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Lithium (Lifepo4) batteries on board?

We are all thinking about it. Should we switch on board your boat from standard batteries Lead,AGM or Gel to Lithium? And what should you consider then, what are the benefits and what does it provide. Rob Ramsey has explained all these questions in a series of articles. I had read one of his articles before but found it difficult to wait for the next one. Meanwhile, I have replaced my light group of 3x GEL 12v200AH for 2x 300 Ah, Lifepo4 iron phosphate batteries. Of course I don’t have lifetime experience in that myself now but if you don’t try you won’t get anywhere.

The 6 articles Rob Ramsey (sailing world) describes, and not in an hour but after 1-2 years of research, are clear and with illustrations. He builds it up nicely and leaves to you the choice of whether or not to do so and if so why. I have combined these 6 articles into 1 document and added nothing myself. There are several types of Lithium batteries, Rob doesn’t go into that much depth, but clearly uses Lifepo4 batteries based on lithium iron phosphate LiFe(PO4) as cathode. So don’t think too lightly about the type of battery because you might find a cheaper variant but mostly stick to Rob Ramsey’s story with Lifepo4 batteries. Also read my newsletter Winter ’23-’24

Here are the differences between Li-ion batteries and Lifepo4 batteries (lithium iron phosphate).

Li-ion batteries

Li-ion batteries use chemical compositions such as Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LiCoO2) and Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (LiNiMnCoO2). These chemical compositions can suffer from thermal instability. This means that if overheated, the battery can catch fire or even explode. To prevent this, a Battery Management System (BMS) is fitted in most cases. This system switches off the overheated or damaged cells in the battery when something happens in the battery that could cause permanent damage. Think of overheating or deep discharge where the battery is discharged below its minimum capacity.

LiFe(PO4) batteries

LiFe(PO4) batteries use lithium iron phosphate LiFe(PO4) as a cathode. These natural raw materials ensure that these batteries are not harmful to the environment. In addition, the chemical arrangement of LiFe(PO4) lithium batteries is more stable and incombustible. This means it is more resistant to overheating and other abuse. Óóeven in these batteries, a Battery Management System (BMS) is used in most cases to ensure safety and prevent damage. LiFe(PO4) batteries are thus more environmentally friendly but, above all, safer than Li-ion batteries.

In the right corner, the download arrow also allows you to download or print this pdf.

Peter Mantel

Gepensioneerd uit de luchtvaart. Avonturen met de Asmara. Ik zeil met mijn tweemast kotter van de Noordzee tot de Oostzee

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