Heavy duty batteryclips from old 9 Volt blocks

VARTA 9 Volt We all know what happens when you have to disconnect a 9 Volt battery from it's clip: sooner or later, one of the two wires breaks off. No matter how expensive the gizmo was, they all use the same low grade battery clips.

These clips look to be made of cardboard with two connectors riveted on top. Not a good way to mount connectors which are subjected to considerable force when disconnecting old batteries.
When fooling around with some old batteries, I wanted to look inside the 9 Volt block. There are two or three designs. One is a stack of 6 battery cushion. The other is a sixpack of small cylindrical cells connected in series with welded strips.
Varta use the second approach. I had two old Varta alkaline batteries (like the one on the first picture) and decided to see what's inside. If you ever opened a tin of spam or corned beef you also know how to open an old 9 V battery.

VARTA Corned beef VARTA Spam For the vegetarians among us, I have made some extra pictures. See how to open an old battery here.

To the left you can see how to put a pair of pliers and fiddle the jacket open. Just bend it open a bit and next wrap the metal around the beaks of your pliers.

After some turns you get something similar to what you see in the righthand picture. Just keep on rolling the metal off the battery. Use some controlld brute force. Try not to break the metal otherwise you will need to ease down on the control part and focus more on the brute force.

A normal batteryclip from the inside

Traditional clip opened In the blurry picture you see a traditional batteryclip from which I removed the backside of the isolation.

This specific one is a rather sturdy clip. No wonder, I bought it from the Quality people of Germany: the Reichelt mailorder company.
Anyway: not much inside. Read on and see how you can make your own, ever lasting, battery connector.

Harvesting the clip from a VARTA block

VARTA clipping VARTA Clip Just follow the pictures.... First, remove the full metal jacket. Next shake out the six individual cells (neat concept of these Germans ayh?) and get to the prize: the sturdy battery clip. Perhaps you can even reuse the piece of high grade rubber that's below the cells. As you see, Varta use a phenolic printed circuit board to mount the male and female batteryclip connectors.
They NEED to do so, because the mechanical pressure of the mounted cells must be tolerable to the head of the package.

With packed batteries, like Green Power (a high grade chinese manufacturer) do, the pressure on the top section of the battery case is much less. These batteries mostly have 'beer bellies'.

But not with Varta (and probably others). The cell-concept makes the batterycase lean and adds a double layer of protection against leaks. And it gives us a neat and strong battery clip.
Perhaps this gives you a new idea for your new application: use the lean cells in your new design by opening unused batteries. If I'm right, these cells are smaller than triple A cells.

Just solder some wires to the PCB supported clip, wrap some tape aroun it or apply a piece of heatshrink tubing, and you're done. This new battery clip will last a lifetime.

Harvesting the clip from a UCAR block.

UCAR opened I also opened a UCAR Goldline 9 Volt block. I opened it along the seem. That distance was shorter and it proved to be faster.
The full metal jacket looks like shit when you're done, but who cares? The garbage bin is its next destination anyway.

Inside are the same kind of 6 triple-A style cells. The UCAR clip In the Ucar, the series connection is done with only PCB strips. This means that the power terminals are not on a piece of PCB. The string in the back of the picture is not for hanging myself. It's a fragment of my DNA. So now you know it. And Google will spread the word. Above you see the Ucar clip.
It's not as nice as the Varta clip is, but still much better than the pieces of plastic or cardboard which are used in average applications.

Be VERY careful when soldering wires to this kind of clip. The plastic carrier will melt way before the meltingpoint of tin. So do it fast or use a small screw or other mechanical connection.

Harvesting the clip from a Hema block.

HEMA cell opened HEMA = VARTA! OK. So I got addicted to stripping batteries. Big deal! Much more are addicted to girly pictures or marihuana. Or both. And I get my kicks from opening 9 Volt blocks.

The Hema batteries are only for sale in the shops of the Hema chain of stores. HEMA is short for Hollandse Eenheidsprijzen Maatschappij Amsterdam (Dutch unit prices company, Amsterdam). They operate in Holland, Belgium and possibly Germany. So if you don't live in either, you can just skip this section.

Judging the exterior shape, I think we have a six-piler again here. Let's just open it up and see what's inside. You see the results in the topleft picture.
HEMA (or was it Varta?) cell stripped WOW! You see that? There's a complete VARTA inside! But at a HEMA price. Varta won't like this.... But Hema will, probably. And I certainly like it.
Now I have one more incentive to buy Hema batteries.... :o) This makes things easy: Just look further in the top of this page where I opened up and explained about the Varta 9 Volt block.

Today I was at the Hema store again: I needed a new dishwasher brush. You know, I am the dishwasher at home.
And when there I also looked at the battery section. So now I've got a small problem: The Hema batteries are twice the price of a Varta!

No wonder VARTA doesn't hide it's identity at the inside.... They're in a win-win situation here.

The other type of 9 Volt block

Stacked cell opened In the picture on the right, you see how many other 9 Volt blocks are constructed. Six cushion shaped cells are piled on top of eachother. The seriesconnection is by mechanical pressure.
As you can see, there is a thin wire running from the bottom of the stack of cells, to the battery clip.

You may use this kind of clip for your own purposes of course. But these clips are not as strong as the Varta kind.

Hatesmurf brought along some 9 Volt blocks to the IWM 2003

The batteries Hatesmurf brought. The second day of the IWM, Hatesmurf brought the contents of his chemical waste box (standard equipment in every dutch household) to me.
So I got some new batt's to play with.

Look at the picture to see the brands and make a guess about the contents of each block: is it a beer-belly-batt? Or is it a six-piler?

And most important: can we harvest the clips?

I took the liberty to take apart every brand one by one. There were some very neat and nifty designs among these batteries. Especially the Philips cells are very impressive. Don't expect leaks from these cells. You'll see what I mean when you get there.

A normal VARTA cell OK, this is an easy one: the contents of a "universal alkaline Varta battery" as they call them at Varta. Not much news inside here. The construction is typical for Varta: a six-piler.
Of course the clip is harvestable since it is the by now familiar epoxy PCB type. The ideal kind, for us.
In the process of documenting this battery, I forgot to put the clip in the picture. But believe me: inside is the A-one clip.

Hi Watt 9 Volt battery On the right, we see the red battery from the IWM collection picture. The brand is 'Hi Watt', an oriental brand. I used them, occasionally, but they were as good as they get.

From the picture we learn two things:

  1. the design is a beer belly batt
  2. the clip is not worth harvesting
Just take a good look at the cell stacking. This is how the majority of beer-belly-batt's are constructed. Remember the construction. You'll need it when we get to the Philips one.

A GP 9 Volt block GP are a major chinese manufacturer. GP stands for Green Power.
I am very fond of GP. They make fine products, be it batteries or rechargable cells. I used to operate 20 odd GP 1300 mAh NiMH AA cells at home and I can recommend them to everybody.

Anyway: the GP 9 Volt block is a beer-belly-type. Like the Hi Watt battery, this one is stacked as well.
This was a veni, vidi, vici experience. As soon as I un-spammed the bottom of the full metal jacket, it was clear that this was another beer-belly type. And most of them just don't have clips that are worth harvesting.

A non-alkaline Philips 9 Volt block On the right we see a Philips 'long life' 9 Volt battery.
Philips use the phrase 'Long Life' for batteries that have superior standard technology, without being alkaline.

Look at it's construction. We note that this is a beer-belly type again. But a special one: the bags with electrolyte are doubly sealed. Each 'bag' is surrounded by another layer of plastic.
Philips did a good job here. Leaking of old batteries is made less likely this way.

The clip is harvestable. It is of the 'Ucar Gold' type and it can be soldered, if it's done with some care. From the clip, down to the bottom of the stack of bags, runs an isolated strip of metal. If you need some flat displacement from your clip to the circuit that needs power, you might be able to utilize this part of the assembly. For soldering, the metal strip is ideal: now you can solder without having to worry that the plastic carrier will immediately melt.

Alkaline Philips battery On the left we see a Philips alkaline cell. And this is what I was referring to in the head section of the IWM battery chapter: just look at this stack of bags.
This typical Philips design (they are known here, among engineers, for over-engineering their products) is 100.1% leak-proof. Each bag with electrolytes is sealed in a tough plastic case.
The cases are stacked on top of eachother, giving the battery a lot of stiffness. I was surprised to see the contents of this one. Judging by the exterior of the batt, I first thought this had to be a six-piler as well.

But I was proven wrong. This was an over engineered beer-belly type.
Alkaline Philips CLIP In the picture on the right, we see a close-up of the clip of this battery. It clearly shows the properties and quality of this battery clip:
  1. the clip is harvestable
  2. the clip can be soldered
  3. lots of copper already welded
The Varta six-piler clip is best for our purposes, but this Philips clip comes on a good second place.

I hate (at least, kind of) to brag about the dutch and our inventions, but I truly like the design of the Philips 9 Volt blocks. They're clearly more expensive to make, but they're an assurance to have inside your batt powered appliance.

Well done, Frits!

LIDL 9 Volt cells.

LIDL cell It took a LONG long time, but at last the LIDL cells have died. I have been very curious what's inside these 9 Volt blocks. From the outside, these tall and slim blocks look like a six-piler. But the contents are different as you can see within a minute.

On the left, you see a picture of the closed cell: Wow, this neat package does not contain 6 small cells as I anticipated. No, this is a traditional cushion-type battery with 6 stacked cells. But there's a difference. A difference from which even Philips (qv) can learn: these cells are completely sealed, even better than Philips. It looks like these cells are welded together.

As you can see, the clip is connected to the bottom cell with a rather thick metal strip, insulated with high stock kraft paper.

I don't know who's the manufacturer behind the LIDL cells, but this is a mighty interesting cell. Quality is the bottom line here. On the right, you see the complete contents of the battery.
The clip is harvestable, but it's not as nice as the Varta clips. This battery clip is especially interesting if you need to connect something 'far away', by means of the insulated metal strip.

All in all, this is an interesting 9 Volt block. It's one of the cheapest available (in The Netherlands in domestic shops) yet it sets standards for its leakproofness. I cannot imagine these cells to leak within 4 or 5 years (if used within technically normal limits and conditions).

A spanish 9 Volt battery (thanks, Jesus)

From a spanish friend I got some pictures from opening a Cegasa battery. The brand is unknown here, but perhaps only under this name... Read more about it below.

On the left, you see a picture of the still closed cegasa battery. And the right picture shows a nude cegasa battery.
As you can see, this battery is from the 'beerbelly' or stacked bags type.

Look at the packaging of the stacked cells. This looks a lot like Philips and Lidl cells. Hmm, if only we could have a look at the clip....
In the picture at the right, we see the clip....

The clip has contact springs, and so did the Lidl battery. I don't believe in coincidence at this level, so this leaves me to three possibillities:

Now, that third option is really ridiculous, but I wouldn't put any money on it.

The camera's used for taking these pictures

All pictures on my site are taken with an Olympus C-860L 1.3 Megapixel camera and the images were processed with Kview under Slackware GNU/Linux 8.0 and KDE 2.
The computer used is an old AT style system with an IDT WinChip 200, 48 MB RAM, and two HDD's of 1.2 GB each. The pages were made with 'jed' (the standard editor under Slackware) open in desktop 4 and Netscape 4.77 running in desktop 2. This enables me to have the source ready for changing while I still can see what Netscape makes of it.

The pictures taken from the spanish batteries were made with a Minolta d'Image.

Some 9 Volt battery prices in the European Union

Source URL Brand Price
Reichelt www.reichelt.deVarta Alkaline € 1,83
Reichelt www.reichelt.deEnergizer Ultra € 1,75
Reichelt www.reichelt.deUCAR Alkaline € 1,55
Reichelt www.reichelt.deVarta Universal € 1,80
Reichelt www.reichelt.deGP Alkaline € 1,50
Hema www.hema.nl Hema Alkaline € 3,61
Karwei www.karwei.nl Duracell Alkaline € 5,00
Conrad www.conrad.nl Conrad Zinc/carbon € 1,55
Conrad www.conrad.nl Conrad Alkaline € 3,55
Conrad www.conrad.nl Varta High Energy € 4,80
Conrad www.conrad.nl Varta Zinc/Carbon € 2,95
Conrad www.conrad.nl Energizer Ultra+ € 5,20
Super De Boer ? Duracell Alkaline € 5,40
Super De Boer ? Varta High Energy € 4,50

These prices may change, without me having to immediately update this page. If you buy batteries, you do it on your own budget and on your own risk.
I collect these prices while doing my regular shoppings. I do not go to shops to look for battery prices. So if I make an error concerning a price please tell me.
You will find my E-mail address in the bottom part of the navigator frame.

Take care!

I am a chemical engineer by profession, so I know what I'm doing. If you decide to start taking batteries apart, inform yourself about the risk that could be involved.
9 Volt blocks are almost harmless, as long as you ONLY remove the outer metal shell. Do not go any further. In the steel containers and plastic bags are toxic chemicals.

Do never, ever, open cells that are based on Lithium chemistry. These cells ALWAYS contain hazardous chemicals. Lithium cells are potential bombs. Especially Li Ion cells!

Do never, ever, open 'normal' batteries (the 1.5 Volt types) since they contain nothing of value to tinkers.

Do never, ever, open rechargable cells like NiCd, NiMH, SLA, RAM, Li-ion, or whatever other chemistry type. Rechargable cells allways contain hazardous chemicals. Lithium cells may well EXPLODE.
Not even open 9 Volt blocks that are rechargable.

Page created June 2003,