I use AA lithium batteries for devices operating in cold weather, and for devices where much more capacity under moderate to heavy load is preferred.
Their performance characteristics are outstanding under load. So I use them in devices which demand good performance under higher loads.
I mention ” AA ” size in the title. However the advantages are the same regardless of its form factor. Lithium versus Alkaline. Lithium wins.
Yes, lithium AA batteries cost more than regular alkaline batteries. So I don’t use them for everything. I have found an excellent AA battery for everything else. It’s the Energizer Max. Best of all, they don’t leak (Lithium batteries don’t leak either).
[ Read: AA Batteries That Won’t Leak ]
Energizer Lithium AA Battery Capacity
The Energizer (Ultimate Lithium L91) AA battery holds approximately 3500 maH of energy.
The Energizer Max (E91 Alkaline) AA battery holds about 3000 maH of energy.
The initial capacity of the lithium AA is a bit more. However look at how well it performs while discharging (under load)… WAY BETTER than the alkaline battery.
You can put a heavy load on the lithium battery, say 800 mA. The capacity as such remains close to 3500 maH. In contrast, the AA alkaline battery will only present an effective capacity of ~1000 maH under that heavy load. Huge difference!
Voltage of Lithium AA Battery
Both batteries have a nominal voltage of 1.5 volts. However the lithium chemistry performs much, much better under load.
Note the apparent open-circuit (no load) voltage of the AA lithium. It’s ~ 1.7 volts. HOWEVER, before you get all worried about that (being more than 1.5 volts)… As soon as the load goes above just a few milliamps, say 10 mA, voltage settles in at 1.5 volts. Most all devices draw at least that!
However, “if” your device specifically restricts the use of lithium chemistry, well, use the Energizer Max instead.
Take a look at this chart which shows the Energizer lithium L91 (AA size) battery voltage discharge profile. As you can see, the voltage is higher than 1.5 under a near-zero load. However when it’s placed under load, the voltage comes in at ~ 1.5 volts.
Energizer Lithium Battery L91 (AA form factor) Voltage Discharge Profile
Energizer Lithium L91 (AA) Battery Temperature Performance
Best of all, cold weather performance is outstanding. A lithium AA-battery will perform substantially better than an alkaline battery when it’s cold.
Look at the chart. An alkaline battery will perform pretty well until it gets cold. The differences between cold weather tolerant lithium batteries and alkaline become very, very obvious while under heavy loads.
Either way, lithium wins.
(chart source) (I added degrees-F)
To sum it up, I really like the Energizer Ultimate Lithium battery for many of my demanding applications. I also really like the Energizer Max alkaline battery for normal applications. (But I also utilize rechargeable batteries, but that’s another articled…)
I hope that the charts above will help some of you understand the advantages of lithium battery chemistry, particularly for the consumer size AA battery.
>> Energizer Ultimate Lithium Batteries
(view on amzn)
By the way, some of the primary (lithium battery) uses for my own “devices” include my driveway & road alarms, other outdoor sensors, the chicken coop automatic door opener, and a few of my tactical style flashlights. There’s probably more, but that’s off the top of my head…