Cell Quantity in Battery Packs, Meaningless?
A battery cell is not meaningless to any battery pack. You may wonder; what exactly is a battery cell? A battery cell is the basic “building block” of a battery. In a battery it is the power source. A cell is a single energy or charge-storing unit within a pack of cells that form the battery. Each cell has a voltage and capacity rating that is combined with the other cells to form the overall battery voltage and capacity rating. We will explore different types of batteries and the cell packs within them.
In reference to laptop batteries; there are usually two types available for your laptop, the standard battery and an extended battery. The extended battery will provide you with more run time. In order to achieve the higher capacity, additional cells must be added to the battery pack. To accommodate the additional cells, the battery will either protrude from the bottom of your laptop (setting your laptop at a slight incline on a flat surface) or protrude from the back of the laptop (pictured).
We have additional resources available for information on the Anatomy of a Laptop Battery, How to Choose a Laptop Battery (which explains in detail the difference of battery capacities and cells) and more on our Laptop Battery Guides page. Pictured right are the cells inside of a laptop battery. The anatomy of a laptop battery will explain the inside and how the cells are connected to achieve the voltage and capacity needed to power the laptop.
In our Battery Times article, Battery Hacks, you can see videos on “batteries within batteries.” For example, a there are 6 AAAA batteries within a 9v battery. Each AAAA battery is 1.5v; the 6 AAAA batteries (pictured left) connected in series will increase the voltage to meet 9v. Please note that we never recommend opening battery packs or cells. Injury, fire or damage to the battery may occur. These articles are for informational purposes.
Power Tool Batteries
Rechargeable power tool batteries are typically a group of individual cells connected together to achieve the appropriate voltage. Depending on the type of battery, NiMH, NiCD or Li-Ion, the voltage on the individual cells will vary. Pictured is an example of the inside of a power tool battery. This will impact the performance of your power tool. Before selecting your power tool, ask yourself “how am I going to use this tool?”
NiCD battery chemistry for power tools is tough, sturdy and inexpensive. This type is good for smaller jobs as it does not have as much power or capacity compared to NiMH and Li-Ion. As it tends to be heavier than NiMH or Li-Ion batteries; it may be uncomfortable to use in one long sitting.
NiMH battery chemistry for power tools generally has a higher capacity than NiCD, which means you usually get a longer run time on a single charge. Usage for moderate to heavy jobs; these batteries tend to be higher in price.
Li-Ion battery chemistry for power tools are the lightest compared to NiCD and NiMH batteries. This type of power tool battery recharges quickly and has a high capacity. The li-Ion power tool battery can be designed in almost any shape, which is nice for better tool balance. This battery is usually the most expensive. Usage is great for moderate to heavy jobs.
Cordless Phone Battery
If you take out your cordless phone battery, you can see the battery cells basically shrink wrapped in a green or colored plastic type casing. There are different cell sizes depending on the type or model of cordless phone. Pictured is an example of three AA NiMH rechargeable batteries. Each battery is 1.2v; connected in series you will meet the 3.6v which is the most common voltage for cordless phone batteries. Once the batteries are soldered together, leads are attached to the battery and then it is wrapped to look like the assembled cordless phone battery also pictured.
So you can see how important cell quantity is in most battery packs. It can affect the overall performance, longevity, and power of the device. You can most certainly configure a battery in almost any shape to accommodate the device it is being used in. These are just a few examples, the list and possibilities are endless. Again we never recommend opening batteries or cells, or assembling battery packs on your own; it is best to leave that to a battery expert.