Pros and Cons of Rechargeable and Non-Rechargeable Batteries

Published: 23rd September 2009
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Batteries ultimately come in two categories: non-rechargeable and rechargeable. Also known as primary and secondary batteries, each type offers its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

The primary, or non-rechargeable, battery is most often used in small, portable devices that do not require a great deal of power. Such devices include radios, toys, and flashlights, to name a few. Convenience is a major selling point of these batteries. They require no preparation, being ready to use upon purchase. Another advantage of primary batteries is that they are usually cheap, and have a high energy density.

That said, primary batteries also suffer from some shortcomings. The most severe problem is the waste caused by primary batteries. Because the average household goes through so many, it is easy for waste to accumulate. When disposed through normal means, some primary batteries (like button batteries) can pollute the environment with corrosive materials and heavy metals. These primary batteries require special means of disposal, the nature of which varies from place to place. Batteries can sometimes be recycled, but this is not always an available option.

Secondary batteries, also known as rechargeable batteries, provide an alternate option. Secondary batteries are often used for electronic items that demand more power. Phones and power tools are all examples of products that rely on secondary batteries. The increasingly ubiquitous laptop battery is another example of this. As their name suggests, these batteries can be reused. This makes up for the increased cost and decreases wastage.

Secondary batteries also suffer from some drawbacks. One of these is preparation: they often need charging, even before the first use. Another problem is the secondary battery's lack of versatility. While a primary battery can often be used with a wide range of products, secondary batteries are rarely interchangeable. The proper disposal of rechargeable batteries presents another problem. Secondary batteries are usually classified as hazardous wastes. Fortunately, they last much longer than primary batteries.

Many different components go into the manufacture of batteries. These materials aren't necessarily exclusive to one type of battery. Alkaline batteries are an example of this, as they are usually associated with primary batteries, but are sometimes used as secondary batteries. The materials can have a major impact on the use and benefits of a battery.

Primary and secondary batteries both play important roles. Because of this, battery outlets usually carry both varieties. Many people now choose to buy from online battery retailers, which offer a wide variety at a low price.


Rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries are designed for different purposes. The rechargeable variety is most often used with the more power-hungry devices. A laptop battery is one example of this. Non-rechargeable batteries typically go with smaller devices.

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