Next-gen batteries for next-gen applications

20th July 2022
Paige West

In our personal lives, many of us typically give little thought to the selection of batteries in home devices. A television remote requires little more than a primary AA or AAA battery. However, as domestic devices become smarter, the performance of the underlying battery becomes more crucial for design engineers to consider. Here, Robert Brown, Marketing Executive at Accutronics, explains the evolving requirements of batteries for smart home technology.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the home automation market will be valued at approximately USD 114 billion by 2025. Some of the reasons behind this growth could be the increased reliance on technology (research shows ‘people generally spend an average of three hours and 15 minutes on their phones every day’) and the added convenience it brings.

However, this is only one part of the reason for smart home growth. The wider adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) into our homes is also driven by the potential for increased accessibility, making life easier for people with physical impairments or mobility issues, and smarter domestic security devices.

From an electronic design perspective, the growth of smart home devices has been influenced by – and in turn, also accelerated – the shrinking footprint of devices and sensors, as well as the growth in popularity of other domestic technologies, such as smart home sensors.

CR123A batteries are an ideal choice for battery-powered smart sensors because they boast a lightweight and compact footprint alongside high voltage capacities. Yet as with all batteries, not all CR123A batteries are the same. Besides high energy capacity, which provides extended operating time for sensors, engineers should look for batteries with minimal self-discharge and a gentle voltage curve over their lifespan.

Securing smart homes

Although CR123A batteries are integral to many of the latest smart home technologies, they may not be the best option for all applications. For example, security systems such as smartphone-synced cameras and smart locks are among the most popular smart home technologies. In some cases, these systems can be wired into the electrical network for a constant supply of power with batteries as a backup.

However, many smart locks are often retrofitted onto existing doors, which makes wiring impractical. As such, batteries must be used and must also be able to provide reliable, long-lasting performance, as an unexpected fault in the battery could result in someone being locked out of their home. But something like a smart lock requires a specific type of battery that can occupy a thin, small footprint while still providing a stable discharge curve to ensure consistent discharge, high energy density for longer lasting performance and a wide operating temperature to account for weather conditions.

The optimum choice to meet these unique set of requirements is a battery that uses Thin Cell technology, which was specifically developed to meet the demanding requirements of connected devices. Thin Cell batteries balance high power density and capacity with a slim profile – as thin as 1.25mm – because of the type of cells used and the specific arrangement of them.

These batteries are constructed in a pouch with square cells, which allows a higher number of cells to be packed into the space, increasing the capacity of the battery without increasing the size. These sensors are designed to be discreet, so the minimal footprint of a Thin Cell battery alongside a typical capacity of 1600mAh ensures that the sensors remain compact while offering power for extended periods of time.

Ensuring lasting connectivity

For electronic design engineers, the best option is to partner with a trusted battery manufacturer such as Accutronics, who can ensure that standards of quality are maintained and that batteries deliver the performance needed. In addition, working closely with battery manufacturers also allows design engineers to ensure that the most suitable battery is specified.

Although many of us have grown accustomed to not giving second thought to battery selection in our domestic devices, that is quickly changing due to the rise of smart technologies. For now, the growing need for smarter batteries, built on engineering previously reserved for professional applications, means that electronic design engineers should always consider the battery as carefully as any other electronic component.

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