Lithium VS Alkaline Batteries: The Difference Explained

Technology plays a big role in our lives. New generations of laptops, mobiles, tablets and other smart gadgets are released constantly, each of which have new features and tools to facilitate our daily chores and help us make better use of our time – or sometimes waste it, if you are on to games and social media platforms!

In order for these new technologies to be portable and give us the freedom of movement, they operate on either rechargeable or disposable batteries. Batteries have come a long way from huge liquid copper pots filled with copper sulfate solution. They are now thin, light-weight and compact lithium forms that are affordable and have a much larger capacity than their old counterparts.

The most popular forms of disposable batteries are Lithium and Alkaline Batteries. So, what’s the difference between these two and which one has a better capacity and a longer life?

Alkaline Batteries

Alkaline batteries are named after the alkaline electrolyte of potassium that they contain. They still make up the largest sales’ segment of disposable batteries around the world. They are commonly used in small electronics such as kids’ toys and remote controls.

  • Advantages

High current output.

Good performance in low and high temperature.

Long shelf life – losing about 5% of capacity per year.

Safer – doesn’t require special disposal methods because it doesn’t contain mercury or other heavy metals.


  • Disadvantages

Heavier and comes in larger and bulkier forms compared to lithium batteries when more energy density is required. This make this type of batteries not convenient for technologies where lighter and thinner specifications are a critical selling point, such as laptops and mobiles.

Mishandling might cause leakage and damage to these batteries. They might also explode due to internal pressure caused by gas build-up when damaged.

Lithium Batteries

Lithium batteries used to be known as the small circle batteries used in wrist watches and calculators. The newer forms of single-use lithium batteries (AA and AAA) have recently hit the market to compete with Alkaline batteries. They have a much higher energy storage density and longer shelf life. They are very light in weight as well which makes them commonly used in portable electronics.

  • Advantages

Higher energy storage density.

Perform very well even in extreme temperatures – hot or cold.

Much lighter in weight than Alkaline batteries.

Designed to last longer – They produce twice as much voltage as alkaline batteries.

Very long shelf life – The loss of capacity is only 0.5% per year.

  • Disadvantages

They are restricted items to carry-on some airlines due to their high risk of discharge if they short circuit.

More expensive than Alkaline batteries.

One last thing …

It’s important to differentiate between lithium batteries and lithium-ion batters, the first type is a single-use batters that cannot be recharged, the second are rechargeable batteries which are often used in smart phones.

Stay tuned to our blog as we explain Lithium-ion batteries in our next articles.

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