithium-ion battery types named for the various cathode oxides. Each type of lithium-ion battery is detailed in the following table.

Battery Type




Charge Time

2 to 4 hours

1 hour or less

1 hour or less

Cell Voltage





High specific energy

Decent service life

Capable of high charge and discharge

Modest service life

Moderate density

Low operating temperature

Common Applications

Cell phones


Digital cameras

Power tools

Medical instruments


Segway transporter

Power tools

Hybrid cars

Because lithium-ion batteries are made in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, a significant number of electronic devices are powered by this battery type. The environmentally safe materials, little self-discharge, and non-memory effect add to the popularity of the various types of the lithium-ion batteries.

How to Buy Batteries on eBay

When shopping for batteries, it is important to first assess the particular battery requirements for your device. Visiting any eBay web page, you will see a search bar. Typing in "rechargeable Li-ion battery" or "AAA battery" renders several results and options of products. If there are too many products, you can filter according to price, condition, and the geography of the seller.

If a battery size or type is not mentioned, find the voltage required for the device. If you purchase batteries with incorrect voltage, you run the risk of damaging or ruining the device. Although electronics stores have a selection of some of the most common primary and secondary batteries, finding specific batteries to fit a specific electronic device may prove more challenging. An online marketplace such as eBay offers listings of various battery types by device and by manufacturer.

Should there be questions about which type of batteries to purchase, it may be helpful to peruse the products of sellers who have consistently good feedback.


When shopping for batteries, keep in mind that they are not all created equal. Not all batteries have the same power boost or the same capacity. Start with knowing which devices needs to be powered and if there are primary or secondary alternatives. Most handheld electronics only support a secondary battery type, but it is always a good idea to check the device specifications located either in the product guide or on the panel underneath the battery cage.

Primary batteries cannot be recharged and, yet, provide noticeable power to your electronics. Secondary batteries offer a safer, yet more expensive alternative to power just about every type of electronic device, including automobiles. The flexibility of the lithium-ion technology allows for this type to be used in a variety of devices of all shapes and sizes.

Although an electronics store may seem like the most practical place to start when shopping for simple AAA or AA batteries, laptops and cell phones require specific shaped and designed batteries that work to provide all of the necessary power. Necessity, uses, applications, and type of devices are indicators of which type of batteries work best for your needs.

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