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Battery Knowledge

Welcome to batteryonline battery knowledge page. Here you will find some quick notes on batteries and battery assemblies. This page is designed to help our customers become more familiar with the general principles of battery assemblies. If you have questions or would like us to add more information relevant to your needs, please contact us.

Glossary of Common Battery Terms:

  • Battery
    a device that converts energy, by chemical reaction or physical reaction, into electric current.
  • Primary Battery
    energy is exhausted when active materials are consumed (carbon-zinc dry cell, lithium battery, silver oxide battery, alkaline battery)
  • Secondary Battery
    active materials are regenerated by charging (nickel cadmium (NiCd), nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion, Lithium Polymer, Sealed Lead Acid.
  • Series Connection
    Connection of a group of battery cells by sequentially interconnecting the terminals of opposite polarity thereby increasing the voltage of the battery group but not increasing capacity (i.e. positive to negative connections).
  • Parallel Connection
    Connection of a group of batter cells by interconnecting all terminals of the same polarity, thereby increasing the capacity of the battery group but not increasing the voltage (i.e. positive to positive and negative to negative).
  • Cadmium
    Chemical symbol Cd. This metallic element is the chemically active material of a nickel cadmium battery's negative electrode. When the battery is charged, the negative electrode surface consists of cadmium. As the battery discharges, the cadmium progressively changes into cadmium hydroxide (Cd (OH2)).
  • Cadmium Hydroxide
    Active material used at the negative electrode of the Nickel-Cadmium Cell.
  • Metal Hydride
    A general name for chemical compounds consisting of metal elements and hydrogen.
  • Nickel Hydroxide
    The active material in the positive electrode of Ni-MH and NiCd batteries.
  • Nickel Oxyhydroxide
    The chemical name of NiOOH. Indicates that oxidation of Ni (OH)2 has progressed, and that the active material of the positive electrode of an NiCd or Ni-MH battery is charged.
  • Capacity
    The quantity of electricity that can be obtained from a battery in one cycle from full charge to full discharge when the battery is discharged under conditions of rated current level and ambient temperature within the predetermined range. Generally, capacity is expressed in units of mAh (milliampere-hour).
  • Nominal Capacity
    The standard capacity designated by a battery manufacturer to identify a particular cell model.
  • Nominal Voltage
    The standard voltage used to express the capacity of a particular battery model. It is generally equal to its electromotive force or its approximate voltage during normal operation. Typical Values:
    - 1.2 volts per cell for NiCd and Ni-MH
    - 3.6 or 3.7 volts per cell for Lithium Ion or Lithium Polymer
    - 3 volts per cell for lithium primary
    - 2 volts per cell for sealed lead acid
    - 1.5 volts per cell for alkaline and carbon zinc

  • Discharge Rate
    The discharge rate is the rate at which current is removed from a battery. When a battery is discharged at a current level "i", for a period until the end discharge voltage is '"h", the discharge is referred to as the h-hour rate discharge, while "i" is known as the h-hour rate discharge current. For practical use, nominal capacity is used as standard.
  • End-Voltage
    The voltage that indicates the end limit of discharge. This voltage is almost equivalent to limitation of practical use. Typical values:
    - 1.0 volt per cell for NiCd and Ni-MH
    - 1.75 volts per cell for sealed lead acid
    - 2.75 volts per cell for lithium ion and lithium polymer
    - 2.0 volts per cell for primary lithium
    - 0.9 volts per cell for alkaline and carbon zinc
  • Open circuit voltage
    The voltage between terminals of a battery without any load.
  • Operating voltage
    The voltage between terminals when a battery is subjected to a load. Usually expressed by the voltage of the battery at 50% discharge point.
  • Polarity Reversal
    Reversing of polarity of the terminals of a small-capacity cell in a multi-cell battery due to overdischarge.
  • Positive Electrode
    The electrode which has a positive potential. Electric current from this electrode flows in the external circuit during discharge.
  • Negative Electrode
    The plate which has an electrical potential lower than that of the other plate during normal cell operation. Electric current from the external circuit flows into the cell at the negative electrode during discharge. Also called minus electrode.
  • Self-Discharge
    a decrease in battery capacity which occurs without any current flow to an external circuit. Typical values:
    - 1% per day for NiCd
    - 2% per day for Ni-MH
    - ~0% per day for Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer
  • Short Circuit
    Directly connecting the positive electrode (terminal) to the negative electrode (terminal) of the battery.
  • Thermistor
    A circuit element with a negative temperature coefficient. It is built into batteries and used to detect ambient temperature or battery temperature. A battery charger may use this device to properly charge a battery.

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