NiCad vs Lithium Ion Batteries: Which Is Better? Skip to content
NiCad vs Lithium Ion Batteries: Which Is Better?

NiCad vs Lithium Ion Batteries: Which Is Better?

They are called NiCad (or NiCd) batteries due to their make-up (Nickel-Cadmium). For a long time, people used them to solve their energy needs. Due to their specific use cases, NiCad batteries haven’t left the scene completely. However, Lithium-ion or Li-ion batteries are now more popular. 

You may wonder which battery type you should be using. Well, the answer will depend on what is important to you. We will do a side-by-side comparison so you can choose what is best for you. 

NiCad vs Lithium Ion Batteries: Which Is Better?

Understanding NiCad and Li-Ion Batteries

NiCad (Nickel-Cadmium) and Li-ion (Lithium-ion) batteries have different chemistries. So, their usage and maintenance are quite different. So don’t expect them to work alike. If you know how the batteries are made, including their pros and cons you can make a solid choice. We will now discuss these batteries separately. 

What Are NiCad Batteries?

Manufacturers use Nickel and Cadmium to make these cells, hence the name. The negative terminal or anode uses Cadmium. Meanwhile, the positive terminal (cathode) uses Nickel oxyhydroxide. The electrolyte in the cell is the basic aqueous Potassium Hydroxide or KOH. 

We will now discuss why NiCad batteries can be a good idea and their potential drawbacks. 

The Advantages of NiCad Batteries

Many users have considered NiCad batteries for the following reasons:

They Are Durable and Last Long 

If you need a battery that can handle daily usage and charging, then we are talking about NiCad. You will have to charge and use the cells for a long time before you notice any drop in performance. 

They Have High Discharge Rates

These cells can deliver a large charge when needed. The cells have little inbuilt resistance. So, if they are best for energy-sapping power tools and emergency devices. 

You Can Safely Use Them Under Temperature Ranges

You will notice that other cells have strict temperature requirements for charging, usage, and storage. A NiCad battery is more flexible in this area. Sometimes, you may need to operate a device in the winter cold or under the hot sun. This is where you need a more resilient NiCad battery. 

NiCad Cost Less Than Li-Ion Batteries

If you're like most people, cost plays a key role when making a purchase. Folks who wish to save some extra quid may end up with this option. So, if you prefer not to dig too deep in your pockets, they’re a good choice.

The Disadvantages of NiCad Batteries

Some users prefer other battery types due to these known issues with NiCad batteries: 

They Suffer from the Memory Effect

Do you imagine that you must fully discharge your batteries before powering them up again? Well, modern batteries do not have this limitation. Unfortunately, charging your NiCad battery when it has not fully discharged reduces its capacity. However, newer NiCad models do not have this memory effect issue. 

They Pose Risk of Toxicity in the Environment

Cadmium is a harmful element that is a key ingredient in producing NiCad batteries. Hence, extra care is taken during production. But disposing of the battery is another concern. Cadmium can be fatal if it enters water sources that are used by humans and animals.

NiCad Has a Lower Energy Density than Lithium-Ion

Energy density measures a battery's energy storage capacity per unit size. Thus, you will need larger NiCad batteries to store the same quantity of charge as Li-ion batteries. It's no wonder a NiCad battery tends to be bigger and cumbersome. Hence, they are not the best fit for making portable gadgets. 

High Incidence of Self-Discharge

Self-discharge is an issue when you must store your battery without using it. Every battery will self-discharge. But the discharging rate is pretty high with NiCad batteries. So, they are not very good storage batteries. Instead, they require frequent use. 

NiCad vs Lithium Ion Batteries: Which Is Better?

What Are Lithium-Ion Batteries?

Lithium-ion or Li-ion batteries are everywhere today. You can find them in most household gadgets like torchlights, headsets, and powerbanks. Manufacturers use electrodes, electrolytes, and a separator to make this battery. 

The cathode often contains Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LiCoO2). Other makers prefer Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (LiNiMnCoO2) or Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) in the cathode. The anode is made of graphite.

When Lithium-ion batteries charge, ions move from the cathode to the anode in the electrolyte solution. The opposite happens when the battery discharges. Let’s now talk about why some users favor Li-ion batteries and some of their drawbacks.  

The Advantages of Lithium-Ion Batteries

Li-ion batteries have these benefits:

Li-Ion Has a High Energy Density

Li-ion batteries may be small but can store large amounts of charge. This is why they power portable gadgets where space is limited like mobile phones, smartwatches, and earpods. 

They Are Lightweight and Compact

Most rechargeable batteries can weigh a ton. But this is different for Li-ion batteries. This is why lithium-powered devices fit in a tiny pouch and are easy to carry around. 

There Is No Worry of Memory Effect

Can you charge your lithium-ion battery even when it is not fully discharged? The answer is 'yes.' Unlike NiCad batteries, this does not reduce the battery's capacity. So, you can say Li-ion batteries do not need elaborate maintenance measures. It’s one reason why our LiFePO4 batteries are so popular.

They Charge Faster

This is a handy benefit if you are ever in a hurry. Imagine you want to leave the house but have to wait a while until your devices have sufficient charge. Well, Li-ion batteries won't delay you this way. They fill up easily while lasting longer. 

The Disadvantages of Lithium-Ion Batteries

Li-ion batteries have its issues, namely: 

They Cost More to Manufacture

Li-ion batteries may not be the best choice if you want to save money due to limited finances. Although they may be pricey, you will get the value for your money in the long term. So, think of the purchase as an investment.  

There Are Safety Concerns (Or Risk of Thermal Runaway)

When your Lithium-ion battery becomes too hot, it can cause a chemical reaction that makes the battery overheat. You may have used a mobile phone or power bank that is prone to overheating. The excess heat forces energy to discharge quickly. This can cause gassing of the battery. When a battery experiences thermal runaway, it can catch a fire or explode. If you have observed the process, you can understand the risk involved.  

The Issue of Limited Lifespan

Most Li-ion batteries have a 2-3 year lifespan before the performance starts to tank. However, LiFePO4 batteries last longer when you manage them with care. 

NiCad vs Lithium Ion Batteries: Which Is Better?

Comparison between NiCad and Lithium Ion Batteries

When we discuss NiCad vs Li-ion batteries, it becomes clear that we can compare these batteries on 5 standout criteria, including:

  • Energy Density
  • Lifespan and Cycle Life
  • Environmental Impact
  • Cost-Saving
  • Safety Concerns

We will now use the above criteria to compare the different batteries. 

NiCad vs Li-Ion: Energy Density

NiCad batteries enjoy a moderate energy density. However, lithium-ion cells can store more energy than NiCad batteries. So, if you’re looking for a powerhouse of energy, its Li-ion batteries. 

If you want to power large applications or a whole house, you should opt for a Li-ion battery. This is one area where the LiFePO4 battery shines. 

NiCad vs Li-Ion: Lifespan and Cycle Life

NiCad and Li-ion batteries will both enjoy a long lifespan and cyclelife. These batteries can last more than 2-3 years, especially when you maintain them correctly. In fact, some LiFePO4 batteries can last up to 10 years of usage. 

However, some quirks like the memory effect will reduce the lifespan of your NiCad battery. So, if you’re using an older NiCad battery, remember to let it discharge before charging it up again.  

NiCad vs Li-Ion: Environmental Impact

Cadmium is a pretty dangerous element. Yet, you will find it in all NiCad. It goes without saying that this is an environmental risk. Even low quantities of Cadmium will affect the soil and microorganisms therein. Unfortunately, many users are ignorant of this point. Thus, NiCad batteries pose a big risk to the environment.

In contrast, you can use Li-ion batteries with more peace of mind. Still, you should be careful when discarding old or bad batteries.  

NiCad vs Li-Ion: Cost-Saving

You may need to dig deeper in your pockets if you want to pay for a solid Li-ion battery. Alternatively, the cheaper NiCad may meet your needs. Nonetheless, buying a solid Li-ion battery is an investment that will make you smile for many years. 

NiCad vs Li-Ion: Safety Concerns

Your Li-ion battery can have thermal runaway. Although it's a rarer sight, it’s still possible. When this happens, you should look for an alternative power source to avoid a fire or explosion. Meanwhile, a NiCad battery is generally more stable. 

We have compared these two batteries side-by-side in the table below:




Energy Density



Lifespan and Cycle Life



Environmental Impact

Environmental risk




More expensive but cost-effective

Safety Concerns

More stable

Risk of thermal runaway

NiCad vs Lithium Ion Batteries: Which Is Better?

Applications and Usage of NiCad and Lithium Ion Batteries

When you combine the pros and cons of each battery type, you will know they each have different applications and use cases. Below, we discuss how these batteries are used today. 

NiCad Battery Applications

  • Traditional Use Cases: You will likely still find NiCad batteries in power tools such as drills and saws. Some cameras and radios still use the technology. 
  • Current Relevance: It’s official, NiCad has been dethroned by Li-ion batteries. So they don't enjoy their previous popularity. However, some industrial equipment and aviation applications still use the battery. 

Lithium Ion Battery Applications

  • Usage in Everyday Modern Electronics: You will see a Lithium-ion battery in your smartphones, laptops, tablets, watches and glasses. 
  • Emerging Applications: In the future, expect that Li-ion batteries will power more electric vehicles like Tesla. 
NiCad vs Lithium Ion Batteries: Which Is Better?


Back then NiCad batteries made all the buzz. But its replacement, Li-ion, has proven to be superior. These modern batteries can store more charge, and last longer, without harming the environment. 

You can shop superior Li-ion or LiFePO4 batteries on GoldenMate Energy today. We are the name you can trust when it comes to your energy needs.  

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