Top 10 Single-use Batteries for Personal Electronics

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Electrical energy storage has revolutionized the way people use gadgets, and batteries are an integral part of modern life in the twenty-first century. Powering small and large gadgets from hearing aids to GPS receivers, cell phones and radios, batteries are either single-use or rechargeable.
Single-use batteries have one life cycle, and once drained, users disposed of them. They include the standard   AA and AAA batteries that most households purchase. Convenient, inexpensive, and easily disposed of,   single-use batteries have a higher capacity and initial voltage than rechargeable batteries. In fact, they are especially cost-effective for low-drain applications though there is the recurrent cost of replacement. Learning about the types, sizes, capacity, and shelf-life of single-use batteries enables consumers to select the right type for different applications.
1 Standard Alkaline Batteries
Standard Alkaline Batteries

The most popular, premium battery for general use, most standard  alkaline batteries contain zinc and manganese dioxide. The electrolyte found in most alkaline batteries is an alkaline electrolyte called potassium hydroxide (KOH). Alkaline batteries are ideal for high drain devices, such as flashlights and toys. They also have a higher energy density than carbon-zinc batteries at 1.55 volts to 1.7 volts initially and gradually declining to 0.8 volts. Alkaline batteries are available in  coin,  button cell, and cylindrical forms. The size and grade of an alkaline battery determines its usage in moderate and high drain applications.

2 Premium Alkaline Batteries
Premium Alkaline Batteries

These alkaline batteries have a higher energy density and shelf life than standard alkaline batteries.  Premium alkaline batteries lose five percent of their total performance power during the first year, and subsequently, the loss goes down to 2.5 percent. High-tech gadgets, such as digital cameras, stereos, and gaming consoles, work well with premium alkaline batteries.

3 Lithium Manganese Dioxide
Lithium Manganese Dioxide Batteries

Lithium manganese dioxide batteries are an optimum power source and have a very high energy density, high cell voltage, very low self-discharge, and consequently a long storage life of ten years. Generally available in button cell and cylindrical forms, cylindrical lithium manganese dioxide batteries are either solid-state or spiral wound. Solid state batteries have solid electrodes and solid electrolytes as well. As for spiral wound, a higher current carrying capacity is achieved by increasing the active surface area of electrodes. Given the cell size limitations, this is done by using long strips of electrodes rolled into a spiral shape.
With a nominal cell voltage of 3 volts, this is the most commonly used, single-use battery and comprises a pure lithium metal anode, a manganese dioxide cathode, and a separator sheet infused with electrolytic salts. The 9-volt primary lithium batteries are good choices for smoke detectors as rechargeable batteries should never to be used in them; due to their high self-discharge rate, they may be dead for some time before being completely recharged.

4 Lithium Sulfur Dioxide
Lithium Sulfur Dioxide Batteries

Lithium sulfur dioxide batteries have 1.5 up to 2.8 volts and are a good replacement for zinc carbon and alkaline batteries. These batteries, generally available in cylindrical form, have a lithium foil anode and a liquid cathode of a porous carbon electrode in iron disulfide as the electrolyte. The energy density in these batteries is high. They are used in applications where a more powerful current is required, such as in the military for radio operations, some industrial applications, and external defibrillators among others.

5 Lithium Thionyl Chloride
Lithium Thionyl Chloride Batteries

Containing a lithium cell with the highest energy density,  lithium thionyl chloride batteries have a shelf life of about 15 to 20 years. With an operating voltage of up to 3.6 volts, these batteries are available as spiral wound and bobbin type cylindricals.

6 Photo Lithium Batteries
Photo Lithium Batteries

Photo lithium batteries are popular choices for digital cameras, flashlights, memory backup, and personal computers as well. Available at a 3 and 6 volts rating, they are coded as CR123A, CR2, CRP2, 2CR5, and CR-V3 in compliance with IEC's battery nomenclature that specifies battery physical dimensions, weight, chemistry, terminal connections, and other special features of the battery.
 CR-V3 batteries are high capacity and high energy density cells used in cameras and various portable electronic gadgets. Each CR-V3 battery is the size of two AA batteries placed side by side and has a 3 volt rating. Single-use CR-V3 batteries have various chemistries, such as the non-rechargeable, lithium CR-V3.

7 Silver Oxide Batteries
Silver Oxide Batteries

Silver oxide batteries are available mainly as button cells because the high cost of silver raises production costs. These batteries are used for watches, calculators, portable games, and digital clinical thermometers. Silver oxide batteries use zinc as the cathode, silver oxide as the anode and an alkaline as the electrolyte.

8 Carbon Zinc Batteries
Carbon Zinc Batteries

Carbon zinc batteries also known as Leclanche batteries and  heavy duty batteries. They are low power and ideally suited for use in clocks and remote controls. The zinc container that holds the contents of the battery is the negative terminal, while the positive terminal is a carbon rod coated with a mixture of manganese dioxide and carbon powder. The electrolyte is an aqueous paste of zinc chloride and ammonium chloride.

9 Zinc Air Cells
Zinc Air Cells

Considered standard for hearing aids, zinc air cells have a very long run time as these use atmospheric oxygen for the chemical reaction. A sealing tab is removed to let in air, which is absorbed into the electrolyte through a permeable membrane that is also leak proof. The cell reaches full operating voltage in five seconds of the air being allowed in. Porous carbon is the cathode, zinc is the anode, and potassium hydroxide is the alkaline electrolyte.

10 Zinc Chloride Batteries
Zinc Chloride Batteries

A general purpose, heavy duty battery in the zinc carbon battery class, the chemical composition makes  zinc chloride batteries a good choice as they are leak resistant. Zinc chloride batteries perform well and also store for longer periods at reduced temperatures. These are also available as 1.5-volt lantern batteries.

Single-use Battery Voltage and Size

While most battery types are available in all standard sizes, silver oxide batteries are only available as button cells. This is because the high cost of silver makes it only feasible to have the precious metal in tiny quantities in button cells alone. Here is a look at the sizes and voltages of the different types of single-use batteries


Nominal Voltage

Sizes available



AA, AAA, C, D, and 9-volt

Premium Alkaline


AA, AAA,C, D, and 9-volt



AA,AAA, C, D, and 9-volt

Silver Oxide


Button cells

Carbon Zinc


AA, AAA, C, D, 6 volt lantern, and 9-volt

Physically large in size, lantern batteries are primarily zinc carbon or zinc chloride batteries; they are ideally suited for flashlights and lanterns. They comprise multiple cells in a casing with spring or screw terminals as opposed to other single-use batteries that are available as single units.

How to Buy Single-use Batteries on eBay

Finding single-use batteries on eBay is quick and easy with the search bar available on every eBay page. An apt keyword is crucial to finding a good set of listings, and in this case, shoppers can use "single-use batteries" for a general search. Shoppers can then select other refinements, such as the type or subtype of the batteries, brands, and condition in order to find more specific listings based on their wants or needs.
Shoppers would do well to read through feedback and ratings, shipping charges, seller information, and other details about the product on the individual listings page. Checkout and payment on eBay is an easy process as there are numerous secure payment options listed by eBay for the convenience of eBay shoppers.


Several portable gadgets that consumers use work on different types of batteries. Of these, single use batteries with different chemistries are the most commonly used. Single-use batteries may be cylindrical, button, or coin cells. They are categorized as alkaline, lithium, silver oxide, zinc carbon, zinc air, and many more.
Each type has its own chemistry, capacity in terms of voltage, size, and design and is specific to certain applications as well. Button cells are used in smaller gadgets, such as watches and calculators, while cylindrical batteries are used in flashlights, toys, cameras, and other devices. Consumers buying single-use batteries get full value for money when they judiciously select the type of battery that is best suited to the chosen application.
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