What Is the Difference Between Lithium-Ion and Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries?

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If you’re only just beginning to learn about batteries and you only want to know the bare-bone basics of the difference between lithium-ion and lithium iron phosphate batteries, then you’re in the right place!

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each in this easy-to-read post!

Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries

Pro: Lifespan/Cycle Life

One of the greatest things about lithium iron phosphate batteries is that they last a long time. Compared to lithium-ion batteries that typically only have about 350 to 800 cycles, lithium iron phosphate batteries will usually last up to 2,000 cycles.

Compared to lithium-ion batteries, lithium iron phosphate batteries also have a longer shelf-life when not in use.

One battery cycle involves discharging the battery by a certain amount and then recharging it to full the amount.

The battery’s cycle life is the number of charges and discharges that a battery can complete before losing performance.

Pro: More Power

Compared to most lithium-ion batteries, lithium iron phosphate batteries are really high power batteries and if you need a lot of power, lithium iron phosphate batteries might be a good way to go.

Lithium iron phosphate batteries also don’t heat up as much. If you’re going to pull a lot of current from batteries, lithium iron phosphate batteries will cut down on that heat buildup.

Con: Size & Weight

One of the downsides of lithium iron phosphate batteries is that they’re not as energy-dense as lithium-ion batteries.

So, even if lithium iron phosphate batteries can get you more power out of them, you need physically larger and heavier batteries.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Pro: Size & Weight

Lithium-Ion batteries are smaller and lighter than lithium iron phosphate batteries.

That’s why you’ll see things like portable power stations, meant for bringing power on your hiking and camping trips, built with lithium-ion. Consumers want to have smaller, lighter products when they’re looking to buy portable power.

Pro: Price

If you look at a lithium-ion battery with the same specs as a lithium iron phosphate battery (same voltage, capacity, etc), the lithium-ion battery will have a cheaper up-front cost by roughly 20 to 25%.

But remember, lithium-ion doesn’t last as long as lithium iron phosphate batteries!

The overall cost for the lithium iron phosphate batteries will still be better because they will last 2 to 3 times longer.

Con: Safety Concerns

Lithium-ion batteries have a tendency to enter an unstoppable exothermic chain reaction if they get too hot.

Starting at around 140°F (60°C) to 212°F (100°C), the battery can release all its energy at once and start a fire. This can also happen if the battery is punctured or damaged.

On the other hand, lithium iron phosphate batteries have excellent thermal and chemical stability and don’t combust when short-circuited or damaged.

Con: Environmental & Humanitarian Concerns

These batteries require special recycling or disposal procedures and can be dangerous if they end up in landfills.

Also, the mining that’s done for the materials needed to build lithium-ion batteries has both humanitarian and environmental issues.

On the other hand, lithium iron phosphate batteries are non-toxic and are made from more common materials without these humanitarian concerns.