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What are the Differences Between Lithium and Alkaline Batteries?

Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 8/15/2022

Child playing a video game with wireless headphones and controller

As a consumer, you rely on batteries to power a variety of everyday devices ranging from thermostats to activity trackers, wireless game controllers and more. Finding the best replacement battery for each of these applications can sometimes get a bit confusing, especially when you factor in the many different types of batteries available. Today we'll take a closer look at two of the most commonly used disposable batteries, alkaline and lithium. We'll break down their differences in performance and cost and discuss which applications each type of battery is best suited to.

Lithium and Alkaline Batteries Pros and Cons

Here is a basic breakdown of how an alkaline battery compares to a lithium option in performance and cost.

Alkaline Batteries:

  • Lower upfront cost than lithium batteries
  • Perform best in temperatures of 30℉ to 70℉
  • Can hold power for up to 10 years in storage

Lithium Batteries:

  • Higher upfront cost than alkaline batteries
  • Can last up to 6X longer than an alkaline battery
  • Performs even in extreme temperatures ranging from -40℉ to 140℉
  • Can hold power for up to 20 years in storage
  • Weighs approximately 33% less than an alkaline battery

Which is Better Lithium or Alkaline Batteries?

While lithium and alkaline batteries differ significantly in terms of performance, each has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. As noted above, lithium batteries hold the edge in performance and shelf life, however, they do cost more. The upfront cost of a lithium battery can be up to three times more than an equivalent alkaline battery, making alkaline far more affordable.

One important thing to keep in mind though is that lithium batteries don't need to be replaced as often as alkaline types. Because of this, a lithium battery will offer a better return on investment, saving you money in the long run.

Should I Use Lithium or Alkaline Batteries?

Despite the fact that lithium batteries outperform alkaline types, they are not necessarily the best choice for every application. Due to their superior chemistry, lithium batteries are your best choice for high drain devices which go through power at a rapid rate. Alkaline batteries are a better choice for low and moderate drain devices. Here is a brief breakdown of some of the uses each battery is best suited to.

Devices that are better suited to lithium:

  • Wireless video game controllers
  • Trail cameras
  • Connected programmable thermostats
  • Keyless door locks
  • Home security systems
  • Digital cameras
  • GPS devices, activity/fitness trackers & other wearable technology

Devices that are better suited to alkaline:

  • Toys
  • Clocks
  • Portable lights
  • Thermometers
  • Remotes
  • Smoke detectors & fire alarms

Devices that can use lithium or alkaline:

  • Flashlights
  • Microphones
  • Two-way radios
  • Baby monitors
  • Touchless applications - hand sanitizers/air fresheners, sinks, toilets & paper towel dispensers

Shop Lithium & Alkaline Batteries at Batteries Plus

Now that you understand the differences between alkaline and lithium batteries, it's time to start shopping. Browse our selection of alkaline and lithium batteries online. You can learn more about disposable batteries in our Alkaline Battery Buying Guide or in our online blog. Some related topics include "Can You Remove Battery Corrosion?" and "Batteries Plus Has the Best Selection of Alkaline Batteries for Your Business."

Recycle Your Old Batteries at Batteries Plus

Did you know that you can drop off your old batteries at our stores to be recycled? It's true. Batteries Plus recycles a wide range of batteries and light bulbs. Visit our recycling page for more details. Due to differences in state and local regulations, there is some variation in which recycles each store will accept. There may also be a cost for recycling, although this too will vary by location. For the most accurate information, contact your local store and ask them what type of recyclables they accept.

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