A Guide to Battery Types and Their Uses

April 12th, 2024 by

Car batteries are shown lined up on shelves.

There’s a good chance you use a battery in one form or another every day, from your television remote and smartphone to your household appliances and automobile—especially the latter, when you start your car early in the morning to get to work on time. Batteries come in various types and are used in many ways. If you are a driver looking for a car battery replacement near Monroe, you might be curious about the differences and their purpose.

Today, we’ll examine the differences between lead acid, lithium-ion, secondary cell, and primary cell batteries—so get out your pencil and notebook, because class is in session!

Lead Acid Batteries

Lead acid batteries are the most commonly found in most cars, trucks, and SUVs. These are rechargeable and operate using a combination of lead and sulphuric acid. When a lead acid battery is charged, electrical energy is converted into chemical energy within the battery itself. Contrary to what you might think, the battery doesn’t store electricity but instead possesses the chemical energy necessary to produce it for usage in the automobile.

Lead acid batteries generate a considerable amount of power, which is why they’re also used in many buildings—such as hospitals and public works—to power their critical components and serve as a backup power supply. Lead acid batteries are recharged via the vehicle’s alternator, and depending on the brand, they can last for three to five years. However, if they’re not used regularly, they tend to have a shelf life of six months to one year.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are most commonly used in electric vehicles. However, even if you don’t drive an EV, there’s an excellent chance that you use one of these batteries every day, as they’re utilized in many consumer drives such as cell phones, laptops, and other “smart devices.” Aside from their daily usage in many devices that get us through the daily grind, they’re also known for being used in power grids and military-grade vehicles.

Lithium-ion batteries carry charged lithium ions to the anode and cathode of the battery, creating a positive charge. The electrical current flows directly through a device known as a current collector to the powered device.

Suppose you’ve been shopping for an EV. In that case, you might notice that many manufacturers cover these batteries for long periods, with some offering to cover them even longer than a traditional powertrain. This is because the lifespan of these batteries can last anywhere from ten to twenty years. There are determining factors that can shorten the lifespan of these batteries, such as extreme hot and cold temperatures and rapid charging times. Many manufacturers have begun introducing items to counteract these effects, such as thermal management systems to keep the battery at a consistent temperature and limit how often it can be charged.

A car battery replacement near Monroe is shown.

Secondary Cell Batteries

One of the most notable changes in the auto industry in recent years has been the major manufacturers becoming more ecologically responsible. The most prominent aspect of this effort has been the introduction of more EVs and hybrid vehicles. However, this growing movement goes much further than that. Many body shops have adopted the practice of paintless dent removal as a means to reduce waste and avoid the use of chemicals. Another example of “going green” can be seen in more drivers opting to utilize what are known as secondary cell batteries, which can not only reduce waste but be more economically viable.

Secondary cell batteries are unique in that they can be electronically recharged once their energy has been fully discharged, negating the need to purchase a new battery for your vehicle. Now, there are a few ways to look at their application and determine whether or not they’re right for you. Because they’re rechargeable and manufactured in smaller numbers, secondary cell batteries are more expensive than primary cell or dry acid batteries. However, recharging one of these every five to eight years is a great way to save money instead of replacing a different battery outright.

Depending on the type of secondary cell battery you purchase, you might recharge it more frequently, and light maintenance might be necessary to preserve its longevity. Aside from creating less waste, secondary cell batteries can also be used in high-energy applications, which is why some have relied on them as a backup generator.

Primary Cell Batteries

Many drivers opt to go for primary cell batteries. These are also the most common in an average household. The batteries that many people use to power items such as television remotes, portable stereos, and other small, simple electrical devices. While they can’t be recharged like secondary cell batteries, they’re abundant and tend to be less expensive, which is why they’re so common. Once purchased and installed in a vehicle, these tend to last for a maximum of three years. After this, they’re discarded.

While these batteries tend to be cost-effective, they’ve gained somewhat of a polarizing reputation, as disposing of them is difficult and dangerous. An expired battery contains corrosive chemicals, and each year, they lead to a larger carbon footprint, which many public-facing companies are attempting to reduce. Their usage is also limited, so they’re typically not utilized for backup power or high output.

A mechanic is shown holding a blue battery.

What Type of Battery Should You Get?

Choosing the correct battery for your vehicle depends on your vehicle type and what your owner’s manual recommends. If you drive an EV, you’ll most likely utilize a high-powered battery, like a lithium-ion one; these also tend to be covered by the manufacturer for extended periods. They may also come in various sizes, compensating with longer ranges and greater retention of power.

If you drive a car with an internal combustion engine, a primary cell is suitable as a cost-effective option that will most likely only need replacing every three years. These are produced in large volumes and can be purchased at many locations for an affordable price. Finding a secondary cell battery for your car might be more difficult, as they’re produced in smaller numbers and sometimes have to be custom-ordered from the manufacturer. However, they tend to last much longer, and their recharging ability makes them an excellent long-term investment.

Get Your Battery Replaced at McCluskey Chevrolet

No matter what type of vehicle you drive, its battery plays a fundamental role in allowing you to get to your destinations of choice. After reading this article, you might still have questions about which kinds of batteries might benefit you the most and which kind will be the ideal match for your vehicle. Well, if you still have some questions, the team here at McCluskey Chevrolet is here to help in any way we can.

Our parts and service department is staffed by knowledgeable technicians who make it their business to understand the intricacies of your vehicle and can give you the guidance you need in choosing a new battery. We can also help you order any other parts you might need to keep your vehicle running right for several years and many miles. There’s no denying that any vehicle you buy is a long-term investment, so we’re here to ensure you recoup the return you deserve.