Where to Find a Power Source for your New Product

As discussed in our previous blog post “Are you Ready for a Custom Battery Design?” custom battery design is nontrivial.  Most of the time, you are better off buying an off the shelf battery from a major supplier than going through a custom battery design process; you should only consider custom battery design once you have established that a conventional battery will not meet your needs. And, if you require a minor modification to a conventional battery such as a small change in dimensions, many companies will provide semi-custom batteries. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the suppliers you could reach out to, and the products which they sell. 

 

Major Battery Manufacturers

Global companies like Energizer, Duracell, Panasonic, Rayovac and other large consumer battery manufacturers have websites listing their standard products and the product technical datasheets and safety datasheets. You can also find links on their websites to contacts in their OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) teams and even tips or free assistance in selecting the right battery for your application. The large battery manufacturers make high quality batteries, reliable and at a low price point especially when purchasing in bulk.

These general purpose batteries are usually classified by their chemistry and form factor

  • Alkaline disposable batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, )

  • Carbon-zinc disposable batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, )

  • Nickel-metal hydride rechargeable batteries

  • Specialty batteries:

    • Zinc-air button cells
    • Silver oxide button cells
    • 3 Volt lithium coin cell
    • Photo lithium batteries
    • Miniature alkaline coin cells or stacked batteries.
  • Lithium-ion batteries (18650 and various other sizes)

Some companies like Panasonic have specific links to websites listing various types of off the shelf specialty batteries which are not usually available in retail stores. The search for a given battery size or voltage and capacity can take some effort as the offering can be broad. These batteries are no longer general purpose and more analysis is required in order to pick the right battery type. Most of these batteries are readily available for sampling.

 

OEM Specific Battery Manufacturers

There are also a large number of companies which manufacture batteries for OEM companies. Most of them are located in Asia (HK, China, Taiwan, Korea), though there are some located in the US and Western Europe. Most of these companies focus on making conventional lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries.

China is a major player with many battery companies and a broad range of product quality and price.  Alibaba.com, for example, provides links to many different battery suppliers. The largest Chinese battery companies generally have good manufacturing standards and high product performance. It is wise, however, to always buy samples of a given type of battery before engaging in large volumes, and to vet your supplier carefully.

For small runs or prototyping, it may not be worthwhile to directly arrange production of a lithium-ion battery.  There are a number of distributors and importers, such as Powerstream (www.powerstream.com), which sell small quantities of cells using conventional lithium ion and lithium polymer chemistries.

Specialty Battery Manfacturers

Some industries, such as medical devices, oil & gas, Defence, and Aerospace, have unique power source requirements and conventional off the shelf and semi custom batteries often cannot meet these requirements.  There are, however, a number of specialty battery manufacturers, mainly in the US and Western Europe, which serve these specialty battery markets. These are a few suppliers that you can search for:

These companies have been in business for many years and have expert teams for developing semi-custom or custom products. They will consider “special” orders and “unusual” requirements as long as the project presents an attractive return on investment.

If you can’t find what you need on the market

Sometime, no commercially available battery can meet your requirements, or nothing in the market can be easily tweaked to meet your needs.  For example, you might need a flexible non-lithium battery.  Or you might need a battery significantly smaller than what others can supply.  You may also need an operational temperature range that conventional batteries cannot meet.  If you can’t find a battery that meets your needs, contact us.  We look forward to hearing from you.

About the Author

John

Hi, I'm John, editor-in-chief of an Flexel Battery online magazine!

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