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Nickel-Cadmium Batteries: What You Need to Know

Key Details

  • Nickel-cadmium batteries (NiCds) are rechargeable and widely used in portable electronics, power tools, and small battery-operated equipment.
  • They have a high discharge rate, long cycle life, and the ability to operate at low temperatures.
  • The active materials of a NiCd battery are metallic cadmium, nickel oxide hydroxide, and potassium hydroxide.
  • NiCd batteries should be kept cool, dry, and away from heat sources

What is a Ni-CD or Nickel-Based Battery?

A nickel-cadmium battery (NiCd or NiCad) is a type of rechargeable battery that uses nickel oxide hydroxide and metallic cadmium as electrodes. First developed in the early 1900s, it's widely used in various applications such as portable electronics, power tools, emergency lighting, or small battery-operated equipment that needs only an even power discharge.

Nickel-based batteries are known for their long cycle life, high discharge rate, and ability to operate at low temperatures. They can also be charged quickly and can withstand overcharging without suffering significant damage.

Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries have a low cycle life. When depleted, Ni-Cd batteries have a terminal voltage of roughly 1.2 volts, which declines gradually until the battery is virtually empty.

What are the Active Materials of a Nickel-Based Battery?

NiCds use conductors made of metallic cadmium, nickel oxide hydroxide, and potassium hydroxide. Nickel-cadmium batteries contain approximately 20% nickel, 20% cadmium, 35% iron, and 20% plastic.

The batteries are divided into three sections;

  • A cathode is made up of Nickel oxyhydroxide (NiOOH).
  • An anode is made up of Cadmium.
  • An electrolyte made up of Potassium hydroxide.

How Long Does a Nickel-Based Solar Battery Last?

How long a solar battery lasts depends on a lot of factors. Nickel-based solar batteries have a life expectancy of just 2 to 3 years. Provided it is maintained properly, it can last for up to 10 years. Battery life expectancy depends on its type, temperature, and charge-discharge duration.


The solar panel battery's longevity works hand in hand with its temperature. The higher the temperature, the greater the battery capacity, and the lower the temperature, the less it can hold.

The amount of energy that can be collected from a battery is likewise influenced by its temperature. Battery capacity is often greater at higher temperatures than at lower temperatures. Deliberately attempting to increase the temperature could backfire, as it can also decrease the battery lifetime.

Age of battery

If you want to enjoy your solar panel battery, it is good practice to get it from the manufacturer as early as possible. The battery longevity reduces with each discharge cycle. The quantity of charge your battery can retain reduces as it ages chemically.

Internal Resistance

A battery can perform at its best during power surges when there is low internal resistance. Internal resistance acts as a gatekeeper, determining how long the battery can last. When connecting your solar panel to the battery, remember that the internal resistance increases as the battery ages due to an accumulation of an inactivation covering on the electrodes. Hence, it is a reliable predictor of expected life.

Is Nickel-Based Battery AC or DC?

Nickel-cadmium battery is a source of DC voltage. Dc voltage is known to easily store energy and power gadgets, so a Nickel-based battery bank is one of the best solar battery options in the market.

Because of its features and benefits, the battery is also gradually replacing Ac-based lead-acid batteries and gaining popularity. DC electricity consumes substantially less energy than AC power.

Why Choose Ni-Cd Acid Batteries?

Ni-Cd Acid batteries are mainly used for their low cost and highly tolerant battery life. Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries are not commonly used for solar PV systems due to their relatively low energy density and higher cost

Some of the reasons to choose Ni-CD include;

  • A large amount of charge/discharge cycles — if properly cared for, the Ni-Cd may give over 1000 charge/discharge cycles.
  • Excellent load performance — Ni-Cd enables charging at relatively low temperatures.
  • Ni-Cd cells come in a variety of shapes and performance levels — most are cylindrical. In fact, NiCd cells are reasonably simple to fabricate and come in a variety of tiny form factors.
  • Overcharging tolerance is rather high.
  • In comparison to technologies such as lead-acid batteries, NiCd has a high specific energy.

Which is Better: A Nickel-Based battery or a Lithium Battery?

While they share some characteristics, Li-ion and NiCd batteries vary in terms of chemical composition, environmental effect, uses, and pricing.

Lithium-ion batteries have a large energy storage capacity and are made of carbon and very reactive lithium. Nickel metal hydride batteries store energy by containing hydrogen ions with nickel and another metal (such as titanium).


Nickel-based batteries are less expensive than their lithium battery counterparts. The difference in cost is mainly due to the extra protection circuit added to the lithium-based batteries that monitor voltage and current.

Life cycle

Nickel-based solar panel batteries do not last for a very long time. Lithium batteries, on the other hand, might last longer but do not survive long at hot temperatures. Manufacturers are working to improve the chemistry so that Li-ion batteries can outlast the vehicles they power.

Charging Time

Li-ion batteries may be charged in around 1-3 hours, depending on size. This is far faster than the 9-12 hours required for NiMH batteries.

Are Nickel-Cadmium Batteries Safe or A Fire Hazard?

Batteries are typically safe when properly kept and maintained. The batteries only become a fire hazard when kept unsafely and maintained poorly. To get the best out of a battery, you need to do certain things;

  • Make it far away from the source of heat. The chemical components of the battery can make it flammable.
  • Do not let metals touch the battery terminals. It could lead to unnecessary discharge and even electrocution.
  • Use Protective gear while handling the battery.

When storing NiCad batteries, make sure the batteries are completely discharged. Do not store NiCad batteries for an extended period of time without using them. During lengthy durations of storage, cadmium in NiCad can form thin, conductive crystals which can shrink the cell.

Do not short-circuit a NiCad since this generates excessive heat and can result in hydrogen gas release. The self-discharge rate of NiCads is around 10% at 20 °C, increasing to 20% at higher temperatures.

Can you Replace NiCd batteries with Lithium-ion Solar Batteries?

Yes, you can replace NiCd batteries with Lithium-ion batteries. The only requirement is that; they should be of the same size and equal voltage. NiCd batteries are regarded as old technology. So if you can get a Li-on battery, you can be certain of comparatively better energy efficiency.

While replacing the batteries, it is best practice to be careful as the batteries are sometimes improperly sealed and could spill over. You can also replace your NaCl battery with Li-on batteries for your solar panel because of its longevity.

Does Telsa Have a Ni-Cd Battery?

No, Tesla uses a Lithium-ion Battery. According to the official website, the batteries being used have a combination of cobalt, nickel, and lithium, all joined together. Li-on batteries give a high voltage and high battery capacity. The lithium battery also delivers greater energy density and longer-range capacity for electric vehicles.

Can you charge NiCad Batteries in a Lithium Charger and Vice Versa?

Do not charge NiCad Batteries with a Lithium charger. They are not compatible. There is a wide difference in the charging algorithm, chemical content, and charging point. A seemingly positive attempt could lead to the risk of a fire outbreak or unwanted discharge.

A Lithium solar panel battery should also not be charged with a NiCad charger. Lithium batteries work with voltage as high as 3.7V, while NiCad averages around 1.2V. If you decide to switch the battery and charger, the charging output would not be satisfactory.

How to Find Nickel-Based Battery Recycling Near Me

Contact local authorities to find the best nickel-acid battery recycling near you. Recycling nickel-cadmium batteries should be done with care. Ensuring proper recycling helps to effectively reduce pollution.

The batteries should be kept cool and dry to avoid explosions. Finally, the battery's materials should be processed into new materials for reuse in industrial applications or as a source of energy.