Lithium-ion vs Lithium polymer vs LiFePo4
Lithium-Ion technology has been in development since the early 1900’s. It is a lighter and more powerful option than lead-acid batteries but did not gain traction as a technology until the 1990’s. However, this technology is affected by aging and its performance diminishes over time, often whether it is used or not. Its uses are somewhat restricted, as it needs to be in a rectangular form factor. It is an affordable technology that is widely used in the electronics world and in the construction industry.
This technology is often rated for up to 2000 cycles at 80% depth of discharge and is the most cost effective form of lithium technology. However, due to cost, Lithium-Ion batteries often do not have a very sophisticated battery management system. They are also affected more by temperature than other lithium technologies.
Lithium Polymer technology is an improvement on Lithium-Ion as it can be made in several shapes in sizes, allowing it to be used in many small applications. It is not affected as much by aging. However, its long-term life is shorter than Lithium Ion and is often used in portable electronics. Thankfully lithium batteries are easy to recycle and there are many drop off points to have these batteries recycled.
This technology is also rated for up to 2000 cycles at 80% depth of discharge but its biggest advantage is that it can be built in a small package in any form. They are more resilient to temperature change than Lithium-Ion batteries but generally have a primitive battery management system to keep cost at a minimum. Generally this technology is restricted to mobile electronics and other small applications.
LiFePo4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate)
Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePo4) is a relatively new form of lithium technology that combines the lightweight and high power output of previous lithium technologies with a long-term life cycle. These batteries are best utilized in applications that will be used over and over again for a long time. It is often referred to as the “safest” lithium technology as it is very stable. However, it is the most expensive of the three main lithium technologies.
This technology is rated for 3000 cycles at 80% depth of discharge and is generally used for long-term installations. These batteries are extremely stable and perform well in a wide temperature range. The battery management systems that accompany this technology are generally more sophisticated than other technologies but are necessary to ensure that the batteries will be able to perform at their best over their entire life cycle.