Why is lithium-ion all the rage at the moment and is it worth it?

Why is lithium-ion all the rage at the moment and is it worth it?

If you’re new to batteries, or not so new but need some refreshing, let’s start with the batteries available and their advantages and disadvantages.

Looking at four types of UPS batteries:

  • Sealed Lead-Acid (SLA) / Valve Regulated Lead-Acid (VRLA)
  • Advanced Lead-Carbon (ALC)
  • Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd)
  • Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) 

Sealed Lead-Acid UPS Batteries 

These are the most common battery used when it comes to UPS systems. Over time they have shown to be reliable and the most cost-effective option. We commonly use sealed lead acid batteries which are also able to be moved and stored vertically or horizontally which suits various applications.

Cons of SLA batteries are their weight and size, so they are great in applications where size and weight are not an issue. 

Advanced Lead-Carbon UPS Batteries 

The accumulation of lead sulphate within a Sealed Lead-Acid battery due to partial charge and aging is often the cause of failure. Advanced lead-carbon (ALC) solves this by adding carbon to the negative plate and improving charge and discharge performance.

ALC batteries have the same cons with their weight and size. 

Nickel-Cadmium UPS Batteries  

This option used to be very popular and although they are used in some applications, they are no longer commonly used in UPS systems.

Advantages to Nickel-Cadmium batteries is the 20-years design life and the vast temperature range the batteries can operate in.

Cons of these batteries are the costs associated with the initial purchase and in disposing and recycling due to nickel and cadmium being toxic materials. 

Lithium Iron Phosphate UPS Batteries 

These batteries have been used for a number years in other devices and recently there has been a demand for lithium-ion in a UPS application. Advantages of Lithium-Ion batteries include their energy density, lighter weight, design life and the ability to charge more efficiently and in less time.

Cons of this option would be the cost, despite decrease costs recently they are still significantly more expensive than the VRLA option. Much like the Nickel-Cadmium batteries, there is a cost associated with disposal. There are issues with regards to transportation of Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries which could also have a significant impact on the disposal costs.

Overall, is it worth it?

That would depend on the individual application that is required, if weight and size are an issue and there is a larger budget available, they could be a viable option.

We have a large range of our UPS solutions that are compatible with lithium-ion batteries, for more information please contact us.