Last updated: 12/11/2019

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Today’s world would not be complete without the countless electronic products in our lives. Smartphones, laptops and tablets are just some examples. To use them for hours without being connected to an electrical outlet, another power source is necessary: ​​this is where lithium batteries come in.

Their benefits have evolved and improved since their first appearance on the market in the 90s. Today, they are essential as an energy source for all those daily products and vital in our work and professional life. Lithium batteries are also used by the car industry.

Key Facts

  • Lithium batteries are designed to store electrical energy. They use lithium salt as an electrolyte, which allows it to obtain the amount of ions needed for the electrochemical reaction between cathode and anode.
  • Their use became widespread in the 90s, associated with the rise of portable technology. They are built from light components and come in compact and easy-to-use formats. They are very resistant to the ‘memory effect’, an issue that other types of batteries have.
  • Although the standard and the most used format is rectangular, its structure can be modified and adapted to different devices, so there are cylindrical and even flat versions.

Our Selection: The Best Lithium Batteries on the U.S. Market

Below you will find a selection of the best lithium batteries on the market. Our intention is to offer a variety of options which you may choose between after comparing their characteristics and prices. Every battery has its own purpose and may not be suitable for others. Let’s take a look.

Best Rechargeable Lithium Batteries

The Tenavolts AA High-Capacity Rechargeable Batteries come with 4 pre-charged batteries, each with 2775mWh. You can trust this battery to provide long-lasting high-power to your devices, such as insulin pump, remote controls, toys, portable players and more. The Tenavolts AA High-Capacity Rechargeable Batteries charges very fast – meaning you can get a full charge in just 1.8 hours. The charge speed is faster than the traditional Ni-MH batteries that require about 3 hours to get a full charge.

Best 3V Lithium Batteries

These AmazonBasics Lithium CR2 3-volt Batteries keep your devices properly powered up at all times. They output precise energy that seamlessly supports devices such as digital cameras, rifle scopes, flashlights, audio players, calculators, memory backups, pocket pagers, night-vision goggles and more. These batteries are long-lasting and are more durable compared to alkaline batteries especially as they are designed to achieve a low self-discharging rate. You can now enjoy longer battery use duration without switching batteries out.

Best Lithium Battery for Power Tools

If you are looking for a battery that charges faster and delivers longer periods of operation time, then the Makita 18V Compact Lithium-Ion battery is what you need. It gives you a better voltage retention time bringing you a whole new experience compared to the compact standard lithium-ion batteries, bringing unmatched performance and productivity to you and your devices.  The Makita 2.0 Ah battery combines more run time (50% more run time per charge than the Makita BL1815 battery) with a charge time of only 25 minutes. This battery will enable you to spend more time working than charging.

Best Large Lithium Battery

EGO Power+ BA1400 56-Volt 2.5Ah Lithium-Ion Battery is one of the most advanced batteries in the industry. The power management system is designed with the latest technological innovations that protect the battery pack from harmful effects such as over-discharging or over-heating that a battery could face.  This battery is compatible with all EGO outdoor power devices, with great performance power, works in extreme conditions and delivers power exceptionally. It is designed to be weather resistant and also equipped with a fuel gauge so you know how much power you have left.

Shopping Guide: Everything you Should Know About Lithium Batteries

Comparing different types of batteries and their features is an important step when making a purchase, but other factors also must be assessed. The main one is to know the product we’re buying (in this case, lithium battery): understand what it is, what it is for and what it can offer us.

The useful life of a lithium battery is closely related to its charging cycle.
(Source: Janaka Dharmasena: 11576124/ 123rf.com)

What is a lithium battery?

A lithium battery, also known as a lithium-ion battery (or Li-Ion battery), is an electrical energy storage device. In other words, it is an energy accumulator that allows its use by a device it is attached or connected to. Once consumed, it can be recharged and reused in a limited way.

How does a lithium battery work?

The operation of the lithium battery is based on the use of lithium salts as an electrolyte that eases the reversible electrochemical reaction between the cathode and the anode. Lithium ions flow from cathode to anode, sending this current and feeding the device to which the battery is attached at that time.

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Did you know that the automotive industry recently started using lithium batteries in electric cars in order to reduce the use of fossil fuels?

What are lithium batteries used for?

Lithium batteries power most small electronic devices for everyday use. Around us, and without leaving our home, we can find the TV or air conditioner remote control, electric toothbrush, among many other examples of devices powered by lithium batteries.

Over the years, other uses for lithium batteries have been developed. Currently, they are also used to power hybrid or electric cars, although their battery life remains very limited. Today, lithium batteries are the most common and marketed device in technology market.

Don’t forget that lithium batteries are an item of perishable technology.
(Source: twinsterphoto: 104769813/ 123rf.com)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a lithium battery?

Lithium batteries are very popular and mostly used by manufacturers to power electronic devices. This is due to their undeniable advantages over other types of batteries. But they also have some notable disadvantages. Let’s see both in the following table.

Advantages
  • Light and compact
  • Not prone to the so-called memory effect
  • Charging stability
  • High voltage per cell: 3.7 V
Disadvantages
  • Sensitive to external conditions
  • Overheat easily
  • High production cost

What is the ‘memory effect’ and why don’t lithium batteries have it?

The ‘memory effect’ is a phenomenon that reduces batteries charging capacity when they are recharged without being completely empty. If the recharge is premature or incomplete (without reaching 100%), crystals are formed by chemical reaction inside. In lithium batteries, this problem (which reduces performance) does not occur.

This is one of the biggest advances of lithium batteries over other types of batteries that were on the market and more popular some years ago, such as lead-acid and nickel ones. That is why lithium has easily gained ground in recent times over other types of batteries, because they are not subject to the ‘memory effect’ caused many problems and inconveniences to users.

Javier DomínguezTechnical Director, Energy Change

“The memory effect significantly reduced the actual amperes available in lead-acid batteries, as it could not be completely discharged”.

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What are charge cycles and how many does a lithium battery offer?

We saw that one of the main problems with lithium batteries is their short life. It is estimated to be about 3 years for those of frequent use, which sometimes means the end of the service life of the device they feed (if their compatibility is low) or unforeseen maintenance costs due to early battery replacement.

The life of the lithium battery is also linked to their charge and discharge cycles. Each cycle is understood as the time it takes to the energy accumulated in the battery from fully charged to discharge. Lithium batteries have an average life of 500 to 1,200 cycles.

What maintenance does a lithium battery need?

We must not forget that a lithium battery is a perishable technological product. Although they do not suffer from the ‘memory effect’, they can present other problems arising from their use. Therefore, it is important to follow some guidelines to maximize their useful life.

Among others, the main tips we can provide for proper maintenance are: avoid extreme temperatures (above or below 15 degrees), store them with a medium charge during non-operative times and do not keep them with 100% of the load for long periods of time.

A lithium battery, also known as a lithium ion battery, is a device which stores energy.
(Source: Chutchawarn Samwang: 41149799/ 123rf.com)

How much do I need to buy a lithium battery?

Not all lithium batteries are the same, so their prices also differ. Most basic ones, the ones to feed remote controls, are generally the cheapest on the market. On the other hand, if we look for a lithium battery with a greater number of milliampere-hours (mAh) or output voltage (V), prices will be higher.

Also, you must consider that some lithium batteries are universal and will be compatible with any device, regardless of the manufacturer, while technical specifications allow it. Others, however, are of exclusive use, more specific, complex and unique features.

Shopping Criteria

Before buying a lithium battery, as with any other product, we must consider some variables. Failing to pay attention to these key aspects will lead us to making the wrong purchase. Next, we will try to detail and specify each of them in an understandable and enlightening way.

Use and Compatibility

The first thing we have to be clear about is why we need a lithium battery. Certain electronic devices share features and power parameters. Thus, the same battery can be used in the TV remote, a wireless mouse or a toy car, for example.

That is not always the case. Each device will withstand a different voltage, and if we use the wrong batteries, two things can happen: the power will be insufficient (the device will not work) or excessively high (burning the device). Hence the importance of using the right battery, to avoid accidents and frustration.

The majority of professional cameras use lithium batteries.
(Source: Pietrzyk: 102106313/ 123rf.com)

Physical Characteristics

In addition to technical or energy characteristics, we also have to identify the appropriate format from a physical point of view. Lithium batteries have very varied geometric shapes: flat, rectangular, cylindrical or rounded. Each one will fit in certain devices, but not in any or all.

Beyond compatibility and physical fit, there are other variables that we can assess. Then, if the format we need is rectangular, we will seek within the range of rectangular lithium batteries, the ones that have the exact size.

Additionally, compare the weight, looking for the lightest and most compact model.

Power and Voltage

Voltage can basically be defined as the force or pressure at which power goes out from the battery to the device. Each device will have a different voltage and, using the wrong battery can cause your device to not function properly (or at all), or may even damage it.

This means it is critical to use the battery with the correct power and voltage for your device. The output voltage range of lithium batteries is very wide, depending on the device to be powered. It is the basic feature we must pay attention to before buying a lithium battery.

Charging Time and Duration

First lithium batteries took more than 12 hours to fully charge and only offered a few hours of use. Today, charging times have been greatly reduced while hours of use after fully charged were proportionally extended. But there are still differences.

Therefore, we must pay attention to the milliamps per hour (mAh), which determine the battery life. More mAh means more duration. For example, the lithium batteries of mobile phones are today above 3,000 mAh, which a few years ago barely reached 2,000. Do not overlook this feature.

Lifetime and Charge Cycles

Another important technical aspect has to do with how long lithium battery will last. It is hard to determine time duration without associating it with the use, expressed as loading and unloading cycles. Lithium batteries are sensitive to the number of times they are recharged and stored energy is consumed.

The more charge cycles the technical specifications indicate, the longer the service life. Normally, they exceed 500 and can even exceed 2,000, but it is a very variable parameter depending on the type of battery and utility. The longer the useful life, the more profitable the investment made.

Summary

There are many types of lithium batteries, depending on a series of variables we tried to expose in this article. One of them, the main one, is what it will be used for. That is, the electronic device it will feed. Therefore, the features and needs of such device will condition the rest.

And what is the rest? Battery power, physical characteristics (shape, size and weight), the duration of the stored energy, the charging time or service life of the product, among others. All of them have to be considered before buying a lithium battery, after comparing several models with similar features.

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(Source of the featured image: Lurii Golub: 114158332/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Brett is a keen observer of the latest technology trends and knows his way around the industry because he runs an electronics store. He writes about it in his spare time and wants to help others learn more about the technology industry.