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Lithium VS Lead acid / agm battery

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Lead Acid batteries have been around in one form or another since 1859. In the past 160 years there have been some improvements like  Gel and AGM (absorbed glass mat) which are  VRLA (valve regulated lead acid) batteries.

However, the basic characteristics of the lead acid battery has not changed in 150 years. 


Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, also known as Lithium Ferrous Phosphate, LiPO, LiFePO4 or LFP, have been around since 1996. In the past 20+ years there has been improvements in the anode and cathode which improved the electrical conductivity. 



What About Lead Acid Batteries?

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There are basically 2 types of lead acid batteries. Flooded or wet cell and the VRLA (valve regulated lead acid). 


   1.  Flooded or wet cell batteries  are the cheapest to buy. They require regular maintenance and need to be checked regularly. Otherwise they will quickly fail.


    2. The modern VRLA gel battery was invented in 1957 and the VRLA AGM was invented in 1972. Both gel and AGM are maintenance free. (more info link)

          Both create hydrogen gas and can explode. This can be caused by a build up of hydrogen in a poorly vented area, a blocked valve in a VRLA,  individual cells within a battery can short circuit or accumulated hydrogen and oxygen sometimes ignite in an internal explosion. (more info link)


          Both recommend maximum discharge of 50% for a longer life and need to be fully charged regularly.

          Charging of lead acid batteries is very inefficient. It can take as long of time to charge the last 20% (absorption and float) for the initial bulk charge (50% to 80%)   

          Also, lead acid batteries have an overall charge efficiency level of 85% - you lose 15% of the energy you put in regardless if it is solar, wind, alternator or generator. (more info link)

          Sulfation (a build-up of lead sulfate crystals on the plates) and stratification of the electrolyte occurs when a lead acid battery is deprived of a full charge. Both these conditions will shorten battery life. 

          Lead acid batteries are toxic and environmentally unfriendly.  About 60% of the battery weight is lead. The lead is bathed in highly corrosive and dangerous sulfuric acid. 

What About Lithium Batteries?

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Not all lithium ion batteries are the same.  There are currently 6 different lithium battery chemistry. 

      The most common are LFP (lithium ferrophosphate or lithium iron phosphate) and NMC (Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide). 


       Affordable Marine (AMPS) batteries are Lithium Iron Phosphate. 

Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP) has a lower energy density than NMC batteries which means the batteries are larger for the same energy storage. The key benefits are high current rating and long cycle life, besides good thermal stability, enhanced safety and tolerance if abused. That means LFP are safer. They do not explode or catch fire. LFP do not have the HAZMAT toxic cobalt as a component. LFP batteries are environmentally friendly. LFP batteries are commonly used energy buffers (stationary storage), in flashlights, radio-controlled models, portable motor-driven equipment, industrial sensor systems, emergency lighting, bicycles, electric cars and second (house) battery for a caravans, motor-homes or boats.

        

      Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) batteries are taking the position of the LFP for use in electric cars and portable tools because of their higher energy density and because prices are leveling. The main disadvantage of NMC Lithium is they are less safe and can cause fires. Also, cobalt is a toxic component of the lithium cell making this chemistry environmentally unfriendly. 


Check out this link for more info: https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/types_of_lithium_ion 

What About Charging Batteries

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A battery is like a leaky cup of water. It only holds so much and will eventually run out. It is important to maintain the proper charge on a battery, otherwise nasty things can happen.


Lithium batteries use a BMS or battery management system to control and manage the charging of the cells. The cells are charged by an efficient direct ion exchange. The charge efficiency is 99% with virtually every amp going in and staying in the battery without loss. Also the battery uses a steady amp, steady voltage charge. A higher and constant charge is used. 


A flooded lead acid or AGM / Gel /  VRLA (valve regulater lead acid) battery is an inefficient chemical based charge. A higher amp bulk charge is used for the first 80 to 85%. The remaining 15 to 20% is a lower amp absorption charge which can take as long as the bulk charge. The charge efficiency, depending on the age of the battery,  is at best 85% with 15% or more lost to the heat and hydrogen gas production. Overcharging will cause battery failure, loss of electrolyte, swelling, cracked cases or explosion. 

What About Discharging Batteries

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All batteries lose energy over time even without use - this is called self  discharging.  

Testimonials

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The best compliment any business can get is a good reference from previous customers.

Lithium batteries have been around for over 20 years and are improving and getting better every day. 

Affordable Marine Products & Services Inc. is proud of the high quality products and customer service we provide. 

We strive to address your current concerns and to meet your future needs as well. Click on the link below and see some of what our clients say.