Pros and Cons of Lithium-Ion Versus Lead-Acid Batteries

Pros and Cons of Lithium-Ion Versus Lead-Acid Batteries

January 26, 2022 Off By Hoofer

Whether you need it for a golf cart or RV, for living off the grid or for backup power in emergency situations, batteries make a big difference. But not all batteries are created equal, and some are better for certain things than others. If you need to decide how to provide portable power to your projects and systems, here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of lithium-ion versus lead-acid batteries.

Lead-Acid Batteries: The Good

Traditional lead-acid batteries have proven their worth for decades, providing power where and when you need it. They’re cheaper than lithium-ion batteries as well and require little maintenance or upkeep beyond the occasional refill of distilled water. They’re simple to understand, easy to install and replace, and extremely strong and durable. Some devices, like car starters, may strictly require lead-acid batteries.

Lead-Acid Batteries: The Not-So-Good

The name says it all where cleanliness and safety issues are concerned. Disposing of a spent lead-acid battery releases dangerous chemicals into the environment and requires special disposal. Rechargeable lead-acid batteries charge very slowly as well, to an irritating degree, so expect extra-long wait times between charges. Storage can also be a problem because of sulfation, the chemical process called in which crystals begin to form unless you keep the battery charged; sulfation can ruin the battery. You can also risk spills with flooded-type batteries.

Lithium-Ion Batteries: The Good

Lithium-ion batteries are used in many applications and come with an assortment of benefits. For one thing, they charge more quickly and hold a charge longer than a lead-acid battery. They can be repeatedly charged and discharged with no negative effects on the battery’s quality. Unlike lead-acid batteries, they don’t need to be fully discharged before charging them again. While not perfectly green, lithium-ion batteries require fewer resources and don’t contain lead.

Lithium-Ion Batteries: The Not-So-Good

One of the first issues with lithium-ion batteries is the cost. They’re much more expensive than traditional batteries, so be prepared to budget for the price. Elevated temperatures can affect performance as well, so these batteries need to be kept cool. Also, they need to be monitored and protected from fully discharging or overcharging to retain their ability to generate and deliver power.

Those are the general pros and cons of lithium-ion versus lead-acid batteries. The best way to decide which is best for you and your purposes is to calculate how much power you’ll require, how easy it will be to recharge the batteries, and the amount you can spend on this purchase. Consult the manual or other information provided by the manufacturer of the device you intend to use before selecting a battery!