Difference Between Primary Cell and Secondary Cell

Many students get confused between primary and secondary cell or terms like cell or batteries. So, here in this article we are discussing all these in detail with their differences and examples for you clear understanding.

What is Cell and Battery?

Cell is a smaller unit while battery is larger. We many times use term battery in place of cell as working of both is same. Both converts chemical energy into electrical energy. The difference between cell and battery is that cell is a single unit which converts chemical energy into electrical energy while battery is a group of cells which all converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Figure of a cell and battery is given below for your better understanding. We use different symbols to represent cell and battery. Symbols of both are given below –

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What is Primary Cell?

Primary cells are those batteries in which irreversible chemical reactions are used to generate electrical energy. Once they get discharged, you can’t rechange them again. For example, dry cells are primary cells. Once they get discharged, we must discard them. You can’t recharge dry cells and reuse them. They have generally high density and internal resistance. They are easy to use and low in cost. 

What is Secondary Cell? 

Secondary cells are those batteries in which reversible reactions occur. They can be recharged by electric supply. In these cells electric energy is transformed in the form of chemical energy and then chemical energy is transformed in the form of electrical energy. The batteries which we use in inverters are secondary cells. We can easily recharge inverters (secondary cells) by electric supply. These are also known as rechargeable battery and storage or secondary battery. 

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Difference between Primary and Secondary Cells



Primary Cell 

Secondary Cell 

These cannot be recharged again after getting discharged once.  

These can be recharged easily. 

These are cheap or low cost. 

These are expensive compare to primary cell. 

These are easy to use. 

These are difficult to use in comparison to primary cell. 

These can be used only once. 

These can be used more than once. 

In these cells irreversible reactions occur. 

In these cells reversible reaction occurs. 

These have a lower self-discharge rate. 

These have a higher self- discharge rate. 

These are used in torch and other portable devices as they produce electric current immediately. 

These are used in inverters and automobiles. 

These cells don’t require regular maintenance and can be disposed of easily after use. 

These cells require regular maintenance. 

They have a low or small lifetime. 

They have a high lifetime. 

Examples of these cells are dry cells, Daniel cells etc. 

Examples of these cells are lead-acid cell, nickel – iron cell etc. 

If you want to know more cells and batteries, register yourself on Vedantu or download Vedantu learning app for class 6-10, IIT-JEE and NEET.