What is the difference between a battery and an accumulator?

Batteries are indispensable in the industry as well as in private households. But what is a battery? Here is a brief outline of one of the most important energy suppliers.

Batteries have become an integral part of our high-technology society. Sufficient energy is provided by chemical processes.
© Supapics / Alamy
What is the difference between a battery and an accumulator?

The term "battery" is used both as a generic term for energy storage and as a term for a non-rechargeable energy storage (primary battery). Whether a non-rechargeable primary battery (e.g. long-term use in watches) or an accumulator (e.g. in smartphones) is used in a device depends on the use.

Where are batteries and accumulators used?

In practice, a distinction is made between two different types of energy storage: primary and secondary batteries. Primary batteries can only be discharged once and cannot be recharged afterwards. Secondary batteries, commonly known as accumulators, are rechargeable.

Regarding application, it is distinguished between device batteries, starter batteries and industrial batteries. While portable batteries are mainly used in wristwatches, smartphones, laptops or torches, starter batteries are mainly used in cars. Industrial batteries are installed in stationary applications such as uninterruptible power supplies, mobile phone base stations or forklifts.

What is a battery and how does it work?

A battery is an electrochemical energy storage. It usually consists of a combination of electrochemical cells, the so-called galvanic cells. These cells contain two electrodes separated by an ion-conducting, liquid or solid electrolyte. These consist of different materials (e.g. lithium, alkali manganese, lead). Depending on the chemical system used, the battery systems have different voltage levels and energy densities. The material used for the electrodes determines how high the nominal voltage is. The energy that can be stored depends on the nature and amount of material used in the battery.

During discharge, the energy stored in chemical form is converted into electrical energy by an electrochemical reaction and electricity flows.

What is a cell?

A cell is the basic functional unit of a battery, which consists of an compilation of electrodes with active materials, electrolyte, containers, connections and usually separators. The capacity of a cell results from the size or weight, the internal structure and the material combination of the electrodes.

What is a battery management system?

A battery management system is an electronic circuit that enables the battery to function properly and monitors its characteristics, such as the voltages of the individual cells of the battery, the voltage of the cells under load and the internal resistance. Safety-relevant events such as overcharging, deep discharge, high temperatures, short circuits, etc. are also detected and prevented during operation.

You may also be interested in:

Most visited pages


Read more


Read more


Read more


Read more


Read more
NOA - Mastering the complexity of connectivity | ZVEI

NAMUR Open Architecture enables a secure second channel for collecting vital data which are necessary for monitoring and…

MTP - The Age of Modular Production | ZVEI

Module Type Package is the core of modular production. Modular automation enables particularly fast and efficient engineering of…

DC-INDUSTRIE at the Hannover Fair 2020

In the DC-INDUSTRIE2 project and the predecessor project DC-INDUSTTRIE, research has been conducted since 2016 with companies from…


DC-INDUSTRIE: Hannover Messe 2019

Together with its partners in the DC-INDUSTRIE project, ZVEI is developing network management options for the future. The motto:…



Designing 5G for Industrial Use

5G allows machines to communicate with each other in real time, saving resources and energy through Edge Computing and Massive…