Stay Current On Lithium: The LiFePO4 Advantage

Posted May 11, 2015

Relion-Blog-Stay-Current-On-Lithium-The-LiFePO4-Advantage.jpg#asset:1317Compared to lead acid batteries, lithium batteries offer significant advantages, including improved discharge efficiency, longer life span and the ability to deep cycle while maintaining performance. While they often arrive with a higher price tag, minimal maintenance and infrequent replacement makes lithium a worthwhile investment and smart long-term solution. 

However, most American consumers – electronic enthusiasts aside – are only familiar with a limited range of lithium solutions. The most common versions are built from cobalt oxide, manganese oxide and nickel oxide formulations. 

Although lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries aren’t new, they’re just now picking up traction in U.S. commercial markets. Here’s a quick breakdown on what distinguishes LiFePO4 from the other lithium battery solutions: 

Safety And Stability

LiFePO4 batteries are best known for their strong safety profile, the result of extremely stable chemistry. When subjected to hazardous events, such as collision or short-circuiting, they won’t explode or catch fire, significantly reducing any chance of harm. 

If you’re selecting a lithium battery and anticipate use in hazardous or unstable environments, LiFePO4 is likely your best choice. 

Performance

LiFePO4 batteries perform well in several areas, especially life span. Service life usually clocks in at five to six years, and cycle life normally exceeds other lithium formulations by 300 or 400%. However, there’s a tradeoff. Energy density is typically lower than certain counterparts, such as cobalt and nickel oxide, meaning you’ll lose some capacity for the price you pay – initially, at least. A slower rate of capacity loss compared to other formulations might offset the tradeoff to some degree. After a year, a LiFePO4 cell typically has approximately the same energy density as a LiCoO2 lithium ion cell. 

Battery charging time is also considerably reduced, another convenient performance perk. 

If you’re looking for a battery to stand the test of time and charge quickly, LiFePO4 is the answer. However, remember that you might be trading density for longevity: If you need more raw power for a large application, other lithium technologies may serve you better. 

Environmental Impact

LiFePO4 batteries are non-toxic, non-contaminating and contain no rare earth metals, making them an environmentally conscious choice. Lead acid and nickel oxide lithium batteries, by comparison, carry significant environmental risk (especially lead acid, as internal chemicals degrade structure over team and eventually cause leakage). 

If you’re not sure what will happen to your batteries after you’ve exhausted them and want to guarantee minimal impact to the environment, choose LiFePO4 over other formulations. 

Space Efficiency

Also worth mentioning is LiFePO4’s space-efficient characteristics. At one-third the weight of most lead-acid batteries and almost half the weight of the popular manganese oxide, LiFePO4 provides an effective way to make use of application space and reduce overall weight. 

Trying to get as much battery power as possible while keeping weight down? LiFePO4 is the way to go. 

If you’re looking for a lithium battery that trades rapid energy delivery for safety, stability, long-term performance and low environmental risk, consider powering your application with LiFePO4. 

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