Common dime-store cells and batteries
The cells you see in the grocery, department, drug, and hardware stores which are popular for use in household convenience items such as flashlights and transistor radios are of the zinc-carbon variety. These gives 1.5 V and are available in sizes known as AAA (very small), AA, C, and D. You have probably seen all of these sizes hanging in the packages on the pegboard. Batteries made from these cells are generally 6 V or 9 V.
One type of cell and battery which has become available recently is the nickelcadmium rechargeable type.
The alkaline cell makes use of granular zinc for the negative electrode, potassium hydroxide as an electrolyte, and a device known as polarizer as the positive electrode. The geometry of construction is identical to the zinc-carbon cell. An alkaline cell can work at the lower temperatures than the zinc-carbon cell. It lasts longer in the most electronic devices, and is thus preferred for use in transistor, calculators, radios, and portable cassette players. The shelf life of it is much longer than that of the zinc-carbon cell.
Those little 9-V things with the connectors on the top consist of 6 tiny zinc-carbon or alkaline cells in series. Each of the 6 cells supplies 1.5 V.
Even though these batteries have more voltage than individual cells, the total energy which is available from them is less than that from a C cell or D cell. This is because of the electrical energy which can be gotten from a cell or battery is directly proportional to the amount of chemical energy stored in it, in turn, is a direct function of the volume of the cell. C or D size cells have more volume than the transistor battery, and thus contain more stored energy, supposing the same chemical type.
The ampere-hour capacity of the transistor battery is less. But transistor radios do not require much current; these batteries are used in other low current electronic devices, like remote-control channel changers, garage-door openers, TV remote video-cassette recorder controls, and the electronic calculators.
Their name was derived from the fact that they find much of their use in lanterns. These are batteries having a good, solid mass so they last a long time. One type has spring contacts on the top, a part from keeping a lantern lit for awhile, these big batteries, rated at 6 V and consisting of 4 good-size zinc-carbon or alkaline cells can give enough energy to operate the low-power radio transceiver. Two of them in the series can make a 12-V battery which can power a 5-W Citizen
Band or ham radio. They are also good for scanner radio receivers in portable locations, for the use of camping lamps, and for other medium-power needs.