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A battery converts chemical energy to electrical energy. Batteries are used for power on a wide variety of portable items and come in many sizes. They are commonly used in flashlights, cell phones, automobiles, portable electronics, appliances etc. There are different types of batteries including alkaline, NiCad, Lithium-
Batteries eventually lose power. Rechargeable batteries can be charged, disposable batteries must not be charged.
Batteries supply direct current (DC) power. That means the current goes in only one direction. They are mostly low voltage (1.5 volts to 12 volts). Since batteries are low voltage, you can not get a dangerous shock from them.
While there is no risk of shock from a battery, there are certain precautions you should take. Dry cell batteries contain a corrosive chemical paste and are sealed.
If they leak due to damage or an extreme discharge state, they could cause skin burns or damage to electronics or appliances they are installed in. Remove batteries from electronics or appliances if they will not be used for long periods of time.
Safety tips to avoid battery leakage, explosion, or arc flash:
Example lithium disposable battery warning:
Warning: Risk of fire. Battery can explode or leak and cause injury if installed backward, disassembled, charged, crushed, or exposed to fire or high temperatures.
Warning: To reduce the risk of fire or burns, do not disassemble, crush, or puncture; do not short external contacts; do not dispose of in fire or water.
Disposable batteries include zinc-
Alkaline batteries -
Lithium batteries -
Coin and button batteries -
Rechargeable batteries need to be charged before first use. New rechargeable batteries are charged at 50 percent or less for long-
Rechargeable batteries do not like extreme temperatures, either hot or cold, especially when charging. Check the owners manual for specific information.
NiCad Batteries -
NiMH Batteries -
Deep cycle batteries contain lead plates in a bath of acid. They are similar to car batteries, but do not provide high current for starting motors. Because the plates are thinner, they are better suited to supply power allowing for a discharge over time. They are used to supply power to travel trailers, golf carts, etc.
Marine batteries are a type of deep cycle that are suited for boats. They can start smaller outboard motors and provide power allowing for a discharge over time.
Dead and weak alkaline batteries may leak if left in an electrical device too long. When a battery leaks, there is often a white residue and possible corrosion where the leakage occurred. Replace dead or weak batteries right away or remove them for long term non-
Alkaline batteries contain potassium hydroxide that could cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. Use rubber gloves, goggles, and work in a well ventilated area when cleaning a battery compartment that is not badly damaged.
To clean the white residue, use vinegar or lemon juice with a toothbrush or Q-
After drying is complete, install new batteries.
Car batteries are usually recycled when you buy a new one, otherwise they can be dropped off at an auto parts store.
All other batteries should not be placed into the trash. Instead, drop off at home improvement and office supply stores. Since the batteries may not be fully discharged, cover any exposed terminals with electrical tape to avoid arcing and possible fire.
As a general rule, rechargeable batteries should not be overcharged. Some chargers are “smart” using a red LED to indicate charging and a green LED to indicate a fully charged state. When the green LED is on, the charger shuts off and prevents overcharging. Overcharging can damage a rechargeable battery. There are usually limitations on temperature (extreme low and high) when charging a battery. Always refer to the user manual of the tool, appliance, or electronics when charging a battery.
Refer to the owners manual for storing rechargeable batteries. Some owners manuals recommend storing at full charge, others recommend storing at about 50 percent. Always store in a dry environment below 80 degrees if possible.
Batteries usually lose their charge slowly, they just don’t quit working. A battery tester is the best way to show the condition of a battery and every home should have one. How else would you know if a battery is starting to go bad? See the Battery Testers page for more information.