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Lithium vs AGM vs Nickel Cadmium (pocket plate) batteries

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Member level 5
Mar 9, 2012
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I am looking to use a 100-200ah battery for my inverter. There will be a charge and discharge cycle everyday. So in terms of safety, life cycles, cost, rugged usage, rapid charging and discharging, which is the best battery to use ?


Some tracks for help you:

if you need rapid charging and discharging, life cycles, the best is Lithium solution with a good choice of the cell technology.
This point is very important because exists a large reference of possible choice, it depend of the target (temperature, price, currents, cycles, size, availability, mounting, etc).
It dépends of your currents (charge and discharge rates) and différents parameters like min voltage and max voltage range fixed in BMS monitoring.
By example, if you use an NMC technology with max voltage fixed to 4.1V and min at 3.1V you can expected 4000 cycles for an HD2 (so 10 years theorically), but with 4.2V and 2.5V cycles down Under 1000.
If you choose LiFePO4 technology you can use it for heavy currents.
Generally applications are in 2 kinds: Power or Energy storage with large autonomous need.
Problem with Lithium vs other technology is essentially the price... weight and dimensions lowest are without contest the great advantage of the Lithium batteries.
Another advantage is leakage current and flat curves, voltage is more stable between 20% to 80% of full range, leakage around only few percent by year (on shelf).
If price is essential, choose AGM but cycles are for some hundred only and capacity for large current is Peukert dépendent, weight is heavy too.
Prefer NiMh vs NiCad, efficiency and capacity are better, but NiCad are best for large current.
You need also a special charger for NiCad or NiMh for special terminaison charge (dv/dt detection and temp sensor).


Of course you need a supervisor (BMS or PCM) for add all securities (Battery management system).

The best depends on your needs for reserve capacity, Depth of Discharge vs extended life cycle and overall cost of ownership for life of battery. Now Marine Lead Acid batteries may be cheapest, but LiPo may be better in future as costs go down in next decade.

If you choose twice the capacity you need so that SoC only drops 50% then you can gain 2x life in LiPo. in terms of total kA-h lifetime use.

Ni-Cad, although cheaper are becoming obsolete due to toxic disposal.

Lithium smallest, lead acid bigger but cheaper.
Be sure to use the new lithium, the ones that don't catch fire if they get overcharged , overdischarged.
NiCad is illegal in uk for all except emergency lighting.
But NiCad in theory more rugged than nimh. Nimh is smaller than NiCad though.
Lithium is best, but cost more and some are fire hazard

Nickel-Iron cells have lasted 100 years. They can be rehabbed.
If you keep the oil film on top of the electrolyte they should
never go bad. Their downside is high self discharge and low
current per size.

Cadmium didn't improve things any; the cylindrical NiCd battery
is really a bad joke.

Lithium has great density and low self discharge but can be
"emotionally needy" in terms of charge control. And nobody
really knows how long their real-world service life is, yet.
Accelerated life testing being a poor proxy for ignorance
and bad luck in the field.


is it for your personal needs or other goal?
200Ah in Lithium is huge expensive, but the best choice for duration if you take some adjustements.
What is voltage and current? tell us more of your application needs.

NiCad is illegal in uk for all except emergency lighting.
In Canada, most Chinese solar garden lights use a Ni-Cad battery and people throw them in the garbage when they fail after a couple of months. Some of them now use Ni-MH batteries.

Li-Ion-phospate are the best for cycling, but the price is about US$50 for 50Ahr per cell (3V),

Even with Li-Ion you will want to discharge only 66% to get good cycle life (>1500 cycles)

Pb-acid don't like high cycling or high temps (>25C) and are the same price over 5 years as you will be replacing them, but the initial price can be very cheap, you will want to discharge to only 50% to get any cycle life at all...

You can recharge Li-Ion to 4.00V/cell then stop, limit the recharge current to C/2 (e.g. 25A for 50Ahr blocks)
make sure no cells go below 2.7 or above 4.2V
Flooded Pb-acid can be equalise charged to even out all cells, ad they can take some overcharge abuse as long as you keep the water levels up.

Ni-Fe cells are kinda the Rolls-Royce of batteries, can take a lot of abuse and wide temp range - but are bigger and need float charging more than Pb-acid

As other posters have so thoroughly explained, there is no "best" battery.

Everything is a compromise between conflicting requirements, which include operating conditions, available size and weight, and of course cost.

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