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 Lithium-Ion vs. Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries

Part 1

When teaching classes I am often asked about my cordless tools. Most of the questions revolve around the battery – how does it perform and how long it will last? In this article, I hope to explain more about the differences in these battery technologies so that you can select the right tool for your needs.

The primary difference between lithium-ion (Li-On) and nickel-metal hydride (Ni-Mh) batteries are the elements used to construct the battery and store the energy. Li-On batteries are made of carbon and lithium elements which store more energy than other materials. Nickel-metal hydride batteries use nickel and hydrogen along with various other metals as the main battery ingredients. Because there are different materials used in the manufacturing process, each battery type has various properties that determine performance and how they are used. These main properties are cost, weight, power and durability. We will discuss the first two properties here, and the other two will be covered in next month’s “Clipper Tips” article.

  1. Cost: Currently, Ni-Mh batteries are less expensive to produce due in part to the cost of raw materials. The Li-On battery technology is still relatively new and therefore is more expensive. As a result, tools with the newer battery technology also cost more. For example, the Ni-Mh powered Andis BGRc+ clipper costs less than the new Li-On powered Supra ZR clipper.
  1. Weight: Ni-Mh batteries are both heavier and physically larger than Li-On batteries. This is important because weight matters in clippers, and especially trimmers! A lighter weight tool equates to less fatigue, which is important when a hair professional is using a trimmer for extended periods of time, such as when carving intricate designs. When comparing the Ni-Mh powered Andis Slimline 2 trimmer vs the Li-On powered Slimline Pro Li, the lithium battery gives the tool an advantage because it maintains its strong blade torque, but is ultra-light at just 4 ounces, making it more efficient to use.

Be sure to stay tuned next month to learn more!

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Kenny Duncan is a nationally known barber, stylist and educator, as well as co-owner of a 12-chair salon—Main Attraction Unisex Salon—based in Philadelphia. He is the barber for several Grammy Award-winning artists and has toured the world as the barber for the Lady Gaga production team. Kenny's styling work has also appeared in films such as "Fantastic Four" and "Creed" starring Michael B. Jordan. He is currently the Lead Educator for Andis Company.