Battery nomenclature

Battery nomenclature

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Standard battery nomenclature describes portable dry cell
Dry Cell
-Dry Cell's formation:Part of the band formed in 1998 when guitarist Danny Hartwell and drummer Brandon Brown met at the Ratt Show on the Sunset Strip. They later met up with then-vocalist Judd Gruenbaum. The original name of the band was "Beyond Control"....

 batteries that are interchangeable in physical dimensions and electrical characteristics between manufacturers. The long history of disposable dry cells means that many different manufacturer-specific and national standards were used to designate sizes, long before international standards were reached. Technical standards for battery sizes and types are set by standards organization
Standards organization
A standards organization, standards body, standards developing organization , or standards setting organization is any organization whose primary activities are developing, coordinating, promulgating, revising, amending, reissuing, interpreting, or otherwise producing technical standards that are...

s such as International Electrotechnical Commission
International Electrotechnical Commission
The International Electrotechnical Commission is a non-profit, non-governmental international standards organization that prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies – collectively known as "electrotechnology"...

 (IEC) and American National Standards Institute
American National Standards Institute
The American National Standards Institute is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States. The organization also coordinates U.S. standards with international...

 (ANSI). Popular sizes are still referred to by old standard or manufacturer designations, and some non-systematic designations have been included in current international standards due to wide use.

The complete nomenclature for the battery will fully specify the size, chemistry, terminal arrangements and special characteristics of a battery. The same physically interchangeable cell size may have widely different characteristics; physical interchangeability is not the sole factor in substitution of batteries.

National standards for dry cell batteries have been developed by ANSI
American National Standards Institute
The American National Standards Institute is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States. The organization also coordinates U.S. standards with international...

, JIS
Japanese Industrial Standards
Japanese Industrial Standards specifies the standards used for industrial activities in Japan.The standardization process is coordinated by Japanese Industrial Standards Committee and published through Japanese Standards Association.-History:...

, British national standards
British Standards
British Standards are the standards produced by BSI Group which is incorporated under a Royal Charter...

, and others. Civilian, commercial, government and military standards all exist. Two of the most prevalent standards currently in use are the IEC 60086 series and the ANSI C18.1 series. Both standards give dimensions, standard performance characteristics, and safety information.

Modern standards contain both systematic names for cell types that give information on the composition and approximate size of the cells, as well as arbitrary numeric codes for cell size.

History of the ANSI standard


Standardization in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 started in 1919, when the US National Bureau of Standards published recommended test procedures and standard dimensions of cells. American standards were revised several times during the following decades, as new sizes of cells were introduced and new chemistry developed, including chloride, alkaline, mercury and rechargeable types.

The first American Standards Association (predecessor to ANSI) standard C18 appeared in 1928. It listed cell sizes using a letter code, roughly in order of size from smallest (A) to larger types. The only numerical designation was the 6-inch tall "No. 6" cell. The 1934 edition of the C18 standard expanded the nomenclature system to include series and parallel arrays of cells. In 1954, mercury batteries were included in the standard. The 1959 edition identified types suitable for use with transistor radio
Transistor radio
A transistor radio is a small portable radio receiver using transistor-based circuitry. Following their development in 1954 they became the most popular electronic communication device in history, with billions manufactured during the 1960s and 1970s...

s. In 1967, NEMA
Néma
Néma is a town in southeastern Mauritania, close to the border with Mali. It is located at around . It is the capital of Hodh Ech Chargui Region and of the Néma Department....

 took over responsibility for development from the National Bureau of Standards. The 12th edition of C18 began to be harmonized with the IEC standard. Rechargeable batteries were introduced in the C18 standard in 1984, and lithium types were standardized in 1991.

In 1999 the ANSI standards were extensively revised and separate safety standards provided. The current edition of the ANSI standards designates sizes with an arbitrary number, with a prefix letter to designate shape, and with a suffix letter or letters to identify different chemistry, terminals, or other features.

International Electrotechnical Commission standardization


The International Electrotechnical Commission
International Electrotechnical Commission
The International Electrotechnical Commission is a non-profit, non-governmental international standards organization that prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies – collectively known as "electrotechnology"...

 (IEC) was established in 1906 and co-ordinates development of standards for a wide range of electrical products. The IEC maintains two committees, TC21 established in 1933 for rechargeable batteries, and TC 35 established in 1948 for primary batteries, to develop standards. The current designation system was adopted in 1992. Battery types are designated with a letter/number sequence indicating number of cells, cell chemistry, cell shape, dimensions, and special characteristics. Certain cell designations from earlier revisions of the standard have been retained.

The first IEC standards for battery sizes were issued in 1957.
Since 1992, International standard
International standard
International standards are standards developed by international standards organizations. International standards are available for consideration and use, worldwide...

 IEC 60086 defines an alphanumeric coding system for batteries.
British standard 397 for primary batteries was withdrawn and replaced by the IEC standard in 1996.

Battery categories


IEC nomenclature classifies batteries according to their general shape and overall physical appearance. These categories, however, are not identified in the IEC battery number.

Category 1: Cylindrical cells with protruding positive and recessed or flat negative terminals. The positive terminal shall be concentric with the cell overall. The total height of the cell is not necessarily the same as the total distance between terminals (This accounts for nubs, recesses and battery casings). The cell casing is insulated. Eg. R1 & LR8D425

Category 2: Cylindrical cells with protruding positive and protruding or flat negative terminals. The total height of the cell is the same as the total distance between terminals. The cell casing is insulated. Eg. CR14250, LR61

Category 3: Cylindrical cells with flat positive and negative terminals. The total height of the cell is not necessarily the same as the total distance between terminals (This accounts for any protuberances from the negative terminal). The cell casing is in connection with the positive terminal. No part of the cell is allowed to protrude from the positive terminal surface. Eg. CR11108, LR9

Category 4: Cylindrical cells with a protruding flat negative terminal. The total height of the cell is the same as the total distance between terminals. The cell casing is the positive terminal and it is recommended that the outer surface is used for positive connection even though it is possible from the base. No part of the cell is allowed to protrude from the positive terminal surface. Eg. LR44, CR2032

Category 5: Cylindrical batteries which fit none of the other categories. Eg. R40, 8LR23

Category 6: Non-cylindrical batteries. Eg. 3R12, 4R25, 6F22

Battery numbering


Examples of the IEC nomenclature are batteries coded R20, 4R25X, 4LR25-2, 6F22, 6P222/162, CR17345 and LR2616J. The letters and numbers in the code indicate the number of cells, cell chemistry, shape, dimensions, the number of parallel paths in the assembled battery and any modifying letters deemed necessary. A multi-section battery (two or more voltages from the same package) will have a multi-section designation.

Prior to October 1990, round cells were designated with a sequential numeric size code ranging from R06 through to R70, for example R20 is the size of a "D" cell or ANSI"13" size. After October 1990, round cells are systematically identified with a number derived from their diameter and height. Primary cells larger than 100 mm in diameter or height are designated with an oblique "/" between diameter and height.
Designation Series Cells System Shape Standardized code or diameter code Height code Height adjustment modifier Modifier(s) Parallel strings Remarks
R20 R 20 A single zinc-carbon torch cell. Size 20 which is equivalent to D, or ANSI "13" size
4R25X 4 R 25 X A zinc-carbon lantern battery. Consisting of 4 round size 25 cells in series. Terminated with spring terminals.
4LR25-2 4 L R 25 2 An alkaline lantern battery. Consisting of 2 parallel strings of 4 round size 25 cells in series.
6F22 6 F 22 A zinc-carbon rectangular battery. Consisting of 6 flat size 22 cells. Equivalent to a PP3 or transistor battery.
6P222/162 6 P 222 162 A zinc-carbon battery. Maximum dimensions: length 192 mm, width 113 mm, and height 162 mm. Consisting of 6 cells in series.
CR17345 C R 17 345 A single-cell round lithium cell. 17 mm diameter, 34.5 mm height.
LR2616J L R 26 16 J A single-cell round alkaline battery, 26.2 mm diameter, 1.67 mm height.


Electrochemical system


The first letter identifies the chemical composition of the battery, which also implies a nominal voltage. Certain rechargeable battery
Rechargeable battery
A rechargeable battery or storage battery is a group of one or more electrochemical cells. They are known as secondary cells because their electrochemical reactions are electrically reversible. Rechargeable batteries come in many different shapes and sizes, ranging anything from a button cell to...

 systems, commonly made in sizes interchangeable with primary batteries, also have symbols.
Letter
code
Negative electrodeElectrolytePositive electrodeNominal
voltage
Main article
(none) Zinc Ammonium chloride/Zinc chloride Manganese dioxide 1.5 Zinc-carbon battery
Zinc-carbon battery
A zinc–carbon dry cell or battery is packaged in a zinc can that serves as both a container and negative terminal. It was developed from the wet Leclanché cell . The positive terminal is a carbon rod surrounded by a mixture of manganese dioxide and carbon powder. The electrolyte used is a paste of...

A Zinc Ammonium chloride/Zinc chloride Oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

1.4 Zinc-air battery
Zinc-air battery
Zinc–air batteries , and zinc–air fuel cells, are electro-chemical batteries powered by oxidizing zinc with oxygen from the air. These batteries have high energy densities and are relatively inexpensive to produce...

B Lithium Organic Carbon monofluoride
Carbon monofluoride
Carbon monofluoride , also called polycarbon monofluoride, polycarbon fluoride, poly, and graphite fluoride, is a material formed by high-temperature reaction of fluorine gas with graphite, charcoal, or pyrolytic carbon powder. Its CAS number is...

3 Lithium battery
Lithium battery
Lithium batteries are disposable batteries that have lithium metal or lithium compounds as an anode. Depending on the design and chemical compounds used, lithium cells can produce voltages from 1.5 V to about 3.7 V, over twice the voltage of an ordinary zinc–carbon battery or alkaline battery...

C Lithium Organic Manganese dioxide 3 Lithium battery
Lithium battery
Lithium batteries are disposable batteries that have lithium metal or lithium compounds as an anode. Depending on the design and chemical compounds used, lithium cells can produce voltages from 1.5 V to about 3.7 V, over twice the voltage of an ordinary zinc–carbon battery or alkaline battery...

E Lithium Non-aqueous inorganic Thionyl chloride
Thionyl chloride
Thionyl chloride is an inorganic compound with the formula SOCl2. It is a reactive chemical reagent used in chlorination reactions. It is a colorless, distillable liquid at room temperature and pressure that decomposes above 140 °C. Thionyl chloride is sometimes confused with sulfuryl...

3.6 Lithium battery
Lithium battery
Lithium batteries are disposable batteries that have lithium metal or lithium compounds as an anode. Depending on the design and chemical compounds used, lithium cells can produce voltages from 1.5 V to about 3.7 V, over twice the voltage of an ordinary zinc–carbon battery or alkaline battery...

F Lithium Organic Iron disulphide 1.5 Lithium battery
Lithium battery
Lithium batteries are disposable batteries that have lithium metal or lithium compounds as an anode. Depending on the design and chemical compounds used, lithium cells can produce voltages from 1.5 V to about 3.7 V, over twice the voltage of an ordinary zinc–carbon battery or alkaline battery...

G Lithium Organic Copper(II) oxide
Copper(II) oxide
Copper oxide or cupric oxide is the higher oxide of copper. As a mineral, it is known as tenorite.-Chemistry:It is a black solid with an ionic structure which melts above 1200 °C with some loss of oxygen...

1.5 Lithium battery
Lithium battery
Lithium batteries are disposable batteries that have lithium metal or lithium compounds as an anode. Depending on the design and chemical compounds used, lithium cells can produce voltages from 1.5 V to about 3.7 V, over twice the voltage of an ordinary zinc–carbon battery or alkaline battery...

H |Hydrogen absorbing alloy Alkali Nickel oxide 1.2 Nickel-metal hydride battery
K Cadmium Alkali Nickel oxide 1.2 Nickel-cadmium battery
Nickel-cadmium battery
The nickel–cadmium battery ' is a type of rechargeable battery using nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium as electrodes....

L Zinc Alkali Manganese dioxide 1.5 Alkaline battery
Alkaline battery
Alkaline batteries are a type of primary batteries dependent upon the reaction between zinc and manganese dioxide . A rechargeable alkaline battery allows reuse of specially designed cells....

M
(withdrawn)
Zinc Alkali Mercuric oxide 1.35 Mercury battery
Mercury battery
A mercury battery is a non-rechargeable electrochemical battery, a primary cell. Due to the content of mercury, and the resulting environmental concerns, the sale of mercury batteries is banned in many countries. Both ANSI and IEC have withdrawn standards for mercury batteries...

N
(withdrawn)
Zinc Alkali Mercuric oxide
manganese dioxide
1.35 Mercury battery
Mercury battery
A mercury battery is a non-rechargeable electrochemical battery, a primary cell. Due to the content of mercury, and the resulting environmental concerns, the sale of mercury batteries is banned in many countries. Both ANSI and IEC have withdrawn standards for mercury batteries...

P Zinc Alkali Oxygen 1.65 Zinc-air battery
Zinc-air battery
Zinc–air batteries , and zinc–air fuel cells, are electro-chemical batteries powered by oxidizing zinc with oxygen from the air. These batteries have high energy densities and are relatively inexpensive to produce...

PB Lead Sulphuric acid Lead dioxide 2 Lead-acid battery
Lead-acid battery
Lead–acid batteries, invented in 1859 by French physicist Gaston Planté, are the oldest type of rechargeable battery. Despite having a very low energy-to-weight ratio and a low energy-to-volume ratio, their ability to supply high surge currents means that the cells maintain a relatively large...

S Zinc Alkali Silver oxide 1.55 Silver-oxide battery
Silver-oxide battery
A silver oxide battery , not to be confused with a similar but different silver–zinc battery, which is a secondary cell, is a primary cell with relatively very high energy/weight ratio. They are costly due to the high price of silver...

Z Zinc Alkali Manganese dioxide and nickel oxyhydroxide 1.70 Nickel oxyhydroxide battery
Nickel oxyhydroxide battery
Nickel oxyhydroxide battery is a type of primary cell . NiOx batteries excel in high-drain applications such as digital cameras, and in this role, they can provide up to twice the life of an alkaline battery....


Italics indicate a chemical system unlikely to be found in consumer or general-purpose batteries, or withdrawn from the current standard.

Bold indicates a secondary (rechargeable) cell type.

It is common to refer to the negative electrode first in IEC battery definitions.

IEC standard 61436 for rechargeable batteries defines certain sizes that are interechangeable with primary batteries.

Shape


Shape codes are:
R Round, (coin, button or cylindrical)
P Not round
F Flat (layer built)
S Square (or rectangular or prismatic)


Italics indicate a shape code that is still in use but is not to be used for new battery definitions.

Size code


Certain sizes, given by one or two digit numbers, represent standard size codes from previous editions of the standard. Sizes given as 4 or more digits indicate the diameter of the battery and the overall height.

The numbers in the code correlate with the battery dimensions. For batteries with dimensions of < 100 mm the (truncated) diameter in millimetres, followed by the height in tenths of a millimetre; for batteries with a single dimension ≥ 100 mm the diameter in millimetres, then a slash (/) followed by the height in millimetres.

As well as the recommended size code definitions there are also ten modifying suffix letters that can be added to the end of the specific size code. These run from A to L (omitting F and I) and depending on the largest dimension of the battery can either signify 0.0 – 0.9 mm maximum dimensions or 0.00 – 0.09 mm maximum dimensions with A being 0.0 or 0.00 and L being 0.9 or 0.09.

For flat cells the diameter code is given as the diameter of a circle circumscribed around the whole cell's area.

Standardized size codes for round batteries which do not follow the current nomenclature but have been retained for ease of use are given by a one or two digit number following the R. These include but are not limited to:
Size codes for round batteries
Number
code
Nominal
diameter
Nominal
height
Common name
R25 32 91 F
R20 34.2 61.5 D
R14 26.2 50.0 C
R6 14.5 50.5 AA
R1 12.0 30.2 N
R03 10.5 44.5 AAA


Round button batteries also carry two-digit size codes such as R44, see the button battery table for typical dimensions. Other round, flat, and square sizes have been standardized but are used mostly for components of multi-cell batteries.
The following is a partial list of IEC standard recommended diameter and height codes for round cells:
Round cell diameter and height codes
Number
code
Maximum
diameter
Maximum
height
4 4.8
5 5.8
6 6.8
7 7.9
9 9.5
10 10.0
11 11.6
12 12.5 1.20
16 16 1.60
20 20 2.00
23 23
24 24.5
25 2.50
30 3.00
36 3.60
50 5.00


Modifiers


After the package size code(s), additional letters may optionally appear in the type designation to indicate the electrolyte used:
  • S: sodium hydroxide electrolyte
  • P: potassium hydroxide
    Potassium hydroxide
    Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the formula KOH, commonly called caustic potash.Along with sodium hydroxide , this colorless solid is a prototypical strong base. It has many industrial and niche applications. Most applications exploit its reactivity toward acids and its corrosive...

     electrolyte
  • no letter: organic electrolyte


Terminal styles and variants of the same battery can be designated with the letters X or Y. Performance levels may also be designated with a C, P, S, CF, HH, or HB or other letter suffixes. Rechargeable types may have a suffix L, M, or H to designate low, medium or high discharge rating designs. An appended letter "W" states that this battery complies with all the requirements of the IEC 60086-3 standard for watch batteries.

ANSI nomenclature


Previous editions of the ANSI standard used a letter code to identify the dimensions of the cell. Since at the time there were only carbon-zinc cells, no suffix letters or other notation was required. The system was introduced in the 1924 edition of the standard, with letters A through J assigned approximately in order of increasing cell volume, for cells typically manufactured at that time. By 1934, the system had been extended and revised and now had 17 sizes ranging from NS at 7/16 inch diameter by 3/4 inch height, through size J at 1¾ inches diameter by 5 7/ 8 inches high, to the largest standard cell which retained its old designation of No. 6 and which was 2½ inches in diameter and 6 inches high.

Size and shape codes


The current edition of the standard uses a numerical code to show the cell size. Common round cell sizes are:
ANSI primary cell sizes and equivalent size designations
Number
code
Other nameIEC size
13 D R20
14 C R14
15 AA R6
24 AAA R03
25 AAAA R8D425

Since these IEC and ANSI battery standards have been harmonized, for example, an R20 cell will have the same dimensions as an ANSI 13 cell.

Flat cells, used as components of multi-cell batteries, have an F prefix and a series of numbers to identify sizes.
Coin cells were assigned size codes in the 5000 range.

Secondary cells using systems H and K (nickel-metal hydride and nickel-iron sulfide) have a separate series of size codes, but the cells are dimensionally interchangeable with primary cells.

System and performance suffix letters


The electrochemical system and performance information is given in suffix letters.
ANSI suffix letters
Letter Significance IEC system letter
(none) carbon-zinc (none)
A alkaline L
AC alkaline industrial L+suffix letter
AP alkaline photographic L+suffix letter
AC alkaline industrial L+suffix letter
C Carbon-zinc industrial none+suffix letter
CD carbon zinc industrial heavy duty none+suffix letter
D carbon zinc heavy duty none+suffix letter
F
lithium iron disulphide F
H
rechargeable
nickel metal hydride H
K
rechargeable
nickel cadmium K
LB Lithium-carbon monofluoride B
LC Lithium-manganese dioxide C
LF Lithium-iron disulfide F
M
withdrawn
Mercuric oxide M
withdrawn
SO silver oxide S
SOP silver oxide photographic S+suffix letter
Z Zinc-air P

See also


  • History of the battery
    History of the battery
    The history of the development of electrochemical cells is crucial to the scientific study and industrial applications of electricity, for prior to the rise of electrical grids around the end of the 19th century, they were the main source of electricity...

  • Battery recycling
    Battery recycling
    Battery recycling is a recycling activity that aims to reduce the number of batteries being disposed as municipal solid waste. Batteries contain a number of heavy metals and toxic chemicals, their dumping has raised concern over risks of soil contamination and water pollution.-Battery recycling by...

  • List of battery types