The Best Battery for Cold Weather Applications

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A reliable power source is one of the most important things you can have under extreme conditions. You should know how cold weather affects batteries before you decide which one is best for your situation. In cold weather, it can be treacherous to live off-grid, and you need to be sure that you have everything you need. However, lead-acid batteries tend to perform less well than their lithium counterparts. For anyone who wants to explore places where temperatures can drop to frigid temperatures, lithium batteries make a great power source. We examine in this article why lithium batteries are the best option and how our SLAR series batteries are superior in cold weather.

Are lithium batteries effective in cold weather?

It is possible to use LFP batteries in temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Off-grid solar, RV, and Camper Van owners live and travel in extremely cold climates, so lithium batteries offer a reliable, consistent source of power. If you own a battery, you must keep in mind that cold temperatures can harm the battery’s health. Typically, lead-acid batteries are severely damaged by the cold, which severely deteriorates their health and longevity. Lithium batteries perform better in colder temperatures than lead-acid batteries. Typically, the more power you pull from a lead-acid battery in cold temperatures, the weaker it becomes. As you use LFP batteries, their resistance decreases and their voltage increases. In cold climates, lithium is the clear winner when it comes to upgrading or overcoming battery problems.

Does cold weather affect lithium battery life?

Despite being lithium-powered, cold weather can affect battery life. Lead-acid batteries will provide 70-80% of their rated capacity when temperatures are below 32 degrees. On the other hand, at the same temperature, lithium batteries provide 95-98% of their rated capacity with very small losses.

Anodes, the negative terminal of the battery, are made of porous graphite, which absorbs lithium ions like a sponge when charged above freezing temperatures. As a result, the anode cannot capture lithium ions effectively below freezing. A process called lithium plating causes many lithium ions to coat the anode, reducing the amount of lithium available for electricity flow. As a result, the battery’s capacity decreases. When the battery is charged below freezing at an inappropriate rate, it becomes less mechanically stable and more susceptible to sudden failure.

During freezing charging, lithium ions get lost while navigating to “work” within the graphite anode. Plating occurs when these ions do not intercalate, which reduces battery capacity and increases resistance. Charging in freezing temperatures can result in plating. A dangerous short within the cell can occur if enough plating builds up and punctures the separator.

How To Charge Lithium Batteries In Cold Weather

In cold weather, charging requires a different protocol and is imperative if you want your investment to last. When the temperature drops, nearly every battery requires a more involved charging process. In comparison to lithium, lead-acid batteries have a narrower range of charging conditions. However, both batteries must be charged at a slower rate than usual while within their respective temperature ranges.

It is proportional to the charging rate that the battery suffers damage when it is charged at colder temperatures. If the temperature is between 32°F and 14°F, batteries cannot be charged at higher than .1C, but this is seldom feasible. If the temperature falls between 14°F and -4°F, batteries cannot be charged at higher than .05C. Due to the fact that you may not know how cold it can get during a charging cycle, these charging rates will definitely increase charging duration and complicate the entire process. In some situations, you could go to sleep in 40-degree weather and wake up to a cold snap at 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Your battery could suffer irreversible damage if you charged at a higher rate overnight.

It is important not to charge your batteries when they fall below freezing without reducing the charge current when the temperature falls below freezing. It can be difficult to accomplish this unless your BMS communicates with your charger, and your charger can respond to the data it receives. The charge current must be 5-10% of the battery’s capacity if you charge below freezing.

What is the most efficient battery for cold weather?

The SLAR Series lithium batteries from Redway Power have cold-weather performance and can charge continuously at temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit  or -20 degree Celsius without a reduction in current. On the other hand, lithium-ion battery that is charged at a temperature below zero will permanently damage it. In the past, the only solution was to have the battery above freezing temperatures before attempting to recharge it without a Battery Management System (BMS) communicating to a charger that is programmed to reduce the current. At that time, you can recharge batteries only by putting them in a warmer environment or by wrapping them in a thermal blanket.

There’s no need to sacrifice battery performance because of cold weather. Redway Power‘s SLAR Series batteries are designed to keep you comfortable and warm this winter. For more information about upgrading your setup to our cold weather batteries, please contact a Redway Power representative.

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