D Cell Battery - Replacements and Equivalents
D cell battery is a cylindrical battery introduced in 1898 and used in a variety of high-drain applications including flashlights, toys, radio receivers and transmitters, medical devices, security systems, etc.
The most common label for this battery is 'D-cell', but other labels are used as well, like 'flashlight battery', MN1300, MX1300, LR20, R20, 13A, 13D, Type 373, BA-30, etc.
Updated: October 25, 2021.
Today, D-cell use depends on its chemistry and hence the discharge characteristics, including the nominal voltage, nominal capacity, discharge currents, self-discharge rate, etc.
Most popular D-cell chemistries include non-rechargeable Zinc-Carbon, Alkaline, and Lithium-Thionyl Chloride (Li-SOCl2) chemistries, and rechargeable Nickel-Cadmium, Nickel-Metal Hydride and various Lithium-Ion chemistries.
D-Cell Batteries Features and Specifications
D-cell battery dimensions are 34.2 × 61.5 mm (1.35 × 2.42 inches) and are one of the largest cylindrical batteries in common use - F-cells (33.0 x 91.0 mm) are larger than D-cells, but they are not as common as D-cells.
Capacity, voltage, output current, and other features greatly depend on the battery chemistry. The list of most common chemistries are given in the following comparison table:
|Chemistry||Typical Label||Rechargeable||Typical Capacity (Ah)||Nominal Voltage (V)|
|Alkaline||LR20, 13A||No (Mostly No)||10-18||1.5|
(built-in DC-DC converter)
Non-Rechargeable D-Cell Batteries
Non-rechargeable D-cells based on the iron disulfide (Li-FeS2) chemistry are not yet widely in use, at least not as D-cells, although they offer nominal voltage of 1.5 volts (up to 1.8 open-circuit voltage), ultra-long storage time (10-20 years), and higher capacity, especially in high-drain applications.
Other non-rechargeable D-cell chemistries include zinc-carbon, alkaline, and Lithium-Thionyl Chloride (Li-SOCl2) batteries, while NiOOH (non-rechargeable chemistry) and NiZn (rechargeable chemistry) are far from being seen in this battery size.
Zinc-Carbon D-cells feature a typical capacity of around 6-8 Ah (6000-8000 mAh) with a nominal voltage of 1.5 volts. Zinc-carbon D-cells are the oldest type of D-cells and their nominal voltage of 1.5V is still practically a requirement for D-cell batteries.
Zinc-carbon D-cells feature a shelf life of 3-5 years, and they are fairly cheap and reliable. But, if they are not stored properly, their shelf life can be shortened down to 1-2 years. Also, after some time, due to their chemistry, they may leak easily.
When compared with zinc-carbon batteries, alkaline batteries offer many advantages.
Alkaline D-cells cost slightly more than zinc-carbon batteries but have a much larger capacity (12-18 Ah, vs 6-8 Ah), have a similar nominal voltage of 1.5 volts, and have a shelf life of 5-10+ years.
Note that the actual capacity of these batteries greatly depends on the discharge current - some battery brands claim 20+ Ah capacity for their D-cells, however, such capacities are achieved while the batteries are being drained with very low currents (15-30 mAh).
Alkaline D-cells are the most popular D-cell batteries.
Lithium-Thionyl Chloride (Li-SOCL2) batteries are very specialized D-cell batteries.
These batteries feature a nominal voltage of 3.6V and are not compatible with 1.5V D-cell batteries. Also, they feature a very large capacity of 18-19Ah and extra long shelf life of 20+ years.
But, Lithium-Thionyl Chloride (Li-SOCl2) D-cell batteries are unable to provide stronger currents - typical maximum continuous discharge current of Lithium-Thionyl Chloride (Li-SOCl2) D-cell batteries is in the 50-150 mAh range, with the pulse current being around 200-300 mAh.
Thus, Li-SOCl2 D-cell batteries are used in electronics as memory backup batteries, CMOS batteries, and similar.
Li-SOCl2 D-cell batteries are offered as classic D-cell batteries, batteries with soldering tabs, or with pre-soldered wires with various connectors.
Rechargeable D-Cell Batteries
Rechargeable D-cells are mostly NiCd, NiMH, and various lithium-ion batteries.
Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) D-cell batteries are rarely used due to the presence of cadmium, a heavy metal that is a strong pollutant.
NiCd batteries suffer from memory effect, relatively high self-discharge rate, have a nominal voltage of 1.2 volts and typical capacity of 2-6 Ah.
NiCd batteries can withstand several hundred charging-discharging cycles when being maintained properly and charged with intelligent chargers that monitor the condition of the batteries.
But, NiCd batteries are known as batteries that are able to provide high currents, with some NiCd D-cell batteries being able to easily provide 50+ Amps.
Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) D-cell batteries feature similar output voltage like NiCd batteries of 1.2 volts, but they have a larger capacity (8-12 Ah), they don't contain heavy metals like cadmium or mercury, their self-discharge rate is much lower, and are able to withstand up to 1000-1200 charge/discharge cycles.
Some of the NiMH batteries are optimized for high-drain applications and feature lower capacity, while low-drain batteries feature higher capacity.
On average, NiMH D-cell capacity is around 10 Ah.
Modern NiMH batteries come with features that outperform NiCd batteries in almost every way and are preferred battery chemistry for rechargeable D-cells - and not only D-cells.
Lithium D-cell batteries feature internal voltage of 3.2-3.7 volts, depending on the exact lithium battery chemistry, but this voltage is lowered down to 1.5V using DC-DC converters which are part of the batteries' built-in Battery Management Systems (BMS), making them backward compatible with the non-rechargeable zinc-carbon and alkaline D-cell batteries.
The effective capacity of these batteries is usually in the 3-6Ah range.
Lithium 1.5V D-cells are recharged using micro-USB charging cables via any available USB charging port, requiring on average 3-6 hours to be recharged completely.
Thanks to the internal lithium batteries, lithium 1.5V D-cells support 1000-2000+ charging/discharging cycles.
Note: lithium rechargeable 3.2-3.7 volts D-cell batteries are not available on the market, or they are still very uncommon. But, when they arrive, they will NOT be compatible with "1.5V only" applications.
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AA Battery vs D-Cell Battery
AA batteries feature physical dimensions of (D x H) 14.5 x 50.5 mm and are much smaller in terms of volume than the D-cell batteries (34.2 x 61.5 mm).
Thus, AA cells feature a much smaller capacity than D-cell batteries, for example, alkaline AA batteries feature a nominal capacity of 1.8-2.7Ah, while alkaline D-cells feature a nominal capacity of 10-18Ah.
Similarly, D-cells are able to provide much stronger currents than AA batteries without any adverse effects on the batteries.
But, some brands offer AA-to-D battery adapters, allowing the user to replace D battery with one, two, or three AA batteries connected in parallel.
Note: when placing the AA batteries in such adapter, always choose the very same AA battery model from the same manufacturer, preferably from the same batch in order to avoid imbalances between the batteries.
Long Story Short: If you are looking for non-rechargeable D-cell batteries, go for alkaline D-cells from reputable brands - they provide the best balance between capacity, output current, voltage stability, and of course, the price.
If you are looking for rechargeable D-cells, go for NiMH D-cells just be sure of what kind of applications they are going to be used. Balanced NiMH D-cells feature 1.2 volts nominal voltage and 10Ah capacity, but they should be charged with battery chargers intended for such batteries.
On the other hand, lithium 1.5V D-cells are becoming more and more popular due to the stable output voltage of 1.5V, good capacity, and ease of charging - just plug the battery into any suitable USB port ...