Battery Sizes in China

by | 21 comments

…and how to ask for Vodka, too

The other day I went to the hardware store to get some batteries. I knew some of the battery names, but one that I didn’t know was how to say “9-volt battery”. So, I went in hoping that I would be able to communicate with the shop owners what kind of battery I was looking for.

After a few attempts back and forth he finally brought out the one I was looking for and said, “jiǔ fútè” (九伏特), teaching me how to say the word “nine volt”. Immediately, I heard the similarity of the Chinese word for volt to the English equivalent, and I said, “vole-tuh”, trying to emphasize the sound to make it sound like the Chinese word. The shop owner said, “bu bu bu, fútè“. I laughed and tried to explain that the word must’ve come as an English transliteration. But again, he said, “bu bu bu, fútè“, with special emphasis to help me understand.

Later, when I looked up the characters for this word, I realized that it is very important that you don’t switch the order of the words, because if you say, fútè jiǔ (instead of jiǔ fútè), you’re actually saying, “Vodka”.

Anyway, I did a quick search online for some kind of guide, but wasn’t able to find any, so I thought I would put together a little guide myself.

Battery Sizes:

  • D battery: 一号电池 [yī hào diànchí] (literally “#1 battery”)
  • C battery: (#2 size) 二号电池 [èr hào diànchí] (literally “#2 battery”)
  • AA battery: (#5 size) 五号电池 [wǔ hào diànchí] (literally “#5 battery”)
  • AAA battery: (#7 size) 七号电池 [qī hào diànchí] (literally “#7 battery”)
  • AAAA battery: (#9 size) 九号电池 [jiǔ hào diànchí] (literally “#9 battery”)
  • 9-volt battery: 九伏特电池 [jiǔ fútè diànchí] (literally “9-volt battery”)
  • watch battery: 扣式电池 [kòu shì diànchí] (literally “button style battery”)
  • rechargeable battery: 充电式电池 [chōngdiàn shì diànchí] (literally “rechargeable battery”)

What am I missing? Comment below.

Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

Founders of, Jeremy and Jacquelyn have four children. The first three were born in three different hospitals in China and the last was born at home in the US. Jeremy and Jacquelyn created in 2009 after they found little information for foreigners having babies in China. They love connecting with other foreigners having babies. Learn more about them on the about page.


  1. Matt

    Interesting how different battery sizes are. What are the #3, #4, #6, and #8? I imagine the #3 is the rare B-cell and the #4 is the rare A-cell while the #6 is either the old school No. 6 telephone battery or an N battery, no idea what a #8 would be, maybe a 123?

    The number sizes remind me of how before letter sizes in the US we had number size batteries but they corresponded to their height in inches, at least up to #6. The #3 through #6 had screw terminals on the top, one in the middle, one on the side.

    #1 – Between 1 and 2 inches tall. About the size of a C battery, a little shorter.
    #2 – Between 2 and 3 inches tall. Very similar to a modern D battery
    #3 – Between 3 and 4 inches tall. Slightly wider than a D battery. Often used as clock batteries.
    #4 – Between 4 and 5 inches tall. Sometimes oval-shaped. Sometimes known as “reserve” dry batteries.
    #5 – Between 5 and 6 inches tall. These are the rarest and hardest to find size.
    #6 – Between 6 and 7 inches tall. Also known as “telephone batteries”, they were once the most common size.
    #Z – The ancestor of the modern AA battery, sometimes sold as #7 batteries.
    #7 – About the same size as a modern AAA battery.
    #8 – Looks like a large AA. The ancestor of the very rare B-cell battery.
    #N – Literally an N battery.
    #9 – Between 4 and 6 inches tall, wide and rectangular shaped. Often used as clock batteries.
    #10 – Another name for the Aladdin battery (a two-cell battery consisting of two C cells, looks like a giant AA battery)

    Afterwards, we developed letter size batteries. N, AAAA, AAA, AA, A, B, C, D, F, and G. E was reserved for 9-volts (also known as power-pack batteries)

  2. Janet Spicer

    I recently ordered a LED headlight onlight/ online. It came without batteries, no name/address/phone number, instructions; only a made in China label. There is a number inside the battery compartment: 18650 with plus and minus symbols for 2 batteries. They look like longer and fatter than AAs but nothing fits. What is this; where do I get them?

    • Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

      18650 is different than AA. I’m not sure where you’re located, but I just found them on Amazon and on Taobao.

    • Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

      It’s also not common here in China. Strange that this would be the battery size they chose for this item.

    • Ivy

      18650s can normally be found in electronic or vape stores or online, they are round and quite a lot larger than AA batteries and can be recharged.

      • Matt

        If I’m not mistaken, the 18650 is about the same size as the old “B” cell battery. Not to be confused with the vacuum tube B battery. I have an antique one from Rayovac that’s a little taller than a D battery but narrower than a C battery.

  3. Norma

    What is the equivalent of number 1 (D battery) in the UK?

  4. Michael Rice

    AAAA Battery?

    • Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

      AAAA battery: (#9 size 九号电池) [jiǔ hào diànchí] (literally “#9 battery”)

      (I’ve just added it into the post.)

  5. Bruce Richardson

    So how do I put American double a batteries in a device that has Chinese fittings for it

    • Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

      The battery sizes are the same in both countries. American size AA batteries would fit in a Chinese device that take that size. The only difference is what they call them. AA batteries in China are called “number 5” batteries 五号电池 [wǔ hào diànchí].

  6. allen

    what is #3 battery size in US? or canada??

  7. Christine Campbell

    What is a Chinese number 5 equivalent to in the US?

    • Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

      五号电池 [wǔ hào diànchí] (literally “#5 battery”)

      (Also, I updated the post to be more clear about this.)

    • Christine Campbell


  8. Jim

    Which size battery is equivalent to Chinese #7

    • Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

      #7 = AAA battery: 七号电池 [qī hào diànchí]

  9. Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

    Yes, in China, C battery is #3. However, in Taiwan, it’s called #2.

    • Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

      I stand corrected. Just went to the hardware store to get C batteries and the guy said “san hao” doesn’t exist in China. It’s actually “er hao”. Good catch. I’ve corrected it above.


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