The Ultimate Battery Guide: Lithium, Lead-Acid and more
Lithium vs Lead-Acid
If you’re considering a home energy storage option, there are several types of batteries to choose from. For this case, I have compared the most common batteries with solar installations of lithium-ion and
Battery storage is becoming an increasingly popular addition to solar energy systems. Two of the most common battery chemistry types are lithium-ion and lead acid. As their names imply, lithium-ion batteries are made with the metal lithium, while lead-acid batteries are made with lead.
With these differences in chemistry come differences in performance and cost. While both lithium-ion and lead acid batteries can be effective storage solutions, here’s how they stack up when compared head to head.
In most cases, lithium-ion battery technology is superior to lead-acid due to its reliability and efficiency, among other attributes. However, in cases of an off-grid systems that is used regularly, lithium-ion batteries are preferable, they are longer lasting, low to no maintenance, and less time charging.
Battery Life Calculator
Why Switch to Lithium ?
Longer Life, No Maintenance, and Faster Charging are just a few of the advantages lithium has over lead-acid batteries. Making it an exceptional return on your investment for years to come.
SERVICE LIFE: Lithium-ion batteries last 3-4 times longer than lead-acid batteries without losing effectiveness over time.
Battery Warranty - Learn More
It is important to know the warranty terms of your battery. Different chemistries of lead-acid batteries generally have a shorter lifespan than lithium-ion and may not last as long before they need replacement or repairs. This means that lead-acid products typically have less than a five-years guarantee & most lithium-ion manufacturers offer warranties of 10 years-20 years!
With the extended warranties that LFP provides over lead-acid, you get the guaranteed benefits from the lithium battery backed by the company that sold you the product, so the risks are minimal at best!
Overall, LifePO4 batteries have the safest lithium chemistry. Because lithium iron phosphate has better thermal and structural stability. This is something lead acid and most other battery types don’t have at the level LiFePO4 does. LiFePO4 is non-combustible and can withstand high and low temperatures without decomposing.
If you subject a LiFePO4 battery to harsh temperatures or hazardous events (like short circuiting or a crash) it won’t start a fire or explode. For those who use deep cycle LiFePO4 batteries every day in a motor boat, RV, scooter, bike, or liftgate, this fact is relieving. Most other batteries unfortunately are not this safe.
Lithium (LiFePO4) batteries are the next evolution for our planet because they’re rechargeable. But their eco-friendliness doesn’t stop there. Unlike lead acid and related batteries, they are non-toxic and won’t leak. You can recycle them as well. But you won’t need to do that often, since they typically last 5000 cycles. That means you can recharge them minimalistically 5,000 times. In comparison, lead acid batteries typically last about 300-400 cycles.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is LiFePO4 the same as lithium ion?
Not at all! The LiFePO4 battery has a cycle life of over 4x that of lithium ion polymer batteries.
Can LiFePO4 catch fire?
LiFePO4 batteries are the safest of the lithium batteries, because they will not catch fire, and won’t even overheat. Even if you puncture the battery it will not catch fire. This is a massive upgrade over other lithium batteries, which can overheat and catch fire.
Is LiFePO4 better than lithium ion?
The LiFePO4 battery has the edge over lithium ion, both in terms of cycle life (it lasts 4-5x longer), and safety. This is a key advantage because lithium ion batteries can overheat and even catch fire, while LiFePO4 does not.
Why is LiFePO4 so expensive?
LiFePO4 batteries are usually more expensive on the front end, but cheaper long term because they last so long. They cost more up front because the materials used to build them are more expensive. But people still choose them over other batteries. Why? Because LiFePO4 has many advantages over other batteries. For example, they’re much lighter than lead acid and many other battery types. They’re also much safer, they last longer, and require no maintenance.
Is LiFePO4 a LiPO?
No. Lifepo4 has a number of distinct advantages over Lipo, and while both are lithium chemistries, they are not the same.
What can I use LiFePO4 Batteries for?
You can use LiFePO4 batteries for the same things you’d use lead acid, AGM or other traditional batteries for. For example, you can use them to power boats and other marine toys, RVs, solar setups, mobility scooters, and much more.
Is LiFePO4 more dangerous than AGM or lead acid?
Nope. It’s actually quite a bit safer. And for a number of reasons, including the fact that LiFePO4 batteries don’t leak toxic fumes. And they don’t spill sulfuric acid like many other batteries (like lead acid.)Did I mentioned earlier, they don’t overheat or catch fire.
Can I leave my LiFePO4 battery on the charger?
If your LiFePO4 batteries have a battery management system, it will prevent your battery from overcharging. Our Ionic batteries all have built-in battery management systems.
What is the life expectancy of LiFePO4 batteries?
Life expectancy is one of the biggest perks, if not the biggest perk of LiFePO4. Our lithium batteries are rated to last around 5,000 cycles. That is, 10 years or so (and often more), depending on usage of course. Even after those 5,000 cycles, our LiFePO4 batteries can still function at 70% capacity. And better still, you can discharge past 80% without a single issue. (Lead acid batteries tend to gas out when discharged past 50%.)
LFP Vs. NMC: Which Is Better?
LFP and NMC are both types of lithium-ion battery chemistries. However, there is a difference in their composition: LFP(LiFePO4) uses Lithium Iron Phosphate as its cathode material while NMC utilizes Nickle Manganese Cobalt. The energy density tends to be about the same between the two; however, LFP can cheaper at $/kWh depending on market demand.
While significant technological innovations are occurring between both chemistries, the Lithium Iron Phosphate cathode actually gives batteries a longer lifespan and increased safety without sacrificing performance. LFP batteries have a slower rate of degradation, which means they can store more electricity over time.
So which should you choose?
I would recommend LFP for individual and commercial use, but either way, as long as you choose a lithium battery with a high safety rating and 10+ year warranty, you’ll be in the clear long term.
Best Uses Of LiFePO4
- Fishing boats and aquatic mobiles: Less charging time and longer runtime means more time out on the water. Less weight allows for easy maneuvering and a speed boost during that high-stakes fishing competition.
- Mobile Homes and RV’s: Boondocking for extended periods of times has never been easier now with (LiFePO4). Sustaining deep cycle discharges and allows for all appliances and utilities to be used for extended periods of time.
- Bikes, Mopeds, Scooters: No dead weight to slow you down. Charge to less than full capacity for impromptu trips without damaging your battery.
- Solar setups: Haul lightweight LiFePO4 batteries wherever life takes you (even if it’s up a mountain and far from the grid) and harness the power of the sun.
- Commercial / Industrial use: These batteries are the safest, toughest lithium batteries out there. So they’re great for industrial applications like floor machines, liftgates, and more.
- Much more: In addition, lithium iron phosphate batteries power many other things. For example – flashlights, electronic cigarettes, radio equipment, emergency lighting and much more.
Lead Acid Batteries
Lead acid batteries may be a bargain at first, but they’ll end up costing you more in the long run. That’s because they need constant maintenance, and you must replace them more often. A LiFePO4 battery will last 2-4x longer, with zero upkeep needed.
Like LiFePO4 batteries, gel batteries don’t need frequent recharging. They also won’t lose charge while stored. Where do gel and LiFePO4 differ? A big factor is the charging process. Gel batteries charge at a snail’s pace. Also, you must disconnect them when 100% charged to avoid ruining them.
AGM batteries will do plenty of damage to your wallet, and are at high risk for becoming damaged themselves if you drain them past 50% capacity. Maintaining them can be difficult as well. LiFePO4 Ionic lithium batteries can be discharged completely with no risk of damage.