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How come you never see any B batteries?

Dear Cecil:

In a world of A, AA, AAA, C, and D, are there any B-sized batteries?

Paul Guss and Bill Rauchholz, Arlington, Virginia

Cecil replies:

Dear Paul and Bill:

What world are you guys from where they have A batteries? Virtually no one makes them today, or B batteries either.

The letters are part of a standard for single-cell batteries devised by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), beginning in the 1920s. (I realize that, strictly speaking, a battery consists of two or more cells, but let’s not get picky.)

Today the standard sizes range from AAAA to G, and for some reason there’s also J, N, and 6.

AAA, AA, C, and D were the only sizes that caught on in a big way commercially, but the others haven’t totally disappeared. If you pry apart one of those big 6-volt lantern batteries, you’ll find four F cells inside.

Cecil Adams

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.