The wide range of inexpensive to higher-end walkie talkies that are available feature many powerful capabilities that can extend their range, coverage and available channels. They also provide users with options such as digital compasses, weather receivers and meters, radios, global positioning systems (GPS), flashlights, scanning and channel-subdividing enhancements. With the variety of functions from many brands, walkie talkie batteries and charging accessories also vary to fit the unit's particular power requirements as well as the unit's conditions for use. Battery types include common alkaline batteries, rechargeable batteries, nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, nickel cadmium (NiCD) batteries and lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries.
The two-way radio, or handheld transceiver, is a mobile communication device used by hobbyists and families as well as commercial and official organizations. Although family radios provide affordable convenience at a useful range, they are not typically designed to stand up to daily heavy use. For regular users, rechargeable walkie talkie batteries save a lot of replacement costs for frequent use. They typically last for eight or nine hours before requiring recharging, often overnight. Alkaline batteries cost more to replace than rechargeables, but they offer up to three times the battery life for a longer period away from a power source, and they can be replaced in the field.
Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) and nickel cadmium (NiCD) walkie talkie batteries provide greater reliability for heavy use and short bursts of power, which make them suitable for the longer ranges of professional units. These types of batteries tend to cost more than their alkaline counterparts. These types usually have longer charge lifespans, sometimes up to 1,000 charge cycles, though the charge quality can deteriorate late in their lifespans. NiCD batteries require use every month to maintain charge, and NiMH batteries require use only once every three months.
Lithium ion walkie talkie batteries have higher density, so they might charge faster and provide a greater amount of capacity than the others. Their greater performance are why they tend to be more expensive. They are often customized to fit with particular brands and chargers. In terms of disposal, NiMH batteries offer the easiest recycling and contain only very mild toxins. With all of these types of batteries, it's important for users to follow the manufacturer's recommended use for chargers, because certain units will not be interchangeable.
Walkie talkie batteries are not always interchangeable with the batteries or chargers of other brands. New batteries should not be added in with old ones. Rechargeable batteries should not be mixed in with alkaline ones. Following the manufacturer's recommended procedures for operation, charge cycling, safety and disposal procedures will ensure safe, effective walkie talkie operation that can last for years before batteries need replacement.