Many guitar effect pedals can be powered by a battery which can reduce the number of wires in your pedalboard and make it more convenient to travel around with. The JOYO guitar effect pedals in Series 1, series 2 and Dr.J pedals can all be powered by a battery for convenience and often cited as a reason for buying.
There are downsides to using batteries over a steady decent power supply, you have no idea what power you have left, if you use the wrong type of battery you do not get a satisfactory performance, finally we have an environmental impact to consider.
Seems obvious, but relying on batteries can sometimes catch users out into thinking that the pedal is faulty and it is a very common reason for customers to contact us. Typically the pedal works as expected and then it stops allowing volume to pass through, but the led continues to work. Really a battery should be relied on for convenience and not relied on for performance. Guitar effect pedals are quite demanding and many rely on them, so why put a toxic 50p battery in your gear?
So If you are thinking of using a guitar pedal with a battery, nipping down to the local bargain shop to grab 10 for £5.00 then it is important to learn a bit about battery types, understand what battery are you actually going to be relying on. There are different commonly found 9v battery types on the market.
All get called PP3 9v (this is the size!)..
- NEDA 1604 and IEC 6F22 (for zinc-carbon)
- MN1604 6LR61 (for alkaline).
- 1604LC (for lithium)
And with these different types of batteries, there is a performance difference in power output and also lifespan. All will run flat, but at different rates. These different types of battery all have a different use, so which is best for a guitar pedal?
Zinc Carbon - These were the first non-rechargeable battery. They have a capacity between one quarter and one fifth that of alkaline cells. They have a relatively high internal resistance and this makes them more suitable for low current drain devices, like a remote control. They are cheap, so you might think they are a bargain. They are not.
Zinc Chloride - These are an improvement on zinc carbon having a 50% greater capacity, higher current output capacity and improved leak resistance and longer shelf life. Typical Mah is 400mAH, They are cheap, so you might think they are a bargain. They are not they will last about 2 hours in a pedal.
Alkaline - These have several advantages over zinc type batteries. They are able to provide a high current output, losing about 5% of capacity per year. Alkaline batteries are a bit more expensive but the difference in price is worth it. Typical Mah is 550mAH. Whilst they will not last all day, you could expect to get a few hours use out of a good Alkaline battery.
Lithium - Lithium batteries are expensive compared to alkalines but do have a much higher energy storage density, in some cases upto 5 times more than Zinc, they can last longer and they are suitable for high current demand applications.
So what 9v PP3 battery do we suggest for your guitar effect pedal?
A typical guitar effect pedal will require a 9v 100mah power supply. So its a pretty easy calculation when you look at the mAh. mAh means milliamp Hour and is a unit that measures power over time. It is commonly used to measure the energy capacity of a battery. In general, the more mAh and the longer the battery capacity or battery life.
Lithium - if you want the best battery then this is the one for you, it will last a long time, great power, but a little more expensive than Alkaline.
Alkaline Duracell – Go for a decent brand that you can rely on. Alkaline batteries are becoming more affordable and are the least toxic of all batteries, so if we must, we would get a 4 pack of 9v Duracell in. Check what the mAH is,
Zinc – no, no, no, do not use them in anything that you want to perform with, the low power of zinc will not give you a good result, it will power the red LED on your pedal and not much else. keep them in the TV remote control.
Lets not forget that all batteries do have an environmental impact so for this reason we would always suggest getting yourself plugged in with a JOYO power supply for some constant uninterrupted power.
Thousands of tons of zinc–carbon batteries are discarded every year around the world and are often not recycled. Alkaline batteries sold after May 13, 1996, have no mercury added and may be placed in the regular recycling bin. Alkaline batteries can be safely recycled with your household rubbish.
In Europe, battery disposal is controlled by the WEEE Directive and Battery Directive regulations, and as such zinc-carbon batteries must not be thrown out with domestic waste.
Lithium batteries are considered a hazardous waste and are potentially reactive if not completely discharged.