How to Buy Batteries on eBay

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How to Buy Batteries on eBay

Batteries have been improving for decades. Batteries provide electrical energy by converting a chemical reaction into usable power. Alexander Volta created a very simple battery by stacking cardboard soaked in saltwater, zinc, and silver plates. This early battery was limited by corrosion due to the metal plates and by the height of the stacked cardboard. Because of the physical limitations of early batteries, they were used more for stationary applications, such as doorbells, as opposed to hybrid or battery powered cars.

Today, batteries come in many shapes and sizes and are used for a multitude of gadgets. From cell phones to remote controls and cars to watches, batteries are found in almost any electronic item imaginable. Batteries are highly specialised to the electrical need of the devices they power, or they are a general size to fit common household gadget needs. Consumers not only need to understand the specific battery size needed, but other customisation choices as well, including the type of battery and rechargeable options. Buying batteries on eBay enables consumers to compare prices and brands at a glance, but also empowers consumers to ask the sellers important questions before purchasing.

Deciding What Batteries to Buy

Each electronic device has its own specific size and voltage requirements for batteries. This information is important; too much power sometimes damages a device, while too little may inhibit its function. In addition to voltage requirements, even common household devices, such as clocks and children's toys, may have requirements for the type of batteries which can be used. Alkaline, nickel-metal hydride, and lithium batteries are just a few of the types that are available for home use.

Some types of batteries are more suited to devices with lower power drain needs, while others are better suited to devices which drain power at a faster rate. Buyers can verify their battery needs by checking the devices or the batteries themselves, reviewing existing user manuals, or looking at the device manufacturers' websites. Low-drain devices include clocks, remote controls, and smoke detectors, while high-drain devices include digital cameras, laptops, and portable televisions. Shoppers should be sure to ask sellers on eBay what the material composition of batteries are and how often they were used or recharged, as this affects how long batteries keep their charge.

Sizes of Batteries

AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V batteries are all common battery sizes for devices which are found around the home. Watch-size button batteries are also commonly used in smaller devices such as hearing aids and non-digital cameras. Many consumer electronics, on the other hand, may use batteries which are specifically designed for the devices. In other words, the battery from one brand's cell phone may not fit into another brand's cell phone.

Disposable or Rechargeable Batteries

The batteries which are made for cell phones, power tools, and other frequently used consumer electronics are all rechargeable. However, batteries that power flashlights, clocks, smoke detectors, and other low-use devices are either disposable or rechargeable. The type of batteries and the type of power drain that the devices have informs buyers' decisions to purchase disposable or rechargeable batteries.

Capacity of Batteries

Capacity is another term buyers run across when researching batteries. Capacity refers to the amount of electrical charge batteries store. Batteries with a higher capacity generally have a longer life. This is measured in mAh (milliampere-hours). The same size battery can have a different capacity depending on the type, or even the design. A higher mAh number signifies a higher capacity.

Types of Batteries

In addition to size, voltage, and capacity requirements, there is the type of battery to consider. Battery type refers to the chemical composition of the battery that ultimately creates the electrical energy. From lead-acid batteries in cars to alkaline batteries in remote controls, there are a number of types to understand before making an informed purchase.

Alkaline Batteries

Typically used for AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V batteries, alkaline batteries are either disposable or rechargeable. The disposable version of alkaline batteries tend to have a long shelf life for up to five years. They are relatively inexpensive and suitable for most devices which require these sizes.

Carbon-Zinc Batteries

Ather type of disposable AA, AAA, C, and D batteries are carbon-zinc batteries, which the least expensive batteries, but they are useful for hearing aids, children's toys, and watches. Consumer electronics, cars, and other devices often have the shortest lifespan. These batteries are best used in low-drain devices like clocks or remote controls.

Nickel-Cadmium Batteries

Nickel-cadmium batteries also come in the standard household sizes of AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V. These batteries are always rechargeable, however, they have a lower storage capacity than other types of batteries. Nickel-cadmium batteries need to be fully discharged before recharging, therefore shortening the overall lifespan. This is commonly called the memory effect. These batteries work best with electric shavers and other infrequently used items. Nickel-cadmium batteries must be properly recycled, because cadmium is a heavy metal which can be toxic to the environment.

Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries

Nickel-metal hydride batteries were created to replace nickel-cadmium batteries in most consumer electronics. These batteries are very efficient rechargeables, used in devices from cell phones to digital cameras and power tools. They come in device-specific sizes, such as cell phone batteries, as well as standard household sizes. Nickel-metal hydride batteries are preferable to alkaline batteries in high-drain devices. Some hybrid car models use nickel-metal batteries.

Lithium Batteries

Lithium batteries are disposable so long as they are disposed of properly. They have a long shelf life, lasting for 10 years or more. They are lighter than alkaline batteries and suitable for high-drain devices, such as digital cameras and halogen flashlights.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are expensive but lightweight and rechargeable for years. They are not usually available in standard battery sizes, rather they are used in batteries designed for laptops, cell phones, camcorders, hybrid cars, and other devices which have special power needs. If purchasing lithium-ion batteries on eBay, buyers should be sure to confirm that they are not simply lithium batteries, since they differ in function and output.

Lead-Acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries are most commonly used in gas-powered cars and even golf carts. They are one of the oldest forms of rechargeable batteries.

Brand Name vs. Generic Batteries

When shopping for batteries, buyers have the option to purchase recognised brands of batteries. Duracell and Energizer are just two brands which are available for batteries. According to research, however, when it comes to household batteries, generic batteries provide the same power over time. This research has not been conducted for specialised batteries such as laptops, but many manufacturers of consumer electronics recommend looking for OEM (original equipment manufacturer), also sometimes known as reseller batteries. For example, a Canon camera battery labelled OEM is made by the company which made the original battery. This way consumers are sure the battery was designed to the specifications of the device to make it work properly.

How to Buy Batteries on eBay

To buy batteries on eBay first type in the parameters of your search. Whether it is AA or lithium-ion batteries, the available list of products is potentially endless. To sift through the list of items you can filter according to price, geography of the seller, and condition of the batteries. Buying used disposable batteries might not give you the power you need to work a device. However, if you need to purchase used rechargeable batteries, be sure they have been taken care of properly.

In addition to searching for specific batteries, you can navigate to the category of the product or products for which you need the batteries, and then drill down into the battery auction listings. At any point in your search or during buying process, if you have questions about the product, you can ask the seller directly. Typical questions you should ask the seller, if the answers are not already provided in the post are:

  • What type of batteries are they? NiMH, alkaline, etc.
  • Are they name brand or generic batteries?
  • Can you provide clear photos?
  • What is the capacity of the batteries?
  • What are the dimensions (if relevant)?
  • What is the compatibility with your device or battery model (if relevant)?

Finding a Reputable Seller

Scanning through battery listings gives you an opportunity to find sellers with positive ratings. You can look closely at the feedback of a seller for detailed information about his or her previous transactions. Finally, buyers can check the seller's policies for shipping.


Batteries have come a long way in the more than 200 years since their invention by Alexander Volta. Even though portable batteries have been technically possible since the end of the 19th century, advancing technologies and manufacturing methods in more recent years have yielded longer lasting batteries with higher power output. This has enabled high-drain devices such as laptops, cell phones, and power tools to become portable. Buying batteries from eBay for consumer electronics, household devices, and children's toys is a good start. Shoppers need only to understand the requirements of the devices for which they want to purchase batteries in order to make the best decisions for their needs.

Once they consider whether they want to buy disposable or rechargeable batteries, the type of batteries, and whether they want brand name or generic batteries, consumers looking to make a purchase are able to find many varieties available on eBay auctions and eBay Stores.

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