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Will Lithium Batteries Freeze?

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Whether you’re camping in your RV or fishing on a gorgeous lake, there are many reasons you should upgrade your battery bank to lithium. However, sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, and you find yourself unexpectedly in freezing temperatures. It’s no secret that cold weather and batteries don’t go together well, but will lithium batteries freeze? 

Today, we’re diving into lithium batteries and how freezing temperatures can impact how you use them. Let’s get started!

frozen lithium cells

What Is a Lithium Battery? 

Lithium batteries are some of the fastest-charging and longest-lasting batteries on the market. These batteries use lithium chemistry to store energy and then transfer the energy between positive and negative terminals.

Due to their unique and innovative technologies, they have the longest lifespans, the fastest charging times, and the highest storage capacities of all batteries. In addition to these incredible features, they’re also lightweight.

Pro Tip: Dive into the details of lithium-ion batteries.

Will Lithium Batteries Freeze?

Some battery chemistry, like lead-acid batteries, can freeze solid and explode. This happens when the battery is discharged, and the electrolyte becomes watered down. That’s not the case with lithium batteries, as the electrolyte does not change its freezing point. However, charging a lithium battery during freezing temperatures can cause damage to the battery due to dendritic lithium action.

cracked lead acid batteries
Lead acid batteries are prone to freezing and cracking.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to charge them. However, you do have to heat the batteries to above freezing before charging. Luckily, using heat pads or internally heated batteries makes it possible to safely use lithium batteries, even when temperatures drop below freezing. You can even wrap your batteries in a thermal blanket to get them warm.

How Cold Is Too Cold for Lithium Batteries? 

Cold weather impacts all batteries. This is because batteries run on chemical reactions, and colder temperatures slow down reactions. Luckily, the discharging reactions tend to occur better than most other types of batteries in lithium-ion, and thus, they perform very well in the cold. However, these chemical reaction changes can cause lithium batteries to grow lithium crystals if charged below a certain temperature. Battle Born Batteries have a built-in BMS (battery management system), which allows them to safely accept a charge in temperatures as low as 26 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Rv with battery compartment open in a snowstorm

Once the battery reaches this temperature, it will no longer accept a charge. This helps protect the battery and give it the longest lifespan possible. If a battery doesn’t have a BMS with a temperature cut out, charging and using it below freezing can be extremely detrimental to the battery.

While charging lithium batteries in cold weather can be an issue, extreme cold situations can also cause problems when discharging. Avoid discharging lithium batteries when temperatures drop below -4 degrees Fahrenheit and store them above -10 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Does Freezing Damage Lithium Batteries? 

It’s going to depend on the battery manufacturer and what temperatures a battery is safe at. We recommend all our customers remove batteries from service if they expect temperatures below -4F. However, our batteries can be stored down to -15 F if they are not being used.

Unlike lead-acid batteries of the past, our batteries require no ventilation and can be installed in enclosed spaces. Therefore, it is much easier to locate these batteries in a heated compartment or space.

Can You Charge a Frozen Battery?

You should never charge any battery when the temperature dips below freezing. This can cause severe and permanent damage to your battery. You should always take the time to let the battery warm up to a safe temperature before you begin charging it. Using external heating pads and storing your battery bank in a heated compartment can help avoid cold weather from affecting your batteries.

heated batteries graphic

Do I Need a Heated Lithium Battery?

Our heated lithium batteries are great to have, but it is not the correct answer for everyone. If you plan to use your lithium batteries in freezing conditions for ice fishing, skiing, or other winter activities, you’ll definitely want to consider a heated lithium battery. However, even in cold temperatures, many of our customers can install the batteries in heated compartments and not worry about heating them.

Most of the time, a heated battery is a good idea to have if the place it will be installed could get below freezing or you plan to use the battery intermittently in cold weather. Our heated LiFePO4 batteries can turn the heating on and off as needed. For example, if the batteries are installed in a frozen RV that is going to be pulled from storage, the heat could be turned on during the warm-up period. When the batteries warm up enough, they will begin to take a charge.

On the other hand, if you plan to power your RV with your lithium batteries and you travel with the weather to stay warm all year, a heated lithium battery may not be necessary. When it comes to lithium batteries, you need to consider all of the possible scenarios in your life. Knowing where you plan to use them helps ensure you get the right battery for your unique needs.

How Do You Store Lithium-Ion Batteries for Winter?

Properly storing your lithium-ion batteries in winter helps ensure you get the maximum life out of your batteries. You should fully charge your batteries to 14.4 volts and disconnect all power draws from the batteries. Completely disconnecting them from the terminals is typically best. Parasitic loads can drain your batteries while they sit in storage.

Where you store your lithium-ion batteries is also something important that you should consider. You can safely store Battle Born Batteries in temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also store them in temperatures as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Man holding dog in the door of his van in the snow

Are Lithium Batteries Worth Using in Cold Weather? 

When it comes to using batteries in cold weather, it’s hard to beat lithium batteries. They provide twice the power at half the weight and are more resilient in colder temperatures. If you take the proper precautions and use the right gear, it will be hard to find a situation where you can’t use lithium batteries to power your cold-weather adventures. 

Comparing the results to lead-acid batteries, it’s no contest that lithium batteries are the best. While lithium batteries may come with a premium price tag, the results they deliver make them worth every penny.

Want To Learn More About Electrical Systems and Lithium Batteries?

We know that 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!

Also, join us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to learn more about how lithium battery systems can power your lifestyle, see how others have built their systems, and gain the confidence to get out there and stay out there.

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