Lead-acid batteries are built of (typically) lead plates and sulfuric acid. This was the first kind of rechargeable battery, invented way back in 1859.
Lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, are a considerably younger innovation and have only been around in a commercially viable form since the 1980s.
Lithium technology has become well-tested and understood for powering small electronics such as laptops or cordless tools, and it has become increasingly prevalent in these applications, phasing out the older NiCad (Nickel-Cadmium) rechargeable battery chemistry due to lithium’s numerous advantages.
However, as you may know from the numerous news reports about malfunctioning laptop batteries bursting into flames a few years ago, lithium-ion batteries have also developed a reputation for catching fire in spectacular fashion.
However, in 1996, lithium iron phosphate was discovered as a novel formula for mixing lithium-ion batteries. These batteries, known as LiFePO4 or LFP, have a somewhat lower energy density but are innately non-combustible, making them far safer than Lithium-Cobalt-Oxide batteries. And when you consider the benefits, Lithium-ion batteries become very appealing.
Unlike lead-acid batteries, it is considered practicable to use 90% or more of a lithium battery bank’s rated capacity on a regular basis and occasionally more. Consider a 100-amp-hour battery: if it were lead acid, it would be sensible to use only 30 to 50 amp-hours of electricity, but with lithium, you could get 90 amp-hours or even 100 Ah with the infamous 100ah lithium battery.
A high-grade LiFePo4 battery can be expected to last tens of thousands of cycles, according to manufacturers and laboratories. These are, however, theoretical quantities that cannot be easily tested.
In practice, standard-grade LiFePo4 batteries can give at least 2000 charge/discharge cycles at 80% DoD and 1C discharge rate, with the remaining capacity remaining above 80%. These values are affected by the charge rate, the depth of discharge, and, most critically, the cell quality.
The discharge curve of lithium batteries is essentially flat (particularly when compared to lead-acid batteries), which means that a 20% charged battery will provide about the same output voltage as an 80% charged battery. This eliminates any problems caused by the “voltage sag” that occurs when lead-acid batteries drain.
Lithium-ion batteries may be charged to 100% capacity in a matter of minutes. Unlike lead acid, no absorption phase is required to store the remaining 20%. Furthermore, if your charger is powerful enough, lithium batteries can be charged quite quickly. If you have adequate charging amps, you can fully charge a lithium-ion battery in 30 minutes.
But don’t worry if you don’t manage to top off to 100%; unlike lead-acid batteries, failure to consistently fully charge lithium-ion batteries does not destroy the batteries.
This gives you a lot of freedom to use energy sources whenever you want without having to worry about doing a full charge on a regular basis.
Lithium-ion batteries require less maintenance. The BMS performs an automatic “balancing” process to ensure that all of the cells in a battery bank are equally charged (Battery Management System).
Lithium-ion batteries are a game changer in the world of rechargeable batteries due to their several advantages. Not only are they efficient and quick to charge, but they are also known to be climate-resistant. Finally, its no-maintenance character and compact style make it suitable for almost all appliances and machinery.