A Selection Guide for Primary Lithium Batteries

Learn about the advantages and use cases for Panasonic Lithium Primary Cylindrical and Coin (CR) and (BR) series batteries.

Lithium primary (non-rechargeable) batteries are poised to meet emerging portable energy needs

Emerging use cases that require portable battery power, such as automotive, medical, and the Internet of Things (IoT), all have specific requirements that engineers must consider in the early stages of design. Not all batteries are created equal.

Consistency, longevity, size, and temperature are all factors that guide the selection of batteries at the early stages of design. Panasonic’s Lithium Primary Cylindrical and Coin (CR) and (BR) series batteries meet the needs of engineers designing products for a variety of new and interesting and applications.

The ABCs of CR and BR Primary Lithium batteries

Both Lithium Primary BR and CR are popular battery chemistries because of their flat voltage profiles over the entire life of a cell. They also behave consistently over that lifetime.

Design engineers can be confident that the circuitry in their device can use these batteries to a great extent without worrying about voltage fade. The less often a battery must be changed the better, especially if the batteries are deeply embedded into a device, or not removable at all by the device owner. Their low self-discharge characteristics means Lithium batteries have a long shelf life for future use. This makes the coin form factor a popular option for memory backup circuits in devices that have another primary power source, battery or otherwise, so device memory and functionality is maintained in the event of a power loss.

But it’s not just that Lithium batteries last a long time, it’s that their behavior is consistent over the course of their life span. The cylindrical form factor is popular in flashlights because it means you will have a consistent, bright beam over the course of the battery’s lifetime. In addition, the voltage profile remains stable over a broad range of temperatures. This makes them a viable option for a wide range of applications where environmental considerations are at play, such as IoT scenarios that are often outdoors and sometimes exposed to either extreme cold or extreme heat.

Panasonic has created both cylindrical and coin cells that allow for higher discharge current rates and broader temperature range usage. 

Key features of BR cylindrical lithium batteries are their high voltage, low self-discharge rate, high leakage resistance, wide temperature range, and good safety performance. This makes them ideal for memory backup applications like factory automation equipment, computers, and industrial controls. BR coin lithium batteries hit all those points while being small and light, making them particularly suitable for memory backup applications that have a real-time clock (RTC) circuit and adjust well to situations with shock and vibration conditions. Panasonic’s BR “A” Series coin cells offer a wider operating temperature range for applications such as tire pressure monitoring systems, electronic toll collection, RFID tags, and automated meter readers.

Like the BR batteries, CR cylindrical lithium batteries boast high voltage and low self-discharge rates. With high current capability and good safety, typical use cases include cameras, flashlights, toys, security sensors, and medical applications. The CR coin form factor counterparts tend to find their way into small space such as Remote Keyless Entry (RKE) devices, medical devices, and RFID tags.

Ultimately, design engineers are looking to leverage the benefits of lithium batteries for either primary or backup power in devices. In the case of coin cells, the goal is often to make the battery last as long as the device, as it’s not easily replaced by the user. Some designs call for a larger-sized coin cell that’s built into the device for its entire life span, which gives customers greater flexibility in product design. 

Otherwise, both BR and CR chemistries are mature, having been around for more than three decades. So, deciding which one to use isn’t about the capacity capabilities of the cells, but their functionality. 

Designers must balance the process and cons of each chemistry and form factor for a wide variety of applications

There are three key emerging markets for lithium batteries. Automotive, medical, and IoT applications each have their own unique battery power requirements that can leverage the longevity, flat voltage profiles, and broad operating temperature range of Panasonic’s lithium non-rechargeable cylindrical and coin CR and BR series batteries.

While CR chemistry is cheaper, it doesn’t operate over as broad a temperature range as BR, although for some applications, Panasonic provides CR coin cells that operate over a broader temperature range than traditional CR chemistry. Most of the BR usage ends up being in extreme environments, where low, pulse-like current discharges are required. 

For medical devices, the size and weight of a battery are obvious considerations given that they need to be portable, so the coin form factor is ideal for an EpiPen or patient sensors that are necessary to have on hand, in case it’s needed—even though it may not get used for months, or even years at a time. 

Overall, CR and BR are ideal for many medical devices because the battery can be stored for extended periods and lose a minimal amount of energy. Medical devices that might be used more regularly such as drug delivery systems, glucose meters, and wearable monitoring devices are also ideal candidates for CR / BR lithium batteries.

Like medical devices, IoT is a broad category, and overlaps in some cases—lithium primary cylindrical batteries are not only optimal for many remote patient monitoring devices such as those worn by a person, but also in a wide range for environments.

For example, modern buildings, both commercial and residential, are using smart meters that are expected to run without maintenance for years, also making them a candidate for lithium primary cylindrical batteries. Similarly, security motion sensors are expected to be equally reliable, if not more so, with their smaller form factor benefiting from the size of a lithium primary coin battery.

As cities get smarter, so are parking meters, and parking spaces, all of which are adopting lithium primary cylindrical batteries to power their intelligence reliably over a long period of time.Not all outdoor IoT applications are urban, either. Humidity sensors with lithium primary cylindrical batteries are being deployed in agricultural environments, sometimes in vast fields where they need to remain functional for a long time without human intervention.

Panasonic BR and CR: Reliable, long-lasting batteries

For the immediate future, we’re going to see a further proliferation of smart IoT and wearable medical devices that all require a reliable, long-lasting battery.
Because of their form factors, reliability, longevity, and overall safety profiles, Panasonic’s lithium non-rechargeable cylindrical and coin CR and BR series batteries boast the desired characteristics for a world where not only are there increasing demands for portable, reliable power in consumer devices, but also for a whole host of smart devices for buildings, vehicles, and even a farmer’s field. 

The challenge continues to be increased longevity for batteries. The ultimate vision is that they should last as long as the device does—automakers want your fob to last the life of your car. The ideal scenario is no battery replacement at all, but at the very least, we’re looking at a future when a cell can last a decade.

For additional information, please visit Arrow.com

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