why do rechargeable batteries have only 1.2 Volts?"

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Even though alkaline batteries are rated at a nominal 1.5 volts, they only deliver 1.5 volts when they are fully charged. As they begin to discharge the voltage of alkaline batteries continuously drops. In fact, over the course of their discharge, alkaline batteries actually average about 1.2 volts. That's very close to the 1.2 volts of a NiMH battery. The main difference is that an alkaline battery starts at 1.5 volts and gradually drops to less than 1.0 volts. NiMH batteries stay at about 1.2 volts for most of their discharge cycle. There are a couple of cases where their actual voltage difference may be important to you. In the case of a device like a radio, where a higher voltage can mean a stronger signal, a fresh alkaline battery may be more desirable - but more expensive - than a rechargeable NiMH battery. This is also true for a flashlight, which will be brighter with the initial higher voltage of alkaline cells. This minor difference may not be important to you and is ... more
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