Technology

Choose your Batteries

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We buy many shiny new devices some with in-built battery and some with external power source or user replaceable battery. How many times have you seen devices with replacement battery not performing as good as with stock batteries? It could be normal wear and tear but not getting optimal battery life, is also an issue. No, I’m not talking about Apple Batterygate. It it something closer, cheaper and source of instant relief and happiness – batteries used in our toys.A lot of winter wear got bobbles and were looking really bad. I decided to go for a fuzz remover or fabric shaver. I settled for Philips branded one, based on reviews on Amazon and from peers.


It worked wonderfully well. Removed bobbles from 2 kids sweater, 2 adult sweater, couple or more garments, with no exact count came the dreaded moment – stock batteries died. Pull out the batteries and pop in 2 new 1.5V batteries. The device did not work as expected. The motor was slow, seemed to not even running at slow speed as well. It was one of best selling batteries available and I have trusted it earlier with lot of toys (with motors included). This was first time battery did not give optimal power.

The stock battery was Alkaline, while the replacement was Zinc Carbon. Both rated 1.5V then why the difference?

Voltage not enough. You need some Amperes!

Identifying the Amperes being provided by the batteries was the tricky part. Either get a Multimeter or just get Alkaline battery and be content. I wanted to know the difference so read the battery labels. Alkaline Battery was LR6 while the Zinc Carbon (the replacement cell) was R6. R6 stands for Round battery of 6mm in diameter. L was only prefixed for Alkaline battery. Quick Google search and it was clear.

Normal Zinc Carbon/Zinc Chloride Battery has 1000 to 1500 mAh while Alkaline Battery has 1700 to 3000 mAh. The Alkaline batteries already disburse more power than regular batteries. But what does that mean? This translates to 1.5 to 2.25 Wh vs 2.55 to 4.5 Wh. Alkaline batteries are simply more powerful, almost double.

Whatever may be said of normal batteries to be leakproof but they do. They are cheap and can act as quick fix solution in many cases but they don’t perform well in high current drain (e.g. devices with high power motor, flash, remote control, radio). They are good to be used with watches, flash light (Torch) which have fairly constant drain and need voltage as driver.

Alkaline batteries are best for toys, camera flash, CD Players. They are costly, but, they can give you failrly long life in general purpose as well.

Go Alkaline! Look for LR6.

Well, yes, I said it. Go alkaline batteries but how do you know. They are failrly common, as common as general Zinc Chloride/Carbon battery. While buying batteries, check if they are mentioned Alkaline or LR6. If that’s too fine to read, try going for Duracell, Energizer or even Eveready Ultima (not to be confused with Eveready Red which is Zinc Carbon). They are big names to be found in most places.

This brings us to the next question, what about the Chinese batteries that come with toys? Toys seem to play quite well with them. Well, Chinese cells are “Chinese”. Most of the batteries are made in China even the world’s best might be having a production line there but the cheap ones that come with toys do not have any standard Voltage or Ampere disburtion rate. They are mostly for demo and to survive those 30 seconds of demo and can be easily swapped out with load of bulk already lying spare. They don’t cost a thing to the shopkeeper and are given away freely when asked. In nutshell, they are risky because they can provide more than prescribed power for high drain toys while not being rated Alkaline or confrming to those standards.

Now I know why my toys would run out of juice so soon or never played long with same enthusiasm with when battery is changed. It was never the device or toys that drained battery or not performed well. In many cases it was the choice of battery used. Higher demain, higher drain. Now placing an Alkaline battery inside the fabric shaver, It’s performing wondefully well and converting all my fuzz covered winter wear to as good as new.

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