Lithium-Ion Battery Pros and Cons

For many years, the most popular rechargeable batteries have been lithium-ion batteries. Nickel-cadmium was usual before lithium-ion batteries appeared on the market, having a far greater energy density than lithium.

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There are many advantages to using a li-ion cell of the battery. As a result, they are used in many types of devices, such as smartphones and camper van electrical systems.

The battery is compact and lightweight. Lithium-ion batteries offer high energy density, allowing them to work with small cases, which means more space for other features on the device. They also deliver superior life compared to older models of rechargeable batteries.

Li-ion technology’s benefits ensure that these batteries are finding a growing number of applications, which is resulting in a significant amount of research and development.

The Li-ion battery advantages include:

  • Low maintenance: Lithium-ion batteries are a game-changer. Unlike other battery types, they don’t require extra care to prolong their lives. The batteries don’t need cycling and have no memory associated with them! Other batteries might require periodic discharge or topping up the battery fluid, which you can avoid when using lithium-ion. There’s also no priming requirement making these even more straightforward for use.
  • High energy density: Lithium-ion batteries are the best choice if you want your device to last longer between charges. They offer twice as much power density as other types. So one lithium-ion battery can hold more energy for a given weight or size compared with two lead-acid ones. This means that even though it takes slightly fewer cells in total. Your device will still be lighter and smaller than you’d expect.
  • Self-discharge Rate: Lithium-ion batteries are more versatile than other types of rechargeable batteries because they lose their charge much slower. You might see a 4 to 5 per cent drop right after it’s charged, but then the self-discharge rate drops down from 1 per cent per month for lithium-ion cells with high-quality components in them!
  • Variety of types: The variety of lithium-ion batteries makes it possible to use them in different applications. For example, your smartphone’s rechargeable battery has a very different power requirement than the one found inside your campervan electrical system.
  • Cell voltage: The voltage produced by each lithium cell is about 3.6 volts. The voltage range is from 1.5 volts to 4 volts. Lithium-ion cells are more powerful than nickel-cadmium or lead-acid batteries, which only have voltages between 2V and 3v per cell. It means that you need less of these types in your battery since they provide enough energy for basic use without draining too quickly like other options do when left unused over long periods.
  • Load characteristics: Loads of a lithium-ion cell or battery are good. Before the final charge is consumed, they maintain a constant 3.6 volts per cell, despite aging.
  • No requirement for priming: When a rechargeable battery gets its first charge, it must be primed. Lithium-ion batteries have the advantage of not requiring this since they are ready to use out of the box.
  • Lithium-ion claims to withstand more deep discharge cycles: Conventional lead-acid and AGM deep-cycle batteries have a typical lifespan of 500-600 cycles when discharged to 50 per cent or more of their rated capacity regularly. Vendors claim that Lithium-ion batteries can survive up to 2000 cycles if routinely discharged to 20% of capacity.
Yellow Truck with Lithium battery Bank

Lithium-ion battery Cons

There are several drawbacks to consider alongside the benefits when using Lithium-ion.

Although there are certain disadvantages to lithium-ion battery technology, excellent performance can still be had by overcoming or mitigating them.

Knowing the drawbacks allows for practical solutions to be incorporated into the design, reducing the impact of the flaws.

The Li-ion battery disadvantages include:

  • Requires protection: The most significant disadvantage of lithium-ion batteries is that they need to be protected from being overcharged and totally drained. It is usually done by incorporating protection BMS (battery management system) within the battery. The BMS restricts charging and discharging capabilities to ensure that they remain optimal.
  • Aging issues: One of the most significant disadvantages of consumer electronics lithium-ion batteries is their deterioration over time. It is not only determined by time, but it’s also influenced by the number of charge-discharge cycles undergone by the battery. Batteries typically only last 1000-2000 charge-discharge cycles before their ability degrades. The number of charge-discharge cycles that a battery can endure has increased over time, but they will need to be replaced after a while, and this might be a headache if they are incorporated into equipment.
  • Pricier: Another major lithium-ion battery disadvantage is their cost. Typically they are around 40% more to manufacture than other battery technology. This is a significant factor when companies consider their use in mass-produced consumer items where any additional costs are a major issue.
  • Developing technology: Lithium-ion batteries have been around for a long time, but they continue to be new technology by some people because it is still evolving. It can be a disadvantage in that the technology does not remain constant. However, as new lithium-ion technologies are created all the time, it may also be an advantage since better answers are becoming available.

Although this is not always the case, it’s reasonable to assume that lithium-ion batteries should be stored in a chilly environment to slow down the aging of lithium-ion. Manufacturers recommend storing at around 15°C. In addition, during storage, the battery should be half charged. The majority of manufacturers propose a charge level around 40% to 50%

There are several reasons why Li-ion battery technology is so promising. Technology is increasingly used, and this trend is expected to continue. Understanding both the benefits and drawbacks of lithium battery technology aids in optimizing its application.