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Table of Contents: Lithium Batteris & Cold Weather
Do Lithium Batteries Work in Cold Weather?
When it comes to lithium batteries and using them in cold weather, typically there are different rules for when you’re discharging them (taking energy out of the battery) and recharging them (putting energy into the battery).
Discharging a Lithium Battery in Cold Weather
Lithium batteries can be safely discharged over a wide range of temperatures, typically from -4°F to 140°F (–20°C to 60°C).
Compared to lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries perform better in colder temperatures. Generally, at 32°F (0°C), a lead-acid battery’s capacity is reduced by up to 50%. A lithium battery only undergoes about a 10% loss at the same temperature.
Recharging a Lithium Battery in Cold Weather
As I mentioned before, using/discharging a lithium battery below freezing is still possible. But, in most cases, regular lithium batteries should never be recharged if the temperature is below freezing (0°C / 32°F) because it can destroy the battery permanently.
Low-Temperature Disconnect Sensors
If you plan on having your lithium batteries in a cold environment, it’s a good idea to buy some with low-temperature disconnect sensors built into them. Also, some charge controllers come with a temperature sensor. These can be used to tell the charge controller not to charge the battery when the environment is too cold.
Charging Rate & Cold Weather
When charging a battery, the damage done to it is usually much worse the colder it gets.
So, if you must recharge a lithium battery below freezing temperatures and you want to prevent irreversible damage, you’ll typically want to reduce the charge current.
Charging at a much slower rate can reduce the damage to the battery, although I still wouldn’t recommend this as a solution.
New Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries & Cold Weather
Up until recently, the only solution to safely charge batteries in cold climates was to heat the batteries to above freezing before charging.
However, some companies have developed new lithium iron phosphate batteries that can charge at temperatures down to -4°F (-20°C) with an internal heating and monitoring system.