What is a LiFePO4 Battery?
It’s certainly been a chilly winter in many homes across the UK and Europe, and we’re already seeing lots of homeowners find intuitive ways to save money, this includes off-grid power systems utilising solar energy systems.
Whether these systems are powered by DIY (self-assembled) battery units, or pre-assembled units, we've helped thousands of homeowners transform their battery storage solutions over the last few months.
However, If you're right at the start of your journey, and not sure what a LiFePO4 battery is, or how they can help you take your power off-grid, you’re about to get an education so - buckle-up...
An introduction to LiFePO4 battery cells
LiFePO4 stands for Lithium Iron Phosphate. The name is derived from the chemical components Li - Lithium, Fe - Iron, PO4 - Phosphate.
Unlike 18650 Lithium-Ion batteries that use Cobalt as part of the chemical formulation, the LiFePO4 chemical make-up is slightly different; resulting in an increased power output, incredibly fast charging, an impeccable safety record and long cycle life.
These cells are also much more environmentally friendly, containing no harmful chemicals. The batteries can be recycled, with all of the parts, including the wiring, casing and electrodes used to make new LiFePO4 cells.
All of the EVE LiFePO4 battery cells sold here at Fogstar are blue, rectangular (or prismatic) in shape, and sold in three variants of capacity - 304AH, 280AH and 105AH. In the interests of transparency, we also sell both Grade A and Grade B variants - you can read more about the difference in these cells here.
LiFePO4 battery cells are also contained in our new Fogstar Drift leisure batteries. Those who are not competent electricians can save a whole lot of hassle buying a fully assembled unit without having to worry about wiring, busbars, bolts and BMS.
The Technical Specifications of LiFePO4 battery cells
LiFePO4 battery cells have a nominal voltage of 3.2V per cell, this means it would take four (4) LiFePO4 cells to make a 12.8V lithium battery.
The great thing about LiFePO4 batteries is that you can keep adding cells to your unit over time, with some people opting to build units of 16 cells (of 48V’s), or more!
What are LiFePO4 batteries used for?
These versatile powerhouses have a variety of different uses, although of the thousands we’ve sold so far, we know many have been used to assemble solar units.
They can also be used in campervans, caravans, boats/marine, golf buggies, electric wheelchairs, wind turbine systems, electric vehicles, telecoms systems, power back-up systems, off-grid power storage, CCTV systems - they are an adaptable battery indeed!
How complicated are LiFePO4 battery cells to use?
There is an element of complexity in using LiFePO4 battery cells, also known to many as Prismatic cells, and you do have to know what you are doing with them.
Many individuals using the cells are experts in constructing solar units or electrical power units. Many are self-taught in the art of constructing LiFePO4 batteries and members of online forums such as DIY Solar Forum (this is a great forum for anyone just getting started).
It is important you familiarise yourself with the specifications of the product and EVE LiFePO4 product guidance - speak to a member of our team to obtain this information.
What is a LiFePO4 BMS?
When assembled into a unit, prismatic cells should always be connected to a suitable Battery Management System (BMS).
A BMS is a critical component in any LiFePO4 battery enabling you to manage, optimise and oversee the health of the battery at all times. Fogstar stock three brands of BMS currently - JBD, JK and Daly, suitable for 4S - 16S configurations - 4S simply means 4 in series, or 4 cells.
A BMS will protect your LiFepo4 against issues such as;
- temperature instability
- cell imbalances
- over and under voltage
- current imbalances.
A decent BMS system will connect via Bluetooth to an App, allowing you to manage and control all of the battery parameters externally. Without a decent BMS connected, you run the risk of damaging your battery unit, yourself and your electronics - why run the risk?
LiFePO4 batteries look complicated to assemble and use…
We always advise that you do not purchase these cells unless you know what you are doing.
They can be dangerous if mishandled or misused. If you’re not confident charging, clamping, connecting, wiring the BMS and generally looking after the cells - we recommend you look for an alternative to prismatic cells.
Is there an alternative?
You’re in luck!
If you’re looking for a user-friendly way of going off-grid, without the hassle of wiring cells, connecting busbars and hooking up a BMS - check out our range of Drift leisure batteries. These LiFePO4 batteries come fully assembled and ready to go!
The Fogstar Drift lithium leisure batteries are manufactured using the very best EVE Grade A Prismatic cells (they’re contained within the unit!), built with an integrated BMS system, have built-in Heating, Bluetooth and an associated App for external battery management.
We have a wide range of leisure in both 12v to 24v, 105AH to 560AH in capacity.
Hopefully this blog has given you an introduction into our LiFePO4 prismatic cells. Since we opened pre-orders back in June we’ve been inundated with orders for these batteries - they are absolutely the future of off-grid energy storage, and with energy price rises showing no sign of slowing down, we do not anticipate this changing any time soon.
Do you have any questions about our LiFePO4 batteries or Fogstar Drift leisure batteries? Get in touch with our team any time, and we’ll be happy to help.