Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4 or LFP) is a rechargeable battery technology that has become popular due to its safety, long lifespan, and efficiency. LiFePO4 batteries appear in various applications, including off-grid energy storage, backup power systems, portable electronics, and electric vehicles.
Lithium-ion batteries have become the norm in solar and off-grid power applications due to their vast advantages over lead-acid battery technology. Depending on usage patterns, they require little maintenance and operate for ten or more years.
LiFePO4 is a much newer option and is becoming the leading lithium battery technology because of its many benefits, and it’s all thanks to its unique chemical composition. Unlike traditional lithium-ion batteries, LiFePO4 batteries are nickel and cobalt free.
Read on to learn why LiFePO4 batteries are the best electricity storage option for many consumer applications and what LFP-powered backup and off-grid power options are available to you.
What Type of Battery Is a LiFePO4?
Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries are a unique type of lithium-ion battery. Compared to a standard lithium-ion battery, LiFePO4 technology offers several advantages. These include a longer life cycle, more safety, more discharge capacity, and less environmental and humanitarian impact.
LiFePO4 batteries deliver high power density. They can output high currents over a short period, allowing them to serve in applications that require short bursts of high power.
LFP batteries are ideal for powering home appliances, electric motors, and other energy-intensive devices. They’re also quickly replacing lead acid and traditional lithium-ion solar batteries in options like the EcoFlow Power Kits that provide all-in-one power solutions for motorhomes, tiny houses, and off-grid builds.
Benefits of LiFePO4 Batteries
LiFePO4 batteries outperform other technologies, including li-ion, lead-acid, and AGM.
The advantages of LiFePO4 include the following:
- Wide Operating Temperature Range
- Long Lifespan
- High Energy Density
- Safe Operation
- Low Self-Discharge
- Solar Panel Compatibility
- Does Not Require Cobalt
LiFePO4 batteries operate efficiently over a wide temperature range. Studies have shown that temperature significantly impacts lithium-ion batteries, and manufacturers have tried various methods to curb the impact.
LiFePO4 batteries have emerged as a solution to the temperature problem. They can function well in temperatures as low as -4°F (-20°C) and as high as 140°F (60°C). Unless you live in extremely cold locations, you can operate a LiFePO4 year-round.
Li-ion batteries have a narrower temperature range between 32°F (0°C) and 113°F (45°C). The performance will degrade significantly when the temperature is outside this range, and attempting to use the battery could result in permanent damage.
Compared to other lithium-ion technologies and lead-acid batteries, LiFePO4 has a much longer lifespan. LFP batteries can charge and discharge between 2,500 and 5,000 times before losing around 20% of their original capacity. Advanced options like the battery in the DELTA Pro Portable Power Station battery can go through 6500 cycles before reaching 50% capacity.
A cycle occurs each time you discharge and recharge a battery. The DELTA Pro can last ten years or more under normal operating conditions.
A typical lead-acid battery may only provide a few hundred cycles before a decline in capacity and efficiency occurs. This results in more frequent replacements, which wastes the owner’s time and money and contributes to e-waste.
Additionally, lead-acid batteries typically require considerable maintenance to operate effectively.
High Energy Density
LiFePO4 batteries have a high energy density, meaning they can store more power in less space than other battery chemistries. High energy density benefits portable solar generators since they are lighter and smaller than lead-acid and traditional lithium-ion batteries.
High energy density is also increasingly making LiFePO4 the go-to choice for EV manufacturers, as they can store more power while taking up less valuable space.
Portable power stations like the EcoFlow River 2 Pro exemplify this high energy density. It can power most high-wattage appliances while weighing only around 17 lbs (7.7 kg).
LiFePO4 batteries are safer than other lithium-ion batteries, as they offer greater protection against overheating and thermal runaway. LFP batteries also have a much lower risk of fire or explosion, which makes them ideal for residential installations.
In addition, they do not release hazardous gasses like lead-acid batteries. You can safely store and operate LiFePO4 batteries in enclosed spaces like garages or sheds, although some ventilation is still advisable.
LiFePO4 batteries have low self-discharge rates, meaning they do not lose their charge when unused for long periods. They’re ideal for battery backup solutions like the DELTA Pro Smart Extra Battery, which might only be necessary for occasional outages or temporarily expanding an existing system. Even if it sits in storage, it is safe to charge and set aside until needed.
Support Solar Charging
Some manufacturers that use LiFePO4 batteries in their portable power stations allow for solar charging with the addition of solar panels. LiFePO4 batteries can supply off-grid power to an entire home when attached to an adequate solar array.
The environmental impact was the main argument against lithium-ion batteries for a long time. Whereas companies can recycle 99% of the materials in lead-acid batteries, the same isn’t true for lithium-ion.
However, some companies have figured out how to recycle lithium batteries, creating promising changes in the industry. Solar generators with LiFePO4 batteries can further reduce environmental impact when used in solar applications.
More Ethically Sourced Materials
Cobalt is a crucial material used in traditional lithium-ion batteries. Over 70% of the world’s cobalt comes from mines in the Democratic of Congo.
Labour conditions in DRC’s mines are so inhumane, often using child labour, that cobalt is sometimes referred to as the “blood diamond of batteries.”
LiFePO4 batteries are cobalt-free.
Frequently Asked Questions
The life expectancy of LiFePO4 batteries is around 2,500 to 5,000 cycles at a depth of discharge of 80%. However, some options, like the EcoFlow DELTA Pro, offer 6500 cycles until reaching 50% of the original capacity. Any battery loses efficiency and diminishes in capacity over time, but LiFePO4 batteries provide the most extended lifespan of any consumer battery chemistry.
LiFePO4 batteries are popular for solar applications due to their high energy density, low self-discharge rates, and long cycle life. They are also highly compatible with solar charging, making them an ideal choice for off-grid or backup power systems that utilise solar panels to generate solar energy.
LiFePO4 is the leading lithium battery technology, especially in backup power and solar systems. LifePO4 batteries also now power 31% of EVs, with industry leaders like Tesla and China’s BYD increasingly moving to LFP.
LiFePO4 batteries offer numerous advantages over other battery chemistries, including a longer lifespan, higher energy density, lower self-discharge, and superior safety.
Manufacturers like EcoFlow have implemented LiFePO4 batteries to support backup power systems and solar generators.
Shop EcoFlow today for a range of solar generators and power stations that use LiFePO4 batteries. They’re the ideal choice for a reliable, low-maintenance, and eco-friendly energy storage solution.