Difference Between Primary Cell and Secondary Cell


Main Difference

The main difference between Primary Cell and Secondary Cell is that the Primary Cell can only be used for once, whereas the Secondary Cell can be used for over and over again.

Primary Cell vs. Secondary Cell

The primary cell can produce the electric current when needed during the time of genesis. The secondary cell is needed to charge before every use. The initial cost of the primary cell is less. The initial cost of the secondary cell is high. The primary cell mostly preferred in devices such as toys, wall clocks, torchlight, and other safety gadgets. Secondary cell is preferred by gadgets like mobiles, laptops, PCs, Tablets, MP3 and Mac books, etc. The primary cell has dry ions to pass current. The secondary cell has liquid cells to pass current. In the case of a primary cell, chemical energy converted into electrical energy. However, in the case of secondary cells, electric energy is converted into chemical energy. The primary cell’s initial cost is cheap. The secondary cell’s initial cost is high.


The primary cell is disposable—secondary cell is required for maintenance and recharging. The primary cell has a life cycle cost. If a primary cell is easily charged, it has a lower life cycle cost. A primary cell generates an initial electric current by itself to run a chemical reaction. In the secondary cell, electricity is required to run a chemical reaction. The primary cell is lighter in weight. Secondary cell is heavier. Primary cells are not get easily charged; to recharge whole material is needed to replace. Secondary cell is easily get charged by supply electricity. Daniel’s cell is an example of a primary cell. A lead cell is an example of a secondary cell.


Comparison Chart

Primary CellSecondary Cell
The primary cell is non-rechargeable and discarded after expirationThe secondary cell is rechargeable whenever it is about to be exhausted
Can’t be rechargeRechargeable
Reactions Nature
Mostly Used In
Portable devicesAutomobiles
Self Discharge Rate
LowerHigher than primary cell

What is the Primary Cell?

Batteries of the primary cell are also known as non-rechargeable batteries that can’t be charged again and again when they are about to die and eventually start to stop working. Hence, the batteries of the primary cell are not reusable. The efficiency of the primary cell is that these batteries store the power to utilize it for a long time; the reason is that they are very less self-dischargeable. Due to all these positive aspects, these batteries are used in pacemakers of heart patients.


It also has great importance in military engagement because it is impossible to charge the devices repeatedly. Primary cell batteries are efficient in smart digital meters. These batteries are not rechargeable because irreversible chemical reactions are taking place inside the cell. To run a chemical reaction cell consist of the chemical which is used to generate power. A primary cell possesses two terminals one is the cathode, and the other is the anode. The cathode is a negative end, while the anode is a positive end. At the cathode, graphite normally used. At the anode, zinc commonly used.

At the anode, oxidation reaction takes place, and electrons are donated. At cathode reduction reaction takes place, and the electrons are accepted. Besides cathode and anode, an electrolyte is also present, which helps to pass the electric current. An electrolyte electrically charged to carry the charges from cathode and anode. Leclanche cell is an example of the primary cell. It is comprised of zinc as a cathode and graphite as an anode.

What is Secondary Cell?

The battery of the secondary cell is rechargeable. These batteries can charge again and again when they are about to die or stop working. Reversible reactions take place inside the batteries; hence they are used multiple times. It is necessary to charge the secondary cell before use. Just like a primary cell, secondary cells also possess cathode, and an anode at cathode reduction reaction takes place, and at the anode, oxidation reaction takes place. Lead storage battery and acid battery are the two best examples of the secondary cell.

For the recharging process, electricity used. Different types of secondary batteries are available for different processes. The user selects the secondary battery according to the requirement. Due to increasing the demand for portable devices like mobile phones etc. demands for secondary battery cell is also increasing with higher requirements of charging ability and battery timing. The working principle of the secondary cell is as same as the primary cell. Cathode, anode, and electrolyte are involved in generating a chemical reaction by electricity. But the chemical inside the battery is different from the primary cell. It consists of such chemicals that precede reversible reactions.

Batteries like lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, and nickel-metal hydride are mostly used in the market. Nickel-cadmium battery is the first battery that is used as a secondary cell in the world, but it also impacts the problem of memory loss. Nowadays lithium-ion battery is preferable because they are smaller in size, an easy cycle of charging and are simpler than other battery cells.

Key Differences

  1. Primary cell use in such devices that require constant current, whereas secondary cell use in portable and easily rechargeable deices.
  2. The primary cell is lighter in weight; on the other hand, the secondary cell is heavier in weight.
  3. The primary cell does not require high voltage; conversely, the secondary cell requires high voltage.
  4. Primary cells can produce initial electric current; on the flip side, in secondary cells, the electric current is bringing by charging them.
  5. The primary cell shows an irreversible series of chemical reactions, while the secondary cell shows a series of reversible reactions.
  6. The primary cell consists of paste for the movement of ions, although; the secondary cell contains liquid or molten salt for the movement of ions.
  7. The internal resistance of the primary cell is higher as compared to the internal resistance of the secondary cell.
  8. The primary cell is cheap and easy to work compared to the secondary cell that is much expensive and more complex.
  9. Primary cells are typically smaller in size. However, secondary cells are comparatively larger.
  10. The primary cell possesses a higher capacity; on the other side, secondary cells possess a lower capacity.


It is concluded that the primary cell is a disposable battery, and the secondary cell is a rechargeable battery.

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