Rechargeable batteries are more environmentally friendly than standard batteries in your wallet. How do they work? If you’re wondering how rechargeable batteries work or why you exceed the standard, we’ve got you covered.
There are a few key differences between a rechargeable battery and its standard relative, but the basic process required to power a battery device is the same. However, these few differences make rechargeable batteries more efficient, energy-efficient, and cheaper in the long run.
How do rechargeable batteries work?
To understand how rechargeable batteries work, you first need to know how a standard (disposable) battery works. If you already know how conventional batteries work, you can go a little further; if not, see this brief explanation.
How does a standard battery work?
Let’s go back to a very basic science, like everything in life, a battery is made up of atoms. Then an atom is made up of particles called protons, neutrons and electrons. Although protons, electrons, and neutrons have been repeatedly identified in school, there is an improvement. Protons are positive particles, electrons are negative particles, and neutrons are neutral particles.
If you take an AA battery and take a closer look at it, you will see a positive symbol (+) on one end and a negative symbol (-) on the other. These positive and negative values represent the positive electrode and the negative electrode inside the battery separated by an electrolyte solution that controls the electric current between both ends of the battery.
A positive electrode called a cathode has a positive charge because it has many times more protons than electrons. Then, the negative electrode, called the anode, contains many electrons that do not correspond to the number of protons.
Both the cathode and the anode want to be in equilibrium with an equal number of protons and electrons. To do this, electrons pass from the anode (negative end) to the cathode (positive end) using an electrolyte solution, which allows electrons to pass only when the battery is connected to a device.
When all the excess electrons from the anode go to the cathode, the battery is dead and can no longer amplify any electronics. On the other hand, rechargeable batteries can use a charger to reverse the flow of electrons, so that the anode has a ton of electrons to give it more electricity.
Well, how are rechargeable batteries different from standard batteries?
This electronic conversion process allows you to reuse rechargeable batteries. Now that doesn’t mean you can buy a pack of rechargeable batteries and use it for a lifetime. As the battery life of your smartphone deteriorates over time, rechargeable AA or AAA batteries will lose their ability to store full energy. If you properly care for and use your rechargeable batteries, they can last you five to seven years.
Rechargeable batteries must be made of certain elements, such as lithium, to ensure a safe recharging process. Non-rechargeable batteries are commonly referred to as alkaline batteries, with zinc and manganese dioxide as the electrodes and potassium or sodium hydroxide as the electrolyte solution separating the two. Alkaline batteries cannot be recharged and, in fact, can even be dangerous and sometimes explosive.
If you decide to invest in rechargeable batteries, you need to make sure you get the right charger for the batteries you buy. There are three main types of rechargeable batteries: Li-ion (lithium-ion), NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) and NiCd (nickel-cadmium).
It is a bad idea to buy a NiMH charger for Li-ion batteries or any other incompatible compounds. So make sure you know what your rechargeable batteries are made of and find a suitable charger for this particular type of battery.
What are the benefits of using rechargeable batteries?
There are both environmental and financial benefits to using rechargeable batteries instead of standard batteries. Because rechargeable batteries allow you to take less of them over time, you create less waste from both used batteries and new battery packs. Plus, you’ll be saving money over time, even if you have to spend a little more money on rechargeable batteries. All battery brands differ in price and approximate charging length, so let’s take a closer look at Duracell’s batteries for a closer comparison.
4 packs of Duracell’s Standard AA Batteries sell for about $ 6, and 4 packs of Duracell’s Rechargeable Batteries sell for about $ 16. Then, you will also need to buy a charger for rechargeable batteries, or you can buy a valuable package with batteries and charger.
Even if you save $ 10 right away by using standard batteries, think about how much you can save with more than 400 rechargeable batteries. It’s impossible to know if you’ll get exactly 400 charges from each battery, but Duracell is proud of its rechargeable batteries. If you recharge your batteries instead of buying new ones – 400 times more – it saves a lot of money.
Don’t forget the environmental effects! With Duracell’s rechargeable batteries, that means about 400 packs of standard batteries (and ~ 1,600 actual batteries) that you save on trash.
Of course, these are only estimates to show the possibilities. As mentioned above, each battery brand boasts a different number of charges, a different price difference, and sometimes even different types of rechargeable batteries. Duracell’s 400-charge warranty is also likely to be based on maintaining your batteries properly for years.
How do you properly care for rechargeable batteries?
As mentioned earlier, make sure you get the correct charger for the type of rechargeable battery you purchased. For example, if you go with Lithium rechargeable batteries, make sure you buy a special charger for Lithium. Although your batteries can be charged on a non-lithium charger, they are not as efficient and certainly not as safe.
When talking about chargers, try to get a smart charger that will prevent overload. Smart chargers recognize that the battery is full, and either stop charging or switch to fast charging until you remove them from the charger. Even if you have a smart charger, you should remove your batteries when you realize that they are fully charged, or better yet, almost fully charged.
Recharging a rechargeable battery follows the same protocols as charging a smartphone. You may have heard that not allowing your phone to die or overcharging your phone can also cause the battery to lose its ability to charge. The same concept can be applied to rechargeable batteries. Instead of waiting until the juice runs out, it is better to fill them when the capacity reaches about 20%.
You will also want to use your rechargeable batteries regularly. Rechargeable batteries will not work without regular use. This can mean turning off your batteries every month, even if they are still 50% charged.
Make sure you control the temperature of your batteries while charging, or better yet, get a smart charger that comes with some kind of cooling feature or heat-absorbing material. Heat is harmful to rechargeable batteries, so be sure to keep them out of direct sunlight when not in use.
Are rechargeable batteries better than standard batteries?
For the most part, yes. Rechargeable batteries will last you two to seven years, depending on the brand you choose and how well you care for them. They will save you money, help the environment, and they will be cooler. Even without a charging function, rechargeable batteries usually last longer than standard batteries because of what they are made of.
However, there is no problem in holding both standard and rechargeable batteries. After all, rechargeable batteries require power from the outlet to charge them. So, if you are in the middle of an emergency, such as a power outage as a result of a storm, and your rechargeable batteries are not recharging, you will be grateful to have standard batteries stored. Alkaline batteries also have a much longer shelf life than rechargeable batteries, making them a better choice for ambulance kits.
There is another example where alkaline batteries prevail over rechargeable batteries. If you have electronics that require constant low power, such as a wall clock, bicycle light, or headlight, alkaline batteries are a better choice. These batteries start at a higher voltage and discharge continuously at a predictable rate.
Rechargeable batteries, on the other hand, start at a lower voltage and maintain this low output for a longer period of time, which can result in strange or unstable performance on the device. Also, rechargeable batteries lose their total capacity as they are recharged. So when you use a device that uses energy all the time, you can see that you charge the batteries faster than you want.
It’s also worth thinking about what items in your home need a battery right now. Do you remember the last time you had to change the batteries in your remote control? Today, many devices are equipped with a built-in battery that can be charged via a USB cable and an electrical outlet. Before choosing between standard and rechargeable batteries, generally consider how much you use them.
The best rechargeable AA and AAA batteries
If you want to switch and invest in some rechargeable batteries, we can help. If you want to take a look at our options, we’ve done all the research for you, but we also cover what to look for in a rechargeable battery if you want to search on your own.