The Main two types
Single use, disposable, not rechargeable.
Typically most Zinc types, Silver Oxide, some Lithium types, Mercury, Alkaline.
Typically Silver-Zinc, Lead Acid, Nickel Iron Alkaline, Lithium Ion (LiPo, Lithium poly)
Notes on some confusing points:
- “B” size is a essentially a U10 Cell (IEC R12 or LR12) used in battery packs of many kinds from 1920s. The 1920s 1289 torch pack is still sold as 3R12 today (2014). In the USA a B battery also means an HT battery (22.5V to 500V) used on tube radios from 1920s to 1950s, today “B+” is still the main supply on US schematics. It’s a Primary Cell of about 2500 mAH
- “C” size is a essentially a U11 Cell (IEC R14 or LR14) still sold today (2014). In the USA a C battery also means a Grid battery (GB volts: -1.5V to -18, usually with taps) used on battery tube radios from 1920s to 1940s,
- There are three unrelated “J” cells / Batteries: A large pre 1940s 1.5V cell smaller than Flag/No.6/#6/Bell but larger than UK Gaslighter U14. Later in 1960s the Winner 9 (tapped 9V using 6 off “B” cells) was repackaged as J for UK Education market. The current J is a small rectangular 6V alkaline pack (7K67, 539, 1412APIEC 4LR61) with one bevelled corner. It uses 4 of the LR61 cylindrical cells also used in an Alkaline PP3 (6LR61) which are similar size to “AAAA” size.
- There are different unrelated batteries with similar names, e.g.: No.8 & U8, B126 & 126 etc.
- There are batteries the same size or similar sizes with completely different voltages, e.g.: N & A27, 3V Lithium and 1.5V cells or 1.3V NiMH
- There are four incompatible “Lithium” families: Lithium Iron versions 1.5V nominal to replace Alkaline cells, 3.6V very low current very long life Lithium backup cells, regular disposable Lithium 3V coins, 3V cells and 6V batteries and separately the rechargeable Lithium Ion / LiPo / Lithium Poly (3.5V to 4.2), which are in coins, cylinders, plastic cases and soft bags. These are not interchangeable.
- Alkaline batteries have a positive case with moulded in top “+” nub and recessed negative bottom plate but Zinc Carbon / Manganese / Chloride types the case is negative (and is consumed) with an isolated “+” top contact. So if the holder is metal and label is scratched the Alkaline cell(s) may short out. Zinc cells will ALWAYS eventually leak, even if so called “leakproof”. Only mistreated, faulty or poorly made Alkaline cells will leak (i.e. too high a spring pressure).
Some of the designations A, AA, B, C, D, E, F and G etc only created in the USA in 1947, the batteries all existed many years before. Today the IEC designations
are often on batteries and cells. Currently only AA, AAA, AAAA, D, C and N are sold separately but the A cell size is used for NiMH (1.25V) and Lithium (3.4V to 4.2V) cells sealed inside battery packs, though the NiMH is rare. The F size and B size are still made and used inside 6V lantern Packs and “flat” 4.5V Flashlight packs (more common on Mainland Europe than UK, Ireland or USA).