While in the check-out line at a big-box retailer, I noticed on display a package of popular AA batteries in an eight pack for $6.00. Right below it was a four-pack of AA from the same manufacturer only in the lithium variety for the same price.
Big price difference per battery, but what about performance? Are the lithium batteries really that much better? Does paying that much more mean that much more in longevity power wise?
The answer is generally yes and yes. But there is more to it than just a simple yes or no answer. The bottom line has to do with application, but that will be addressed after some explanation about the advantage of lithium batteries.
When alkaline batteries were first introduced in the 1960s, the reviews were extremely favorable in the amount of charge that was held over a longer period of time. In specific applications, they were an immediate hit with the public.
The same is true now for lithium batteries. These new disposable batteries have a longer life depending on what device in which they are place. Up to 4 times is the expected longevity over alkaline equivalents.
It is in how lithium batteries perform which also make them a good choice. Alkaline batteries lose their charge on a graduated rate over a period of time. The lithium batteries hold their charge longer and then suddenly go dead. While this is not good for mission-critical devices, it does work well with certain consumer electronic devices such as digital cameras.
Also, lithium batteries can put out more voltage than their alkaline counterparts, so care must be used in making sure that your device approves of the usage of lithium batteries.
Another application in which alkaline has no presence is in the very small 'coin' sized batteries used in very small consumer devices or in logic boards on computers. These often have a usable life of many many months, even years in some cases.
The use of lithium batteries and whether they are a good choice depends upon what the device is in which they are being placed. For digital cameras and other devices such as portable music players (that do not have an internal re-chargeable battery) these work well and can deliver much more useable life over conventional alkaline batteries.
Conversely, it might not be cost-effective to place lithium batteries into a toy because of the life expectancy of the device. The battery could well out-last the device being powered which would render the purchase wasteful.
The answer is that lithium batteries really last a lot longer than do their kin, the alkaline. Just be sure to follow stated directions of the device into which you want to place these batteries to make sure they will work properly and give you the length of service that you