What are the Benefits of Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries (LiFePO4)?
Advances in battery technology and electric motors are making it easier than ever before to provide full electric propulsion systems for marine applications.
Below we will discuss the benefits of lithium iron phosphate batteries and show how it is the safest lithium battery type and why it delivers long life and more power for electric boats.
As electric propulsion systems become increasingly popular, it is important for owners and operators to make informed choices about batteries. Decisions made during the design or retrofit process will have long-term effects on boat performance and lifetime costs.
As more boat owners are looking towards electric propulsion and larger boats have growing numbers of electric tenders and rechargeable-battery water toys aboard, the following will give you a better understanding of what you need to look out for when choosing your battery systems.
What is LiFePO4 Battery?
A lithium iron phosphate battery (often shortened with its chemical composition LiFePO4 battery; or shortened even further to LFP battery, which stands for Lithium Ferro Phosphate) is a type of lithium-ion battery, that has cathode materials made from lithium iron phosphate.
Now we know the difference between ‘lithium ion’ and ‘lithium iron’, let’s find out why LiFePO4 battery packs are the best choice for electric propulsion in leisure boats and small commercial vessels.
The Benefits of LiFePO4 batteries
LiFePO4 has many advantages over other lithium-ion battery designs and older lead-acid (LA) batteries. They weigh less, they require zero maintenance, they have better charge and discharge characteristics and they have a much longer life, making them one of the best value electric propulsion solutions for boats.
Other key benefits of LiFePO4 include high current rating, longer cycle life, zero leak and fire risk and a tolerance to sub-optimal charging and discharging cycles.
• High Efficiency
Why are LiFePO4 batteries so efficient? In a like-for-like comparison with systems that use other lithium ion or lead acid batteries, lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) offers a superior combination of characteristics, especially for propulsion in leisure boats and small commercial vessels.
LiFePO4 battery designs have improved discharge and charge efficiency and the ability to deep cycle while maintaining performance, something that LA chemistries and other designs of lithium battery cannot match.
• Better Performance from the keel up
The combination of long life, slow self-discharge rates and low weight with high battery capacity make lithium iron phosphate batteries (LiFePO4) the ideal starting point for electric leisure boats.
• LiFePO4 has a longer life span
In boats with petrol or diesel propulsion systems, boat owners don’t expect to change their motor every two or three years. So, it feels a little disingenuous to expect electric boat owners to have to regularly update their entire battery pack, which would be likely for boats with lead acid installations.
This punitive maintenance regime would make it very difficult to justify an electric propulsion option if using LA batteries. However, Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery packs can now out-perform fossil fuel systems.
• Faster Charging process
Battery charging time for LiFePO4 batteries is quicker than for lead acid or other lithium batteries, Typically LiFePO4 units have four times the energy density and charge five times faster than lead acid batteries.
Cycle life for a LiFePO4 battery is up to five times the cycle life of some lithium ion batteries, often reaching up to 5000 cycles without any significant drop in performance.
LiFePO4 battery packs can also run down to 100% DOD (depth of discharge) without any damage or drop in performance.
• LiFePO4 is lightweight
Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP) chemistries deliver about 50% more useable electrical capacity with up to 70% less weight than lead-acid batteries. LiFePO4 units are also lighter than some lithium ion batteries, around half the weight of lithium manganese oxide (LMO) batteries.
The superior power-to-weight ratio of LiFePO4 results in smaller battery packs, less wasted space and lower propulsion system weight, which improves boat performance, electrical efficiency, overall boat range and increases interior layout options.
• More weight-savings
Further weight-savings are realised when you consider that a comparative lead acid battery installation will require battery boxes and lots more wiring for terminal connections compared to a LiFePO4 battery installation.
• Environmentally Friendly to make
Unlike a lithium battery and lead acid batteries, LiFePO4 batteries do not contain toxic, heavy or rare earth metals like cobalt, nickel or lead. LiFePO4 is composed of common materials like graphite, iron and copper.
These materials are cheaper to source, more abundant and also require less energy to mine and process, representing a greener choice for boat owners looking for green electric boat propulsion solutions.
• Environmentally Friendly after use
So, lithium iron phosphate batteries are greener to make, but they also present a much lower environmental risk throughout their working life compared to other lithium batteries.
The phosphate salts used in LFP batteries are far less soluble than the metal oxides used in other lithium batteries. This makes it much less likely for LiFePO4 units to leach chemicals into the environment, even if the battery is improperly discarded.
The same cannot be said for LA batteries whose structure can degrade over time, leading to poisonous chemical leakage.
Unlike other battery chemistries, LiFePO4 battery packs are also easy to recycle at the end of their working life.
• Safer than LA and other lithium ion batteries
LiFePO4 batteries have superior thermal and chemical stability compared to lead acid or other lithium ion batteries, they also do not suffer from ‘thermal runaway’ like some lithium ion cells.
Because of this, LiFePO4 battery packs have a reputation for being extremely stable and inherently safe.
Lithium iron phosphate is also tolerant to extremes of temperature, it is insoluble in water and is incombustible.
Even if subjected to dangerous handling, such as collision or short-circuiting, LiFePO4 batteries won’t rupture, explode or catch fire, which is vital consideration in marine applications.
• More temperature resilient than lithium ion batteries
Some Lithium ion batteries struggle to operate outside of their optimal temperature range, usually somewhere between 10°C to 55°C.
LA batteries are more tolerant of extremes of temperature and are typically able to operate at between -40°C to 120°C, but their electrical performance drops dramatically at both the low and high ends of their temperature range.
• Better performance at high and low temperatures
Fortunately, LiFePO4 batteries are tolerant of a wide range of temperatures without any drop in performance at either end of their temperature range.
Typically operating at full capacity in temperatures from -20°C to 70°C, makes LiFePO4 batteries a great option for almost all real-world leisure boating and commercial boat applications.
• Zero maintenance
Unlike a lead acid battery, a lithium iron phosphate battery does not require any servicing to prolong its service life. LiFePO4 batteries also do not suffer from any memory effect from incomplete discharge before re-charging.
Best LiFePO4 Battery
Which LiFePO4 battery should I choose? For leisure boats and small commercial vessel applications ePropulsion has everything you need for propulsion systems from 2kW to 200kW.
Pairing your ePropulsion motors with the ePropulsion E-Series range of LiFePO4 batteries will sync your motor and battery data, providing optimal power discharge and accurate, intuitive battery level displays.
Unit price of E40/E80/E175 is as low as $0.5 per watt-hour
Over 3,000 cycles at 80% depth of discharge
70% less space and weight than lead acid batteries
Data synced with ePropulsion motors to apply smart operation strategy
Made with LFP, the built-in intelligent battery management system (BMS) is applied to provide maximum safety for the users.
3,000 cycles at 80% depth of discharge
3 times higher energy density and 70% less weight than lead-acid batteries
Connectors can be installed with only ONE hand
All-metal housing is more reliable, weather resistant, impact resistant and drop proof
Furthur Reading: Click to find out more about electrical system specifications here and how to measure battery system capacity here.
Here are the benefits of Lithium iron phosphate batteries in a nutshell:
Similar up-front costs
Up to five times the operational life span
Total lifecycle costs can be reduced by >60%
About one third the weight of comparable lead acid batteries
About half the weight of comparable lithium ion batteries
Superior power and thermal/chemical stability
Less environmental impact throughout their life
Compared to Lithium ion batteries, lithium manganese oxide batteries, lithium cobalt oxide, and other lithium chemistries like lithium ion polymer batteries (LiPo) and other batteries, including traditional lead acid batteries.
Advantages and Disadvantages of LiFePO4 Battery
Batteries and power supply requirements are increasing with the advent of new technologies and demands, and you need batteries for your smartphone, laptop, electric vehicle, medical equipment, and digital cameras. These batteries must be safe, lightweight, and have a great source of power. Lithium batteries have these features and are primarily used for various applications. You can find a lot of advantages and disadvantages of lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries.
Advantages of LiFePO4 Batteries
Some main advantages of LiFePO4 batteries are as follow:
1: Less Degradation & Long Life
LiFePO4 has a long life cycle as compared to other batteries and has 1,000-10,000 cycles. Lithium iron phosphate has an excellent discharge rate and has less degradation at high temperatures. Because of their extended life features, you can use these batteries for various applications. A standard qualified LiFePO4 battery remains 80% DOD till 2000 cycles of discharging and charging.
2: No Harm to the Environment
Lithium iron phosphate batteries are eco-friendly and do not contain harmful metals. They are non-contaminating and non-toxic and are less costly than other lithium-ion and Lithium polymer batteries.
3: Compact Size & Lightweight
Lithium iron phosphate batteries have a compact size and high power density. They are lightweight and have no memory effect. Lithium iron phosphate batteries don’t require priming, and less maintenance is required for their care. They are gaining fame due to their small size, lightweight, stability at high temperatures and low cost.
4: High Safety & Efficiency
No downtime and fast charging make lithium iron phosphate more efficient and safe to use. These batteries can deliver a high discharge pulse rate in a short time and have constant discharge voltage. The chemical and thermal stability make lithium iron phosphate batteries more reliable and safe.
5: Withstand Extreme Weather Condition & Temperature
These batteries can withstand extreme weather conditions and temperature, and the battery remains cool at high temperatures. They don’t have thermal runaways and don’t explode when they overheat or overcharge.
6: Good Storage & Suitable for Various Applications
Lithium iron phosphate batteries use for various applications such as electronic machines, military, medical applications, and electric motors. For a cheap battery alternative, these batteries can be a good choice. Safe iron phosphate chemistry and no recycling procedure make these batteries cheaper than LiPo and Li-ion batteries.
Lithium iron phosphate batteries also have some drawbacks/disadvantages.
Disadvantages of LiFePO4
These batteries have a low nominal voltage that reduces energy.
You have to face balancing issues with aging, and they are a high self-discharging rate compared to other batteries.
Lithium iron phosphate/ LFP batteries have a low energy density, and more protection is required.
These batteries don’t perform well at low temperatures and need more protection and care.
Transportation and aging effects are also common in lithium iron phosphate batteries.
One of the drawbacks of LPF is deep discharge and low density. These flaws make these batteries unfit for small devices such as smartphones. Therefore mainly, these LFP batteries are used in LEV (low emission vehicles) and electric bikes.
To Sum Up
If you purchase an LFP battery, it is essential to know its pros and cons and whether it fulfills your requirements. It helps you in saving money and time. Buy an LFP battery from an authentic supplier to avoid any quality problems in the future.
Discover the benefits of LiFePO4 batteries
Are you looking for a LiFepo4 batteries? At Intercel you will find the lithium iron phosphate battery you need. This type of battery is safe, reliable and has a long service life. Discover the many advantages of LiFePO4 batteries or order the battery you need right away from our broad assortment!
What are LifePO4 batteries?
LiFePO4 batteries are composed of lithium, iron and phosphate. It is a battery with a high energy density in relation to its volume and weight, and is highly resistant to extreme temperatures. Compared to other well-known lithium battery technologies, such as LiCoO2 (lithium oxide cobalt), LiFePO4 provides more safety. Where other lithium batteries can ignite when overcharged, this is not an issue with LiFePO4 batteries. The battery has many advantages over other battery types.
Advantages of lithium iron phosphate batteries
As mentioned, lithium iron phosphate batteries have many advantages. We list them for you:
Utilize more than the full capacity
A LiFePO4 battery can deliver more than 100% of its nominal capacity. A 100 Ampere-hour (Ah) LiFePO4 battery, for example, can deliver more than 100 Ah. A 100 Ah lead-acid battery only has a usable capacity of between 30 and 50 Ah.
LiFePO4 batteries last more than 2000 cycles with an average discharge of 100%. This can even go up to 8500 cycles if the battery is discharged to 30%! LiFePO4 batteries are thus real cyclical powerhouses that continue where other batteries stop. In comparison: a traditional lead-acid battery lasts 300-500 cycles at most. The long lifespan makes a LiFePO4 battery a smart economic choice as well!
Great ease of use
To achieve the lifespan given above, virtually no maintenance is required. This is a huge difference with traditional lead batteries, where correct use and maintenance play a huge role. LiFePO4 batteries, on the other hand, can be discharged to 100% and don’t need to be fully charged. This saves you a lot of worry!
Quick and easy charging
LiFePO4 batteries charge quickly to 100% of their full capacity. With a normal charger, charging only takes one hour. With a powerful charger, lithium iron phosphate batteries can even be fully charged within half an hour. If the battery is not 100% charged, this doesn’t damage the battery or affect its use – an important advantage over lead-acid batteries, where incomplete charging can lead to damage. Also, lithium iron phosphate batteries don’t have an absorption phase to charge the last 20% of the battery. Thanks to the ‘Battery Management System’ all the cells are charged evenly. After charging, the battery is immediately ready for use. This makes this battery type very easy and flexible to apply.
LiFePO4 batteries can withstand extreme temperatures. The loss of capacity is minimal. At a temperature of -20 ˚C, the capacity of a LiFePO4 battery is still 80%, while lead-acid batteries can only 30% deliver of their capacity. Additionally, lithium iron phosphate batteries also work excellently in great heat.
Flat discharge curve
Batteries with this specific composition have an almost flat discharge curve. This means they always deliver the same output, whether they’re fully charged or almost discharged. Even if they are already deeply discharged, LiFePO4 batteries can still deliver a very powerful peak load.
Low weight, compact size
Compared to lead-acid batteries, LiFePO4 batteries are very light and small: they only weigh a quarter of comparable lead-acid batteries. Due to their compact dimensions, they can be placed almost anywhere. In addition, they can be placed in any position you want, because there is no risk of leakage. Also, the space where the LiFePO4 battery is placed doesn’t need to be ventilated.
LiFePO4 batteries applications
These versatile batteries are suitable for a wide range of applications and uses. From maritime applications to traffic systems and from energy storage systems to off-grid standalone systems. Curious whether LiFePO4 batteries are also the solution for your application? Feel free to contact our sales engineers!
LiFePO4 batteries at Intercel
Intercel supplies high-quality LiFePO4 batteries from the brands PBQ and Cellpower. The Cellpower batteries are modular. This means they are always custom engineered for your application. As a result, the battery and application are always perfectly in tune. PBQ batteries are standard available in various sizes and capacities, which means we can often deliver a quick and ready-made solution for your application.