I hate any device that takes batteries and requires me to change them more than once a year. (Remote controls are ok, flashlights are not, and remote control cars are straight out.)

Like me, many of you have probably wondered what the deal is with all the different types of batteries -- AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, and so forth. So here's a handy table I stole from Wikipedia's entry on batteries.

US IEC ANSI Other Shape Voltage
N LR1 910A   cylinder L 30.2 mm, D 12 mm 1.5 V
AAAA   25A MN2500 cylinder L 42 mm, D 8 mm 1.5 V
AAA LR03 24A R03,MN2400, AM4,UM4,HP16,micro cylinder L 44.5 mm, D 10.5 mm 1.5 V
AA LR6 15A R6,MN1500, AM3,UM3,HP7,mignon cylinder L 50 mm, D 14.2 mm 1.5 V
A     filament supply in old radio receivers cylinder L 50 mm, D 17 mm 1.5 V
B     plate supply in old radio receivers   90 V
C LR14 14A R14,UM2,MN1400,HP11,baby cylinder L 43 mm, D 23 mm 1.5 V
D LR20 13A R20,MN1300,UM1,HP2,mono cylinder L 58 mm, D 33 mm 1.5 V
F       cylinder L 87 mm, D 32 mm 1.5 V
G       cylinder L 105 mm, D 32 mm 1.5 V
J       cylinder L 150 mm, D 32 mm 1.5 V
      lantern,996 rectangular prism 68 mm square × 115 mm 6 V (note)
PP3 6L6R1 1604A 6F22,6R61,MN1604 rectangular prism 48 mm × 25 mm × 15mm 9 V (note)
PP9 6F100 1603   rectangular prism 51.6mm × 65.1 mm × 80.2 mm high 9 V (note)
  4R25X 908 MN908 square prism 110 mm high × 67.7 mm square, spring terminals 6 V (note)
  4R25 915   square prism 110 mm high × 67.7 mm square, screw terminals 6 V (note)
  4LR25-2 918A MN918 rectangular prism 127 mm × 136.5 mm × 73 mm high, screw terminals 6 V (note)
      PC926 rectangular prism 127 mm × 136.5 mm × 73 mm high, screw terminals 12 V (note)

Battery capacity is measured in Amp-hours, or more commonly, mAh (milliamp-hours). AAA batteries typically output between 900 and 1,155 mAh at 1.5 volts, and the larger cells in the same series have the same voltage (as shown in the table above) and larger capacities (proportional to their larger volume). (A battery with 1,000 mAh can sustain a current of 10 mA for 100 hours, or 100 mA for 10 hours.)

From what I can find, the capacity of various brands of batteries -- like Duracell, Energizer, Rayovac, Sanyo, or whatever -- is pretty much the same; battery capacity is almost entirely determined by the type of chemical technology used. Here's an excellent chart of capacity and weight comparisons for various types of Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Nickel Cadmium (Nicad) rechargables. Here's an article on how batteries work. Here's a history of nonrechargable batteries from the Electrochemistry Encyclopedia. Here's a page that explains why nonrechargable batteries have a much higher capacity than rechargables. Here are datasheets for Duracell and Energizer batteries.

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