Staying Positive on National Battery Day

Posted February 18, 2020

A world without batteries and access to portable power is almost unfathomable for most of us. However, not too many generations ago that was the norm. Pre-battery days weren’t bleak by any means. While there were few means of quick entertainment, people routinely left their homes to enjoy a show. Speedboating was not yet a thing. Any boating that was enjoyed used simple paddling to navigate through still waters. But today, all that has changed. That in thanks largely to the power of lithium (and copper and nickel and zinc, to name a few).

On February 18, we celebrate National Battery Day — a day where we largely appreciate the power afforded to us by the advent of the modern-day battery. All batteries are not created equal, however. There are varying types, but they all lead back to the same thing - a way to have power anywhere at any time.


Long before brilliant innovators, like Elon Musk, were looking into cleaner energy sources, came Italian physicist Alessandro Volta – the man credited for the invention of the first battery in 1799. His invention has been replicated and modified for centuries. In 1836 a chemist by the name of John Daniell created what is now called the Daniell cell – the type of battery you would find in a doorbells of the 19th century.

From alkaline to the dry cell and from AGM to lithium-ion, much gratitude is owed to our “forefathers of charge”, because without their tenacity our world would look vastly different. Think about some of the everyday conveniences and modern luxuries that we would be without if we didn’t have battery power. Obviously, we’d still have to get up to change the TV channel and we would not be mobile, except by horse and carriage or a coal-powered train. Because of batteries we can go anywhere and see just about anything that we want.

But other conveniences that are powered by batteries are often overlooked —the smoke detector, the garage door opener and even home alarm systems exist because of battery power.

On National Battery Day, we give thanks to these innovators, because our lives have been forever changed (or should we say “forever charged”) by portable power. Here are 8 other daily treasures that we take for granted but should thank our “lithium stars” for their battery power.

1. Hospital and Medical Equipment

Portable medical equipment is literally a lifesaver! Can you imagine in a life or death situation if the medical staff rolled in the crash cart and had to pause to look for an available power outlet? Quick access to care and lifesaving measures may be taken for granted, but portable power is the reason many of us are still here. Because of batteries:

  • An EMT has access to a defibrillator, no matter where they are.
  • Dialysis no longer require hospitalization.
  • Nurses and physical therapists can work with their immobile patients more easily with the sit-to-stand lift.
  • Electric wheelchairs make getting around possible for someone with a spinal injury.
  • Infusion pumps are readily available in both emergency and non-emergency situations.
  • Back-up power makes it possible for surgeons to continue working in the event of a power outage.
  • Everyday people can monitor their health via blood pressure cuffs, thermometers and scales (although the scale might not be considered a convenience to some of us).

This list could really become extremely lengthy. Medical equipment, patient monitoring, support care systems and even at-home devices are all made possible by the battery. It’s fair to say that battery power has contributed significantly to our longevity and quality of life.

2. Children’s Toys and Electronics

Long gone are the days of children having to play with wood carvings and rag dolls. Every busy parent has at one time or another used an electronic device either for a child’s entertainment or for their education. There has been literacy research that states that children are learning to read at increasingly younger ages. This is thanks largely to diligent parents, but also can be attributed to the introduction of bedtime music via the mobile, learning toys like electronic books and interactive activity tables and stuffed animals or tv characters that hug, talk and sing to our little ones.

Battery-powered electronics entertain children of all ages – from see and say toys teaching small ones that the cow goes “moo” and toddler-size convertibles to wireless headphones and gaming controls enjoyed by older children.

3. Lights

We no longer have to walk around carrying a lantern or candle, risking our lives just to see in the dark. Most homes have flashlights readily available. Whether the coinciding battery is also readily available will vary from family to family. Even our (battery-powered) mobile phones have flashlights. Besides this, there are many other types of light that offer us a glimpse in the dark thanks to batteries. They include:

  • Work lights – whether you are a do-it-yourself kind of person or an actual
    professional working at night, you will need to see. Works lights can be large or small. You see them on the highway and in the driveway. You can keep your worksite lit thanks to the battery.
  • Portable lamps – if you are outside on your deck or maybe even camping with the kids, when the sun goes down, you don’t want the fun to end. Battery-powered lamps allow us to continue to enjoy the open air, whether the moon is bright or not.
  • Decorative outdoor lighting – we’ve all seen the driveways and walkways lined by lights or the gardens that are highlighted at night. To some these may be just decoration, while others may see these lights as a visual guide the separates their yard from the concrete. Either way, the battery makes it possible to see exactly where you should park or walk when the night falls.
  • Ambient lighting and Smart lighting – we’ve seen the lights that go from warm and cozy to clear and bright. Sometimes this is done with a remote control and other times you can speak it into existence. Portable power makes mood lighting possible in any room of your home.

4. Industrial equipment

We’ve come a long way from needing ropes and pulleys to build a home or having to climb 50 foot ladders to fix the lighting in a warehouse. Battery-powered machinery has made so many jobs easier – from road paving or excavating a tree to labeling packages or material handling. Heavy machinery has benefited from portable power, across industries. Some examples of equipment that relies on the battery are:

5. Solar power

This may sound out of place, because solar-powered things are powered by the sun. But many solar systems use battery storage to help you save energy and use it as backup power on a not so sunny day. Renewable energy has taken on a life of its own over the past decade or so. Solar panels can be found on homes in many countries. Decorative outdoor lighting is often solar-powered and now there are even recreational vehicles (RVs) that harness the power of the sun to keep moving. This is by far one of the cleanest sources of energy in existence (move over Willie Nelson). You have the battery to thank for many renewable power sources… (and the sun)!

6. Home improvement tools

Many people in the carpentry or other handy fields are no stranger to a hammer or maybe even a handsaw. After all, their work is an art. But for the Do-it-yourself type, image how much longer would it take to put together a new cabinet without a drill? From saws and sanders to blowers and mowers, home maintenance and improvement projects have come to rely heavily on power tools – battery-powered tools, that is. Other tools that require a battery to run might be:

  • Nail guns
  • Hedge trimmers
  • Soldering irons
  • Cable crimpers
  • Torque wrenches, and more

7. Backup power (Generators)

As mentioned, hospitals rely on batteries for backup power in emergency situations. Major companies in many industries cannot afford to lose time in the event of a power outage. Medical facilities being the most obvious, but others include call centers, aeronautical facilities, laboratories and emergency systems (think fire systems, alarm systems and similar).

8. Military and Police equipment

Our military and police personnel are “always on” and always on the move. Their gear needs to be just as mobile as they are. They can’t be saddled with electrical cords or diesel-fueled equipment. Besides the electric lights you’d see on top of first response vehicles, the following are some other battery-powered things associated with the military and emergency personnel:

  • Portable radios/walkie talkies
  • Tasers/stun guns or other electroshock weapons
  • Body cams and helmet cams
  • Flashlights
  • Digital license plate readers
  • Mobile fingerprint scanners
  • Breathalyzers
  • Remote-controlled systems
  • Drones
  • In-vehicle computers
  • Surveillance devices
  • Dozens of wearable devices, and much more

All in all, batteries play a significant role in our lives. Their power is often overlooked, but very noticeable in those moments when it’s not there. If you’ve ever had to sit on the side of the highway until your car was jump started or walk through your dark home during a power outage, then you surely can appreciate why we need battery power.