Common battery types used in household and light industry have different shapes, sizes and characteristics and consist of single or multiple cells in a package. Long before agreement was reached for international standards to designate battery sizes, many different national standards and manufacturer specific standards were used for disposable dry cell batteries.
Currently, technical standards for the types and sizes of batteries are published by ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), with full specification of the chemistry, size, terminal arrangements and other special characteristics of each battery listed.
Besides the difference in size, (AAA, AA, C and D batteries are all rated 1.5 volts), the amount of electricity produced by each battery is different. An electric circuit or device contains two important components: Voltage and Current. Certain electric devices need more current but not a lot of voltage to operate efficiently. This is where the size of a battery comes in. For example, a D size battery delivers more current than an AA, AAA or C size battery. So when a device needs more current, even though an AA battery and an AAA battery both deliver 1.5 volts, an AA battery is preferable because it will deliver more current than an AAA battery.
What is in a battery?
The package of a battery consists of a metal case which is lined with zinc, attached to a negative terminal. In the center, there is a carbon rod which is attached to a positive terminal. Between the zinc lining and the carbon lies a black paste, consisting of manganese dioxide, ammonium, carbon and zinc chlorides.
Batteries which are labeled “heavy duty” contain more zinc chloride and are less likely to “leak”, whereas alkaline batteries contain a negative rod of powdered zinc, surrounded by potassium hydroxide electrolytes, which are highly corrosive. In turn, these electrolytes are surrounded by a positive outer terminal of carbon and manganese dioxide.
“Battery” means “a line of many things”, and even though all 1.5 volt batteries are in fact single cells and therefore cannot be termed as “batteries”, most people call them batteries.
Common Battery Sizes
a. Round Cell Batteries
Single cell batteries which are greater in height than in diameter with a cylindrical form which features a positive terminal at the top of the cell and a negative one at the bottom are called round cell batteries. They come in alkaline or zinc-carbon types and when fresh they produce 1.5 volts of power. Round Cell batteries include AAA, AA, C and D types.
b. Non Round Batteries
These batteries are mostly used in Europe and the Russian Federation and some have spring terminals for use as lantern batteries. These include 4.5 volt, 9 volt and Lantern Batteries.
Less Common Batteries
These types of batteries are found in specialized applications for instrumentation purposes or photographic equipment and are not used for general consumer applications. Some battery cell sizes are only used as elements for multi-cell batteries. These include Round Single Cell batteries, Round Multiple-Cell batteries and Non Round Multiple-Cell batteries.
Other than the above mentioned batteries there are many more batteries such as lithium batteries for watches, the PP Series of batteries for portable electronic devices, camera cell batteries, silver oxide and alkaline cells and zinc air cells for hearing aids.
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