Charge a 12-Volt Lithium Battery
Unlike lead-acid batteries, 12-volt lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries have no gasses and are much lighter. They can also charge four times faster than sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries. These features make them a popular choice for golf carts, security alarms and other backup power applications. However, like any other battery, they must be properly charged and cared for to maintain their life expectancy.
While many lead-acid chargers have an equalization mode that is designed to equalize the chemical state of a battery when it’s discharged, lithium batteries do not need an equalization charge. In fact, applying an equalization charge to a 12 volt lithium battery can damage the cells beyond repair.
The reason is that a lithium battery has two electrodes that are separated by an electrolyte solution. During the charging process, lithium ions are released from the cathode and receives by the anode. The electrodes are like breathing, with ions flowing in and out.
How to Charge a 12-Volt Lithium Battery
Lithium-ion batteries contain a number of internal safety mechanisms that keep the electrodes from touching. As a result, they can only accept a limited amount of current during charging. Over time, this limits the number of charging cycles and reduces the battery’s ability to hold a charge. The number of charging cycles a battery can perform before it starts to lose its ability to hold a charge is a direct relationship to the battery’s lifespan.
There are a few important things to know about charging lithium batteries: Make sure the charger is designed for the battery’s chemistry. All lithium batteries require a charger that’s specifically designed for their chemistry. This includes Canbat lithium chargers, which feature built-in safety circuitry and a battery management system (BMS).
Don’t charge your lithium battery in cold weather. Lithium batteries rely on chemical reactions to work, and these reactions are slower in cold temperatures. As a result, lithium metal plating on the anode can occur if charged at high rates in cold temperatures.
Don’t charge a lithium battery beyond its maximum capacity rating. Lithium batteries have a maximum charge voltage limit that you should not exceed. This is called the “full charge open-circuit voltage” (OCV) or equivalently, the battery’s rated capacity.
Don’t use a trickle charger on a lithium battery. The constant current (CC) charging method used by trickle chargers can cause permanent damage to a lithium battery. CC-CV chargers, like the Canbat charger series, do not apply a constant current to the battery until it reaches the end of charge voltage set by you.
As a result, the battery can reach the maximum charge voltage before the current is cut off, which helps to preserve the battery’s electrode. This results in a longer lifespan and better performance than a lead-acid battery that’s charged with a trickle charger.