What is LiFePO₄?
Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO₄ or “LFP”) is the safest and most stable cathode material for lithium-ion batteries, offering optimal electrochemical performance and low resistance.
Is LiFePO4 Battery Better Than Lithium-Ion?
The short answer is yes; LiFePO4 batteries are better than traditional lithium-ion batteries for several reasons. LiFePO4, also called LFP, is more efficient, has more charging cycles, lasts longer, is far safer, and has much fewer environmental and social impacts than traditional lithium-ion, also called NMC batteries.
Let’s look at the reasons why LiFePO4 batteries are superior to lithium-ion or NMC.
Why Are Lifepo4 Batteries Better Than Lithium-Ion Batteries?
LiFePO4 batteries outshine traditional lithium-ion batteries in several key aspects, making them a preferred choice for various applications. keep reading:
LiFePO4 Batteries are Safer Because They are More Chemically Stable
Traditional lithium-ion chemistry has led people to believe all lithium batteries are dangerous. They are made of less stable cobalt cathodes that, when subjected to overcharging, overheating, damage, or other stresses, begin to break down, releasing excessive heat, potentially leading to thermal runaway and ignition. Those images you have seen of exploding or burning lithium batteries online are of this kind.
On the other hand, LiFePO4 technology uses much more stable phosphate (PO4) bonds that release their oxygen atoms more slowly, thus preventing thermal runaway and ignition in all but the most extreme cases (for instance, don’t put them next to a fire).
More Charging Cycles = Longer Lifespan
LiFePO4 batteries also boast a higher number of charging cycles, meaning they will last longer because you can charge them more times.
Most LFPs can be charged at least 3000 times before they show any significant sign of reduced capacity. Under optimal conditions, they can even be charged twice that many times, so they will last you for many years.
While lithium-ion models have much higher charging cycles than traditional lead-acid, they can only be charged between 1000 - 2300 times, so they will not last as long as an LFP battery.
The energy density of a battery refers to how much energy can be stored by weight.
Compared to lead acid batteries, LiFePO4 will store the same amount of power in 50% less volume, making them much smaller and lighter.
However, this is a category where NMC wins out since the energy density of LFP is about 14% lower than that of lithium-ion batteries made with cobalt. The difference is not that large, and compared to lead acid, they are both great. Purchasing a slightly larger LFP battery can give you that slightly higher total capacity if necessary.
Since LFPs have a slightly lower energy density, they also have a slightly lower voltage (about 3.2V per cell) than an NMC battery, meaning you need more cells to achieve the same voltage. However, lithium-ion typically has about 3.7V per cell, so the difference is not that large. Again, you can still get that little bit of extra power if you need it by purchasing a slightly larger battery.
The operating temperature of a battery is the temperature range at which it will continue to operate properly.
LiFePO4 can operate well at temperatures between -20°C (- 4°F) and 60°C (140°F). On the other hand, lithium-ion has a much narrower operating temperature, operating best between 15°C (59°F) and 35°C (95°F). This is particularly important if you want your batteries to work in those cold Canadian winters. In that case, the newer LFP models are the clear winner.
The optimal storage temperature is about the same range as the operating temperature. For an NMC battery, this means they are best stored between 15°C (59°F) and 35°C (95°F). Storing them in cooler temperatures means the chemical reactions within them will slow down, and they will start to lose some of their capacity. Storing lithium-ion batteries above 35°C (95°F) can become a serious safety hazard since they are notoriously prone to thermal runaway and ignition (combustion and explosion).
On the other hand, LiFePO4 can be stored between -20°C (- 4°F) and 60°C (140°F), giving you a much broader safer storage window without losing capacity or causing thermal runaway or ignition.
LiFePO4 batteries have a low self-discharge rate, losing only about 2% of their power each month when in storage. This makes them the best choice for home backup systems, where they may be stored for months at a time before they need to be used. Thanks to their low discharge rate, they will still have power when you need it the most.
The self-discharge rate for a lithium-ion battery is about twice that of a LiFePO4 battery or about 4% per month. However, this is still incredibly low compared to lead-acid batteries that self-discharge at about 30% per month, making them a very poor choice for a home backup system.
Because they are made with newer technology, a LiFePO4 battery used to cost more to purchase than the older NMC models. However, their demand has dramatically increased because they are also better batteries, so they are being manufactured more now than ever. As a result, their cost has dropped rapidly. In 2023, LFP batteries became cheaper than NMC, costing 32% less on average. That’s great news for us and the environment!
Environmental and Social Costs
While both batteries are made with lithium, NMC batteries also contain toxic cobalt and nickel, so their environmental costs are much higher. Extracting these metals is very energy-intensive, and the processes used can be incredibly harmful to the environment and local communities.
Cobalt mining, in particular, is not only environmentally costly but also associated with serious social costs in the Democratic Republic of Congo and central Africa, where most of the world’s reserves are found. There, cobalt mining is associated with higher rates of violence, substance abuse, food and water insecurity, and physical and mental health problems. Additionally, farmers are losing their homes and land, which are being demolished and dug up to extract the cobalt.
LiFePO4 batteries use no cobalt or nickel and instead use much more readily available and environmentally friendly iron and phosphate.
Related articles: Battery Capacity: A Guide to Understanding
Home Backup Power Using LiFePO4 Batteries
If you are looking for reliable home backup power that will always be ready when you need it, then backup power that uses LiFePO4 batteries is the way to go. You never know when your power might go out from technical malfunctions, accidents, or extreme weather events. LFP batteries will set your mind at ease because you know you will always have a backup plan that will work!
Let’s take a look at one of the most popular home backup options made by BLUETTI.
BLUETTI AC300 + 1*B300 Whole Home Battery Backup
The BLUETTI AC300 + 1*B300 Whole Home Battery Backup is the perfect choice for those looking for a quality, reliable whole home backup solution to get you through those cold Canadian winters if you have a blackout caused by winter storms.
Since they are expandable, adding up to 3 additional B300 expansion batteries, you can get enough power to run an entire home with numerous appliances, even a dryer!
- 3,000W AC Pure Sine Wave Inverter (6,000W Surge)
- 3,072Wh Capacity (Expandable w/ up to 4 × B300 for 12,288Wh)
- LiFePO4 Battery with 3,500+ Life Cycles to 80%
- 240V Split Phase Bonding ( With *2 AC300 & *2 B300 )
- 24/7 UPS Home Backup
- 7 Ways to Recharge (AC/Solar/Car/Generator/Lead-acid Battery/Dual AC/AC+Solar)
- 2400W Max Solar Input
- 5400W Max Super Fast Dual Charging (Solar + AC)
If your blackout lasts for days, you can easily connect your BLUETTI AC300 to some BLUETTI PV420 Solar Panels and keep your home running indefinitely, so you never have to worry about power outages again.
Portable Power Solutions Using LiFePO4 Batteries
If you want something more portable, you won’t want to look any further than portable power stations that use superior LiFePO4 technologies. These will allow you to stay powered indoors and outdoors in all kinds of weather and all kinds of places. With LFP technology, there are virtually no limits!
BLUETTI AC180 Solar Portable Power Station
If you are looking for a more portable power solution for use indoors or outdoors, on the road, working or playing outdoors, or for emergency situations where you may need to move your power around, the BLUETTI AC180 Solar Portable Power Station is a proven winner.
Weighing only 16.4kg (36.16lbs), it's light enough to pick up and pack wherever needed. You can charge multiple devices simultaneously with its 11 AC, DC, USB-A, and USB-C output ports.
Thanks to its 1,800W capacity and 2,700W power lifting mode, this portable model still packs a lot of power into a small device. It can run high-power devices like space heaters, hair dryers, electric kettles, electric blankets, and more. That’s a lot of versatility in a small package!
- 1,800W AC Output / 2,700W Power Lifting Mode
- Capacity: 1,152Wh (AC180) / 1,440Wh (AC180P)
- 11 Output Ports for Multiple Devices
- Flexible 4 Recharging Ways (AC/Solar/Car/Generator)
- Smart Control & Monitor with BLUETTI App
- 0-80% Recharging in 45Mins with 1,440W AC Input
LiFePO4 Batteries Offer Superior Performance
Clearly, LiFePO4 batteries offer superior performance in almost every category. First and foremost is probably their superior safety, being incredibly safe to use and store under a much wider range of conditions than the older lithium-ion models.
LFPs have a lower self-discharge rate and more charging cycles, giving them a longer lifespan. They also have fewer environmental and social costs thanks to their cleaner battery chemistry, and now they even cost less than ever before!
The only areas the lithium-ion outperforms are the related properties of energy density and voltage. However, since the difference is minimal, you can buy a slightly bigger battery if you need a little extra power. The extra money spent will easily be offset by the larger savings in its longer lifespan and its versatility in performance compared to NMC.
Buying quality LiFePO4 batteries will guarantee you have lots of power for years to come!