[volt-nuts] How long can standard cells last?

WB6BNQ wb6bnq at cox.net
Fri Nov 30 07:15:19 UTC 2012

Hi Ed,

The type of cell you have is an UNsaturated type.  These types are portable.  The
saturated type of cells are non-portable and very temperature sensitive requiring
the use of a constant temperature enclousure.

Here is a web site that describes these devices that is quite good:



ed breya wrote:

> I just junked out a very beat up old Fluke 803 differential
> voltmeter, and found deep within, an old-school Cd/Hg standard cell.
> It was well protected in an aluminum box, and wrapped in foam and
> foil. It looks brand-new, and still measures around 1.018... V. I'd
> like to keep this one as another reference point if it's still good.
> I assume that it just wasn't used much, or that the Fluke circuits
> were very good at not loading it down.
> I'm sure it is the original unit installed in the instrument - marked
> 5/12/1960. It is a Muirhead D-845-C. There's no test voltage tag or
> any other info but a serial number.
> So, I'm wondering if a 52 year old standard cell can still be OK, and
> if anyone knows the specs on these, or where to find the info. I
> don't know if it's possible, but I'd like to find what the official
> voltage was supposed to be to a few more digits resolution. I think
> various types and brands each had slightly different nominal voltages
> around that determined by the basic chemistry. I remember in the old
> days, every one I saw included a sticker with the 25 deg C exact
> voltage measured as accurately as possible back then against the NBS.
> I'd like to especially know if this is a saturated or unsaturated cell type.
> Ed
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