Lithium Ion Batteries Vs. NiCad Batteries

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There are several similarities between lithium-ion batteries and NiCad (nickel-cadmium) batteries. Both types of batteries are rechargeable and ideal for certain applications. There are also significant differences.


Lithium-ion batteries are often employed in portable electronic devices such as laptop computers, digital cameras and cell phones. Many portable power tools and two-way radios employ nickel-cadmium batteries.

Memory Effect

According to, “memory” is an effect that plagues some types of batteries. Large crystals form on cell plates when some types of batteries are not periodically discharged. This accumulation can cause a battery to lose electrical storage area. Nickel-cadmium batteries, unlike lithium-ion batteries, are prone to this “memory effect.”

Shelf Life

Both types of batteries have relatively high shelf lives. Nickel-cadmium batteries can be stored or used for up to 5 years. Lithium-ion batteries can last for anywhere between 2 and 3 years.


If they are properly maintained, nickel-cadmium batteries can offer more than 1,000 charge and discharge cycles. Lithium-ion batteries are capable of offering between 300 and 500 charge and discharge cycles.


According to, nickel-cadmium batteries have a higher rate of self-discharge than lithium-ion batteries. NiCad batteries will need to be recharged if they have been stored without use for several months. Lithium-ion batteries on the other hand, can go unused for several months before they begin self-discharging.


Lithium-ion batteries operate at higher voltages compared to nickel-cadmium batteries. A typical lithium-ion battery operates at 3.7 volts and a nickel-cadmium battery operates at 1.2 volts.

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