Advantages & Disadvantages of a Nickel Cadmium Battery


Nickel Cadmium batteries are among the most popular means of providing energy to portable electronic items. They have a number of advantages over other types of batteries for portable devices. However, Ni-CD batteries also have drawbacks, some of which involve potential serious health hazards.

Longer Battery Life

  • Ni-CD batteries are rechargeable and achieve full power relatively quickly. This gives them a much longer practical life than alkaline or even lithium non-rechargeable batteries. Ni-CD batteries perform better at low temperatures, which is an important asset for portable items that are often used outdoors during cold weather. Ni-CD batteries also are relatively durable in comparison with other types of batteries. They are less likely to corrode when stored for long periods than other types of batteries.

Higher Initial Cost

  • Although Ni-CD batteries can be quite economical over the course of their useful life, they are initially quite expensive. The initial cost of Ni-CD batteries is at least twice as much as other batteries. In the United States, part of the price of a Ni-CD battery is the inclusion of the fee to cover proper disposal of the battery at the end of its life. Because of their high price, Ni-CD batteries are impractical for very low-cost merchandise, especially items with a short period of expected usefulness.

Memory Effects

  • Many rechargeable batteries are subject to a "memory effect" if they are not properly charged and discharged regularly. Memory effect for Ni-CD batteries means that they may eventually lose the ability to attain and maintain a full charge. This means that the electronic item can be used for progressively shorter periods before needing to have a charge replenished. One way of avoiding memory effect is by "cycling" the battery, or allowing it to discharge nearly completely, then slowly recharging the battery again.

Disposal and Health Issues

  • The European Union created a directive that restricts the use of specified materials, including nickel and cadmium, in the production of electronic equipment. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency has categorized nickel and cadmium as toxic heavy metals subject to regulation by the Universal Treatment Standards. They are not suitable for disposal in landfills.

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