NiCd vs. NiMH

What's the Difference?

NiCd (Nickel Cadmium) and NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) are both types of rechargeable batteries commonly used in various electronic devices. However, they differ in several aspects. NiCd batteries have a lower energy density compared to NiMH batteries, meaning they store less energy for the same size and weight. On the other hand, NiMH batteries have a higher capacity and can hold more charge. NiCd batteries are known for their ability to deliver high currents, making them suitable for power tools and other high-drain devices. In contrast, NiMH batteries are more environmentally friendly as they do not contain toxic cadmium, which is present in NiCd batteries. Additionally, NiMH batteries have a lower self-discharge rate, meaning they can retain their charge for longer periods when not in use. Overall, while NiCd batteries have their advantages in terms of high current output, NiMH batteries offer higher capacity, better environmental friendliness, and longer shelf life.


ChemistryNickel CadmiumNickel Metal Hydride
Energy Density30-80 Wh/kg60-120 Wh/kg
Memory EffectYesNo
Self-Discharge Rate10-20% per month30-40% per month
Environmental ImpactContains toxic metalsLess toxic than NiCd
Charge Cycles500-1000 cycles200-500 cycles

Further Detail


Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) and Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries are two popular rechargeable battery technologies that have been widely used in various applications. While both types offer advantages over disposable batteries, they differ in terms of performance, capacity, environmental impact, and cost. In this article, we will explore the attributes of NiCd and NiMH batteries, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.

1. Performance

When it comes to performance, NiCd batteries have a long-standing reputation for their ability to deliver high current output, making them suitable for power-hungry devices such as power tools and digital cameras. They can handle heavy loads without significant voltage drop, ensuring consistent performance throughout their discharge cycle.

On the other hand, NiMH batteries have a lower internal resistance compared to NiCd batteries, resulting in improved energy efficiency. This allows them to deliver more power for longer durations, making them ideal for applications that require sustained energy delivery, such as electric vehicles and hybrid cars.

Furthermore, NiMH batteries have a higher energy density than NiCd batteries, meaning they can store more energy in the same physical size. This attribute makes them a preferred choice for portable electronics like smartphones and laptops, where compactness and extended runtime are crucial.

2. Capacity

Capacity refers to the amount of charge a battery can store and deliver. NiCd batteries typically have a lower capacity compared to NiMH batteries. This means that, for the same physical size, NiMH batteries can store more energy and provide longer runtimes.

However, it is important to note that NiCd batteries have a higher self-discharge rate than NiMH batteries. This means that they lose their charge more quickly when not in use. NiMH batteries, on the other hand, have a lower self-discharge rate, allowing them to retain their charge for longer periods. This attribute makes NiMH batteries more suitable for devices that are not frequently used or require standby power, such as remote controls and emergency backup systems.

3. Environmental Impact

One of the significant drawbacks of NiCd batteries is their environmental impact. Cadmium, a toxic heavy metal, is a key component of NiCd batteries. Improper disposal of NiCd batteries can lead to cadmium leaching into the soil and water, posing a threat to the environment and human health.

In contrast, NiMH batteries are considered more environmentally friendly as they do not contain toxic metals like cadmium. They can be safely disposed of and recycled without causing significant harm to the environment. This attribute has led to the phasing out of NiCd batteries in many countries and the adoption of NiMH batteries as a more sustainable alternative.

4. Cost

Cost is an important factor to consider when choosing between NiCd and NiMH batteries. Historically, NiCd batteries have been more affordable due to their simpler manufacturing process and longer market presence. However, with advancements in technology and increased demand for NiMH batteries, the cost difference has narrowed.

While NiMH batteries may have a slightly higher upfront cost, they offer better value in the long run due to their higher capacity, longer lifespan, and lower self-discharge rate. Additionally, the environmental regulations and disposal costs associated with NiCd batteries can further impact their overall cost.


Both NiCd and NiMH batteries have their own unique attributes and applications. NiCd batteries excel in high-current applications and are known for their durability, while NiMH batteries offer higher energy density, longer runtimes, and are more environmentally friendly.

When choosing between the two, it is essential to consider the specific requirements of the device or application. Factors such as power demands, capacity needs, environmental impact, and cost should be carefully evaluated to make an informed decision. As technology continues to advance, newer battery technologies like lithium-ion are also gaining popularity, offering even higher performance and energy density.

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