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Lithium Battery Vs Lead-Acid Battery

Lithium Battery

When it comes to choosing the right battery for your application, you likely have a list of conditions you need to fulfill. How much voltage is needed, what is the capacity requirement, cyclic or standby, etc.
Once you have the specifics narrowed down you may be wondering, “do I need a lithium battery or a traditional sealed lead acid battery?” Or, more importantly, “what is the difference between lithium and sealed lead acid?” There are several factors to consider before choosing battery chemistry, as both have strengths and weaknesses.


The most notable difference between lithium iron phosphate and lead acid is the fact that the lithium battery capacity is independent of the discharge rate. The figure below compares the actual capacity as a percentage of the rated capacity of the battery versus the discharge rate as expressed by C (C equals the discharge current divided by the capacity rating) With very high discharge rates, for instance, .8C, the capacity of the lead acid battery is only 60% of the rated capacity.

Therefore, in cyclic applications where the discharge rate is often greater than 0.1C, a lower-rated lithium battery will often have a higher actual capacity than the comparable lead acid battery. This means that at the same capacity rating, the lithium will cost more, but you can use lower-capacity lithium for the same application at a lower price. The cost of ownership when you consider the cycle, further increases the value of the lithium battery when compared to a lead acid battery.

The second most notable difference between SLA and Lithium is the cyclic performance of lithium. Lithium has ten times the cycle life of SLA under most conditions. This brings the cost per cycle of lithium lower than SLA, meaning you will have to replace a lithium battery less often than SLA in a cyclic application.


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Lithium’s performance is far superior to SLA in high-temperature applications. In fact, lithium at 55°C still has twice the cycle life as SLA does at room temperature. Lithium will outperform lead under most conditions but is especially strong at elevated temperatures.
Cycle life vs various temperatures for LiFePO4 batteries


Cold temperatures can cause significant capacity reduction for all battery chemistries. Knowing this, there are two things to consider when evaluating a battery for cold-temperature use: charging and discharging. A lithium battery will not accept a charge at a low temperature (below 32° F). However, an SLA can accept low current charges at a low temperature.

Conversely, a lithium battery has a higher discharge capacity at cold temperatures than SLA. This means that lithium batteries do not have to be overdesigned for cold temperatures, but charging could be a limiting factor. At 0°F, lithium is discharged at 70% of its rated capacity, but SLA is at 45%.

One thing to consider in cold temperatures is the state of the lithium battery when you want to charge it. If the battery has just finished discharging, the battery will have generated enough heat to accept a charge. If the battery has had a chance to cool down, it may not accept a charge if the temperature is below 32°F.


1) Weight: MK Lithium batteries typically weigh one-third less and provide up to 50% more energy than traditional flooded AGM, or GEL lead-acid batteries, and they provide more power.
2) Efficiency: Lithium batteries are nearly 100% efficient in both charge and discharge, allowing for the same amp hours both in and out. Lead acid batteries’ inefficiency leads to a loss of 15 amps while charging and rapid discharging drops voltage quickly and reduces the batteries’ capacity.
3) Discharge: Lithium batteries are discharged 100% versus less than 80% for lead acid. Most lead acid batteries do not recommend more than 50% depth of discharge.
4) Cycle Life: Rechargeable MK Lithium batteries cycle 5,000 times or more, and higher rates of discharge minimally affect cycle life. Lead-acid batteries typically deliver only 300-500 cycles, as higher levels of discharge greatly reduce cycle life.
5) Voltage: Lithium batteries maintain their voltage throughout the entire discharge cycle. This allows for greater and longer-lasting efficiency of electrical components. Lead acid voltage drops consistently throughout the discharge cycle.
6) Cash In On Performance: While lithium batteries may cost more upfront, the long-term savings are tremendous. Lithium batteries deliver greater performance and longer life than lead-acid batteries. This means fewer replacement and labor costs and less downtime.
7) Environmental Impact: Lithium batteries are a much cleaner technology and are safer for the environment.
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