Lead Acid vs. Lithium Ion (LiFePO4)
Automotive batteries come in two main types: lead-acid and lithium-ion. What does that mean? How do the two differ in performance and use?
Invented in 1859, lead-acid batteries are one of the earliest types of rechargeable batteries. They are the most widely used rechargeable battery.
A lead-acid battery has a high power density, which means it is able to release large amounts of power quickly. The battery’s larger power-to-weight ratio makes it ideal for automotive use because of the high current required by a vehicle’s starter motor.
A lead-acid battery consists of a number of cells. Each cell has positive and negative plates, separators and electrolyte, all contained in a battery container. Cells are densely packed with alternating lead and lead oxide sheets.
There are various types of lead-acid batteries, including wet flooded, gel, AGM, AGM spiral and calcium-calcium.
Lead is a dense metal, making lead-acid batteries heavy. A lead-acid car battery can range in weight from 30 to 50 pounds, depending on the size of the battery. The average car battery is 41 pounds (14 kg to 22 kg).
Lead-acid does not like deep cycling. Running a lead-acid battery to zero charge causes extra strain. Each cycle wears down the battery and depletes its service life. Completely discharging a lead-acid battery several times will cause lead sulfate to build up, killing the battery.
Periodic full charges are essential to prevent sulfation, and the battery must always be stored in a charged state. CTEK offers a complete line of chargers to maximize battery performance, including the CT5 Time to Go, which tells you how long before the battery is charged and ready to go and also displays an indicator to tell you when you can try to start your vehicle after a dead battery.
Lithium-ion batteries, also known as Li-ion batteries, were first commercially available in the 1970s. The battery’s automotive use is more recent. The Tesla Roadster, first delivered to customers in 2008, was the first highway legal all-electric car to use lithium-ion battery cells.
Lithium-ion batteries weigh nearly a third less than a traditional lead-acid battery. As a result, the battery has appeal for high-performance vehicles including sports cars and motorcycles.
In a lithium-ion battery, lithium ions move from a negative electrode to a positive during discharge and back when charging.
Lithium-ion batteries have high energy density and the potential for even higher capacities. In a lithium-ion battery, 80% of the power can be used before the battery is considered “flat.” In comparison, only 30% to 50% of the power in a lead-acid battery is used before that battery is depleted.
A lithium-ion battery has a battery management system that protects from under and overcharges, but the battery is susceptible to individual cell failure if not properly charged.
Lithium-ion batteries are sensitive to cold weather and output drops faster as temperatures decrease.
A lithium-ion battery is expected to last the life of a vehicle. To maintain the battery, CTEK offers the CTEK Lithium US charger. It’s patented eight-step program tests battery condition and charges and maintains to ensure maximum battery life and performance.
Regardless of if your vehicle uses a lead-acid or lithium-ion battery, using CTEK’s high-tech battery chargers to keep your car battery fully charged will mean the battery has a longer lifespan and can use energy more efficiently.
To find out which CTEK charger is right for your vehicle, use our Charger Selection Tool.