Lithium-ion batteries provide many advantages to those who make the upgrade. Everyone wants the longest-lasting and fastest-charging battery available. There has been incredible growth in the lithium-ion battery industry globally, and consumers are the benefactors. Today we’ll look at what a lithium-ion battery is and how this new battery technology can benefit you. Let’s dive in!

What Is A Lithium-Ion Battery?

Lithium-ion batteries store energy and create an electrical potential between the positive and negative terminals of the battery using lithium ions. They are one of the newest battery technologies available and are currently the most expensive. However, these batteries have the highest storage capacity, longest lifespan, and fastest charging time compared to other battery types.

In addition, various other benefits make lithium batteries the battery of choice in most applications.

How Does A Lithium-Ion Battery Work?

Lithium-ion batteries contain multiple individual battery cells wired together along with a battery management system (BMS). The BMS helps balance the charge across cells and monitors the battery’s health and temperature to ensure optimal performance and lifespan. Each battery cell consists of four main components: the cathode, the anode, an electrolyte, and a separator.

While a lithium-ion battery discharges, lithium ions move through the electrolyte and pass through the separator from the cathode (positive terminal) to the anode (negative terminal). While the battery charges, this process is reversed. The flow of the ions creates an electrical potential called “voltage.” The separator allows the lithium ions to pass through but blocks electrons and forces them to move through your electronics and providing them the power to operate.

inside a lithium ion battery

Types of Lithium-Ion Batteries

There are multiple types of lithium-ion batteries available, and each is named for its active materials and chemical makeup. The different types of lithium batteries excel in various applications and all have pros and cons.

For example, lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) is popular for replacing 12-volt lead-acid batteries. Lithium iron phosphate batteries have excellent chemical and thermal stability, which makes them safe for rugged applications. Additionally, they have a long life cycle and a high current rating. We use this chemistry in our Battle Born Lithium Batteries.

→ Learn more about What Is Lithium Iron Phosphate? on our company site, Dragonfly Energy.

Another type that you’ll commonly see is lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2). You’ll often find this battery type in consumer electronic equipment such as DSLR cameras, mobile phones, tablets, and even laptops. The LiCoO2 is less stable and has a shorter lifespan than LiFePO4 but can pack a big punch due to its high energy density. 

Lithium manganese oxide (LiMn2O4) is also commonly seen in lithium-ion battery-powered devices. The chemistry of LMO batteries allows for a high current flow and fast charging but leads to a shorter lifespan. You’ll often see this type of battery in power tools, medical tools, or even some electric vehicles.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Lithium-ion Batteries?

There is a long list of benefits when it comes to using lithium-ion batteries. Let’s look at a few reasons why many manufacturers and consumers choose to use this type of battery.

One of the most significant benefits is longevity. When you choose a lithium-ion battery, you can typically expect a 3-5 times longer life expectancy than any other battery on the market. While lithium batteries are more expensive than their counterparts, they are more cost-effective when you factor in the increase in charge cycles.

benefits of lithium over lead acid batteries

Most batteries struggle in high and low temperatures. However, some lithium-ion batteries can handle extreme temperatures. For example, lithium iron phosphate batteries can operate near their capacity in temperatures ranging from -4 degrees to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. This durability makes lithium-ion batteries perfect for use in a wide range of conditions where other batteries may suffer or experience permanent damage.

Additionally, when you choose a lithium-ion battery, you can shed a considerable amount of weight. Consumers want products like cell phones, laptops, and tablets that are thinner and lighter. Lithium-ion batteries are the perfect option due to their higher energy density. For example, 12-volt lithium iron phosphate batteries weigh about half of what comparable lead-acid batteries weigh.

Where Can You Use Lithium-Ion Batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries are becoming the gold standard in applications ranging from household electronics to electric vehicles. Let’s take a closer look at some of these applications.

Household Electronics

It’s not uncommon to see lithium-ion batteries in many household electronics. You probably even used one today. As they started gaining popularity, manufacturers saw the opportunity to provide consumers with smaller and lighter electronics. For example, tablets, cell phones, laptops, and digital cameras all benefit from lightweight and long-lasting lithium batteries.

Electric Cars

As our society works towards limiting pollution and becoming more “green,” there’s been an incredible increase in electric cars. Lithium-ion batteries are perfect for electric vehicles due to their weight and high energy density. The lighter the vehicle, the less force will be required to propel it forward. 

Lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) batteries are currently the preferred battery chemistry type for electric vehicles by most manufacturers. Additionally, we anticipate seeing more advancements in longevity, capacity, and performance from lithium-ion batteries in electric cars. As the cost comes down on lithium batteries, more manufacturers will continue to add electric vehicles to their lineup.

RVs

When you purchase an RV, it will likely come with a traditional lead-acid battery. However, many RVers are beginning to realize the significant benefits of upgrading to lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries.

adventurous way rv with lithium
Photo: Adventurous Way’s RV

One of the main advantages of LFP batteries is that you can build them in a voltage comparable to existing lead-acid batteries as a drop-in replacement. They are also suitable for deep discharges without causing damage. Conversely, draining a lead-acid battery below 50% of its capacity will cause significant harm. Additionally, LPF batteries weigh about half of what lead-acid batteries do, they charge much faster, and they last 3-5 times longer. All of these benefits help justify the increased cost of making the upgrade in RV applications.

Motor Boats & Sailboats 

Lithium batteries are becoming a popular choice amongst boaters for many of the same reasons they’re popular with RVers. Long-lasting and lightweight LFP batteries are a fantastic upgrade to make for every boating application. Anglers love them for their trolling motors just as much as people living on their sailboats love them for powering their appliances and electronics.

lithium ion battery on motor boat

Off-Grid Living

Generating your own power is essential if you plan to live off the grid. However, storing the power you generate is equally critical. Like RVers and boaters, those living off the grid see the same benefits of installing LPF batteries. Lightweight, high-capacity LFP batteries that last a long time are the optimal choice for building an off-grid battery bank.

How Long Do Lithium-ion Batteries Last?

The lifespan of lithium-ion batteries depends on the type of lithium-ion battery. For example, lithium manganese oxide (LMO) batteries last between 300-700 charge cycles on the low end. Alternatively, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries last between 3,000-7,000 charge cycles.

Generally, lithium-ion batteries provide a longer lifespan than their counterparts. As a result, it’s common to see manufacturers standing behind their batteries with extended warranties. For example, we design our Battle Born LFP batteries to last 3,000-5,000 cycles and backs them up with a 10-year warranty.

Are Lithium-ion Batteries Worth The Higher Cost?

While the initial cost of lithium-ion batteries is substantially more than standard lead-acid batteries, the price is justifiable. It’s not just the benefits of being lighter weight or requiring no maintenance, but also the battery’s longevity. When you factor in the cost savings over the battery life, lithium-ion batteries are cheaper than other battery types. 

Find out where to buy lithium batteries here.

where to buy lithium ion batteries

Lithium Ion Batteries Improve Our Lives

Lithium-ion batteries will continue to grow and evolve as technologies improve in the future. Consumers benefit from these advancements, and as more and more companies invest time, energy, and resources into lithium-ion batteries, the costs will continue to come down.

How do lithium-ion batteries enhance your everyday life? Let us know in the comments below.

Want To Learn More About Electrical Systems and Lithium Batteries?

We know building or upgrading an electrical system can be overwhelming, so we’re here to help. Our Reno, Nevada-based sales and customer service team is standing by at (855) 292-2831 to take your questions!

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