CHARGING LITHIUM BATTERIES
Can I use my battery charger for charging 12V lithium batteries? The answer depends on the charger you’ve got.
WHAT'S ALL THE HYPE ABOUT?
You’ve spent good money and invested in a lithium battery. Most likely you have got what is called a LiFePO4 battery – Lithium Iron Phosphate.
You bought it beacuase of all the amazing features of the lithium battery. They are lighter, faster to charge, have higher capacity, more cycles and, finally, they are better for the environment. Moreover, while their initial cost is higher compared to lead-acid batteries, they will pay you back with high reliability, efficiency, and longer battery life. However, you will enjoy the benefits of your 12V lithium battery only if you look after it.
So what should you do to maximise all the features of a lithium battery so you can get out and power your adventures?
Can’t I just use any charger for my battery?
Difference between lead-acid and lithium batteries
A standard lead-acid battery has been around for over 150 years. It has limited features compared to a lithium battery, as well as different construction and chemistry. A lead-acid battery is purely made up of a chemical reaction with lead plates with no electronic controls. It is charged in three stages – constant-current charge, or bulk, topping charge (absorption), and float charge.
Lithium batteries are made up of multiple internal sealed cells and a battery management system that controls and monitors these cells. Electronic controls are generally called a BMS (Battery Management System). BMS manages the cells during the charging process, unlike a lead-acid battery where the battery is “seen” as one cell.
Lithium compatible battery charger
To enjoy a more reliable power source when camping, you need a lithium suitable battery charger. Such battery charger has a dedicated charging profile for lithium batteries. It utilises Constant Current (CC) followed by Constant Voltage (CV) to a particular capacity. Once the current drops to a particularly low-level, charge will be stopped. Unlike lead acid batteries, leaving lithium batteries on a float (trickle) charge is not ideal. Lithium suitable battery charger allows fast charging without the risk of over-charging.
We would discourage you from charging 12V lithium batteries with your standard battery charger. LifePO4 compatible battery chargers will prolong the life of your new battery and will allow you to go and explore the wild and beautiful country of ours.
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