# Difference between an electric cell and a battery?

## Main Question or Discussion Point

what is difference between an electric cell and a battery?

Related Electrical Engineering News on Phys.org
Good question.

The cell is the basic single electrochemical unit which converts chemical energy to electrical energy.

Some cells are not meant to supply current, and are just used as a voltage reference eg the Weston Standard Cell.

Some cells are naturally formed under water droplets and lead to corrosion (rusting). These are called corrosion cells.

A single cell has an anode and a cathode, each with its own chemical reaction. Each reaction is known as a half cell. So a single cell is a combination of a pair of half cells. In the laboratory we may connect the half cells by means of a salt bridge, to study or use the effects, but keep the half cells separate.

Batteries are meant to supply current (power) to drive some apparatus. They may be only a single cell or they may be made up of several cells in series so a 9volt battery contains 6 x 1.5 volt cells.

Hope this helps

Last edited:
sophiecentaur
Gold Member
Actually, I'd slightly disagree with that. afaik, a (voltaic) cell is a single pair of electrodes - whether low power or a D type, supplying more than an Amp.
The term 'Battery' refers to a stack of Cells (in the same way that a 'Battery' of guns consists of a number of them ("two or more pieces of artillery in the field", in one dictionary).
The word 'battery' derives from 'bashing' or hitting (assault and battery). A number of guns will achieve this very nicely and I think the term then applied in that way (more effective way of bashing the enemy). Thence, a stack, or battery, of cells would provide more oomph than a single voltaic cell.
When I started teaching Science, about 20 years ago, everyone was really up themselves about making the distinction between the terms. Students who used the term 'battery' for an AA cell were treated as complete morons. It's cooled down a bit now and who would dream of asking for a 'box of AAA cells' in a shop, any more than asking for 50N of potatoes?

Myself, I couldn't giveadamn; I'm just responding to the question in a pseudo intellectual sort of way. :rofl:

Interestingly enough, we always talk of Photovoltaic / solar Cells not batteries - even when we use loads of them in series. Language marches on. . . . .

Interestingly enough, we always talk of Photovoltaic / solar Cells not batteries - even when we use loads of them in series.
I think 'loads of them in series' would collectively be referred to as a solar panel, where multiple panels could further be assembled into a solar array. But with 20 years as a science teacher, you already knew this, so I'm not sure why I even bother writing this. Have a nice day :)

sophiecentaur
Gold Member
Likewise.

sophiecentaur
Gold Member
(I mean the nice day bit - not the "why you bothered" bit)

My science dictionary has

Battery:
General term for a number of objects cooperating together, eg a number of accumulator cells, dry cells, capacitors, radars, boilers, guns etc.

So I suppose this implies there has to be more than one object.

Whilst I have always realised the multiple aspect I has clearly been acting like a pleb all these years thinking multiple includes one.

Thank you for the insight SC.

sophiecentaur