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Different Types of Batteries

Batteries come in multiple varieties. The differences go beyond primary and secondary batteries. The type of battery you use to power your electric toothbrush is very different from the battery you use to power your laptop. Knowing the differences in batteries is helpful and necessary. For example, it is important to know what an alkaline battery is so that you dispose of it properly. It’s also helpful to know about the different types of batteries so that you use them for the right things.

Battery Types

Primary Batteries

Primary batteries are only supposed to be used once and then thrown away. A primary battery cannot be recharged. They are often used when the battery will sit unused for long periods of time, because they can be made to self-discharge very slowly. This is useful for things like smoke detectors, flashlights, and so on.

Secondary Batteries

Secondary Batteries are designed so that the transformation from chemical energy to electrical energy can be reversed after the battery has discharged. Secondary batteries can be recharged multiple times, but eventually they will stop working altogether. The constant recharging causes wear and tear on the battery that overcomes it after multiple recharges. Secondary batteries are often used for car batteries, laptop computer batteries, MP3 Players and so on.


Alkaline batteries are the most common type of battery and the most commonly used. It is a primary battery type that relies on the chemical reaction between manganese dioxide and zinc. Alkaline batteries can be specially made to be rechargeable. Rechargeable alkaline batteries are usually used in MP3 players, digital cameras, video game controllers, and so on.

Lithium and Lithium Ion

Lithium batteries are primary batteries that cannot be recharged. They have a very long life because of their high charge density, but they also cost more than alkaline batteries. They are often used in pacemakers and other critical devices that require a long battery life.

Lithium Ion batteries are rechargeable lithium batteries. They are very popular for use in portable electronics because of their long battery life. They do not run out of charge as fast as alkaline batteries.