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Balance size and power while keeping your devices ready with these C Batteries

Nestling comfortably in the middle of the consumer dry cell battery family, C batteries are larger and more powerful than their more common AA batteries and AAA cousins, yet not quite as cumbersome as the immense D cell. Here’s a closer look at the configuration and usefulness of C batteries.

Size and composition of C batteries

The standardized size of a C battery is 26.2mm in diameter and 50mm in length. Although a constant size and shape is a necessity, the actual composition of a C battery can vary, with different chemistry employed to provide the internal power-storing component of the battery itself. Common types of C batteries include zinc-carbon, alkaline, lithium, NiCd, and NiMH.

These variations can contribute to both the overall capacity and voltage of a C battery, with lithium batteries tending to account for a higher capacity than alkaline, for example. However, ultimately the life of a C battery will depend on the power drain of the device it is placed in. Furthermore, all dry cell batteries will gradually begin to lose some energy over time—even when not in use. Check the manufacturer’s expiration date for an estimate on the shelf life of a battery.

Devices that use C batteries

As C batteries are on the larger side in comparison to other dry cell battery types, they typically work best in larger electronic devices that can accommodate their size, and also benefit from their increased capacity for energy storage. Flashlights, radios, boom boxes, and portable lamps are just a few examples of products that may employ C batteries. They function particularly well in devices that require a significant power draw, such as portable pumps and air inflators or audio devices such as outdoor speakers or amplifiers.

Disposable C batteries vs. rechargeable C batteries

Consumers have the option of choosing between disposable C batteries or rechargeable C batteries. Each type has its own pros and cons. Disposable C batteries contain a single charge, and must be replaced and safely disposed of once their energy has been depleted. However, although they must be replaced regularly over time, their initial cost is typically lower than that of rechargeable C batteries, and they also tend to hold their charge longer over periods when not in use.

As their name suggests, rechargeable C batteries can have their energy replenished many times over the course of their lifespan. The up-front cost is typically higher than that of disposable C batteries, however this investment is generally recouped over time—typically after just a few instances of recharging over replacement. Just be sure to have a spare or replacement on hand if you don’t wish to be unable to use your devices while the battery is charging.