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NiMH vs.

Li-ion: A Battery
Updated on March 24, 2017

Lakeem - I am an electrical engineering student at the University of the Philippines Los Baos.

Modern society is powered by various electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops, and cameras.
All of these things use batteries. There are many types out there and each type has their strengths
and weaknesses. For this article, we will discuss and compare NiMH and Li-ion batteries.
These types of batteries are usually used for high drain devices like laptops, cellphones, iPods, and
digital cameras. However, they have some distinguishing features which make one type more
efficient in than the other in some regards.

NiMH Pros
High Energy Density: These have an average of 2200mAh (milliampere hoursthe amount of
current in milliamperes that it can give multiplied by the time in hours.) This is greater than the
1500mAh seen in Li-ion batteries. These are the standard numbers in 1.2v NiMHs and 3.7v Li-
Compatibility: If you have ten gadgets using an NiMH battery, you can use a single pack to
power them all. Not simultaneously of course. NiMH uses standard sizes so they are
compatible with all devices using sizes such as AAA or AA. Compared to Li-ions, the sizes
depend on the manufacturer or model of the device. I did see some AA size Li-ions around the
market so it may be worth checking them out.
They Are Safer: They have less active materials compared to Li-ion batteries. NiMH can pop if
they are overcharged too much or short circuit but this is nothing compared to a Li-ion which
can potentially blow up.
Can Be Completely Discharged: By this I mean they can be brought down to 0 charge, if you
can get it to reach that. They will still charge, just don't let it suffer from reverse polarity or else
they will be damaged.

NiMH Cons
High Self Discharge Rate: NiMH lose a large percentage of their charge every month. The
number is around 5% on the first week after the charge and about 50% on the first month.
There are low-self discharge (LSD) rate types available. They are more reliable than the
standard NiMH but they have lower capacities, usually around 2000mAh.
Unreliable for Low Load Devices: You should not use NiMH batteries for devices such as
clocks. They will lose charge faster through self-discharge rather than the load. Use alkaline, Li-
ion, or lithium batteries instead.
Low Voltage Output: Each AA cell can only give 1.2v compared to Li-ion cells which can give
Long Charging Time: The standard charge time of a NiMH is 10-12 hours. Fast charging
these cells can result in damage. Li-ion cells can be charged at around 1-3 hours depending on
Cannot Operate at Extreme Temperature: At extreme temperatures, NiMH voltage output will
drop. Li-ion batteries can tolerate these temperatures to some extent.

Li-ion Pros
Reliable: These have a significantly lower self-discharge rate than a NiMH battery. As a result,
they can be used for low-current devices like clocks or watches watches.
Small: They are smaller and lighter compared to NiMH batteries.
Higher Voltage Output: A single cell can deliver 3.7v while even two NiMH cells can only give
Faster Recharge: Li-ions can be charged in about 1-3 hours, depending on capacity. This is
much faster than the 10-12 hours needed for NiMH batteries.
Temperature Tolerance: These can better stand low temperature and warmer environments
compared to NiMH cells.
Higher Energy Density: This means that the battery carries more charge per gram than a
NiMH battery.

Li-ion Cons
Lower Capacity: These have an average of 1500mAh compared to the 2200 mAH average of
NiMH cells.
Incompatibility: Different manufacturers make different sizes and shapes for Li-ion batteries,
making them usable only to a specific set of devices. NiMHs have standard sizes.
Have Active Materials Like Lithium Batteries: Ions are a very active material. They can react
easily and generate a lot of heat. Thats why there are circuits in those cells. They are used to
check for voltage and temperature. In other words, the circuits prevents the cells from blowing
Cannot Be Completely Discharged: If a Li-ion battery gets fully discharged, it will be
damaged. Yes, you can shock charge it but its efficiency will decrease. Always keep this kind of
battery charged above 50%.

Energizer Recharge Power Plus AA Batteries

2000 mAh
Up to 5 years life
Economical high energy NiMH batteries
Meets demands of power hungry devices
Charges up to 1000 cycles
Ideal for toys, home and medical devices