Ni-MH vs NiCd vs Li-Ion vs LiPo

Batteries are an integral part of our daily lives, powering everything from our smartphones and laptops to remote controls and flashlights. Among the many types of batteries available, Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd), and Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries are some of the most commonly used. In this blog post, we will explore the key differences and similarities between these three types of batteries, their recharge-ability, and typical usage examples.


Li-Ion batteries

Ni-MH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) Batteries

Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) batteries are a type of rechargeable battery that offers a good balance between capacity and performance. Here are some of the key features and characteristics of Ni-MH batteries:


  • Ni-MH batteries are rechargeable and can be recharged hundreds of times.
  • They are relatively affordable and are readily available in various sizes.
  • Ni-MH batteries are considered more environmentally friendly than disposable alkaline batteries, as they can be reused many times.


  • Ni-MH batteries have a moderate self-discharge rate, meaning they lose their charge over time even when not in use.
  • They have a lower energy density compared to Li-Ion batteries, which means they may not last as long on a single charge.
  • Ni-MH batteries are often used in low-drain devices like remote controls, toys, cordless phones, and portable audio devices.

NiCd (Nickel-Cadmium) Batteries

Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) batteries were once popular but have largely been replaced by Ni-MH and Li-Ion batteries due to their lower capacity and environmental concerns. Here are some key points about NiCd batteries:


  • NiCd batteries are rechargeable and can be recharged multiple times.
  • They are relatively durable and can withstand a high number of charge-discharge cycles.


  • NiCd batteries have a higher self-discharge rate compared to Ni-MH and Li-Ion batteries, which means they lose their charge more quickly when not in use.
  • They have a lower capacity and energy density compared to both Ni-MH and Li-Ion batteries.
  • NiCd batteries contain cadmium, a toxic heavy metal, which poses environmental concerns.

Typical usage examples for NiCd batteries include older cordless phones, power tools, and emergency backup lighting systems.

Li-Ion (Lithium-Ion) Batteries

Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries are the most widely used and versatile rechargeable batteries, known for their high energy density and long-lasting performance. Here are some key features and differences of Li-Ion batteries:


  • Li-Ion batteries are rechargeable and have a longer cycle life compared to Ni-MH and NiCd batteries.
  • They have a low self-discharge rate, meaning they retain their charge for longer periods when not in use.
  • Li-Ion batteries are known for their high energy density, which allows them to provide more power in a smaller and lighter package.


  • Li-Ion batteries are more expensive to produce than Ni-MH and NiCd batteries.
  • They are sensitive to overcharging and overheating, which can lead to safety concerns.
  • Li-Ion batteries are commonly used in smartphones, laptops, digital cameras, electric vehicles, and a wide range of portable electronics.

Lithium Polymer (LiPo) Batteries

The batteries commonly used in drones are typically Lithium Polymer (LiPo) and Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. These types of batteries are preferred for drones due to their high energy density, relatively low weight, and the ability to provide the high power required for drone motors and electronics. Let's take a closer look at each of these battery types:
  1. Lithium Polymer (LiPo) Batteries:

    • LiPo batteries are one of the most popular choices for drone applications.
    • They have a high energy density, allowing them to store a lot of power in a small and lightweight package, which is crucial for drones where weight is a critical factor.
    • LiPo batteries are known for delivering high discharge rates, making them suitable for the rapid power demands of drone motors.
    • They come in various sizes and configurations, allowing users to choose the right battery for their specific drone model and requirements.
    • However, LiPo batteries require careful handling and charging to prevent over-discharging, overcharging, and thermal issues.
  2. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) Batteries:

    • Li-ion batteries are used in some drone applications, primarily in consumer and prosumer drones where safety and energy density are important.
    • They have a higher energy density compared to LiPo batteries but may not provide the same level of peak power output.
    • Li-ion batteries are generally considered safer and have a lower risk of thermal runaway or fire compared to LiPo batteries.
    • They are commonly used in drones where extended flight times are more critical than high-speed maneuvers.
    • Li-ion batteries are available in a variety of form factors, but they are typically bulkier and heavier compared to LiPo batteries.

The choice between LiPo and Li-ion batteries for a drone depends on the specific requirements of the drone, including its intended use, desired flight time, and weight constraints. Racing drones and high-performance drones typically use LiPo batteries for their rapid power delivery, while camera drones or drones designed for long flight times might use Li-ion batteries for their energy efficiency.

It's important to follow manufacturer recommendations and safety guidelines when selecting and using batteries for drones. Regular maintenance and proper charging practices are essential to ensure the safe and reliable operation of the drone and its batteries.


In summary, Ni-MH, NiCd, and Li-Ion batteries each have their own set of advantages and limitations, making them suitable for different applications. Ni-MH and NiCd batteries are rechargeable but have lower energy density and capacity, while Li-Ion batteries offer higher performance but require more careful handling. When choosing a battery type, consider the specific requirements of your device and your environmental concerns. Regardless of the choice, rechargeable batteries are a more sustainable option compared to disposable alkaline batteries, reducing waste and environmental impact.

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