Care and Feeding of Batteries
Batteries are how virtually every hobbist robot gets its power. They are how most Ham radio operators get the power to run their rigs. They are used in virtually every consumer electronics device known.

Knowing how to care and feed for batteries will increase their useful life, reduce your operating cost, and help the environment. Choosing the right battery for the right job will make your project much easier.

Go to the top...

Battery Types
Different types of batteries have different characteristics. Below are compared a few of the more popular types.

Battery Type Major Use Qualities Drawbacks
Alkaline Toys, remotes, fire alarms Large current capacity -
Quick dump of current -
Good shelf life
Cannot be recharged
Lead Acid Car/Boat/ATV Large current capacity -
Long shelf life -
Wide temperature range -
Relatively cheap -
Cheap chargers available
Heavy -
Environmentally hazardous -
Sulphur crystals grow over time, destroying battery
NiCad Radio Control Toy Quick dump of current -
Quick recharge -
Cheap chargers available
Environmentally hazardous -
Can get extremely hot under load -
Can get extremely hot under heavy charge -
High price
Lithium Coin Cell Watches, Computer NVRAM Long shelf life -
Small size
Very small current capacity -
Cannot be recharged
Lithium Ion/
Lithium Polymer
Radio Control Airborne Toys Quick dump of current -
Quick recharge -
Relatively light
Can burst into flames if discharged/charged incorrectly -
Very high price -
Charging technology expensive
A123 System
Nanophosphate Battery
Emergency gear -
Ham Radios
Quick dump of current -
Even power output -
High physical density of power
Very Expensive -
Charging technology very expensive

As can be seen in the table above, the choice of what type of battery to put into a given project can be far more complicated than at first blush. Most people who build competition robots ("Battle Bots" and the like) typically make up packs of NiCads because of their ability to output massive current repeated.

Most "outdoor roving" types of robots tend to use lead acid batteries, due to their cheap (relatively) price, easy charging and maintenance.

Most of the "flying robots" tend to stick with lithium ion/polymer type batteries due to their light weight.

Which batteries you choose will depend on your needs. Please research each type before making your choice.

Go to the top...

On the web