Lithium ion batteries have taken the market by force since the 1980’s, largely replacing lead acid batteries (invented back in 1859) as well as nickel cadmium rechargeable batteries for many applications. Lithium is now the standard for laptops, cordless power tools, and a host of other common uses.
Many people even invest in a custom battery pack using lithium-ion to maximize the benefits with their particular device.
Lithium ion batteries are projected to be a more than $7 billion industry by 2020, and their future looks bright and secure for decades to come. So why is this kind of battery so popular? Here are 5 of the most important advantages that lithium-ion has to offer:
1. More Powerful
The movement of lithium ions in battery cells creates and stores much more power than most other types of battery. This means you can get the “gusto” needed to run power tools and keep cell phones and laptops going for longer.
Higher energy density gives lithium batteries a huge advantage in the marketplace. For many high-energy applications or where you need to travel without constantly recharging every few hours, this is really the only acceptable battery type.
2. Long Durability
All batteries, unfortunately, suffer from what is called “self-discharge.” This means that a battery will gradually lose its charge over a period of time even when it is not being used. The advantage with lithium-ion is that their self-discharge rate is very low, lower than nickel-cadmium, for example.
Who wants to buy new batteries any more often than necessary? No one. If you have an application you need to work reliably but that doesn’t get frequent use – lithium ion’s low self-discharge rate is extremely helpful.
3. No Priming Necessary
Some rechargeable batteries require you to “prime” them before the first use. With nickel-cadmium, for example, this means “trickle charging” newly bought batteries for 24 hours. This is needed to remedy any dry spots caused by gravity and to equalize the charge across cells since cells self-discharge at different rates.
With lithium ion batteries, you can use them immediately out of the box. Just charge it up normal and go, that’s it!
4. Low Maintenance
There is little to no maintenance required with lithium ion batteries, which is a big advantage. This is not the case with nickel cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries, which have to be periodically allowed to fully discharge in order to avoid “the memory effect.”
The memory effect refers to batteries seeming to remember some less than fully charged point on the charge scale, and getting stuck there. This means your battery never gets up to full charge and you have to charge it more often until you “do maintenance.”
5. Greater Variety
Lithium ion comes in a greater degree of variety than most of their counterparts. High current density lithium ion is great for mobile electronics, while still more powerful models are better for power tools or for e-cars. There is always the possibility of custom ordering to fit your exact needs.
There are some disadvantages of lithium ion batteries too, like the need for a protection circuit to keep voltage/current levels safe, the need to store these batteries in a cool location, and the higher price tag compared to some other options.
But all in all, the pros far outweigh the cons and make lithium ion battery packs a wise investment. In fact, in today’s economy, there are many electronic devices that you can’t even find with any other battery type than lithium ion because almost all manufacturers (and consumers) agree that lithium is the best choice.