Modern consumers in need of batteries for their electronic devices tend to choose between single-use alkaline and rechargeable batteries. In the rechargeable arena, lithium-ion is the technology of choice. But things are different in the industrial market. For example, consider the internet of things (IoT). The IoT demands both single-use and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.
There are certain applications for which a rechargeable battery is neither practical nor cost-effective. Likewise, other industrial applications make single-use batteries too costly. The difference often comes down to the amount of power a particular device draws.
The IoT vs. The IIoT
A new term has been developed to separate the internet of things into commercial and industrial segments. That term is the ‘industrial internet of things’ (IIoT). IoT is reserved for commercial applications like major appliances and GPS devices. IIoT is for industrial applications in which connectivity is required. Remote sensors are a good example.
A company might deploy remote sensors to continually monitor environmental conditions at a faraway location. The small sensors are powered by batteries. Giving that their location is remote, traveling to replace them on a regular basis just doesn’t work. What is the company to do? Choose industrial-grade lithium-ion batteries.
Pale Blue Earth, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery maker in Park City, Utah, explains that industrial-grade batteries tend to have a higher power density and are built to withstand more extreme environmental conditions. They are quite impressive compared to their consumer counterparts.
Low-Power vs. High Power
As far as those industrial devices requiring lithium-ion batteries are concerned, battery choice often boils down to power needs. Low-power devices drawing power measured in microamps are good candidates for single use lithium-ion batteries. The single-use batteries can last for decades. As such, it’s no big deal installing them in remote locations and going back to replace them every 30 to 40 years.
On the other hand, there are high-powered devices that draw power measured in milliamps. This is significantly more power by comparison. Single-use batteries could still be deployed for these devices, but the batteries would have to be changed far more frequently. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are a better choice.
The Cost Equation
The difference between single-use and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is very similar to the difference between disposable alkaline and rechargeable cells. As a consumer, you might pay $5 for a four-pack of AA alkaline batteries. Likewise, you would pay $30 for a 4-pack of lithium-ion cells.
The alkaline batteries cost less at the counter. But when you consider lithium-ion batteries can be charged to 1,000 times, the cost difference suddenly swings. Moreover, it swings in a big way. Even if you only had to purchase 100 packs of alkaline batteries to give you the same life as a single lithium-ion pack, you would still be spending $400 as opposed to $30.
When it comes to the IIoT, device manufacturers are up against the same equation. High-powered devices that draw power too quickly are better off with rechargeable simply due to cost. It costs less to recharge than continually invest in new single-use batteries.
Improving Batteries Over Time
It is clear that neither the IoT nor the IIoT are going away. In fact, they are with us forever. Device manufacturers are fully aware of this. Their task is one of developing better batteries that make internet connectivity everything it should be.
The IoT demands both single-use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for both commercial and industrial applications. But thanks to better lithium-ion technology, even single use Li-ion cells are far superior to their alkaline counterparts.