3.2v Lithium AA Instead of 2 Alkaline AA Cells

Introduction: 3.2v Lithium AA Instead of 2 Alkaline AA Cells

Lithium iron phosphate cells have a working voltage of 3.2. That means if you have an appliance like a camera that uses 2 AA's or an LED flashlight that uses 3 AAA's a single LiFePO4 cell will probably runs the appliance.

I shimmed a LiFePO4 cell with 2 strips of foam tape and stretched the spring on the base of this flashlight I bought as Home Depot and it works fine with a single LiFePO4 cell instead of 3 AAA's.

Step 1: Using Rechargeable Lithium Iron Phosphate AA Cells Instead of Alkalines

AA cell size is 14500. Lithium iron phosphate cells do not have as high a voltage as lithium cobalt, but they also don't catch fire if shorted. LiCo devolve hydrogen gas when shorted, that's what catches fire. LiFePO4 don't gas when shorted but they will get very hot.

LiFePO4 cells have a working voltage of 3.2, compared to to LiCo at 3.7. They require a different charger. The pictured Enedepots charger from eBay China has become unavailable but this one will work fine:


Two AA alkaline cells in series have a fresh voltage of 3.2 and a working voltage of 3.0. That means if you substitute one 3.2 LiFePO4 cell and a dummy cell you have the same voltage, but at 1/2 the capacity/run time. The ebay link below is for 8 cells plus 8 dummy cells.


I've made dummy cells from dead NiCad AA's because they are dried out and won't leak. A nail cut down will also work but steel gets a light coating of rust easily and won't conduct well. You can solder a copper wire to short the cell or solder or tab weld a nickel strip. You can also buy dummy AA cells alone from eBay.


Don't believe any ad for a AA sized LiFePO4 cell with a capacity above 600mah. No such thing. Even better "600mah" cells are really about 550 in real life. Exaggerated claims for capacity are common in the rechargeable battery business, not just these.

The Canon Powershot 120SX camera I took these pictures with was using one LiFePO4 and a homemade dummy cell. I originally did this hack because the camera works so poorly with AA alkalines. It was the last camera in the series that used alkaline cells. The voltage drops off too much under load with alkalines and the camera would shut down even with fresh batteries.

Be the First to Share


    • Laser Challenge

      Laser Challenge
    • Tiny Things Speed Challenge

      Tiny Things Speed Challenge
    • Edible Art Challenge

      Edible Art Challenge



    Question 3 years ago

    Dis this battery work with the canon 120 sx?
    And how much better is it as compared to nicad batteries?


    Answer 3 years ago

    It worked with my Canon camera. One lipo and one dummy cell = 3.2v. An older camera like the 120sx was made to operate on alkaline cells. I got rid on my 120sx because it was so unstable with 2 cells. I now own a Kodak AZ401 that uses 4 alkaline cells and it runs great. Modern cameras are just too power hungry to get by with 2 AA cells.

    The run time isn't as long with lipos though. Nicads have an even lower voltage than alkaline cells. I avoid them. Nicads are toxic, too. Nickel metal hydride cells usually work if Nicads will and don't have the toxic cadmium in them.

    If the camera is voltage sensitive, and most are, the 2 nicads fully charged is 2.9v. Under load the 2 nicads will drop to 2.4v but the camera will complain that the batteries are low when the batteries drop below 2.8v. The lithium iron phosphate cell is 3.2v fully charged. The absolute bottom discharge voltage is 2.5v, but the current output will be so low long before then that the camera will shut off.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    at least u didnt have an AGFA digital camera with a serial interface (not USB) . ha .. man the transfer was slow !!!