Charging Lithium Batteries

- Reprinted by permission - BMPRO (a Setec brand).

What’s all the hype about?  You’ve spent good money and invested in a Lithium battery.  Most likely what is called a LIPEFO4 battery – Lithium Iron Phosphate.  You’ve been sold on all the features such as lighter, faster to charge, higher capacity more cycles and better for the environment – now how do you look after it for the future to maximise all these features so you can get out and power your adventures. Can’t I just use any charger for my battery?

A standard lead-acid battery has a different construction and chemistry compared to a Lithium battery and this is why it has limited features compared to these newer batteries. Therefore to maximise these features which enable you to enjoy a more reliable power source when camping, a different charging requirement is essential.

Lithium batteries are made up of multiple internal sealed cells and then a battery management system that controls and monitors these cells.  A lead-acid battery, by comparison, is purely made up of a chemical reaction with lead plates with no electronic controls.  These electronic controls are generally called a BMS (Battery Management System). This BMS manages the cells during the charging process, unlike a lead-acid battery where the battery is “seen” as one cell.

A battery charger which has a dedicated charging profile for Lithium batteries 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.  Leaving Lithium batteries on a float charge is not ideal.