How to Buy Single Use Batteries on eBay

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How to Buy Single Use Batteries on eBay

Portable batteries are available in various types and sizes, and are capable of storing and providing electrical energy. Stored electrical energy allows usage of innumerable gadgets anywhere without directly plugging them into electrical sockets.

Two types of dry cell batteries are available: the primary, or single-use, disposable batteries; and secondary, or rechargeable, batteries. Within these two main categories are numerous types of batteries, for use in various applications. Single-use batteries often are the power supply for smaller devices such as cell phones, digital cameras, calculators, power tools, laptops, watches, remote controls, and a host of other gadgets. Using the right battery for a specific product ensures optimum performance, so the battery is fully utilised until it dies. Learning about the various types of single-use batteries helps the consumer select the appropriate type needed for an array of household devices and personal use gadgets. For online shoppers, eBay is the right place to seek out a vast variety of single-use batteries at competitive prices.

Single-Use Batteries: A Brief History

Numerous documented, innovative means of storing electrical energy were created during various periods in ancient history. A prehistoric battery unearthed in Baghdad in 1936, during the construction of a railway bridge, is almost 2,000 years old and is believed to belong to the Parthian period. Comprising a clay jar filled with vinegar containing an iron rod within a copper cylindrical tube, with the iron rod protruding above the sealed neck of the jar, this ancient battery had the capacity to generate 1.5 to 2 volts of electricity.

Through modern history, electricity generation was achieved by creating static charge, which is excess charge on the surface of an object. In the year 1800, Alessandro Volta, during the course of his experiments with static electricity, made a discovery: some fluids, when used as conductors, generate a continuous flow of electricity. This discovery formed the basis of the voltaic cell, known today as a battery, with conductive chemicals called electrolytes in them. Originally able to generate just a few sparks, batteries were now capable of producing a continuous flow of electricity. Battery technology progressed over the decades, with several metals and chemicals used to convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy. The present-day Energizer, formerly the National Carbon Company, introduced the first battery way back in 1896: the 6-inch, 1.5-volt Columbia dry cell. Today, either wet cell or dry cell batteries (with liquid or paste electrolytes, respectively) of various sizes and storage capacities are in use in households and for hundreds of commercial applications.

How a Dry Cell Battery Works

Connecting the two terminals of the battery establishes a circuit, when electrons flow through the wire to produce an electric current. To harness the electric charge produced, the battery is connected to a load such as a bulb or device that completes the circuit between the battery terminals.

A dry cell battery has external positive and negative terminals on the outside and corresponding internal layers. The two external terminals correspond to positive (cathode) and negative (anode) electrodes inside the battery. A nonwoven fibrous fabric separates the two electrodes. The internal layer comprises the chemical electrolyte, facilitating movement of the positive and negative ions inside the battery. When the battery is connected and switched on, chemical reactions begin because of the chemical nature of the electrodes and electrolytes. The cathode attracts positive charge when the positive ions flow towards it through the electrolyte and the negative ions (electrons) collect at the negative electrode or anode. The electrons move through the circuit towards the cathode and provide electric charge to the connected load.

Different electrolyte pastes or gels used as conductive chemicals in dry cell batteries are categorised as acidic, alkaline, mercury, nickel cadmium, or silver dry cell batteries. Mercury has adverse impacts on the environment and is no longer in use, with several countries imposing a ban on these cells.

Basic Battery Types

Single-use batteries and rechargeable batteries are the basic battery types available. Though single-use batteries are the less expensive option in terms of up-front cost, rechargeable batteries have tipped the scales in their favour because they are environment friendly and long-lasting. Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), Nickel Cadmium (NiCd), and Lithium-ion (Li-ion) are the rechargeable battery types, while single-use, non-automotive consumer batteries are either alkaline or the heavy-duty batteries. Heavy-duty batteries are also called carbon-zinc batteries or D-cell batteries. Easy to recognise, single-use batteries are available in AAA, AA, 9V, C, D, and button cell sizes. Another single-use category is the Lithium primary batteries, extensively used in consumer electronic devices. Expensive but with high charge density and hence longer life spans, Lithium primary batteries produce voltages ranging between 3 to 3.7.

Comparison of Single-Use Batteries

Battery Type


Available Sizes

Battery Life

Lithium primary


AAA, AA, C, Single D

15+ years



AAA, AA, C, D, 9V

8+ years

Zinc-carbon or D-cell


AAA, AA, C, D, 9V

8+ years

Lithium primary batteries perform exceptionally well in cold weather, and the same cannot be said about alkaline and heavy duty zinc carbon batteries. Single-use batteries are excellent for backup, ever ready for use, and users can store these for several years. However, the downside is fast depletion when used in larger gadgets such as cameras and other medium-drain electronic gadgets.

Composition of Single-Use Batteries

Various single-use batteries have different electrolytes in them and find applications in the numerous gadgets according to their composition.

Disposable Alkaline Batteries

With a cathode of manganese dioxide mixture and the anode of a zinc powder, alkaline batteries are so called because of the sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide electrolyte, which is an alkaline substance. These batteries have a rated voltage of 1.5. A vast of array of gadgets ranging from toys and clocks to musical instruments and GPS units use alkaline batteries of various sizes.

Lithium Primary Batteries

Lithium primary batteries, available as coin or cylindrical batteries, have the highest energy density: meaning that these store more energy and have a longer shelf life and a performance span of about 10 to 15 years. Lithium primary batteries have various chemistries, depending on the electrolyte and cathodes used while manufacturing. Lithium-manganese dioxide, being low-cost and low-drain, is a common consumer-grade battery available. Lithium cobalt oxide are popular for use in digital cameras, phones, and laptops. Lithium batteries have a nominal voltage of 3 to 3.7.

Button Cell Batteries

Coin or button cell batteries with a voltage rating between 1.5 and 3 find application in watches, low-power calculators, hearing aids, PDAs, and such other gadgets. The commonly used anode materials in button cell batteries are lithium or zinc, while silver oxide, manganese dioxide, carbon monofluoride, and cupric oxide are used for the cathodes. Mercuric oxide button cells are no longer in use because mercury is environmentally hazardous and disposing such batteries is unsafe.

Zinc Carbon or D-Cell Batteries

These heavy-duty batteries are used extensively in numerous portable household appliances and toys, using zinc chloride or zinc carbon as electrolytes. These batteries have a nominal voltage of 1.5 and a shelf life of three to five years.

How to Buy Single-Use Batteries on eBay

Batteries of every kind are easily available just about everywhere. For online shoppers, eBay is a convenient, one-stop shop for buying single-use batteries at competitive rates. Batteries from leading battery manufacturers are available on eBay. Additionally, shoppers can narrow down their choices on the basis of chemical composition of batteries, types and sizes, condition, and the quantity available in the packs. With numerous sellers offering the same types and specifications, shoppers will find it easy to compare prices and select batteries depending on their budget. To find batteries on eBay, one can perform a keyword search for the type needed: for example, 'AA alkaline batteries' or 'carbon-zinc batteries'. Another option is going through the category of the gadget for which batteries are needed: for example, if one needs a watch battery, he or she may first look in the category that includes watches to find needed batteries.

For added confidence, shoppers can buy from top rated sellers, or sellers who have received excellent feedback from their clients. Some sellers offer free shipping on selected items, which translates to savings for the buyer. Secure payment options on eBay are numerous and shoppers can use one that suits their convenience.


Batteries are portable energy storage devices and are a convenient way to use electrical gadgets outdoors or when electricity is not available. Several types and sizes of batteries are available that power almost every household gadget and work a great number of machines and vehicles as well. One can find nearly all batteries, as well as the gadgets they power, on eBay.

Single-use batteries are the disposable variety and are generally used to supply power to smaller devices such as digital cameras, cell phones, power tools, torches, calculators, computer mice, laptops, watches, remote controls, and a vast number of other items. Commonly used single-use batteries are alkaline or heavy-duty zinc carbon. Single-use lithium batteries have a higher charge density, a high voltage rating of 3 to 3.7, and about 15 years of life span and often power high-drain, electronic devices. These factors have contributed to the soaring popularity of lithium batteries, despite their expense. Lithium photo batteries are high power with long shelf life chemistry and find application in cameras and other specialty applications while the coin shaped batteries are used in calculators, hearing aids, PDA devices, as backup power for computer real time clocks and other computing devices. The heavy duty zinc carbon batteries that are the forerunners of alkaline batteries are losing out to other more efficient and powerful batteries, as these continue to evolve. Shoppers should always be sure to use the appropriate battery for any device.

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