The LiFePO4 (LFP) Battery: An Essential Guide

The-LiFePO4-LFP-Battery-An-Essential-Guide

LiFePO4 is the latest lithium-ion battery chemistry. It’s the smartest choice to choose lithium batteries to power data servers, off-grid systems, solar systems, and more. There are no limits when you choose a LiFePO4 battery. If you’re on a mission to go ice fishing, a LiFePO4 battery can be discharged at freezing temperatures. While they may drain slower, traditional lead-acid batteries are too heavy and unreliable to power modern technology. Because some older battery chemistries can be unstable and unsafe, the LiFePO4 battery is the best battery to buy in almost every aspect.

Being compact and lightweight, LiFePO4 batteries have proven themselves to be the best. These batteries are the safest, most eco-friendly, and longest-lasting lithium-ion batteries on the market. Proven thermal stability makes the LiFePO4 at little to no risk of thermal runaway, which means there is no chance of  a fire or related accident.

You may still have questions like, “What is different about this battery?” or, “Where should I use this battery?” Don’t worry. We have the answers for you. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down some of your frequently asked questions.

What LiFePO4 Batteries Offer That Other Batteries Don’t

We keep calling this battery LiFePO4, but what does that mean? LiFePO4 is short for Lithium Iron Phosphate. A lithium-ion battery is a direct current battery. A 12-volt battery for example is typically composed of four prismatic battery cells. Lithium ions move from the negative electrode through an electrolyte to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging. So not only is this a safe, long-lasting battery, it also ranks high in energy and power density.

Thanks to modern design and more advanced technology, the latest lithium-ion batteries are sleek and modern-looking. The batteries at BigBattery.com are either metallic silver or black. Typically, the large industrial batteries are black. Shaped like a box, most have a power button with a digital screen and may come with wheels. The proper cables come with each battery as well.

Lead-acid batteries comes in FLA, AGM, and GEL, but here we will focus on a standard flooded 12V battery in the table below. Here is a comparison of the key features between a LiFePO4 battery and a lead-acid battery.

FeatureLiFePO4 BatteryGeneric FLA Battery
Voltage12V12V
kWh Capacity3kWh1.83kWh
Ah Capacity228Ah215Ah
Operating Voltage Range9.8 – 14.6V11.6 – 12.6V
Max Continued Discharge175 Amps175 Amps
Charge Temp Range (C)0°C (32°F) – 55°C (131°F)15°C (60°F) – 38°C (100°F)
Storage Temp (Max 6 months)-5°C (23°F) – 35°C (95°F)43°C (110°F)
Weight52 lbs120 lbs
LxWxH10.5 x 7.5 x 13.1 in.15.5 x 7.0 x 14.6 in.

In the table above, you can see that this LiFePO4 battery has more to offer compared to a standard FLA battery. The LiFePO4 battery is more powerful in a smaller, lighter form factor. It is always more powerful, lighter, and durable than a lead-acid battery. We’ll discuss some safety later on in this article.

Energy

Energy is an important factor to consider when choosing a battery. A battery with a higher energy density will be lighter than a similar capacity battery with a lower energy density. The energy density of a battery is the battery’s capacity divided by the weight of the battery or by the volume. The kWh capacity is a battery’s energy. The table above shows that the LifePO4 battery has more volumetric energy density than a typical lead-acid battery.

Power Density

The power density of a battery is related to its energy density. The ability of the battery to discharge quickly is also factored into a battery’s power density.

Capacity

Battery capacity is a measure of the charge stored by the battery. The capacity is determined by the mass of active material contained in the battery. The actual storage performance is different under certain conditions i.e., extreme heat or cold, or age and use. In the table above, you’ll see the “Ah” abbreviation for Amp hours. Ah and kWh are the most common measurements of capacity in a battery. Ah is defined as the number of hours a battery can provide a current equal to the discharge rate.

An accurate approach to determining a battery’s capacity would be the formula Ah capacity x V(t) over the charging cycle. Using the battery in the table above as an example (which is based on the Owl Max 2), we can take a 12V battery with a capacity of 228Ah battery and figure the energy storage. 228Ah x 13.16V = 3 kWh. KWh is a great way to measure battery capacity because it displays usable energy more accuratly. However, because of the large impact of charging rates or temperatures, battery manufacturers provide additional information about the variation of battery capacity.

Applications of the LFP Battery

There are numerous applications of the LiFePO4 battery. It is a versatile battery because the battery is designed in a small, light compartment and can withstand extreme conditions. Some applications of the LiFePO4 battery are as follows:

  • Lead Acid Replacement
  • Intense Heat and Cold
  • Emergency Power
  • Solar Systems
  • Off-Grid Power
  • Camper Vans
  • Mobile Power
  • Power Chairs
  • Forklifts
  • RVs
  • Robotics
  • Data Servers
  • Massive Power Systems
  • Hazardous Environments
  • Compact Storage
  • Industrial Use
  • Utility Carts
  • Pallet Jacks
  • Golf Carts
  • Man Lifts

What You Should Know About LiFePO4 Batteries

Before you make your investment in a better battery, you’ll want to get some essential details figured out. You must find a site that has every detail about the battery available. Otherwise, you may make the wrong purchase, costing you time and money and possibly leaving you without power in a blackout. When browsing BigBattery.com, you can see these key features with each battery:

  • Volts measure a battery’s capacity to hold an electrical charge, but just know that your battery voltage will change when a load is changed. There are four cells in a 12V LiFePO4 battery, and because each cell has a voltage of three, you can expect to have eight cells in a 24V battery. 12V, 24V, 36V, 48V, and 72V are the available voltages of the LiFePO4 battery. Read more about voltage at PVEducation.
  • The LFP battery, made of lithium-ion, allows it to stay compact yet highly effective and efficient due to lithium’s small size (third only to hydrogen and helium). Read more about the chemistry behind lithium-ion batteries at Clean Energy Institute.

Look for these attributes when shopping for a LiFePO4 battery:

  • Charging voltage range
  • Max charge voltage
  • Max continuous discharge current amps
  • Max continuous power watts
  • Max continuous peak current amps
  • Charge current amps
  • Charge temperature ranges
  • Discharge temperature changes
  • Storage temperature ranges

You should be prepared for quicker discharges in extreme temperatures. If you plan to use your new LiFePO4 for ice-fishing, you bet you’ll need one capable of handling low temperatures. If you plan to store your lithium-ion battery in your shed in 95 degree summers, you will need to find one capable of those high storage temperatures. Look for a spec sheet. You should check out BigBattery.com’s page on the 12V Owl Max 2. You’ll see what we mean!

Okay, so we’ve gone over what features you need to look for when searching for your battery. The voltage, weight, and size are all critical. You’ll also want to check out that list of ranges. But what do these batteries look like? What makes it an eco-friendly battery?

Choosing a LiFePO4 Battery

We’ve determined that the LiFePO4 battery is the safest, most eco-friendly lithium-ion battery you can buy on today’s market. Nothing beats its size, strength, and durability. These battery’s applications are truly endless. Considering that certain LiFePO4 batteries can withstand extreme heat and cold or even toxic environments, it makes this battery a durable and safe choice for even the everyday consumer. Shop BigBattery.com for top tier lithium batteries available now!

Sources:
BigBattery
PVEducation
Clean Energy Institute

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