Can I Replace Rechargeable Batteries with Regular Batteries?

The invention of batteries has truly changed the course of the modern world. Today, citizens of the 21st century do not need to be attached to a source of power for using their devices and gadgets. A simple and efficient battery can do the trick. But what type of battery is suitable for which device?

You may have wondered whether you can replace rechargeable batteries with regular ones. To keep it short, this is not advisable as the chemical composition of rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries are vastly different. When you try to use either in place of the other, you will risk damaging the batteries in addition to the device itself.

In some cases, perhaps, non-rechargeable batteries may provide some respite in the interim while you can get rechargeable ones. But they are not perfect replacements. The following sections will shed some more light on the uses and applications of these batteries:

Can You Use Regular Batteries Instead of Rechargeable?

Regular and rechargeable batteries have extremely different functions. If you are wondering whether regular batteries are perfect replacements for rechargeable batteries, then the answer is no.

Regular batteries, as the name suggests, cannot be recharged. These batteries must be disposed of as soon as they run out of power and cannot be reused. Meanwhile, rechargeable batteries come with a charging pod and can be reused for a long time (although their strength is not indefinite).

Having said that, while you may not be able to replace rechargeable batteries with regular batteries in the long term if you are looking for an interim solution until you can get new rechargeable batteries, regular batteries may do the trick for most things. But ensure not to make this a permanent solution as you want to avoid causing a system failure by using the wrong kind of battery.

It also depends on the device for which you are using the batteries. If, for instance, you are using regular batteries instead of rechargeable ones for a device that sits in its charging cradle when it is not in use, that may not be ideal. But if you want to replace your solar-powered batteries with regular ones, only until you can get new solar-powered batteries, that should work for a short while.

In any case, it is best to consult the manufacturer and follow the specific product instructions if there is any confusion about battery use.

Are Rechargeable Batteries the Same as Regular Batteries?

By make and definition, rechargeable batteries are not the same as regular alkaline batteries. This is because rechargeable batteries have been designed such that they can withstand the chemical reaction that allows them to recharge. The materials of a rechargeable battery are ones that can easily go from a state of charge to discharge without being overwhelmed or reacting adversely.

The process of recharging a battery actually requires a lot of energy, so this is not something a regular battery will be able to withstand. Recharging requires a chemical reaction to take place that allows the ions in the battery to go from a state of charge to discharge, and back.

If you try to recharge a regular battery, chances are the battery will simply burst! If you do not know what you are doing, this can be quite dangerous. Typically, a rechargeable battery uses lithium which can be charged and discharged repeatedly without any thermal reaction that may heat up the battery and cause it to get damaged.

The choice between regular and rechargeable batteries may seem complicated in theory, but once you know where the batteries are being used, it becomes easy to understand what type of battery might be suitable. While both items are technically batteries that lend a device power when it is not connected to an electric source of power, they are extremely different in make, composition and application. It is, therefore, best to treat regular and rechargeable batteries as different altogether.

Do Rechargeable Batteries Last as Long as Regular Batteries?

In the long-term, yes, rechargeable batteries will last longer than regular batteries. A regular battery will perhaps last you longer initially, whereas, at the same time, you may need to charge a rechargeable battery a few times. However, when a regular battery drains, it means that the battery is dead and cannot be revived with a charger.

Rechargeable batteries, on the other hand, can be revived multiple times, even though it is true that with every successive charge you may have to charge the battery more frequently. You do not need to repurchase the battery for a long time since you can simply charge it again when required.

Having said that, it also depends on the application of the battery. For instance, if you are using a regular battery for an air-conditioner remote control, then the battery should last you months without any trouble. You do not need to seek out rechargeable batteries for a device of this kind, which draws minimal power.

But for more demanding gadgets, such as a video camera, you need rechargeable batteries and regular batteries will simply not do.

High-Capacity vs Regular Rechargeable Batteries

High-capacity rechargeable batteries, as the name suggests, have a higher capacity for charge and tend to last longer than regular rechargeable batteries. These are typically NiMH (nickel/metal hydride) batteries that provide better thermal protection than regular lithium rechargeable batteries.

When it comes to devices that draw a lot of charge, such as high-end DSLR cameras, high-capacity rechargeable batteries may be the preferred choice as you will not need to charge the batteries too frequently.

But some devices can work just fine with regular rechargeable batteries and do not require high-capacity ones. For example, a motor vehicle certainly requires high-capacity rechargeable batteries.

But for something like a handheld vacuum cleaner, which you may need to use for a few minutes every month or so, regular rechargeable batteries will work just fine. So, based on the application, pick the power capacity of the rechargeable battery.

Frequently Asked Questions

As has, perhaps, become obvious, there are a plethora of batteries in the market today. It is, therefore, expected that people will have several questions about batteries before selecting the right type. The following are answers to some of the frequently asked questions about batteries:

What Happens If You Put Non-Rechargeable Batteries in a Battery Charger?

Non-rechargeable batteries, by definition, cannot be recharged. If you put a non-rechargeable battery in a battery charger, you not only risk them bursting from overheating, even your battery charger may become permanently damaged because of a stark shift in voltage while trying to charge something that is not meant to be charged.

Can You Put Non-rechargeable Batteries in a Cordless Phone?

Since a cordless phone is not connected to a source of power, it runs on rechargeable batteries. If you have seen a cordless phone, you know that when it is not in use, it sits in a battery charging cradle that is connected to a source of power.

If you use non-rechargeable batteries in a cordless phone, they will not be able to take the physical stress of the chemical reaction needed for recharging. You risk damaging the device permanently by using the wrong kind of battery.

Can You Mix Regular and Rechargeable Batteries?

As mentioned earlier, the composition of regular and rechargeable batteries is different. Therefore, when you use batteries of different chemical compositions and capacities, you can ruin the device in which these batteries are being used as they will not charge evenly. There may even be a risk of electrolyte leakage. In short, you should not mix regular and rechargeable batteries.

Where Should You Use Regular Batteries?

There are several places in which you can use regular batteries, even though it may seem like rechargeable batteries are a more efficient choice. For instance, using rechargeable batteries in a remote control or a wall clock may be unnecessarily expensive.

These products require very low power and regular disposable batteries will last you a long time.  So, based on application and device, there are several places where you do not need rechargeable batteries and can work perfectly well with regular ones.

About the author, Phil Borges

Phil Borges is a battery aficionado. He's written extensively about batteries, and he loves nothing more than discussing the latest innovations in the industry. He has a deep understanding of how batteries work, and he's always on the lookout for new ways to improve their performance.