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If you’re unfamiliar with batteries and chargers, you may find the process of shopping for this technology somewhat overwhelming. That’s why our battery experts have put together a list of commonly misunderstood terms and explained them in detail.

Primary BatteryPrimary batteries cannot be recharged. Alkaline and Lithium batteries are the two most common types of primary cells. It is extremely important that you do not attempt to charge a primary cell since some chargers do not have the ability to detect the type of battery installed.

Rechargeable BatteryYou don’t need us to tell you that a rechargeable battery is one whose charge can be topped off for multiple uses. What you might not know is that there are different chemistries of rechargeable batteries, each with their own strengths and draw-backs. Similarly there are different kinds of charging technologies specific to certain battery technologies. Always make sure the charger you are using can be safely used for the battery you need charged.

CapacityThe capacity of a battery is an important measurement. It shows how electrical output a battery is capable of making. The technical side to how a batteries capacity is tested is complicated, but you should know that the batteries for sale here are measured in Millapere-hours or MaH, and a higher number beans a higher capacity.

VoltageVoltage is the electric force of a battery. A higher voltage means a more powerful cell.

LithiumLithium batteries are primary (non-rechargeable) cells. They produce more voltage and typically weight less than their alkaline counterparts but can be more expensive.

Lithium IonLithium-Ion or Li-Ion batteries use a special kind og lithium chemistry that allows them to be recharged over and over again. This chemistry has become the most popular type of rechargeable cell. The biggest strength of Li-Ion is its lack of “memory effect” meaning you can recharge the battery at any stage of discharge without losing capacity. Other chemistries such as NiMH should only be charged from a completely drained state in order to avoid losing capacity.

CR123A CR123, also known as a CR123A is a compact, primary battery. Originally developed for use in digital cameras, the CR123 has become a popular choice for powerful LED flashlights because of its relatively high voltage (3V) and its minimal weight.

RCR123Technically, a rechargeable CR123 is still a CR123. However, to make things easier for consumers, the RCR123 designation has become a popular way to designate the rechargeable version. Using the increasingly popular Lithium-Ion chemistry (The same that modern laptops and cell phones use.), an RCR123, or RCR123A can be charged hundreds of times while still remaining effective. The rechargeable cells are generally higher voltage, with up to 3.6 volts from a single cell.

Smart ChargerSmart chargers represent an incredible advancement in both charger and battery technologies. The ability for a charger to detect when a battery is fully charged means safer and more efficient charging. Old chargers would continue to add charge to a battery until they were manually switched off. Smart chargers will automatically cease charging when capacity is full.